The end of summer draweth nigh, but many an evening of hopper fishing remains. In normal years July and August are our hottest months and usually hold the best hopper fishing, but this summer has been a little mild, with only a couple weeks so far of brain melting heat. It’s anyone’s guess as to how that will affect the rest of hopper season, but generally we continue to catch nice fish on terrestrials well into autumn. Only a couple years ago Ben Levin had a client catch a 28″ brown on a hopper in October – they’re wearing jackets in the photo! My only concern is that I’m just not seeing the numbers of mature grasshoppers out there that I see in normal summers. But then again, browns are opportunistic predators when eyeing a potential meal, and may not give a hoot how many naturals they’ve encountered or whether it’s still hopper “season.” I suppose the sensible thing to do would be to forget the calendar and keep fishing hoppers until they ain’t workin’ no mo’.
A hopper dropper rig continues to produce well on the 25-40 Mwh that we’ve been getting in the a.m. hours (head downriver in the p.m. to stay on these flows), though you’d probably catch more fish dropping a nymph and a midge under an indicator and fishing a little deeper, depends on what tickles your fancy. If it’s a big brown on a hopper you’re after, don’t bother with the dropper, it will only lessen the realness of your hopper. Also, don’t get locked in to a bank oriented strategy on the lower flows – many browns position near mid-river structure and drop-offs when the river isn’t running swift. If you’re fishing the 150-200 Mwh flows in the afternoon, by George put your bug on the bank, not near it, ON IT!
Hoppers: Fat Alberts, Western Ladies, Moorish, Mosh Pit…………Parachute?
Nymphs: Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Flashbacks, Sunday Specials
Midges: Ruby, Root Beer, DW Super, DW Whitetails, DW Red Head Whitetails
Minimum flow in the a.m. hours offers your best opportunities at good wade fishing – get there early if you want your favorite spot, but if it’s foggy, you may find the fishing a little slow until the fog clears and midges start hatching. I would strongly recommend a Root Beer midge fished on 6x fluorocarbon 2-3 feet under a small indicator like a plain white Palsa (or even half a Palsa). Yes, you may want a bigger indicator in the faster chutes and runs, but in the slow, flat stuff you don’t want to be making splash landings with big bomber bobbers. Scuds and sowbugs are good in the slow water too.