Spring is here and it’s time to put the ice fishing rods away and pull out the fly fishing gear! The BC Interior lakes start to become ice free by the 3rd week of March in the lower evaluation areas and can sometimes take until mid-may in the higher altitudes.
Fishing right after ice off can be one of the most productive times in the year. Due to the water still being too cold for most insect hatches an angler will experience best results by fishing with flies such as leeches, scuds, shrimp, immature damselfly, and dragon fly nymphs. These types of insects are a food source for trout all throughout the year so they are a sure bet to present to the fish.
In the early spring most of the trout will be feeding in shallow water as this is where their food source is primarily located. Fishing shallow from approx. 3 to 10 feet with floating line and indicators or intermediate sinking line will present your fly attractively.
When fishing smaller lakes that have been frozen over during the winter it is essential to pay close attention to Lake Turnover after ice off. Lake Turnover is when the colder water on the surface of the lake starts to mix with the warmer water at the bottom layer of the lake. The water on the surface of the lake is colder than the bottom. This is due to the melted ice on the upper layer and throughout winter the vegetation on the lake floor decays giving off heat which warms the lower layer. Water will not mix until each layer is similar in temperature. Once the layers are comparable and with a little wind the lake starts to roll over and mix. During this mixing of water layers the lake becomes very clouded and muddy. The fishing tends to slow down a lot during this time as the trout don’t feed due to the minimal amount of dissolved oxygen. The oxygen that was once within one small upper layer in the lake is now mixed throughout the entire water body, making the oxygen levels depleted throughout. Once the lake has completed its turnover process the water body becomes rejuvenated with oxygen and the trout become active again.
Turnover usually begins between 5 to 8 days once the ice has come off the lake. This narrow window prior to turnover is when fishing times are best! Depending on the lake size and depth it can take a week or two for the lake to fish well after this turnover process has completed.
With the water temperatures warming up it also kick starts chironomids hatches. It’s a great idea to have a variety of small Chironomid patterns in the fly box just in case hatches occur. To help locate the fish in the early spring periods trolling a leech or wooly bugger pattern with a beaded head over the shoals and ledges can help. Once the fish are located it is paramount to slow down your presentation by anchoring down and casting into the shallow shoals. On the slower days a beaded head leech will give that dipping and flashing action that may help entice that lazy trout to bite.
During early spring fishing there can be some really fast action days and some really slow ones. On the slower days think of it as a great opportunity to perfect your casting and challenge yourself to find that one fly that the trout can’t refuse to bite. In the end, it’s just great to be back on the open water enjoying our pristine fisheries that we have in BC!