Although Yellows do appear on the surface from time to time in winter, sooner or later winter water temperatures take hold, and this will have us delve into our boxes for small but heavily weighted nymphs in a bid to scour the streambed for retreating yellows.
Yellows are relatively free-ranging under normal flow rates. However, confronted by winter low flows, they are often restricted to only handful of key places. For example, the inside bend of a river or a riverbed depression hole. With this and the fact that insect hatches generally slow right down during colder months, yellows initially seek food close to the riverbed.
Small nymphs help keep these speedsters ticking over through harsh winter months. Larvae and nymphs like caddis, cased caddis, shrimps and mayfly nymphs all provide nourishment for watchful fish, these nymphs spending much of their time on the riverbed. Whilst many small nymphs can be imitated on hooks ranging from size 12-20, some insect species can reach an inch in length.
Targeting yellows in winter is the time of the true hatch-matching angler.
The thing to remember is that the above mentioned never venture far from the streambed. So it pays then to constantly cover this section of water with a fly regardless of river height and clarity. Yellows often respond to flies of varying colours, patterns containing black, brown and olive are known favourites for Yellows and give a definite outline in murky water.
Strong flows can make casting and negotiating the flies hectic to say the least. It's then better to fish a shorter, more controlled line. Remember to fish into a situation and not just jump for favourite areas. Occasionally, currents and eddies can wreak havoc with presentation. Searching these areas usually results in swirling water dragging your fly line under, possibly registering as a take. To avoid such imaginary takes, some form of strike indicator should be considered. Whilst i rarely use them, they have worth in confidence building for those wanting to progress with river nymphing.
Last Sunday produced some fantastic fun, enough to make me once again ask myself why so many people consider July the most underrated fishing month of the year. Anyway, apart from all of that, the fishing was outstanding.
We arrived at the river just after lunch time. The weather turned out to be good on the day and the water conditions better then one could ask for. We picked a nice pool to fish, and fished two Mayflies in tandem in size 16 and 18. The fish were clearly in feeding mood, with Rhuan and myself both landing a good number of fish. The drift is drag-free, but punctuated by twitches. What is vitaly important is that you fish your flies close to or on the bottom.
There is simply more to this time of the year than any other time of year on the river, and the right day can provide hours of perfect dry fly fishing. For all of us, it's time to simply take in and appreciate what the river gives us!