Post By: CAPT. E Posted: 6/6/2020 5:11:26 PMPoints: 0
I'm new to fly fishing SMR from my pontoon boat, but not new to fly fishing (20 yrs.) Went out yesterday and observed lots of folks in belly boats and pontoons hooking up. I presumed they were fishing midges and somewhat deep. I tried quite a few chironomid patterns, some callibaetis, a tungsten perdigon or two and other nymphs. I had no success whatsoever. Any advice to this newby on how to fish SMR from my pontoon boat is greatly appreciated. I used a 5 weight 10' rod with a weight forward floating line and about a 10 ft. tapered leaded ending in 3X tippet. I fished a two fly rig with a small strike indicator. I was anchored most often, cast and made a slow retrieve, no strikes. What was I doing wrong? Were these fish keying in on a specific pattern? Perhaps I needed a 15- ft. leader? Thank you.
I wonít write a book here, but a couple basics. Normally this time of year chirono bugs are the most common. One of the keys is finding the depth the fish are feeding at, most of the time itís within a foot or so of the bottom, there are always exceptions to this but itís a good start point. Currently the lake is just about full and the trout have been mostly in 10-20 feet of water. Your leaders should be 15- 20 feet long and you need a slip bobber set-up so you can net your fish. Your rod is 10í long so if your in 12 feet of water Iíd try to have 11í of leader between your bobber and the lowest fly. Adjust up or down as needed. Color can be important, recently blk/ red as well as blue and grn/ red have been working in sizes 12-16, itís hit and miss. If the wind is moving you around you should probably anchor, if not move slowly chironomids are not fast moving bugs. Know the depth and adjust accordingly. In all of the Southpark lakes 1-3x leaders are fine, the fish are big so save your 4-6x stuff for the rivers. I personally like 6# fluorocarbon tippet anything smaller makes it harder to get the fish in and off. The water is getting warm so always ďSwim ď your fish until it pulls out of you net or hand when releasing it. Hope this helps as a start point. Bill
Reply by: i2fly Posted: Jun. 7, 6:02:28 AM Points: 1887
Capt E, midges were most likely the best fly. I typically fish #12 however #16 and #18s have been more prevalent this year. Yes you should increase your leader length. 20+í may be necessary. Last year we fished 20í deep and enjoyed some huge days. I donít strip my flies in when fishing chironomids. Instead I will shake my rod tip just enough to jiggle my bugs. Chironomids wiggle and undulate but not really jet forward. They rely on the gas that builds in their exoskeletons to propel them to the surface. Resist the urge to constantly move your flies. Give them a wiggle and let them sit. Usually itís only seconds after I have done this I get a hit. Also use a no slip loop knot to tie on your chironomids. That allows more micro movement and has saved my day when the bite is tough. I use weight just like river fishing. Not only will the extra weight get your flies down quicker but will help you detect even the slightest bump. Weight is needed especially if you have wind. To my experience fish prefer the chironomid to be still. Just shake or pop your indicator and let it sit. Also if you see a fish roll near you do cast to it and be patient. Since youíve just thrown your flies in itís grille it may take a minute for them to feel comfortable enough to eat your bugs. One other thing I fish a chironomid and a leech combo a lot. It works for me... leech patterns just catch fish. Here are a couple of photos of my successful chironomids this year.
Next up on the menu are Callibeatis and damsels. The bite should improve! Those bugs are your swimmers. I2
Reply by: nparker Posted: Jun. 7, 7:50:42 AM Points: 1802
The above are great suggestions from successful anglers. I have used indicators with chironomids for many years with success. The last couple of days indicator fishing did not work well despite the prolific hatch. I saw a guy in a float tube moving slowly and doing very well. He was using a sinking line and a Callibaetis nymph but there are no Callibaetis insects in the lake, or very few. I copied him yesterday using Chironomid nymphs and did well while the guys using indicators were not catching. The take away for me is yes, moving the files slowly can be very important. Also, I get bore with an indicator and I find slow trolling more enjoyable. This was not a scientific experiment so there may have been some variables that I was not considering. Trolling with a sinking line may work best when the hatch is active since the insects are in the entire water column. Indicators may work better when the hatch is not active. Always more to learn.
Reply by: CAPT. E Posted: Jun. 7, 8:35:57 AM Points: 0
Can't say thanks enough to all of your for your expert advice and guidance. I'll plan a return trip soon and use all of what you so all kindly offered. I see the reason for a slip bobber/strike indicator when you have a leader of 20', I've never used one of these but I'll research that. I will say I was impressed with the windstorm on Friday around 2-2:30. My buddy and I got off the water early when we noted some small waves were building as that SW wind picked up. We observed some folks in float tubes still rather a way out there, but 30 mins before the real wind arrived they were headed ashore and safety there before the big wind arrived. I also see the value of having a radar and wind app on my phone.
Reply by: i2fly Posted: Jun. 7, 8:52:49 AM Points: 1887
Nparker, yes on occasion a midge tip line will out fish indicators. Some guys absolutely love this technique. I guess staying active is more pleasurable to them. But Iíve studied midges extensively how they move and what the look like while pupating. Iíve also followed Brian Chan and Phil Rowley. Brian is a biologist and really has good advise. He likes a stationary boat but uses a finger roll really short 2Ē strips with frequent pauses. While fishing chironomids. Not to say a slow troll doesnít work. However I stand by a static presentation with the occasional twitch. Especially if there is no wind. Wind will create micro currents and move bugs horizontally too. But for me dead calm dead stick. Like I said Callibeatis and damsels are swimmers. A slow troll seems more effective when trying to mimic those bugs. Especially the damsels they migrate to shore or to any exposed object to hatch. Another thing that may help. Watch when fish are rising if you see mostly backs and no heads. Use a smaller indicator white or natural cork. Then fish about 12Ē to 18Ē below it. The indicator will keep you in the right zone. This works very well for midges, callibeatis, and damsels when the fish are up....! I certainly hope my thoughts and experiences help you guys catch more fish thru more situations. I2
Im obsessed with the sloooow finger roll. I feel it helps keep the line straight enough for when your going for the slightest take on indecisive fish. And a slight flick of the wrist will give it that subtle movement as described above.
I learned the leech/wooly - bottom fly method a couple years ago and have used it on pretty much every body of water Iíve fished at one point or another. It just works. Plus it will help get your bugs down quick.
Pretty much everything posted here is good advice so Iíll just a couple things.
When Iím on a new body of water or even if Iím having trouble finding their depth on water I frequent Iíll use a 3 fly method usually spaced 18Ē or more apart. Top and bottom flies with what ever I know should be in the water and then a red Copper John, Rainbow Warrior, Red San Juan or what ever is use as an attractor in the middle. Usually doesnít take long to get a take and figure it from there.
Big bugs catch big fish. Bugs are typically larger in lakes than they are in rivers. Not saying use a size 6 but up in SP Iíd use anywhere from a 16-12 as opposed to using an 18-20 in the canyon.
For tippet I usually just follow the smaller the fly the smaller the tippet.
If youíre using a two fly method with an attractor, try flipping it around. If the fish are looking down to eat have your attractor on top. If they are looking up to eat put your attractor on the bottom.
Just like in the rivers moving a couple feet in either direct and casting to the same spot can make all the difference in the world.
Also my favorite fly up there right now is a red and black chromy with a white bead head on a size 16 dry/wet hook with a slight bend at the hook eye.
Midges are notoriously motionless most of the time. Study their habits and hatching style like you would, and I'm sure you have, a stream bug. They'll hang just above the bottom, then rise in groups, it seems like. Fish feed on them 80% of the time down deep, and 10% within a foot of the surface. The other 10% is some days the fish all seem to be feeding at 5, 8, or 10 feet. Never have figured that one. But keep it still. A slow retrieve with midges is rarely effective. Bill Edrington down in Canon City famously named indicator fishing the "Heave it and leave it" method. Even a breeze can impart too much motion. Unfortunately, the bomber midges at Spinney only last a couple of weeks, so you have to get after them before they're stuffed. Smaller midges will follow, but it ain't the same. Happily, the callibaetis will start to hatch about now, and they rise and fall straight up and down too. Thus the effectiveness of indicators and weights as a presentation method.
Last tip: Don't get distracted and put your rod down unattended.
CAPT E., the replies you've elicited have been provided with the best of intentions. But they miss the very mysterious phenomena that has been my experience for many years at Spinney. You must stare at your strike indicator for 45 minutes. It will float motionless. Your eyes will start to burn from the strain. You'll unzip a pocket on your craft to grab a gatorade and when you look up, your strike indicator will have disappeared. Swing and miss. Another 45 minutes of eye burning indicator strain, and you reach for a bag of cheetos. Look back and your indicator is gone again. The timing is so impeccable that it borders on evil. Now you feel your lips starting to get chapped by the South Park sun. You want to put on some chapstick, but you're afraid to look away for a half second. You can guess what happens next.
Sometimes, if you have a relatively straight line with no slack to your indicator, you just notice you have a fish on after looking away. Has worked for me on several occasions recently, not on Spinney, however . . ., yeah, nevermind, this probably won't work on Spinney . . .
Wonderful stuff here fellas and a good chuckle. I like Bill, often fish with two rods trying to dial in the pattern, how those fish know which rod I'm NOT holding, I'll never know.
This year seemed to be an early chironomid hatch (at least to me). Like the recent callies, it took the fish a week or so to get focused on them. The flats (from islands to first pkg lot) was almost devoid of any grass for quite a while and the fish were looking down picking the bugs off of the bottom. I had better luck fishing 1 foot deeper than the bottom to make sure it's ON the bottom. An occasional twitch helped. Now the grass is about 6-12" tall so that technique is not as good. I even experimented one day, red on bottom, black above and on the other rod, switched the order. All fish caught on the bottom fly, which is 90% of my experience anyway. I think the twitch helps when the fly isn't quite right, fish is circling and inspecting, but the twitch gets a reaction bite which is common in all fish. Seems that when I have the right fly, they hammer it completely still.
I used to think myself somewhat competent at chironomid fishing until this year. For the last several weeks, we've been literally schooled by a guide from Ark Anglers. He brings clients out to the flats, show them how to cast and proceeds to net fish after fish for four hrs. Soon his Lund is the center of the redneck yacht club. It is fun to watch but sure has been humbling.
Reply by: nparker Posted: Jun. 13, 9:00:29 AM Points: 1802
This is a great thread on Chironomid fishing. One thing to recognize is the different stages of activity. Chironomids live in and on the bottom most of their lives. They don't always hatch of course. Now is the time for dead drifting larvae about one foot off the bottom. A little movement might be worth a try. The best chance to catch fish is when the hatch is on. The fish may be anywhere in the water column floating with a gas bubble. Explained by physics, the higher they are, the faster they move up. I learned this from SCUBA diving. It is at this time that a moving fly has the best chance. Last week a sinking line outperformed the indicator fishing with the little data I got in 2 days of fishing and observing. When the hatch is over, game over. Yesterday I killed em in a shallow lake with an indicator above 2 flies. I only had 3.5 feet of leader below the indicator in about 4 feet of water. 7 out of 10 fish were foul hooked on the large Scud fly at the bottom. I am perplexed by this.
Reply by: Sticklips Posted: Jun. 13, 9:25:01 AM Points: 0
This is one of the best, most information packed threads Iíve seen on this forum in a long time. Thank you gentlemen, for graciously sharing your SMR knowledge and experience. And thank you OP for asking the question.
I have fished here for years, with varying success. And yesterday? Well, yesterday I had my ##@$$ handed to me, and worse, itís been happening more frequently. Why, I ask myself. Laziness, forgetting about some of the basics discussed here, and probably frustration that leads to a bad attitude. (Nothing worse than observing bent rods after staring at a motionless indicator for hours.)
So, with that being said, I consider this a welcome and much needed Ďrefresherí course.
So, thank you again.... attitude adjustment complete! :) Alex
Reply by: SirGreg88 Posted: Jun. 13, 11:26:31 AM Points: 62
I have always had some success at Spinney using a size 16 or 18 Colorado caddis . Its just a plain yellow worm lookin thingy -bigger in the middle and tapering down on each end. It typically had a brown or black strip down the middle of the back and a smidge of soft hackle around the head--usually black,brown or even grizzly. I keep a flyrod rigged and handy but typically I use a small bubble filled to 60-65%-using #6 florocarbon (Berkley Vanish is my choice). I jam the small end of the swivel into the big end of the bubble as a natural hookset when visibility is poor-and I just use the line from the spool as a 6-8 ft leader. Vary retrieve from ultra slow to slow and steady and mix in a twitch to see what works. I dont always try to match the hatch. In fact sometimes it is better to use a big ant, grasshopper, beetle, muddler floated on top(moth imitation). Just my 2 cents but works for me because I can launch that sucker a country mile even when the wind is howling.
back in 2003 I had a similar day, trying to fish Spinney like any other big trout reservoir.. I asked on another forum and got very similar advice, seventeen years ago..
In my observation of the people catching fish, Spinney is a place where you don't retrieve, unless trying for pike. The trout here are experienced and selective so it's necessary to closely match the fly and the presentation to the naturals. In this case the naturals are 10-20ft down and not moving much, so indicator fishing with the long leaders is an absolute requirement.
I still haven't caught a trout in Spinney though, don't get many days to fish and got discouraged by enough skunks.. maybe if I ever retire will have time to figure it out..
Reply by: nparker Posted: Jun. 18, 7:20:14 AM Points: 1802
I have been fishing with Chironomid pupae imitations under a bobber for about 30 years. It can be effective, but it is not always the best way to catch fish. When hatching, Chironomids do move up the water column. There are times when I have done much better with moving files. I doubt if the fish in Spinney are more educated than those in N Delaney. One thing to remember about fishing. There are no absolutes and you must be ready to adapt to the current conditions, hatches, fish, weather, etc. Many times I have found the fly pattern to be much less important than the presentation. Also, I have found that watching a bobber is one of the least enjoyable ways to fish unless nothing else works. I have also found that I can get in a rut and not change my methods. All of the above methods work but one should experiment at times, catch more fish, and have more fun. Note, you can catch fish on dry flies after the Chironomids have hatched. Try a dry/dropper combination. Just Sayin!