Allphin: The magic of early mornings
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time irrigating our family orchard. Just watching the water flood our fruit trees got me excited to fish small streams. Back then, the only time I had to fish was very late at night. The Provo River was my target and a night crawler was my bait. On calm evenings, well after dark, I’d slip off of the Orem hill and end up near Columbia Lane right where the river cascaded over a small waterfall. Many a 20-inch brown trout fell to my night crawler, which was rigged weightless.
It was more than a decade later when I first discovered the magic of late night and early morning fishing on lakes and reservoirs. My brother Dave and I would arise very early and fish the Mud Creek area of Strawberry Reservoir with a fly and a bubble, looking for giant rainbows. Still pitch black outside, or with a sliver of a moon in the sky, 4 a.m. was not too early for us to begin searching the shoreline for rising trout.
Let’s take a look at the early morning bite and how you, too, can capitalize on this magical time on your favorite lake.
Big trout move shallow at night, especially in the summertime:. The reasons are clear. Their food sources, whether insect, minnow, or even crawdad, come out to play under the cover of darkness. Trout don’t get to be trophy-size by not knowing how to avoid a hook, and at night, while the vast majority of anglers are asleep, they can roam freely and feed to their hearts’ content.
My father taught me the very best way to target these early morning fish.
“Son,” he told me, “always begin your fishing day with the color black.”
A black wooly worm became my No. 1 fly. As the early morning progressed, I would move to a red wooly worm, then brown and then, as the sky got light and the sun began to creep over the eastern horizon, I’d move to various shades of green.
But, there was more to catching early morning fish than just having the right color. I used a leader at least four feet long when fishing in the dark. The farther away from the bubble the fly was, the better in my mind. You must make the presentation appear completely natural. I always wanted the fly to slowly sink down the water column and a long leader also accomplished this requirement. I rarely used weighted wooly buggers for this presentation; in fact, the old wooly worm, as long as it was large enough or had a long enough tail, worked very, very well.
Finally, the bubble was almost entirely full of water. I used the clear bubbles in a medium size (the ones that slide on to your line) and then a swivel large enough so that the bubble won’t get stuck in the top as it slid down the line.
After each cast, I would let the water settle down after the splash of the bubble. After about 20 seconds, I began to reel slowly enough that the bubble slid through the water with few if any ripples. There was no need to cast a long distance with this rig. At times we saw fish rising or “sipping” very close to shore. The key was, then and is now, to know your water; be aware of where there is moss or surface grass and where the water column is clear. For this method I liked fishing the edges of the moss or grass, but not right inside the mat.
For the next four months, and on almost any lake you fish, the early morning can be a magical time when the fish will bite and you will have the opportunity to catch some of the largest fish in the entire body of water.