Well, the Drakes are here in all their glory. These large mayflies hatch in the late evenings and can lure even the smartest lunker off the bottom. This is the time of the year where the team in the shop is running on fumes, spending late nights chasing nocturnal dry fly eats from trophy trout. Listen for the "slurp" cast carefully, and if you hear an eat, set the hook!
The Drakes not only prove to be a awesome hatch for trout fishing, but smallmouth as well. Our top-water bite only improves as these bugs hatch in rivers and lakes. Target typical structure in lakes with medium to small sized poppers and transition to small poppers and large dry fly patterns as you notice more bugs in the water. The best method for smallmouth in still water is to pop and twitch these patterns in order to attract fish, but leave long pauses in the retrieve. Sometimes I will count to 30 before moving my fly again.
A few tips to help with after dark fishing.....
1. A quality headlamp is a must. I prefer to use a red-light option when I'm on the river to reduce the chances of spooking fish.
2. Check your fly and leader often. Once the sun drops it difficult to track your cast and tell if your in a tangle or not. I prefer to check my leader and fly every three casts as a general rule.
3. Stay still and once you detect a fish stalk it slowly. In order to increase your chances on these fish, put yourself in a position to make the perfect drift on the first few casts.
If you're still struggling after dark consider picking up a floating glow line from the shop. These lines work well throughout the day and the sun charges them for after dark. If you need a quick charge it just takes a UV flashlight and you're good to go.
Remember to stay safe out there and wade carefully. Good luck out there and stop by the shop to chat up the team and grab the right flies to put fish in the net.