Fly-fishing tips for area reservoirs

Special to the News-Argus

This area includes many private reservoirs in addition to known public fisheries. Leaving walleye waters to specialists, options exist regarding fishing methods. Fly fishermen aware of available foods can out-fish bait or lure fishermen in modest-sized reservoirs and ponds. Rich weedy ponds provide damsel hatches, dragonflies, leeches, snails, sometimes various small forage fish, a few caddis, often a mayfly, backswimmers, and sometimes freshwater scuds, a reduced list in comparison to streams.
Damsel nymphs will be found in a good handful of aquatic vegetation. They are long, slim, and in this area are usually green nymphs with three fan-like tails which are gills, and hatching females are blue. The nymphs grow rapidly close to hatching and turn rougher and darker with a prominent dark wing case. They migrate toward surface vegetation or shore eighteen to thirty inches deep to emerge, usually early to mid-June but as late as August in a few very cold spring-fed ponds. Adults laying eggs descend on stems below the surface and often a wet adult imitation will be more productive than a dry.
Dragon fly nymphs are wide and robust looking and may be a light green, very dark, or a kind of mud bottom gray color. They move in short spurts, due to a rear ejection water propulsion system, then rest. Either a specific imitation or a well-hackled wooly worm can serve well.
Leeches may be black, brown, or olive. A long-shank size 12 black woolly bugger with a weighted bead is excellent for bluegills, crappies, and perch. Those from 1 ½ to two inches usually are better for large trout, and much larger, snaky ones tied with furred rabbit hide work well for bass. Largemouth bass near the surface respond to foam adult dragonfly imitations, in several colors, although I prefer blue.
Various streamers represent bait fish with a light-colored grizzly matuka often effective for lighter-colored prey, and the same with a very dark, barred grizzly hackle if you find black-nosed dace. A light purple/white body and yellow hackle matuka can imitate spawning sticklebacks.
The speckled wing callibaetis of summer hatches offers morning dry fly fishing on light tan colored spinners, but results are usually better on light-colored hair ear nymphs, size sixteen.
You may see green caddis in summer or in autumn -- a large light-colored “traveling caddis” which flutters along the water -- but this will not occur often. In the fall, backswimmer imitations can provide the best pond fishing of the year. Without a specific imitation, use a prince nymph, weighted enough to sink several feet, then smoothly raise it to the surface with a floating line, as the adults come to the top for air bubbles or to fly away, mate and return to the water with a splat.
Small dark backswimmers, snails, and damsels can be found in Ackley in springtime, large greenish backswimmers in the fall, and crayfish imitations can be effective. Several midges can be useful. A gray midge is common on ponds in spring, including Carters ponds, imitated with a size 16 CDC dry (some early autumn action on Hansen Creek with these).



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