Throughout much of the East, March can be a tricky time to be on the water thanks to melting snow and constant rain.
The extreme cold of winter may be in the rearview mirror, but that doesn’t mean the fishing in early spring is easy! An entire winter’s worth of snow suddenly swells favorite trout streams, and that’s only exacerbated by seasonal rains. While these new conditions may seem frustrating and difficult to master, the key to success starts with throwing the right flies to match the high water that’s synonymous with this time of year!
Girdle Bug - CDC Pheasant Tail
When high water is the condition you’re dealing with, nymphs that get down to the bottom are critical for success. The Girdle Bug achieves this by having lead wrapping underneath the body material, while the rubber legs give the fly some motion to attract nearby fish. Stoneflies are also a heavy March hatch, so the Girdle Bug imitates these bugs that are often coming off. The CDC Pheasant Tail trailing behind gives the rig a little flash in the way of a tested and proven attractor that hungry trout won’t be able to resist!
Prince Nymph - Baetis Nymph
Few nymphs have the history and efficiency of the Prince, making it a must-have for March rigs. During the spring high water period, use a larger fly in sizes #10 and #12 to give the rig some extra weight to drop it down quickly. Baetis are another terrific “match the hatch” springtime nymph to have in the arsenal. When trout are being picky and focusing in on one specific bug, odds are the Baetis will do the trick.
Squirmy Worm - Caddis Larvae
Spring rains bring worms out of the ground and onto the surface, as noted by the large quantities often found on driveways and sidewalks following precipitation. The same thing happens along a favorite trout stream, which means Squirmy Worms are an absolute must during high water events. Pink and red are two terrific color choices, but if the water is really off-color anglers might consider also using orange, purple, or chartreuse. It should come as no surprise that the trailing fly on this rig is a caddis. These bugs are some of the most consistent in spring, and as such, make up a huge portion of a trout's diet. Coming off a winter of small midges, a #16 or #18 caddis must seem like a feast for hungry fish looking to replenish weight after the harsh conditions of the previous months!
March is all about nymph rigs, and this is the first opportunity of the spring to match some of the local hatches that come off with the first warmth of the year. When those hatch-specific flies are paired with productive attractors, the result is a nymph rig that trout simply cannot resist. There is still the matter of knowing where to find the fish and identifying which bugs are coming off that day, but it’s a safe bet that one of these six patterns will do the trick regardless of all other factors during March.