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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Report at a Glance

General RegionCatskills,NY
Specific LocationEsopus Creek
Dates Fished8/5
Time of Day7:30 am till about 4 pm

Details and Discussion

Columbia county,NY

Posts: 76
Stokes on Aug 7, 2015August 7th, 2015, 6:00 pm EDT
So this season has been consistent with my successes the past couple.Very few fish,but I keep going back for more.So this trip was particularly frustrating,but strangely gratifying.I started out in the morning fishng a stretch of the Esopus above the portal.Water was pretty low but there was a nise stretch of a run about 150 yds or so long and 4-5 ft deep thruout in the middle.At the head of this run I saw about 30 or so trout just sitting at the bottom out in the open stretched out for about 60 or so feet.The biggest concentration of fish I've ever seen.Most were in the 10 to 12 inch range but a few 16 to 20".So I went down stream below them to cast from behind them.I had noticed that some were feeding on something at the bottom,but when I was getting ready to tie on my first fly,a couple up at the front of the pack began violently breaking the surface.I had noticed what looked to be a sulfur come off the water earlier so I tied on a size 12 pale colored dry with a smaller hares ear nymph on a dropper about 3 feet behind it.Started casting to the closest fish and nothing.Got some looks but nothing taking.These fish were just sitting and slowly drifting down with the current about 20 ft or so and then slowly moving back up and into about the same lie.Did this over and over for the entire 5 hrs or so I was there.There was a fat 18"er at the back of the pack that would drift and sit less than 10 ft from me,never getting spooked by me casting,in fact I found it strange that none of the fish were spooked at all.I tried many different patterns,both dry and nymphs.Even went to just a nymph so I could get deeper,but just couldnt get a bite.I could see that they were feeding,as I'd see the flash as they would roll on their side occasionally,just didnt want anything I offered.They would back up as my fly approached looking like they were interested but just let it go by.So about 1 pm I went back to the car scratching my head and had lunch.I then headed down below the portal by the Shandaken cemetery.Water was higher but still relatively low,even for this time of year.water temps seemed to be cool enough,by the reports 64 degrees above the portal,so I assume a bit cooler below.There were a lot of risers and I was getting a lot of strikes on the surface,seemed like every other cast was getting attention,but just couldnt set the hook or they werent really taking,just attacking.As I said earlier it was quite frustrating,but still gratifying in seeing all those fish and having all those "almost" catches in the afternoon.Well thats all i got,hope you guys are doing better.

Posts: 106
MiltRPowell on Aug 7, 2015August 7th, 2015, 7:57 pm EDT
Wow Stokes,NYC... Ya need a new plan Stan, & get off the bus Guss... Ya stayed there 5 hours.. Fishing a long 150 yard hunk of water... With held -up fish, stressed out, that mind ya have had dozens of guys throwing everything but army boots at them. Not enough food,& sick of eating the at least 7 kinds of minnows swimming with them. And people trying ta get them to jump threw there hoops & please jump on my big hook. Man do some reading this winter. Study, look, listen, & learn.. Your on a site that is price-less.. I & others have water as said, but I ain't fishing it. Stressed,bottling up fish, is what it is.
Where I come from we leave along,& hope some make it. Hell they have enough against them....
Hell man don't get me wrong,I ain't yelling at ya.Who the hell am I, just Milt. What's I saying there's better ways for you to get to enjoy the sport ya chosen. I don't know maybe I've stated to much, & maybe not enough. I walk by water as said,see them & move on thinking poor fish, hope some make it. Next three days are gonna be 90. I don't need to add to it, there stress... But that's me. Study dude, study dude, you'll find your own rewards.....
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Aug 13, 2015August 13th, 2015, 6:11 am EDT
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 21, 2015August 21st, 2015, 6:40 am EDT
Things to try: longer tippet, and/or aim your cast higher, and when it drops lower your rod. Watch for any signs of drag, and as Paul suggests, it may be micro-drag, which is hard to spot. Keep at it; in time you will figure it out.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Aug 21, 2015August 21st, 2015, 10:30 am EDT
Another thought: Low flow, summer temps (pushing into upper metabolic efficiency tolerances), and fewer emergences can have trout hunkered down. You might be describing trout huddled in summer low flow habitat and not terribly active. You may also be describing some cruising and bottom gleaning type feeding, common in low flow, which is darn tough to cover.

FF isn't easy as trout are not always gung-ho feeders, we don't always know what they are recognizing as food (how it should look and act), and finally we are not providing real food at all. It seems an easy stretch to say that trout want to eat and we want to feed 'em. But it's not nearly so simple. Summer can make that quite apparent.

Observe, take advantage where you can, and continue to refine your technique. Smaller flies, finer tippets, NO micro-drag, and watching conditions, activity, opportunities like a hawk are the keys. A couple other options: Move! Forget that water (until conditions change for the better –flow and temp mostly) or fish ‘em at night (this time purposely employing macro-drag LOL). Try fishing the riffs -try wets, or a streamer across current; active flies can help when the water's warm. In looking for new water search out springs, head upstream into headwaters. You might be shocked at how many happy bug-eaters have packed into such havens.

Once while perusing a local creek I stumbled on a small spring fed feeder channel -obscured by towering willows- that was 10degF colder than the main stem. Trout were on feeding stations all up and down it, rising happily as if it were spring time, while the main channel appeared nearly lifeless for the mile or so I'd hiked it. (The story is MUCH more amusing but I've got to get back to work here).

Ah...one more thing of interest: In really high temps trout can get... weird. A few times, in 80F water, I've seen them bust on dry flies repeatedly but not take. They appear to be taste/tactile-testing (jaw swiping) with closed mouth. They do so frenetically, and repeatedly, as if impulsively. At that point it's best to leave 'em be, sorta like you might do when Grandpa gets that strange faraway look and yells out "Mabel!!" and then, "Who the hell 'er YOU!!"
Columbia county,NY

Posts: 76
Stokes on Aug 23, 2015August 23rd, 2015, 6:19 pm EDT
Thanks for the tips Paul,Martin.Never heard of "micro-drag",could you educate me?.I was passing thru the area a week later and ran into an older local fishing the same stretch,same situation,he was having the same results.I got a chance to talk to him and he said the water,tho low,was still cool enough at 66 degs so the fish werent stressed.Said although they werent scattering they could still be spooked but feel safe because of the depth.He saw them feeding on the bottom from time to time as I described but said he could coax them either.
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Aug 25, 2015August 25th, 2015, 7:43 am EDT
Micro-drag is drag, but nearly imperceptible to many anglers. Happens even on calm, flat, even apparently still, water. My son was getting educated on it on a small mountain lake last week, from the surface current caused by a very light breeze. He called one particularly nice brookie "Mr. Fussbudget". It wasn't that that trout was esp smart, he just didn't want to eat something inappropriately large, as tempting as it initially appeared.

66 is high in my book. It won't kill them but, esp coupled with low water, puts them in a much more conservative mood.

Again, the bottom feeding is, in such conditions, often substrate gleaning and is tough to impossible to cover, esp with fly tackle.

Experiment, have fun, That said, adjust your expectations until conditions change, or find new water. I've beaten many a "dead horse" and they rarely get up and run again without... a defibrillator (i.e. a real change in conditions).

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