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  • Writer's pictureThe Drift Team

Spring 2019 Trout Season Opener Predictions

With our finger on the button we have been waiting to post our trout opener predictions. Since Monday the weather forecast has changed hourly with a constant increase in the amount of rain that was predicted to fall between yesterday and today. Well, it happened… you may have noticed that there wasn’t a shortage of water falling from the sky here in Southern Ontario. With our trout opener on April 27th, only hours away, only one thing is clear – we’re going to be fishing this weekend, and for the next week, with a lot of water in our rivers, stream, creeks, lakes, and ponds. Reports came back from pre-opener scouting that many rivers are running, not only high, but with very poor visibility and, frankly, flowing at dangerous levels.

If you are headed to the water this weekend, approach the water with care, wade safely, and please do not take any risks you don’t have to. We don’t want to hear about you on the 6:00 PM news for the wrong reasons.

With the conditions that we have present, it would be wise if you are headed out, to fish smaller rivers, or tributaries of larger river systems, as they tend to clear much quicker than the main stem of a river, this being said, there is a very good chance there will still be very high with off-colour water this weekend.

On the bright side, we are glad to have a lot of water in the ground, it sure as heck beats starting off the season in low water and drought, but it will take a heavy toll on this weekend’s fishing.

Go With The Flow

If you’re curious about flows, here are some links to check flows and water activity.

Government of Canada Water Office Website – Real-time Hydrometric Data Map Search

Grand River Conservation Authority – Real-time Water Level Monitoring

If it is your first time on the Water Office website and you do not know what the ideal discharge rate for a particular river is, think back to your last visit to that river and what date it was. You can access historical data for that exact date and use it as a baseline. Build up a history of river flows every time you head out in a log book to start your own record to reference.

If the chart for the river you wish to fish has a sharp line headed upwards you may want to consider other plans. A rapid climb is a sign of a major rain event, or thaw, and the river may have become un-fishable and/or dangerous to wade or navigate by boat.

Resident Trout

With cool temperatures across the Southern end of the province we are not counting on seeing much visible bug and fish activity on the surface. Nymphs, worms, egg patterns and streamers will be our go-to fly choices. This being said, we will still keep our early season dry fly box on hand with midge, gnat, blue winged olive, and Hendrickson patterns lined-up with emerger and dun variations – anything can happen and we always want to be prepared!

Don’t be shy with weight. Use as much tungsten putty as needed, or other weights, to get your flies down in the heavy flows, and pick tungsten bead headed flies over their brass or non-weighted options.

Photo Credit: Trip Fontain @trip_fontain

Fish the Slack

Fish don’t want to work harder than they have to, so look for the slower flows and breaks in the current where they will be hanging out. Close to the banks of a river, stream, or creek will be where we’re looking for high-water fish.

Big Potential

Early into trout season is the best time to head out and find some of the big fish you missed last season, and they’re usually more eager to take a fly, and tolerate some of our mistakes. As the season progresses the big ones get wary, sit tight during the days, tuck into cover and let the more juvenile and less experienced fish make all the mistakes for them.

A long and quiet fall and winter has let them forget about anglers and they are willing to take a few more risks now then they will in a few week’s time.


Some of our friends and customers have expressed their concerns that the rain we have had will push the steelhead out of the rivers and back to the lakes. While a number of drop-back fish have been caught, we do not predict that will be the case! Our cold spring has kept the water cool, postponed a lot of breeding, and fish will be hanging around a while longer. Connecting with a dime bright fish running out of the lakes is still a great possibility!

On the Swing

If you’re new to swinging flies, with either single hand or double hand rods, this is a great time of year to get on the water and get into some fish. Spring steelhead also tend to be quite aggressive after wintering over, they’re hungry! If you’re headed out on the swing, don’t spend too much time dissecting a pool or run, these aggressive spring fish will rise up to a swung fly and chase something down if they’re in the mood. Also, lighten up! If you’re fishing too deep with heavily weighted flies and big sink-tips, they may not even see your presentation it as you could be putting it out of their sight-line and riding under their bellies.

What are our best flies to swing for spring steelhead? Our fly preference revolves more around colour than exact fly name – olives, whites, creams, browns, blacks, and naturals all produce very well, bring out a variety of fly sizes and weights for different water conditions and work your way from the surface to deep.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis -

The Come-Back Fly – if you get a hit on the swing, but don’t connect. Take a short break… 2 or 3 minutes, walk up stream a few meters, change your fly to something smaller and swing through again. The come-back fly has done well for us many, many times. A big key to success with any swung fly is to let the fish connect and don’t pull the fly out of its mouth by setting too soon!

Photo Credit: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis -

Wherever you find your self on opening weekend, we hope you have a great time, stay safe, and find time to explore new waters.

See you out there!

The Drift Team

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