Bugs Alive

A nice Toccoa River delayed harvest rainbow with a snowy March background
A nice Toccoa River delayed harvest rainbow with a snowy March background

By James Bradley
Reel ‘Em In Guide Service

As I sit here on this early March morning before daylight trying to see through the darkness outside, I have to wonder if you have ever heard the old saying: “never count your chickens before they hatch”. There is an assortment of these sayings I’ve heard over the years, but this one seems a good match to everyone’s anticipation of spring. Up here in the Southern Appalachians, we’re seeing maples, pear trees and yellow bells blooming, heck, even our peach trees have started as well. I have to admit it has been mild, but Old Man Winter looks to be the one who’s going to have the last laugh. My 5-day forecast shows snow on the way and temps diving into the mid-twenties. If this stands to be true, there goes the peach crop for this year. Not only that, the fishing will take a hit for the first few days afterwards. Hopefully after this event, winter will be over, and we’ll welcome spring on in!

April has personally always been a good month to be outdoors. Seems that everything is abound and hopping around with all kinds of activity everywhere and especially on and in the streams. Bugs will really begin coming off as the days heat up. This will get the trout looking up and make it fun for those who enjoy dry fly fishing. Rainbows will finish their spawning runs and head back to their usual lie. A lie is nothing more than a small piece of holding water where a trout’s needs can be met like shelter, safety, feeding lane, etc.

We are seeing a decent number of different mayflies coming off and a few caddis have started as well. Once it begins to warm up as we head into April, several different species will begin to appear. Mayflies, caddis and stoneflies will begin hatching, and trout will begin taking them emerging and on the water’s surface. Remember, we really do not have true hatches of one species here. It is usually a mixture of them. So plan ahead and have a decent number of flies in different sizes so you can match what you see coming off the water. Normal flies will be the Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail and Hare’s Ear nymphs in size 12-16 will match most of these insects. By mid-April you can add Hendrickson, Light Cahill and Little Sallies or yellow Stoneflies with these being size 14-16. These can be very good dry flies to use late in the evenings. Lastly, don’t forget to pull a big nasty streamer through at least a few good holes. We catch a decent number of really big trout doing this. Cast quarterly upstream, point the rod almost downstream and begin to strip line back in. Continue stripping and giving the rod small jerks to help imitate a wounded baitfish. You’ll never forget the first time you have a big 20” plus rainbow or brown follow your fly almost to the end of your rod!

Reel ‘Em In Guide Service is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide based out of beautiful Ellijay, Georgia. They have been accommodating fly anglers since 2001. Their Special Use Permit for Guiding allows them access to the Chattahoochee National Forest. They have licensed guides for North Carolina, offer over 7 miles of private trophy waters across Georgia and offer drift boat trips on the Toccoa River and the Tuckasegee River in NC.