Early Season Patterns for Southern Alberta
Shane Olson of myflyguy.ca
As much as an avid fly fisherman enjoys casting dry flies, in the early season this will put serious limitations on the fish you will be able to reach. The reason for this is basic entomology. This is not to say that you can’t fish dries early, but if we are to match the hatch our options will become extremely limited.
Although there are some flies that will hatch in the earliest part of the Southern Alberta season, such as March Browns, most of the waters have not yet reached the temperatures needed to kick-start any sort of hatch that would get a dry fly nuts heart pounding. Keeping this in mind choosing the right flies for the early chilled Alberta days can certainly make the difference between successful fishing or just a great walk in the woods.
Most trout’s food in the early days of spring will come off the bottom of the lakes and rivers. This when larval stages of our native aquatic insects will begin their respective rises to the surface and start to bring the long winter fast to an end. As with all animals, their stomachs may temporarily blind them, and you may find yourself in an early season feeding frenzy.
I have found most of the successful early season patterns are usually the simplest and the smallest, I find the size of the chosen nymph, buzzer or emerger is crucial. Remember this time of year the clear majority of insects are very small.
These are the patterns that I have found immense success with in the early Southern Alberta season.
- Zebra Midge # 16 to 20
- Wire worms, San Juan worms # 10 to 20
- Buzzers (Lots of colors here) # 10 to 20
- Hares ear #16 to 20
- Stone Flies # 8 to 14
- May Fly Nymphs # 16 to 20
- Scuds (Green or Orange) # 18 to 20
- Prince Nymph # 14 to 20
Now there inevitably other flies and methods that will work in this season. I love to experiment and I would encourage you to try new things, at all times of the year. To me, this is one of the most rewarding and exciting challenges of fly fishing.
If you have any suggestions that you have tried in the early season, please chime in.
And visit me at myflyguy.ca