Fly-fishing for trout in the lakes of Tasmania during summer.Lakes are effective insect traps for terrestrial insects.
In fly-fishing terms terrestrial insects originate from the land, but through mishap, become victims to the world of water. Beetles, bees, leafhoppers (Jassids), crickets, ants, grasshoppers and other species find themselves helpless as they try to take off from the water surface. They sometimes make it to shore, but often are doomed to drown or worse eaten alive by fish. Trout love to concentrate on these easy pickings, and grow fat on this rich and diverse gift. It is our duty as fishermen to reduce this carnage as much as possible by hauling out these killers and giving them a stern lesson.
Food availability summer season
Terrestrial insects can be found in trout stomachs throughout the season; however, summer provides the greatest diversity and abundance of these insects. With sustained high air pressure and generally drier conditions, the heat of the summer sun creates conditions less suitable for the hatching of aquatic insects than what is expected earlier and sometimes later in the trout-fishing season. As trout become attuned to these new food types, they adjust their habits accordingly.
Trout and other creatures expend energy to obtain food and must therefore gain more energy in return if they are to maintain their condition and hopefully grow larger.
The rise to a beetle is very casual and efficient one, and trout, especially the larger and more experienced models, can sip them off the surface with barely a dimple.
A good rise to a fall of insects is not always a certainty; it may take time for patterns to develop. Changeable weather can complicate the issue. I think it is better to have fairly stable weather, especially regarding wind direction, for patterns and habits to develop.
Wind, lakes and locating fish.
Fishing in the wind can be challenging at times, but it helps us mostly, in these ways;
Surface chop helps to hide the fall of your line.
Trout are less suspicious of leader and tippet.
The resulting currents concentrate the food source.
Wind, ideally warm and not too changeable, sets up a system that allows us to make predictions that works very well for us at times.
Landforms affect the way the wind is distributed on the surface of the lake, resulting in the movement of water, creating currents and eddies.
Wind pushes the floating insects across the lake where they are drawn towards and become aligned with water currents. These are places where trout look for their food.
The resulting slicks are clearly visible on calm mornings after a big blow.
The trout patrol these rafts of floating debris fishermen call wind lanes, slurping and sipping the crunchy soft-centred treats they find there.
Not surprisingly, the best rises are associated with the activity of flying insects. Fish are more likely to be searching the surface when visibility is at it's best during periods of fine weather.
Because trout love to feed on the surface, they will be looking skywards during these times.
Fishing floating flies is an enjoyable pastime in the right conditions.
One of the positive aspects of fishing these smorgasbords is that trout seem to be less fussy about fly patterns, no doubt due to the diversity of acceptable morsels available to them.
Fishing terrestrial fly patterns
The most interesting way to fish this kind of fly is to cast to rising fish.
A boat provides great mobility and opportunity, but shore based fishing is effective if wind changes aren't a problem.
The use of patterns that approximate the form of beetles takes a lot of beating, but it is important that these sit low in the surface, like the natural insect.
Flies that employ the use of plastic foam in their construction are reliable with the best being bi-visual.
Brightly coloured posts and similar additions that improve visibility above the waterline are functional. Trout will take surprisingly large insects as well as spiders and even mice, so, don't be afraid of trying the largest models you can cast comfortably with a standard 6wt.
The advantage is that more fish will see it.
As a general rule it is more difficult to catch trout in calm conditions, so, the use of a smaller size can turn lookers into grabbers.
In choppy conditions trout find it hard to swim past a drifting Chernobyl Ant.
The Chernobyl is a ripper, big yet cast-able, they always float properly and being so comical to look at, they are good for a few laughs, but with all those dangly legs, they are a surprisingly reliable fish taker.
Gum beetles are a major event in the highlands and can result in some selective feeding behaviour, which can be frustrating at times.
These little beetles can fall into the water in a huge way forming vast rafts of the floating, struggling insects. They can be found in such large numbers that trout really do become stuffed to the gills. Their stomachs bulge with so may insects they surely must get tired of eating them, but eat them they do.
When conventional gum beetle imitations, (and there are some excellent patterns available), fail to draw a take, I have been successful using a fly of quite different form. I call these flies are called hatch-breakers. It is interesting to observe fish close in during a heavy feeding session. The trout select only some of the gum beetles and ignore many others. If, after repeated refusals to your best Gumby pattern, consider a change to something quite different. I don't know why, but the trick has worked for me a few times.
There are many other species I haven't mentioned, that can be found, and endless variations to the methods I have written about. One of the amazing features of the sport is that the conditions always seem to be a little different each time, so there is always something new to learn about, and learn it over.
The important thing is to experience it yourself and hopefully add to the vast array of knowledge that exists on the subject of fly-fishing for trout!