Sat 16 Feb 2013
I think a lot of anglers overlook the importance of using midge larva. I mean, they’re typically boring and ugly looking…like what I think about ratatouille-nasty crap. But, it doesn’t matter what we think, it’s about what the fish think. I’ve found that fishing midge larva patterns during winter mornings before the bugs get moving is a sure way to get your day started out right. They also seem to work well after a hatch too, when the trout are no longer rising.
Like I had written in a previous post about sow bugs and scuds, midge larvae also make up a large part of a trout’s diet. But unlike other bugs such as Blue Wing Olive nymphs or Pale Morning Duns, midge larvae typically don’t cause selective feeding. The trout take them opportunistically. It’s kind of like, “I’m never really craving a Hot Pocket, but I wouldn’t say no if you made me one.”
Lately, I’ve been starting most of my days fishing sow bug patterns like a Ray Charles-or a scud pattern like a hunchback’s scud, trailed by either a red, cream, or olive midge larva pattern. This combo seems to work very well fished along the bottom in the slower, deeper water where winter fish often hang when there’s not much going on. One thing to remember is that the slower the current, the longer the lag time between the strike, and the consequent jitter of the indicator. If you notice anything; and I mean ANYTHING happen to your indicator, set the hook! I can’t stress that enough.
I think a common mistake made by fishermen (me included) is that we’ll often fish larvae patterns too small. Remember that the larval form of a midge is quite a bit longer, skinnier, and often of a different color that that of an adult…or even the pupa. For instance, the adult black midges that have been hatching over this last month are about a size 20, with a solid black body. The pupa has a dark olive body with a dark brown thorax. (Size 20). This same fly in its larval form is actually around a size 18 with the body color ranging from almost transparent to olive-depending how far along they are in development.
If you’re ever in doubt on what color/size of midge larvae to fish, just dredge an aquarium net through the first inch of sediment along the river (or lake) bottom. Midges spend most of their development time in the silt and they’re so numerous on most waters that you’re likely to find at least one or two in the first scoop!
I always enjoy meeting other fishermen/women, and this morning was no different. I was just about to make my first cast when a guy with only two weeks of fly fishing experience came over and struck up a conversation. He watched me catch the first fish of the day and helped with the camera. Five minutes later I had us both rigged up with my secret weapon-a size 22 3XLong olive tube midge larva, and things proceeded to get Biblical. I love watching people light up when they connect on a beautiful fish.