“Wait for the dandelions.” Once they start blooming, expect quality fishing. It’s a mantra that a fishing friend espouses. It’s not bad advice. Dandelions are something that you can set your Springtime clock to. We’ve been pulling them in my yard for about a week, so it’s only natural that fishing has picked up.
My fishing target this season has been the Main Stem of the Delaware River. It’s a long drive, but worth the effort. It’s easier floated than waded, but with some knowledge and persistence, there are access points for warding anglers. Best of all, there are fewer crowds and the potential for large, cooperative fish.
On my last trip, I inaugurated my new Streamwalker net with a gorgeous 21″ wild brown that fell for a #14 hendrickson emerger. Several more nice fish came to the net that day, all on hendrickson emergers. The hendrickson hatch is well underway and it won’t be along much longer. If you’re planning to fish the hendrickson hatch, here are a few pointers that may help:
- Most surface activity doesn’t occur until after 1 or 2 pm. Be patience, observe the surface and look for fish in tailouts, seams, soft edges and other likely feeding stations.
- Fish as long a leader as you can comfortably cast and manage. It’s not a bad idea to start with 5x fluorocarbon and to be prepared to switch to 6x if needed. On the long, clear flats of the Delaware, I often fish a 16′ plus leader of 5x or 6x. This gives me plenty of slack to present a fly dead drifted.
- Position yourself upstream and to the side of a feeding fish. On most technical tailwaters, a down and across presentation is more effective.
- Observe the surface film, as well as rising fish. Can you confirm what the fish is feeding upon? There might be blue quills, olives, caddis or even quill gordons also on the water? Is the surface feeding fish taking duns, cripples, spinners, or nymphs just below the surface. Its helpful to recognize these pieces to put the puzzle together. A system such as the Delaware may have a bug soup on the surface and it will take some determination to recognize what the trout are predominantly feeding on.
- If you’ve presented a fly several times in the fishes’ feeding lane (drag free) and timed it right, then make adjustments. Re-position, try a new fly, lengthen your leader or do something different.
You’ve got to pay your dues on the water. We should have hendricksons around for another one to two weeks. It’s a fun, reliable hatch and offers some of the better dry fly fishing of the year. Go forth, enjoy and give thanks to dandelions!
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