We are like kids at Christmas that the new angling season is almost upon us. Spring is a great time to be out with the streamer setup. We can’t wait to throw the big flies and entice some of our spotty friends. Have you considered trying some early season Streamer fishing? If so read on..
Early season usually sees higher water levels and colder temperatures in our rivers. This year it looks like rivers aren’t too high to start out early, although that can change quickly. We are hoping the current easterly winds will not hang around too long.
Remember “March of many weathers” where you can have wind, rain, snow and sun all in the one day. However, March and April can and do provide very suitable streamer conditions.
It’s important to consider that fish will be willing to feed after a winter of spawning and high water.
As the spring season progresses, food sources increase and we will see smolt runs, small fry, fingerlings and minnow appear on the conveyor belt, which trout will be keen to hone in on. Wet-fly is a noted and at times a very effective traditional early season technique in Ireland and streamer fishing is also is a subsurface medium, just on a larger scale and more engaging in ways. It can be very productive.
The last couple of seasons we have had uncharacteristically warm, dry summers which saw reduced water levels with very few summer floods or spates in a lot of rivers. We also experienced some very high water temperatures which stopped us fishing altogether at the height of summer. So worth considering getting out on the river early while conditions are favourable to us and the fish.
There are lots of tips and advice throughout this site such as the ultimate guide to streamer fishing and 10 top tips and so on. There is plenty of hard earned information and advice here to help you in relation to your streamer fishing journey.
Below are a few tips that we think might help in the early season. Especially if you are new to streamer fishing, just getting into it or re-approaching it with renewed enthusiasm this season. We truly hope these tips and advice will help you with your preparations as opening day approaches.
Setup, approach, presentation and confidence will turn the odds in your favour.
Window of opportunity
The trout’s metabolism is largely governed by water temperature. In colder temperatures of spring with less food available to the fish they can be quiet lethargic. With a water temperature below 10 degrees trout will be more reluctant to move a great distance to take your streamer.
Keep on the move and search out the players. It is important to remember that its possible to get a reaction from a fish that isn’t active at any stage of the day so we aren’t saying you can slack off the rest of the time but be sure to focus some effort around the warmest part of the day. Don’t wear yourself out early on and then break for lunch.
hard and Fast rules?
With colder temperatures trout most likely will be lower in the water column and also far less likely to be in fast water.
Concentrate on finding the water speed that produces takes. Understanding the type of water you should concentrate on is half the battle. Look out for pool tails, soft runs, slack water adjacent to current. eddies, and slower channels.
Starting at the bottom of a pool and working your way upstream, taking care to cover the water tight to your own bank can be an effective approach. Be sure to keep tension throughout and the rod pointed at the fly where possible. This can take a little practice.
So it can be helpful to focus on particular water types to save wasted effort but the angler must determine those water types. It’s important to say that you should check all likely looking water as the fish will decide. If you have a hunch don’t ignore it!
Try Small rivers
Big rivers in spring can be tough work. Locating fish is more of a challenge. Have a look at smaller rivers. Rivers that might be un-fishable in summer due to weed growth and lack of water can be well worth a look in spring.
They are invariably shallower which contrary to popular belief really suits the streamer angler. It can be much easier to read features in smaller streams. The water temperature will be more influenced by the air temperature of a given day which can be to your advantage.
GETTING JIGGY WITH IT
Flies with some weight in the front are very useful in Spring. The following is a tactic that has served well in the early season.
Cast up and slightly across the intended target area. Allowing the fly to sink. Immediately mend upstream as necessary and then keep slack line to a minimum.
When the fly is coming in line with you, start to sharply lift the rod tip and pull in the slack line generated from this motion with your line hand.
Repeat this motion while aiming to overall keep the rod in a downward trajectory and pointed at the fly. At the end of the retrieve you can use the surface tension of the water to help you slip line back out to prepare for a roll cast pick up and repeat.
The aim is to put flickers and flashes into the fly to mimic wounded or vulnerable prey while maintaining a slower retrieve and keeping the fly lower in the water column.
It is also worth trying dead-drifting a fly with a little weight in the head like the McGenius. The current can be enough to maintain the illusion of life when you fish mobile articulated flies and even single hook buggers can do the job too.
Don’t neglect to try a faster retrieve too as the fish surprise us all on a regular basis.
Bright flies are always useful but particularly in spring. They are easy to see and as a result we can ensure the fly is fishing how and where we intend it. This is a really important point. In cold water the fish are less likely to move a great distance to your fly, perhaps less than a foot at times, so it is essential to know where the fly is.
It’s very easy to cast and retrieve all day without really understanding where the fly is. It can be tough to gauge the depth and the amount of lead time you need for a fly to reach the desired location. A fly that you can see will really help to negate this. Bright colours are also very attractive to the fish at this time of year and stand out as something worth investigating. Having said all that, don’t stick with a fly unless it looks good in the water and you have complete confidence in it.
The longer slower stretches of river are worth trying in Spring. It is a tougher job to cover all of the water but it can hold some good fish if you can find them and plenty of casting helps to keep you warm!
Try a weightless swim fly like the trigger treat for maximum attraction in slower water. casting upstream according to the water you’d like to swim the fly through and the depth you’d like to achieve is. It is always better to be above the fish than below them.
The flats are also a great place to practice different retrieves and using the rod tip to move the fly. Its easy to see the effect the motion you put in with the rod and line hand has on the swim fly. You will see clearly the importance of the stop or pause of the fly!
A couple of points on etiquette
Being a good knowledgable angler is more than just about your angling skills. There are some considerations for spring in particular that all anglers should be aware of.
Salmon are very much attracted to streamers and we love to fish with them for Spring Salmon. It is great to be able to effectively cover both species with one method. However at this time of year there are often kelts still in the river having spawned over the winter. They should never be a target for angling. They are starving, weak and emaciated from spawning and it is not any sort of angling achievement to catch one. If you encounter kelts in the river we would urge you to unhook the fish in the water and move on and try another spot. We will do another article very soon on Springer streamer strategies to expand on this fun way to target the silver ones.
Here’s a chart to help identify Salmon in different stages of their life cycle.
Try to keep wading to a minimum in spring and avoid walking on any gravel beds as you risk damaging the eggs and fry of future generations. Fish in Ireland this winter have in general spawned quite late so this should be a consideration for everyone. Redds won’t be as apparent as when freshly dug so err on the side of caution at this time of year.We don’t wish to appear holier than thou but feel it’s a good opportunity to make these points as not everyone is aware.
We hope these points help to get the streamer buzz going for you this Spring. As always if you have questions just shout. We get lots of questions about lines and rods. Our favourite line for at least the last 3 seasons has been the Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan triple density INT/SINK3/SINK 5. We don’t get anything for that plug. They cast and fish beautifully. Lastly don’t use any less than 0.35mm tippet. Takes are hard earned and it hurts a lot when you don’t even get to see the creature that had just decided that you did everything else right! Please keep us posted on your progress, we love nothing more than to hear of streamer success.