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Blue-Winged Olive Mayflies are the Ticket for September Trout

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September 10, 2012

Blue-Winged Olive Mayflies are the Ticket for September Trout

By John Merwin

When I think of September trout fishing, I think of blue-winged olives (BWOs). The tiny little mayflies are ubiquitous wherever trout are found in moving water. Hatches seem most abundant on the gray, drizzly afternoons that seem most typical of this month. It’s a great time to be flyfishing.

I’ll be doing just that up north next week, and so I started to check my fly supply. Some of my little BWO dries are shown in the photo, along with a dime for scale. Yes, they’re tiny--generally size 20 on down to some 26s. And yes, they require 6X or sometimes even 7X tippet. In recent years, I’ve had the devil’s own time trying to tie one of those little things to a leader. I just can’t see that well anymore.

But I’ll persist, because it’s my ticket to a chess match that I hugely enjoy. Trout will be slow-sipping the small flies from the surface of clear, slow-moving pools. The fish are inevitably fussy. The first BWO version might be inspected and refused, a process even I can see from 30 feet away.

So I’ll try a thorax-style dry instead of a parachute. Or maybe a CDC-winged emerger. Or an RS-2 emerger. Or maybe even all of them in turn, until I eventually get a taking fish. Then I’ll wade carefully within range of another riser and start the process all over again.

For some reason, many of the trout seem less shy now than they were in late spring. I can wade a little closer. And a dragging dry fly seems less likely to put them down. Perhaps its because spawning season is close for the browns and brookies, so they’re making the most of whatever food is available.

At any rate, I’ll fool around with the little flies and fussy fish until I run out of patience. At that point, I’ll cut my leader back to about 10-pound-test, tie on a big streamer, and start twitching it around the log jams and undercut banks. That might pull a big fish. Or it might not.

Streamers are a more physical game. Little dry flies are more mental. At my age and most of the time, I’ll enjoy the mental part the most.

Comments (4)

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

John, Maybe someday soon, you can give us tips on hooking and fighting fish on small flies. #20's-#26's.

I'll be darn, after working hard to get a fish to strike the little flies, I tend to loose the fish in the battle. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I enjoy the transitional phase from terrestrials back to aquatic insects like mayflies. Maybe because it means cool weather maybe because it means pods of sipping fish, I don't know but I really do like it. Very late summer and fall fishing might be my favorite time of the year to fish.

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Buckhunter, throw an extra day on your hunting trip and I'll put you in 11-mile canyon, those fish seem like they will only hit those small flies(with execeptions of course)and you will get plenty of practice landing 18-20" fish on size 20-26 flies.

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from johnmerwin wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Okay, buckhunter...I'll try to do just that when I'm on again next Monday. Stay tuned...

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

John, Maybe someday soon, you can give us tips on hooking and fighting fish on small flies. #20's-#26's.

I'll be darn, after working hard to get a fish to strike the little flies, I tend to loose the fish in the battle. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I enjoy the transitional phase from terrestrials back to aquatic insects like mayflies. Maybe because it means cool weather maybe because it means pods of sipping fish, I don't know but I really do like it. Very late summer and fall fishing might be my favorite time of the year to fish.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Buckhunter, throw an extra day on your hunting trip and I'll put you in 11-mile canyon, those fish seem like they will only hit those small flies(with execeptions of course)and you will get plenty of practice landing 18-20" fish on size 20-26 flies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Okay, buckhunter...I'll try to do just that when I'm on again next Monday. Stay tuned...

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