Low light benefits

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As I hiked down to the run, I noticed a father and son wading through the gravel flats.  So much for fishing here, I thought.    Most spawning fish don’t take well to humans wading through redds.  It’s wisest to maintain some distance off these fish and to avoid walking over gravel.  Lake Ontario salmonid species are especially skittish in shallow water.  Their easily spooked behavior is further compounded by the bright sunlight.  Yet, that bright sunlight also has advantages.  It allows you to read the contours of the stream more easily, as well as sight fish with greater success.  The bright sun also shone clearly on the various spawning redds that fish created over the past two weeks.  Even if you don’t see fish, there’s a good chance that some fish are still around.

IMG_4687I moved downstream of the anglers and tied on an olive streamer pattern.  After an hour of prospecting various runs and ledges, I hadn’t moved a fish.  Several pattern changes later, I still hadn’t touched a fish.  Thus far this early season, streamers haven’t produced many tributary fish for me.  I’ve done well with resident trout, but not on lake run, spawning fish.

Within an hour of dusk, I arrived back at the original gravel run.  The father and son departed and this stretch of the river was vacant.  Soon, I observed several browns moving out of the deeper water, taking up positions on the gravel run.  It’s easy to want to cast to them right away.  However, I wanted to let them get settled and not rush.IMG_4675  As the bright light lessened, more fish flooded onto the gravel.  After several streamer drifts, dead drifts and swings, I still couldn’t entice a fish.  It was time for a different strategy.  I lengthened my leader to 12′, dropped down to 6lb flourocarbon and tied on a tiny, unweighted egg imitation.  After my third egg pattern color change, a large, male brown moved to the side to intercept my drifting fly.  I couldn’t see my fly at the time, but I could observe his slight, side movement and head take.  I quickly lifted up and we were off to the races.  As daylight began to fade, I hooked two more fish dead drifting an egg pattern with no weight.  While it’s tougher to see under low light conditions, fish appear more comfortable.  Use the available light to your advantage and don’t go home too early, or you may miss some of the best fishing of the day.

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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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