After spending time in SC visiting my daughter and the two little men, I returned this week to near perfect spring conditions on our New Jersey rivers. At the Shannon's Beginners Fly Fishing Class yesterday I was talking to Tim Flagler, who has also been fishing the South Branch of the Raritan for many years, and we both agreed that the river is in the best early spring condition its been in many years. This year the river rises after heavy rains, but recovers more slowly and levels out higher than it has in many years. It also seems to be cleaner and very clear. The there New Jersey rivers are much the same this year, perhaps the water table is recovering with regular rains and snow fall over the last few months. Folks are complaining about how spring seems to be slow in coming, which is true, but for me it seems like its been more "normal" than it has been in many years.
Ok, so the hendrickson hatch is late this year, but the last week it has been the best we've seen in many years. Yesterday afternoon while guiding one of the students, the hendrickson hatch was very good. It was so good, the we could look down into the slow, clear water on the margins of the stream and see hundreds of hendrickson nymphs drifting by as they wiggled towards the water surface to hatch. And hatch they did. The dark mayflies drifted by on and off for several hours while the trout ignored them, which as an angler drives you crazy. We kept hoping the trout would begin to rise so we could give the students the thrill of catching a fish on a dry fly, but it never happened. Was it the cold water or some other unseen condition that kept the trout holding tight to he bottom? We didn't even see fish flashing in the water column as they normally do when they feed on the ascending nymphs. Dark Grannom caddis and some stoneflies were also on the water, and they too were ignored by the trout.
It was a very good day though. Everyone caught fish and although it was cool and breezy, it was a beautiful day to be on the water initiating a few more folks to our wonderful sport.
Sharpen your hooks!