peelman writes "
Grand River, Fergus, Ontario ? June 1-2, 2003
This report has one main purpose?to help anyone going to the Grand River in the near future spend less time experimenting and more time catching fish.
First, the river. John Valk of Grindstone Anglers, one of the featured speakers at the Southfield Fly Fishing Show, hyped the Grand as having big brown trout rise all day, even in the middle of the day. It?s not hype, that has been the case almost every time I?ve been there.
Second, where to go. I spent the entire time in the middle section, between Fergus and Elora, both up and downstream from the trestle. Rob Heal, a Grindstone guide who lives in Fergus, and several other people, said the section upstream from Fergus is still too cold. I can not comment on the downstream section, other than that the hatches are going to be running a bit further along. All things considered, the section I fished was great. Water conditions were excellent and big fish were rising all day long.
Brown trout at Ontario's Grand River
Third, bugs. Every fly fisherman I know would rather fish a mayfly hatch, given the choice. Unfortunately, we don?t always have that choice. For the two days I was there, caddis took the lead. Granted, there were mayflies on the water, Foxes/March Browns size 14-12, and even a few size 10. But for the most part, the fish were ignoring them. During the day, most of the small to medium size fish were taking adult caddis, size 18, with tan bodies and light tan wings. In the evening, I noticed a lot of size 16 caddis with olive green bodies and dark gray wings.
Grindstone Guide - Rob Heal at frustration flats
The mystery I could not solve was what the big fish were taking. The smaller guys had those splashy rises you see when they?re taking fluttering adult caddis. But the big boys had a slow confident rise, either a sip or porpoise. Four of us were working several of these big boys, throwing everything we had at them, wet and dry. Our only firm conclusion was that they were not taking caddis and they were not taking mayflies. Nor were they taking craneflies. We did see many craneflies, but they did not seem important to the trout. Finally, one of the flies I tried did succeed, but I had on 7X tippet and I struck like it was 1X. Ping! The fly that worked was a size 18 pheasant tail soft hackle. Of course, this was the only one in my box.
My friend?s dad did see one Fox get sucked down. He yelled the news over to me and I tied on a size 12 parachute. On my first cast with the new fly, it drifted only about two feet until a big fish rose and inhaled. It tore off to the bottom of the large pool before I even had time to realize what was going on. When it finally stopped, I was relieved because there was way too much line out. I was able to get some line back, it made a couple more short runs and started thrashing the surface. Then the line went dead. Fearing the worst, I reeled in to look at the tippet. Yes, my fears were true, it had the dreaded curly-cue! That was the second fish I lost for failing to improve my clinch knot. Some people just never learn.
Peelman with the a colorful Grand River brown trout
You always lament the fish that got away, but did actually land eight fish. Only one was under 12?. My biggest, a 19 incher, took a size 18 tan deer hair caddis. I worked it for over an hour before it finally took. The tough part was that it was rising in a backeddy on the far side of a fast run. The tough presentation was complicated by a strong upstream wind and 3 weight fly line. The fight was very similar to the one that got away, besides the getting away part. I caught three fish on that fly. Unfortunately, to the best of my observation, this was the only big fish rising to adult caddis.
I also had good luck nymphing a green caddis larva pattern. Another guy upstream caught several fish on a large (size 12?) tan isopod pattern. Based on several conversations with other anglers, nymphs were working a lot better than dries. Maybe the small pheasant tail soft hackle fished dead drift in the surface film was the answer to the mystery bug the big boys were eating, but, maybe not. It could have been like my Klinkhamer Special, working once and then getting scoffed at by all other fish it was presented to.
May you have better luck solving the mystery than me."