Nick Hart’s Early Season River Trout Fishing Tips

Farlows Fishing Manager, Nick Hart, offers some early season river trout fishing tips and timely advice to make sure you make the best possible start to the new season!

Successful anglers are well prepared!

A cracked, memory-ridden fly line that sat on a reel since last season will ruin the day, so it always pays to have a thorough check through all your kit prior to hitting the water for the first time.

Stretching/cleaning lines is remarkably therapeutic (well, I think so anyway!) and this prep is all part of the fun. I usually stick some tunes on in the background and transport myself to the water’s edge, imagining all the amazing experiences ahead. Fly rods, fly reels, leaders, nets, waders (any holes?!) and, of course, trout flies should all be high on the list of your priorities.

"Gazing out of a window towards my local river, as I write, I am tempted to grab the gear and disappear but there are still nine days to go. So, on to my next piece of advice."

Do you own the right clothing for an early season river fishing trip?

It’s been printed a million times before but to take on the challenges of an early season trout river it is important to stay warm. Not only will you will concentrate better but you will also fish better and enjoy the whole experience a lot more.  And, in this wonderful world of multimedia, you don’t even have to read about it as our very own in-house expert, Tom Clinton, has put together an informative film all about the correct use of modern day layers!

"The gear is all prepped and ready so all we need now is a beat full of hungry trout, but where should we go?"

Pick your beat wisely!

During my years as a guide I regularly listened to accounts of anglers heading to super-fast, high altitude rivers. They were keen to get away from the masses and seek adventure from this style of fishing but usually ended up with little to show for their efforts. Of course, there is more to a successful trip than just catching fish but during the early season it is a great confidence booster to catch one or two.

Early Season Trout River

I recommend that you do some research and book venues that are likely to warm up quickly and offer the best chance of a hatch, however small. Early sport can be short-lived but if you are lucky enough to drop in right on top of a large dark olive hatch, or similar, you could be in for a bonanza!

"Warm as hot, buttered crumpets in our waders with a silky-smooth fly line and a banker fly tied to the leader we are now poised, ready to make our first casts of the season.  These have been some of the most exciting days of my career as a guide, but it is so important to be in the right place."

Observation is the key to success.

A fast, cold water running over very little feature and with a depth of mere inches is not where an early season trout will be lurking, waiting for a meal. Wade carefully and search for deep water, look for seam areas (where calm water meets fast) and scan subsurface for signs of fish.  If you find one wild brown trout you may well uncover a few, as they are often tightly bunched at this time of year. This stealthy approach will boost your confidence, safe in the knowledge that a few fish are seeing your flies. And don’t be afraid to try something a bit oversized, like a nice, big, juicy, heavily-weighted pattern - such as the Peeping Caddis Jig.

"Deep nymphing is a go-to method for the early season trout fanatic but isn’t it great to catch one off the top?"

Nick's early season river trout fishing advice

Why not stick on a BIG dry fly and have a go anyway?

The method of casting a surface pattern to unseen fish is called prospecting and it is one of my absolute favourite tactics throughout the season.  I like to think of it as showing the fish a one-off menu that is so appetising they just cannot resist taking a bite. Choose a great big silhouette of a fly such as a March Brown, a heavily tied Elk Hair or a Klinkhammer variant and then ring the dinner bell. Be alert because early season dry fly takes can be incredibly explosive and very aggressive.

Exciting stuff and a great way to start the new season! Enjoy!

Nick Hart

Fishing is my lifelong passion, inspiring my twenty-year career as a full time fly fishing instructor/guide. Swapping my waders for chinos, I am now Farlows Fishing Manager. Never more at home than when I’m beside the water I have fished worldwide for multiple species ranking Argentina, New Zealand, Montana, Louisiana and the Spanish Pyrenees as my favourite locations. Closer to home, the West Country, Ireland and the River Wye in Hereford have been inspirational.