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Old 06-19-2006, 02:05 PM
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Default Hounds of Spring... By Dan Fallon

[img2="left"][/img2]Hounds Of Spring Swim In Deep Dangerous Waters!
By Dan Fallon

By the end of April most Californian fly fishers are becoming jumpy and either driving to investigate their favorite rivers and streams or working the world wide web for news of water flows and possible early insect hatches... unfortunately every new season brings the sad news of a friend, loved one or animal swept away in deceptively deep fast water.

In my life on many occasions I have been guilty of throwing caution to the wind and taking that next step in fast rivers that could have easily been my last fast step! It is no secret fly fishers are walking disasters loaded down with a lot of gear and strapped into waders that once filled with rushing river water will take you straight to the bottom Mr. Can’t Wait for the season to get started. California has been blessed with an above average rain and snow fall this season, all the best fly rivers and streams will be running fast and deep for another two months or more. If your thinking about wading that special section you usually have luck in, better wait until the waters slow down and recedes. If you get in the habit of emptying your fly vest and pockets of all but the absolute necessary equipment and never wading with out first cinching up that waste/belt that came with the waders. Using a wading staff or only wading in areas with fallen log or rock or bushes near by just in case you slip and fall is a good idea. A more prudent safe way to go might be to not wade at all until your absolutely positive of the depth and speed of the water?

Early Spring high fast water related accidents involving amateur and youngster fly fishers are the most common. If you have been working flies on rivers and streams for a short period it is better not to attempt wading at all until later in the season when the flows are less powerful. Some years ago while wading early spring on the Merced River that runs out of Yosemite National Park, a young black lab puppy floated helplessly by. The story had a happy ending as the family jumped in their car and followed the dog until it found solid ground.

Streamers Best Fast Water Weapon
April/May can be humbling for all fly fishers because rivers and streams are running so fast insect hatches on the surface mean very little if anything. Resident trout and salmon are seeking the quietest slowest currents near feeding lanes so they can pick and choose from the endless supply of insect matter, worms, anything that looks tasty. Tiny dry flies at times fished just under surface slime under trees or bushes near the waters edge can produce hits. Though use of dry flies is better realized when the weather warms and currents slow down.

Streamers like the pattern featured this month and black, green wooly buggers, matukas in various colors or any of the baitfish patterns that are feathery and move like small bait fry are the best early season fly offerings. More area can be covered with streamers, especially around large rocks or along the edges of rivers where large fish hide waiting for lunch to float by. Learn to match the streamer to local bait fish, change the pattern, or color frequently until you get the one that produces. Then work that pattern up and down the area your working, along all the edges and around rocks. If one remembers all streamer patterns from wolly buggers to your own feathery creations are most effective when they move around quickly darting here and there as a survival technique. Baitfish either exist in large schools where protection is found in large numbers or they learn quickly to evade becoming lunch by moving quickly in flashes. Working your streamer in fast water requires practice as does developing skills imitating live baitfish and understanding your tippit must be much longer to hide your fly line. Streamer work is fun because your constantly moving and re positioning with every cast. Make sure to have a good assortment of colors and streamer styles because every river, stream has its own resident baitfish and once you feel the explosive hit on your own stream pattern you will be hooked on streamers.

“The Merry Cuckoo, Messenger Of Spring, His Trumpet Hath Thrice Already Sounded!” -- Edmund Spencer 1552-1599

Article Courtesy of Dan Fallon at
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