Little Juniata River Hatches
The Little Juniata River is know for some of the greatest hatches in the eastern United States.
We fish any time of year but the most productive and enjoyable time is April - June.
Sometime in April the caddis kick off, what we would consider, the first fantastic dry fly action of the year. The caddis can be thick as bugs land on head and down your back with trout rise 360 degrees around you. That's what it is all about as far as we’re concerned! A typical day here is good fishing all day, usually 9 a.m. to dark. The caddis bring up arguably the largest fish of the year, perhaps only second to a sporadic June hatch. As with many intense hatches, it doesn’t last long. The weather and precipitation can really affect fishing this time of year. After a little less than a week of intense bug action, the caddis give way to a smaller less intense hatch. Fishing can and does remain good however, with three different caddis hatching daily.
A few weeks later, the Little Juniata River’s most famous hatch, the Sulphurs begin. This hatch is much longer in duration and on cool cloudy/rainy days, you’ll rival your most memorable experience of having willing wild brown trout rise to your fly. Hot, humid days can delay the sulphurs mating process to only the last 30 minutes of daylight. These 30 minutes are intense but short-lived. Nymphing remains outstanding throughout the evening, which is the ticket for these situations.
The larger sulphurs give way to their smaller cousins and a few other larger mayfly hatches. Here is a time where you can blindly cast to a run or tail-out and consistently have a large trout come up despite no previous evidence of surface feeding. Trout are opportunistic and the energy to retrieve such a meal is worth it to the fish. At this point of the season, fish will hold high in the water column waiting for a bug. The hatches are not as intense but the willingness of the fish are still there. This is enjoyable; it’s as much hunting as fishing. This is a great time to fish into dark and end the evening stripping leeches on slow pools.
In June the terrestrials really start going and are followed by a trico hatch. The a.m. is the time to start the day here. Warming waters keep us casting downstream of springs entering the river and in shaded areas. These are wild trout and we are not willing to over-stress them.
By the third week in July, the river temperature in many spots can hover around 70-72 degrees. This is a time to give the majority of the river a rest. Once the end of August rolls around, the slate drakes and white flies can light up the surface fishing through October. Once the fish get on their beds to spawn we give them a rest a reproduce.
On a nice winter day, nymphing can be fantastic. Having good water to work through keeps the feet from freezing. Mid-day fishing is the way to go here. Once the water begins to warm in March, the nymphing gets even better. Despite tricky wild trout, they sure drop their level of caution once the bugs start getting restless.