Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nova Scotia May Fly Hatch

The Black Quill. Leptophlebia cupida. The Nova Scotia may fly to most of us. It is a brief, fleeting moment really in the overall length of a season. For anglers here it is a roughly two week stretch of the most intense fishing of the year.

The Hatch as it is known is responsible for eating up a weeks vacation every year for 24 years. In my youth i fished the hatch at a lake called Governors in Harrietsfield. (Unfortunately riddled with Bass now but that is another discussion.) At 13 i was spending weekends there fishing what to this day remains maybe the heaviest hatch i have ever seen. At the age of 18 or so i started to move around the province more to target the hatch. I found out early on that smaller waters often produced by and large better fish. Not a rule, more an observation. So i started to look for those in the less pressured areas of the province. It was hit and miss but eventually, i found some.

So how do i approach it? The hatch is not rocket science, it is a blend of technique and will. It starts with wetting down some fir boughs and tapping fly from lakeside trees and brush onto them. They join me in the canoe, usually with my 8' Innovator HLS fly rod. Then, we have to find the spots to fish. Over time, you learn them. On your home waters you will in some ways master them. All are not always readily apparent. Some however, are. Points, shoals, submerged rocks, incoming streams are all good places to fish. If you have a wind blowing offshore and taking fly down a lake, usually somewhere on that winds path, you will find rising fish. On a day with a gentle breeze, you drop fly into the water and let the breeze move them. Then you wait. Sometimes not long, sometimes all day, until it happens. One raise, two more, three more. The game is on.

For a lot of years i have read, studied, explored and each year i still see something that i would not have thought of. Something that doesn't make a lot of sense. I still get surprised 31 years into the hatch. I suppose i will for as long as i am able to do it.

For fly choice, many would think the fly is known as the Black Quill, so you use a Black Quill. That is right, and wrong. In my youth at Governors, it was the fly of choice. Now, in the more pristine waters i swear by the Blue Upright. For some reason, not always apparent to me, it out-fishes a Black Quill by a wide margin. I also will use a Brown Quill more than the Black Quill. Maybe it is more comfortable for me. Maybe the Trout like it better. All i know is it works. All of the flies in sizes 12 through 16, although for me 14 seems to be best.

The best times to fish, early morning, first light in fact, and supper until dark in the evening. Now on cloudy/rainy days, this can extend all day long but a bright mid-day sun is not usually a bonus for someone fishing the hatch. For me the first and last light have been the most productive and most exciting, especially for large trout. My largest trout ever was caught in what would have had to have been the last cast of the night for loss of light. 18.5 inches and 3.75 pounds. Stephen caught one at the exact same time, almost the exact same size. When we fish our small lake near dark, seeing those large Trout move is an adrenaline rush. The most fun i have ever had fishing.

"The hatch" is a truly special time for a Nova Scotia Trout angler. For two or three weeks, we fish the most intense period of our season. Many fish have been caught, many stories told, many more to be written. We are about a month away. I am counting the days.

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