In the next month the low elevation snow and ice on lakes will start to disappear. This is one of the best times of the year to pursue trout. Besides that, even if you wanted to fish for warm water species they don’t start biting until mid-April. People are getting this memo, as with each passing week there seems to be a few more anglers out plying the Logan River. While a few anglers are already out, more will appear on the region’s rivers and lakes over the upcoming weeks.
What drives success at this time of year is warming water and spawning rainbow trout. Once water temperatures near 40 degrees Fahrenheit, trout start coming out of their winter torpor and feed more readily. Rainbow trout spawn in the spring when temperatures are between 42 to 44 degrees. This temperature is reached after a week of afternoon air temperatures exceeding 50 degrees. Spawning season is a good time for catching Rainbow Trout and the Brown Trout that come and feed on their eggs. Some worry early season fishing could negatively affect native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout. But these two species do not spawn at the same time. Rainbow Trout lay their eggs as the river levels rise (April, early May) while Cutthroat Trout spawn as flows are declining (late May, June). Another reason to pursue trout early in the spring are flows behind many of the region’s dams are low and fishable. By late April, flows from these dams have increased to meet irrigation needs, making angling more difficult.
Anglers will be most successful at this time of the year if they fish shallow waters.
When fishing for trout in the spring the best baits, lures, and flies imitate worms, eggs, stoneflies, leaches and chironomids. The first four on this list are big and represent the potential of gaining lots of calories with minimal effort. When fish are in cold water, that is often the motivation needed to get them to take a fly. The last couple weeks I have been catching fish equally on big (size 8) stonefly imitations and medium (size 14) egg patterns.
Given the visibility of the egg pattern you would think this fly would hook more fish. These outcomes are a reminder to never think you have fishing figured out and, when you can, fish more than one fly at a time.
The last bug on the above list, chironomids (midges), are small in size but hatch by the thousands in stillwaters and can be found by the hundreds in the eddies of large rivers. These flies are hard to fish as both the nymphs and adults are less than ¼ of an inch long. The difficult task is finding a fly similar to what fish are feeding on but unique enough to capture the attention of a trout gorged on these small insects. For that task I have a box of more than 20 different midge patterns. Some days all these patterns work, on other days only one fly will get a strike, and on other days trout will avoid all of them. That’s what defines fishing with midges.
The last aspect of fishing that should be taken care of over the next couple months is the maintenance and upgrading of equipment. The simplest task is replacing lines that has been on reels for more than a couple years. The next task is fixing or replacing reels that don’t operate correctly. If you are still fishing with your grandfather’s reel, it is time to by a new one. Purchasing mesh sleeves for your spinning rods and hard cases for fly rods protects this equipment and makes them last longer. It is also time to replace the flies and lures you lost last year. The terminal gear most people lose are those they are most confident in. Go through your tackle boxes and make sure you have enough of your favorite lures, hooks, and fly patterns. Finally, buy a fly, lure, or bait you have always wanted to try. This way the next time you are on a lake or river and not catching any trout, you’ll have something different to tie to the end of the line to increase your chance of success.