Heading out to the Gunpowder River? Check out the most recent report of the stream from Mike Slepesky
The Gunpowder River is in full summer mode! Pictured above is a beautiful trout take out of a thin riffle. Fish are in the faster highly oxygenated water currently. Focus on finding the correct water type and getting a good drift to them.
Current Stream Temps- 50-56 degrees! (Ideal water temps, get out there!!!!)
Current Stream Levels- 65.1 cfs; has come up in the last few weeks, but flows are still relatively low although consistent
Current Bugs- Sulphurs, Caddis, BWO, Terrestrials
Use the advice below to help you net a few more fish the next time you step out on the Gunpowder River!
Tip #1 - One can get it done
Most of the spring I fished a tandem nymph rig, with two flies to make sure we were getting the flies to depth, as well as giving multiple choices for fish to eat. However, with the consistent lower flows, we have adapted tactics. Recently, on a guided trip, most of the morning we were cherry picking holes and fishing deeper runs with two flies. We were having success and catching fish. However, we came up on a smaller riffle that was only a foot deep. I ran the tandem nymph rig through and was ticking bottom too much and getting too deep. I told the guest I would make a change and demonstrate the importance of weight. I tied on a smaller single nymph and on the very first cast picked up a nice 10' wild brown trout in the same run
Why do I share this story? Simply put we as anglers sometimes get lazy. The easiest path would have been to resist, write off the thin riffle and go to the next deeper run. However, I persisted, I made a change, and immediately was rewarded. As a result, I have been fishing single flies much more frequently on personal and guided trips. This small change from my comfort zone in the spring has brought the catch rate back up and led to more enjoyment on the water.
When you are out there, think about things. Is my drift getting deep enough, or too deep? Am I getting a dead drift, or are my flies getting pushed through too quickly? Once you evaluate the answers to some of these questions you can make adjustments that ultimately put more fish in the basket,
Tip #2 - Be a leader, not a follower
Drift over fly choice will rule the day. Do not get me wrong, I love choosing flies and deciding what will work and testing them out against each other to specify what will work best that day. Ultimately, the fly is less important than the drift.
When I am starting my drift, one thing I am very conscious of is making sure that I am guiding my flies lightly through their natural path. In order to do this I am keeping my rod tip out in front of my sighter. I am keeping the sighter off the water (in most cases), and I am simply keeping the pace of my drift in line with the current.
One of the easiest ways to do this is right after your cast is your simply and slowly rotate your shoulders with the current. I find that if I manage my line with my off hand, keep the rod tip high enough to sustain around a 45 degree angle on my sighter, and I rotate my shoulders to stay at the correct pace of the drift, I more often than not get better drifts and catch more fish. Thus, I lead my flies through the strike zone and I make adjustments to sustain a drag free drift. If I become more of a follower and allow my flies to be pushed down stream or be ticking the bottom too much, in essence just letting the flies dictate where they go and how fast, I have much less success.
- Think of your drift like walking a dog. Don't pull the dog by the leash and don't let the dog pull you. - Troutbitten podcast
(an adaptation from a point they make; be sure you are leading your flies and not pulling them too quickly through the drift or vise versa stalling them too much; slip in and our of contact for best success)
Tip #3 - Be ready, because the fish are!
You would be amazed how many fish you miss in a given day! Also, when I say miss, I mean you completely miss you even had a take. The question we should be asking ourselves is why is this, and how would I even know?
I believe most of our takes come in the first third to half of our drift. Therefore, it is critically important when our flies hit the water we come into contact with our system and start the drift. Far too often I find that people almost hit their rod tip on the water, lay sighter on the water, or in general end their cast far too close to the water. What should be occurring, is stopping your rod tip on your cast almost pointed at the bank. If you stop your rod tip not high per se, but high enough that you can immediately engage your sighter to get into the correct 45 degree angle needed to read for a take, you will find that a good number of fish hit as the flies are descending or directly after they enter the water.
Therefore, be a technician of monitoring are you just lobbing your flies in. Are you making sure that you are up on top of your system to read for a fish to eat? My most aggressive, and truthfully easiest to read takes, come when my flies are just starting in their drift around 20 or so feet away from me. I believe it is much harder to notice the subtleties of a take when you are at the midpoint of a drift and the flies are at their closest point to you and directly across stream from you. Moreover, it also becomes harder to hookset when your flies are mid drift and almost just downstream of you.
Focus your attention on higher rod tip angles upon fly entry, get tight to your system quickly, be ready to hookset and HANG ON!