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chugbug27

Mystery Hatch...

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This has happened to me too often on too many different waters not to ask for help solving the mystery hatch...

 

It's the end of the day, near dusk. I'm at at a slow moving pool in a cold trout stream, freestone or tailwater, seems the same. Large trout start surfacing. It's hard to read what they're doing because it's getting dark, but there's a lot of noise and it seems like they're slashing at the surface, but maybe slightly under or in the surface. It's also too deep and distant to get a net to what's floating in or near the surface. But they're slashing and not slurping. They also seem to be flashing just below the surface. It's not on the edges, but not smack in he middle of the pool either, generally a few feet from the edges..

 

I try what seems to be everything... Pmd's, other mayflies, midges, Caddis, various sizes and colors, emergers and dries, and nothing works. They're keyed on something else... It gets too dark to keep tying new flies, and I go home...

 

Are they eating minnows? Tricos? I think I've tried everything else...

 

Maybe

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I have observed some minnows that feed heavily on top just at/after dark and remain hidden at other times, but I think there are insects that hatch in such circumstances, caddis maybe or it could be spinners falling?

A suggestion, light a gas lantern and watch what comes to it. maybe drape it with a light colored/transparent 'tent' to make the visitors more visible.

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Are locale and season constant factors in what you experience?

 

In many such cases I forget dry patterns and use a buggy, mobile, tan or olive, nymph like a Borger strip nymph twitched along just below the surface. It may not imitate exactly what they are feeding on but it will draw slashing strikes in the gloaming.

 

Rocco

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Happens in tail waters and freestone streams, east and west.. the only consistency is the pool, the time, the behavior, and that it doesn't seem to be mayfly, Caddis, or midge related...

 

Next time at dusk in calm water I'll have to try a strip nymph and maybe muddler minnows... thanks for the tips

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My theory:

 

I suspect midges. Late in the evening when the shadows are long, the water gets darker and the backdrop (sky) appears lighter from down there. To us the sky is getting darker of course, but from under the water, tiny offerings are more visible than when everything was lit up. Instead of sitting and waiting for food to come right to them, they are more prone to go out to eat as it gets dark.

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A very bright flash light ... with a tight beam. Hold it at the water's surface and let it shine out over the water where the action is. (Or near it if you think it will spook fish)

If you see see "dust motes" zipping around with a purpose ... that's what they're feeding on. If you don't see anything flying above the water, I'd guess they're probably going after minnows or mysis shrimp (if you have those in your waterways).

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Do trout slash at midges? I mostly see them sip w/o expending much energy for food unit. The hatches are dense enough that there is not much need to chase...

 

Rocco

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Slashing take usually indicates a moving target to me, mayflies taking flight or caddis skittering across the water sort of thing. I think that I'd try a sparse bucktail 1.5-2" long on the idea of those minnows or something like a Stimulator and 4-5" slow strips with a pause now and then. The caddis like bugs I've seen at dusk are always big as grasshoppers and a hopper skittered might be good.Most of my late evening fishing is geared toward smb, so small streamers on top are a staple. Those kind of pools for trout also put me wanting double length leaders for low light angles, getting the line shadow or reflection farther away from the fish.

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I've tried midges, all stages... I haven't tried minnows (hadn't occurred to me), haven't tried a strip nymph or damsel nymph, haven't tried oversize Caddis (skittering or still), haven't tried a flashlight. I think next time I'll have to try these.

 

Nothing like getting skunked when the fish are slashing around at dusk to make you thirsty...

 

My hunch (for now) is minnows leaving the banks at night, especially if that's something they tend to do. I think I'd have seen the oversize caddis, but maybe not. It's gonna be painful to shine a flashlight at slashing trout, but that's probably gonna give the best evidence

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Personally I am not sold on it being minnows/small fish they are chasing. While trout certainly will hunt minnows and smaller fish it is not something you will be witnessing all that often as minnows/fish are more of an opportunist type meal rather than something that is going to happen every night at the same time in the same area of the stream. Plus when I have seen large trout whack a minnow or smaller fish, it usually starts with a chase and a couple of large boils of water when it hits the minnow rather than a slashing rise. Slashing rises usually indicate an insect they feel will get away and is faster moving like Rocco said, which is usually more often than not Caddis. Flashing takes just under the surface usually indicates emerges being taken. IMO best way to narrow it down is to pull up a hatch chart for the body of water you are fishing. There's a hatch chart for every area of every state in the country, find one for the area you are in at the time of year you are seeing, this and that will give you a list of potential suspects that you can then narrow down to find what it is.

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Tried everything that was supposed to be hatching.... Maybe it's that I need to lengthen the leader / tippet toward dusk. Hadn't thought of that, either, I usually am at about 9', maybe I need to bump that up...

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Have you tried fishing a soft hackle in the film? I find that a Partridge and Orange can be a killer in the circumstances you describe.

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Tough question with good answers/advice so far. Personally what I'd try is a cripple, like a Quigley style or Last Chance style with something like an RS2 or soft hackle as the point fly. Not only let it drift but let it swing out at the end of your drift. Another idea is to take a look at Kelly Galloup's sunken spinner as the point fly. Also if the dead drift isn't working, twitch 'em a bit. Just my $.02.

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This has happened to me too often on too many different waters not to ask for help solving the mystery hatch...

 

It's the end of the day, near dusk. I'm at at a slow moving pool in a cold trout stream, freestone or tailwater, seems the same. Large trout start surfacing. It's hard to read what they're doing because it's getting dark, but there's a lot of noise and it seems like they're slashing at the surface, but maybe slightly under or in the surface. It's also too deep and distant to get a net to what's floating in or near the surface. But they're slashing and not slurping. They also seem to be flashing just below the surface. It's not on the edges, but not smack in he middle of the pool either, generally a few feet from the edges..

 

I try what seems to be everything... Pmd's, other mayflies, midges, Caddis, various sizes and colors, emergers and dries, and nothing works. They're keyed on something else... It gets too dark to keep tying new flies, and I go home...

 

Are they eating minnows? Tricos? I think I've tried everything else...

 

Maybe

 

More information is needed. Where in the pool. The head, the tail, the middle?

 

You have given a few hints.

 

The most important is LARGE TROUT.

 

Here's the thing about large trout. It takes LARGE TROUT MORE ENERGY to feed than a smaller trout and yet a large trout gets the SAME FOOD VALUE for each item as the smaller trout. That is why you will see large trout at the stream edges with sipping rises while the smaller trout are jumping at the food.

 

This means that IF the splashy rises you see are REALLY large trout, the food value (calories) for each time MUST be large for the large trout to feed like that. This suggest the large trout are chasing minnows as a possibility.

 

The location at the sides of the pool suggest that it could be terrestrials. So walk the edges of the pool at night and see if you can force some terrestrials into the pool and check the reaction. When you say that the feeding is generally a few feet from the edges, I don't understand why you say you cannot seine the drift.

 

If the rises are at the head of the pool. I would seine the river just before the pool top see what is dropping into the pool.

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