I figure its about that time that we’re all thinking about opening day here in Ontario. After all, its only days away. Each year, on the fourth Saturday in April, the streams come alive with eager fly fisherman seeking to remove months of the shack nasties. So what do you do with the last couple of weeks leading up to opener? This is the time of year I get critical about my fly inventory. I like to at the very least make sure my spring box(es) are full and ready to be spilled on opening day.
Its best to be prepared for any type of hatch or situation you may come across on that all important opening day. If it rains steady for the week leading up to opening trout season, you’ll want to make sure you are armed with big, oversided nymphs, streamers and egg patterns. If the days leading up to opener are warm, sunny and dry, there is a good chance you might see some hatches coming off at the warmest times of the day. Many years for example, the night before opener, the temperature won’t fall below 10 degrees Celsius. The days and nights before that can be just as warm, if not warmer. This can lead to some stonefly & BWO hatches and even the odd hendrickson coming off the water. Having imitations of all of these flies on hand can result in great success. Not having them – well, you can only guess.
Early Trout Season Ontario Flies for Different Situations
I’ll break the flies that you should have with you down into two parts. Some flies will overlap, and we’ll just call those all around opening day fly patterns.
The first part – Fishing streams for Resident Trout on Opening day. These streams will hold a vast number of insects, minnows and a number of terrestrial creatures worth having imitations for. Regardless of the season, there are always food items drifting around in streams for trout. These could be stonefly nymphs, caddis pupae, minnows, leeches, salmon fry from the previous fall, etc. Knowing the stream you are fishing goes a long way in knowing what to expect to be present.
Nymph Fly Recommendations
Nymphs for early season
Early Black Stonefly Nymph & Dry Fly – These little black stoneflies will be hatching on opening day. Its best to be armed with a ton of different imitations and sizes. Tie these flies both with and without gold bead heads. That sparkle of a gold bead head on a nymph fly pattern can be what makes or breaks using that fly on some days.
Caddis Pupae Imitations – These bugs are always in the water. The caddis fly family has many sizes and colours, so being armed with a variety of caddis pupae imitations is your best bet.
Mayfly Nymph Imitiations – There will be a few species of mayflies that are becoming active and possibly even emerging during the early days of trout season. Have a variety of these flies on hand to tempt trout with.
Nymph Attractor Patterns – These flies don`t necessarily imitate anything in particular, but they do imitate a number of bugs that will be active early in the season. Stock up on these.
Wooly Buggers – These simple flies can be used to imitate anything from large nymphs to minnows & crayfish and even tadpoles. Have several of these tied in different colours and sizes to play around with. If the fishing is slow, these flies might be what gets the fish out of their laziness. Dead drift, strip or swing these flies down and across the current.
Nymph Fly Recommendations
Dry Flies for early season trout fishing
Depending on how warm it’s been through the month of April, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing at least a couple of trout bugs beginning to hatch during the first days and weeks of trout season in Ontario. The most common flies that hatch during this period are little black stoneflies, blue winged olives (BWOs) and hendrickson mayflies. You should have these in your opening day fly box, otherwise you might miss out on some of the first dry fly fishing of the season.
Hair wing Mayfly Patterns – You`ll want a variety of sizes and colours to match what might be hatching early in the season. Generally, you`ll find BWOs in abundance, and a chance of a late afternoon Hendrickson emergence.
Stimulator Fly Patterns – These flies do a great job of imitating stoneflies. These should be tied in sizes and colour reflective of the season and species in abundance in the stream.
Dry Fly Recommendations:
Streamers for early season trout – If you`re after large, aggressive trout, streamers are the way to go. Large streamer patterns easily weed out smaller fish. You`ll have less hookups, but those hookups you have will be much larger fish.
Trout Streamer Recommendations:
The second part – Fishing rivers for migratory rainbow Trout (steelhead) on Opening day. For the most part, you’ll probably find yourself fishing the lower reaches of most rivers for migratory trout. These areas are generally considered a warm water fishery in the summer months. Fly selection generally remains the same as fishing for resident trout. One addition, however, are egg imitations. Migratory rainbow trout (Steelhead) will be actively spawning in great lakes tributaries. These egg imitations can be deadly when targeting dropback or fresh rainbow trout moving into the rivers to spawn.
Steelhead Fly Recommendations: