Friday, April 20, 2012

Opening the 2012 Trout fishing season

The fishing season on Czech trout waters traditionally opens on April 16th. This date is eagerly awaited by local anglers, as it presents the first opportunity to cast a fly line since November. This period of forced abstinence is usually manageable during the time of hard winter frosts, but as the weather starts to warm up in March severe cases of withdrawal syndrome begin to appear in the fly fishing community.

For the formal occassion of the first cast in new season I chose the river Střela. Unlike my other favorite rivers, Kamenice & Jizera, it has its headwaters in relatively low altitude where the snow has already melted and its flow was close to normal.

The river flow was stable and the water was only lightly colored. It was still rather cold though, at only 6°C. The streamside meadows were sporting the first spring flowers - buttercups, primroses and butterburs - but the hoped for hatch of large dark olives did not materialise for the whole day. A quick shake of the submerged vegetation with a kitchen sieve showed that the LDO nymphs were present in large numbers, but waiting to hatch on some later day.

Some smallish midges were fluttering around the river edge, and I tried for a while fishing the dry fly. It was a futile effort, mainly to satisfy my conscience as a dry fly fan. The fish were firmly hugging the river bottom, and if I wanted contact with them I had to present my flies at their level.

Having discarded the dry fly I turned to the nymph. The French leader to hand technique with a little Czech twist was rather productive, and I proceeded to catch and release a number of brown trout. Most of them were of the smaller size, but all of them were in good condition. Plump, well marked out and they fought with attitude.

The most productive flies were beadheaded nymphs. I fished a team of two flies, a #12 hairy grub with 3.3 mm tungsten beadhead on the point and #16 turkey herl nymph with a copper bead on dropper. The point fly provided weight to cast (or rather lob) the team and accounted for about a third of my catch, with most strikes going to the dropper.