Spring is in the air

The first signs of an early spring on the Interior Plateau where I live are robins and Canada geese arriving a few weeks premature during mid-March, and ice-off of the muskrat pond on Highway 16 West heading out of Prince George. All has happened in the last few days, so I know Dragon Lake in Quesnel won’t be tarrying too long either. 

The first few weeks of fishing after ice-off can be a real crap-shoot, one or two good days mingled amongst a bunch of “what am I doing here?” uneventful days. What the lake really needs is to get a good dose of some of those lazy, warm, 15 degree “I’m glad to see you, sun!”  spring days, have the water warm up to 8-10 degrees Celsius, and get some insects hatching! 

With that in mind, you will never catch a fish if you don’t go fishing! It has been a long winter, so for God’s sake, get out there, suck in some fresh air, and shake off those winter blues!

Early Risers

Some of the first insects to get moving after ice-off are freshwater scuds and water boatmen, followed by mature leeches, Chaoborus midges, bloodworms, and small chironomids. With the former species (scuds, boatmen, leeches) the young-of-the-year have not been born yet, so it’s the mature adults you want to work with: Gammarus scuds, sizes 10 to 14; boatman size 14; leeches, wooly buggers, sizes 6 to 8.

Chaoborus midges are those tiny lime green f*$@%!s hatching all over the lake that you think are impossible to imitate, but really, it can be a very effective fly pattern, tied sparsely on a size 18 or 20 curved hook with lime thread, a 5/64 gold bead (no gills), and a fine gold rib. I tie my bloodworms on a true, curved shrimp hook (Mustad 37160) sizes 12 or 14 using red Uni-flex. For chironomids, the most effective sizes and colour at ice-off are size 16-18 curved hook, black with a copper bead and rib for dull days, and a silver bead and rib for bright, sunny days. 

Before lake turn-over, which usually occurs 1-2 weeks after ice-off and will last for a week or so depending on weather, most of your active trout will congregate and feed in the bottom zone of the lake, so be prepared to fish deeply in 4 to 8 metres of water using lines and methods to keep your fly in the bottom zone of the lake. 

Tight lines!

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