How To Fish Stillwaters

July 5th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Scuds, Part 2

By Philip Rowley

Scuds come in a wide range of colors and like most aquatic invertebrates bottom color is a deciding factor. Some of the more common colors include olive, gray, tan, light olive, yellow and various shades of green. I have even seen scuds an almost turquoise color. A good rule of thumb is the darker the vegetation, the darker the scud. Hyalella will also be lighter in color than Gammarus. Scuds adjust their color as their environment changes. Scuds inhabiting a light-toned area will be pale, placed in a dark-colored environment, their color deepens. As scuds age, their ability to change color diminishes and they take on a hardened yellow look. A golden olive or dirty yellow-colored scud pattern is a good choice during the fall months. When a scud dies it takes on a distinct orange coloration, a result of carotene in the exoskeleton. The trout absorbs the carotene through the digestive process and this explains the beautiful pink coloration of their flesh. Some scuds have a distinct orange spot. This is the brood pouch or marsupium of the pregnant female. Trout at times show a preference for these pregnant females so keep that in mind at the tying bench and on the water.

Shown on the right, swimming scuds move about in an almost fully extended position. Curved scuds are resting, feeding, falling or dead.

Generally creatures of the shallows, scuds can live at depths of up to 50 feet. Scuds are light sensitive and live amongst the bottom vegetation and debris. Drab, dreary low light conditions are ideal times to fish scud patterns. Turning over rocks and wood debris can reveal large concentrations of scuds. Shady areas under docks and boats are other locations to find scuds. I can remember moving my boat in the morning only to expose a huge seething mass of scuds, reminiscent of a B-grade Hollywood movie. Hyalella have a preference for living in and on the light-colored marl bottoms where foraging trout root them out like bonefish. ~ PR

More on Scuds from Phil Rowley's excellent book, Fly Patterns for Stillwaters next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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