Lower Moormans’ River and Bluegill in February?

Lower Moormans’ River 2/7/12
Air Temp – 60 F
Water Temp – 44 F
Clear skies, slight breeze
Water – clear, levels average
Hatch activity – 12 Stonefly, 24 midge, 18 BWO

Golf Course Pond 2/7/12
Charlottesville, VA
Air Temp – 55
Water Temp – 51
Clear skies
Water – turbid, vis <1ft
Hatch activity – none

Post call days were made for fishing. Especially post call days in February when the temperature is in the sixties! Tucker convinced me that he should be able to come along for the adventure. This generally decreases my odds of actually catching a fish by about fifty percent.
My friend Dave had just visited the Moormans the previous day and saw some midge hatches with flies around size 26-28. The fish were happily feeding on the surface and Dave got many strikes but was unable to solidly connect on such small flies.
Tucker and I made it streamside and were immediately greeted by this fellow

My first stonefly sighting on the Moormans

I thought it a nice omen. Boy was I wrong. We fished for about three hours and saw plenty of rishing fish. Just like Dave noticed they were only interested in the very small midge emergers. The smallest midge I had was 22, which proved too large for these wary stocked rainbows. I decided to fish my new go to pattern, the swung 18 partridge and orange. Not even a look…If only I had listened to Tom Rosenbauer’s latest Podcast on the differences between wild and hatchery trout I may brought more tiny midge patterns with me. These podcasts are absolutely invaluable and I listen to them every week. In this edition, Tom says that since hatchery trout grow up feeding on only one food source, when they are introduced into the wild they tend to lock into one particular food source. This is in contrast to wild fish who must constantly be seeking new foods as seasonal fluctuations change the menu. The stocked rainbows that are still alive on the Moormans have likely been caught and released on a variety of the trendiest patterns available. I think this is why they key in on the tiny midges. I was hoping they hadn’t seen many soft hackle flies, but perhaps I’m not the only one plying the waters circa 1920.

Gratuitous Underwater shot of the Lower Moormans

"Dad, can I please jump into that pool?"

Perfect endpoint for a swung partridge and orange

This has been a crazy “winter” as far as the temperatures are concerned. About one week ago I started hearing the peep toads in the small stream behind the house. By my reckoning they are about three weeks too early. Their presence gave me the wild thought that perhaps the largemouth would be confused as well. They may even be starting to move into the shallows to start the pre-spawning stage. Tucker and I left the river for an old haunt of ours.

A golf course pond

We used to live next to a golf course and Tucker and I would walk the course every evening as the last golfers were making their way to the clubhouse. I would fish and Tucker would endlessly chase deer and foxes. We made it onto the course a little earlier than usual. We passed about three sets of golfers who gave us very unwelcoming stares. I imagined them picking up their cell phone after we trapsed out of view to call the clubhouse and complain that some jerk was walking around hole 16 with a hound dog and a cane pole. My Carharts and Simms shirt were not quite the dockers and polo’s they are used to. At one point we were hiding in the reeds on the far side of the pond when a red fox came into view

The fox that almost got us busted

Tucker went crazy. He was yelping and whining and trembling and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him chase this fox right onto the number 14 green. Cue more unusual stares from the radiologists on the number 14 green.
The pond was only 51 degrees, probably a little too cold for surface activity but a damn sight warmer than I expected. We pulled out a few bluegill from the middle of the pond on a clouser minnow pattern.

Sunfish in February!

Such focus

I did feel one strike that seemed a little larger than a bluegill but that could have been wishful thinking. Probably need a few more weeks before I dust off the 8 weight in earnest.

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1 Response to Lower Moormans’ River and Bluegill in February?

  1. Mark Sturtevant says:

    Glad you’re fishing, doc! IMy knee went south Saturday morning and I didn’t walk for three days,

    I used to fish some confounding midge hatches on the Gunpowder back in the day. Thread and a tuft of CDC for a down wing is usually enough fly for 24’s 26’s and 28’s. When they won’t hit anything else soft hackles can be effective fished dead drift upstream. I used to have picky eaters fairly jump for a breadcrust pattern. Grease the leader to within a foot of the fly so it floats and the fly drifts in the film. Try it!

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