Fly anglers have been scoring big over the past few days thanks to a steady supply of hatching caddis and midges, and actively feeding trout. Success has come despite the water being slightly higher than ideal for hatch based fishing. We would love to see minimum flow, which really seems to facilitate the most epic caddis hatches and dry fly potential, but we are getting by just fine on the relatively stable 3,000-4,000cfs we are currently seeing. Fishing a little deeper and heavier seems to be the ticket.
The other challenge over the past week has been wind – 10 to 12mph every day – not unmanageable but it certainly creates a few more tangles and errant drifts. Some challenges are opportunities in disguise however, and the combination of wind and hatching insects can create interesting situations by blowing all the bugs in the same direction, resulting in higher concentrations of surface food along certain river margins. This scenario tempts nice fish to the surface where they might not be looking up if the wind had not concentrated the food so.
Jack and Robin are regular clients at Dally’s, and their well behaved beagle, “Ranger,” usually accompanies them. Ranger mostly has no interest in fish, and prefers to hide under a blanket where he can dream of rabbits. While bringing several nice browns to the net on caddis pupae fished near the bottom, we spotted three separate pods of surface feeding browns and elected to spend the last couple hours of our day “hunting” rather than “fishing.”
Taking turns, one rod at a time in order to be stealthy and not froth and flail and put the fish down, Jack took the first shot. A brown well over 20 inches showed the white of his mouth as his wide snout hooked right over the size 16 caddis dry without hesitation. Jack timed the set perfectly, waiting just a moment for the fish to fully close its mouth before raising the rod, and exclaiming “Oooh” and “Aaah” when the hooked brown swam towards the boat and showed us his size. Then the fish dove towards a log, and Jack tried to stop him, which was too much for the 4x tippet to handle. We laughed that one off, and the fish stopped rising for a few minutes. We nymphed while watching for the next round of risers, which didn’t take long, then repositioned for the next shot. Jack made another nice drift with the dry and got rewarded with another sizable snout engulfing the fly. This one made it to the net, happily. Robin took the next turn. The wind would not allow a clean drift and we put the fish down. Robin wanted to fold under the pressure and relinquish her turn but Jack and I would not allow it. We repositioned again on the same pod of risers, with less wind this time, and Robing neatly picked off the closest fish – a heavy 21inch brown. “That was pressure!” she said as she tried to collect her composure, but she said it with a big grin.
For now expect flows between 3,000 and 4,000cfs. Try bead head caddis pupae like Sunday Specials, Birds Nest, Z-wing, and many others in both olive and tan, and fish them near the bottom. Drop a Root Beer or Ruby Midge off the pupae, or alternatively double up the pupae if more weight is necessary. If you spot risers, show them an E/C caddis, Apple caddis, or Elk Hair, carefully presented at a downstream angle. When bugs are not hatching and caddis and midges are not working, try something more stimulating like worms or big rubber legged nymphs.
Flows are a bit up and down right now, cycling through the full range from minimum to two units. On low water Sunday specials and Root Beer midges are hard to beat. Soft hackles like Dally’s Tailwater in caddis green can be fun on the swing. Fish will rise on Elk Hairs especially in the riffles and moving water. Watch out for swiftly rising water. On high water try San Juan worms, Daphnia patterns, Jigged Pheasant Tail nymphs.