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Troutfitter Fly Shop - Syracuse (315) 446-2047 ----- Troutfitter Fly Shop and Inn - Deposit (607) 298-2149

How to catch fish on ants

Posted on September 05 2017

Every year about mid August my ant box goes in my vest.  As every fly fisherman knows, the ants fly in late August and throughout the month of September.  Apparently they aren't very good at picking landing spots because every year untold numbers of them land on the water.  It doesn't seem to matter what water, lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, they all get their fair share. I've even had one land in my perfect manhattan (he didn't seem to drink much).

The problem with the ant flight is that it's not like the Hendrickson hatch that starts at 3:00.  It's not like the trico spinner fall that occurs when the air temp hits 69.  It happens when the ants want it to happen.  Worse yet it only happens in certain places at certain times.  Your friend may be on the WB surrounded by fish gulping ants while you are on the big river watching a flock of Mergansers devour the remainder of this years crop of yearlings. To be on the river, with your ant box in your vest, the water covered with ants and fish up and feeding on them is no easier than hitting a trifecta at the race track.

Today was an ant day!  Was fishing the BEB this morning.  It was overcast with rain on the way.  Isos were hatching (yes in the morning!).  I was hooking fish on an iso but couldn't interest the half dozen fish I saw rise. When walking back to the car for lunch, I saw several large ants floating in a backwater eddy. TURNED AROUND, PUT ON AN ANT AND HOOKED FISH AFTER FISH FOR THE NEXT SIX HOURS.  If you believe that, let me sell you my winter home that is currently right in Irma's path.  (I did hook four fish on ants and landed two.)

After eating lunch I moved to the UEB.  When I got in the water there were ants everywhere.  The fish who are no dummies were up and feeding on them.  I haven't seen so many noses poking out of the water since the first drift boat floated the Delaware.  The only problem I could see was that the ants were somewhere between a size 26 and a 34.  Forgot about fishing ants, put on an olive and caught enough fish to make it a top ten day for the year.

Carry your ant box during the flying ant season.  If you catch more than four fish a season on ants you probably do better on ants than me.


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