Upper Saugeen River
By Scott E. Smith
The upper Saugeen is arguably the next fly-fishing hotspot in
Southern Ontario. The Saugeen River system is a huge watershed with an
abundance of cold, ground-water-fed tributaries in its headwaters
that ultimately flows into Lake Huron at Southhampton. These
headwaters of the Saugeen boast resident brown trout (both wild and
hatchery stocks) up to twenty-plus inches, and indigenous brook trout
that run between six and sixteen inches. The prevailing water conditions
of the upper Saugeen are characterized by clean, slightly tannic-stained
flows, good boulder and bedrock structure, gravel-bottomed riffles
and runs, and deep, slow, silt-bottomed pools where great hatches are
born. Cold ground water seeps into the Saugeen and its tributaries from
the many adjacent cedar swamps in this region of Southcentral Ontario.
Watercress is common along the banks and speaks to the fertile nature
of this water system.
Although there is virtually hundreds of kilometers of tributaries to
fish and explore, the best and most readily accessed fly-fishing areas
are contained in the section of the main Saugeen from the town of
Durham upstream approximately 20 kilometers to Priceville; the Rocky
Saugeen near Highway 6, and the main Saugeen from Paisley upstream to
Walkerton - where presently 5,000 - 10,000 brown trout are stocked
annually on an experimental basis. A recent dam removal on the
Rocky Saugeen has enriched the lower reaches of this tributary and
the stretch downstream of the confluence of the Rocky and main
Saugeen near Hanover, by depositing silt throughout. Fly angler,
Len Yust, explains that previous to this occurrence the brown trout
in this portion of the Saugeen were rather concentrated and easily
targeted. Now the trout are more evenly distributed in this area.
Both the rocky and main-branch Saugeen are quite manageable by
walk-and-wade anglers, with the Rockey Saugeen averaging about
twenty feet wide and the Saugeen River averaging around thirty
feet wide. The main Saugeen boasts larger, deeper pools, with
some pools reaching fifty feet in width and over five feet in depth.
The main Saugeen can also be fished with a small boat or canoe.
Access points for fishing the Saugeen include the Durham Conservation
Area in Durham, and the trailer park off Highway 6 for the Rocky
Presently the previously mentioned section of the Saugeen can be
fished only during the regular trout season in Southern Ontario,
which is from the last Saturday in April to September 30.
Hatches and Flies
The main branch and Rocky Saugeen are noted for good hatches of
caddis, Hendricksons (Ephemerella), sulphers
(Ephemerella dorothea) and invaria,
March browns (Stenonema vicarium), and blue-winged
olives. Brown drakes (Ephemera simulans) and
Hexagenia limbata are found in the siltier regions of
the main-branch Saugeen. ~ Scott E. Smith
Credits: This article is from Ontario, Blue-Ribbon Fly
Fishing Guide published by Frank Amato Publications.
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