Could the fishing get any better? March has traditionally been the most difficult month for guiding as many waterways have become too warm and most hatches are petering out. This season, that could not be further from the truth.
Jassids! We had seen a large number of jassids from time to time in February but not actually on the water. These little leaf hoppers are the equivalent of trout chocolate. Fish seem to hunt them out and gorge on them. Sunlight and warmth at this time of year are the two keys for finding jassids on the water. Although we do not get anywhere near the same number of gum beetles at this time of year as we did in the early 1990’s, the jassids seem a little more predictable.
On a number of days we have managed to get wonderful dry fly fishing and polaroiding. Jim Stewart, from Ballarat, was fortunate enough to be on the water with us on a highland day when there was no wind at all until after 3pm! These days occur once or twice a season. Fish are extremely difficult to catch when the wind is this light as they see you coming from so far away and any movement sends ripples across the top of the water. For once, the fish seemed to continue to rise with gay abandon and almost ignore us. Jim cleaned up! There were so many fish looking for surface food that they seemed to be schooling. On many occasions, Jim would cast to a sighted fish only to have another one eat it before the intended quarry had arrived at the fly! While I’m writing here about the best day we’ve had recently, there have been numerous others that were not far behind.
Overcast days in the highlands often produce the best fishing in March, with loch style techniques bringing many fish to the boat and the trout clearly still looking up. However this March, we’ve spent many days on the rivers when the cloud has come in. It has been spectacular; probably the best fishing all season. The river levels have been generally been down (although the rain I can hear falling now will raise them) and the fish very happy to eat dries and nymphs. One highlight has undoubtedly been the dry fly fishing for Atlantic salmon. It is not often that Atlantics can be found free rising on rivers and I think we have been as surprised and happy as our clients to see this sort of fishing. In other areas, trout have been eating grasshoppers and mayflies very well, while subtle nymphs remain a favourite.
Those fishing from the raft have enjoyed dry fly fishing in areas that are rarely fished and the fishing has not disappointed us.
I can’t believe that I am talking so highly of the fishing we’ve had in mid-autumn! I would not have thought that after a season that can only be described as indifferent overall, we are having such incredible action at a time when we are normally finding it tough. It may all end tomorrow but I doubt it. We will ride the wave for as long as possible and now that April is upon us, it might even get better.