The latest from my favorite rivers
I have been hitting everything over the past two weeks - the Green, the South Fork, Yellowstone National Park, and The Snake from the Dam down to Pacific Creek. Here is the latest -
Flows from Jackson Lake Dam have finally ramped up and we now stand at approximately 3,300cfs. Fish have had several days to acclimate and action has been better than expected. The best dry fly fishing has been on the lower reach from Cattleman’s down to the confluence with Pacific Creek. It is an afternoon gig. Surface feeding before 11am has been sporadic. Midges, blue-winged olives, and callibaetis - in that order – is what you will find emerging throughout the day. There can be takes on larger #12 to #10 attractors in the lower reach of the Dead Sea. Allow for long drifts target structure and troughs well off the banks, and be patient.
Nymphing is the only game in town most days from the dam down to Cattleman’s, although dry flies are working in riffle margins and at the tail of flats. Streamers are working on this part of the tailwater section. However, it is below Cattleman’s that they are really proving their worth. Floating lines, hover lines, intermediate sinking lines, and sink tips in the 1.5ips to 3ips range are all working equally well. 6ips tips can produce also, but fish these with slightly fast retrieves.
Dry flies – Micro Peanuts, Micro Willie Ants, Snowshoe Midges, Parachute Midge Emergers, Pheasant Tail Emergers, Parasol Midges, Parachute Extended Body BWOs, Comparaduns, Booty’s BWO Emergers, Parachute Extended Body Cahills, and Parachute Adams.
Nymphs – Zebra Midges, Rojo Midges, Booty’s Day-2 Midge Pupa, Dorsey’s Mercury Midges, Rainbow Warriors, Lightening Bugs, Copper Johns in red, black, or olive, Flashback Pheasant Tails, Kyle’s C-N Super Flash, and Green Hornets.
Streamers – Chicklets, Sparkle Minnows, Sundell’s Sun Fire, Weir’s Sculpin, Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Galloup’s Boogeyman, Galloup’s Sex Dungeon, and Booty’s Quad Bunny.
Flows from Palisades Reservoir remain steady at just under 12,000 cfs. Fishing has been solid on every reach, and none more so than the Sawn Valley reach and the upper Canyon. There are a lot of options – streamers, nymph rigs, and dry flies are all working – but where and when you fish will matter. There are some slower days, but they are intermixed nicely with days when the fishing is pretty damn good.
Nymphing is productive on all reaches, but none more so that on the upper, where hook ups continue at a rapid rate with egg patterns and mysis/scud imitations from the dam down to Irwin (and even further downstream). Below Irwin, stone fly larva imitations, San Juan Worms, and mayfly larva imitations are working best. Expect good results all the way down through the canyon to Lorenzo and beyond.
Dry fly action is getting better each day with trout feeding on blue-winged olives and midges. Some caddis are about in the canyon reaches. Most of this activity is occurring in side channels and in riffles with moderate flows. Shallow seams and flats can also produce. Mid to later afternoon is the hot period. Look for the best dry fly action to occur on days with cloud cover and precipitation. However, we are seeing fish eat on the surface almost every day no matter what the weather conditions are.
Streamers have been fishing very good over the past couple of weeks. You are going to boat several fish, but you are also going to get a lot of eats and chases throughout the day. The canyon reaches are fishing best with baitfish imitations. The upper reach in Swan Valley is a close second. Target banks, bankside troughs, and the tails of riffles and seams with fast to moderate retrieves. 3ips tips have been working best. Intermediate sinking tips and lines are also producing.
Dry flies – Parrachute Extended Body BWOs, Booty’s BWO Emerger, Purple Hazes, Christian’s GT BWO, Comparaduns, Pheasant Tail Emergers, and Film Critics.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Kaufman Brown Stones, Lightening Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Bubbleback Pheasant Tails, Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph, Psycho Princes, Mayer’s Mysis, Charlie’s Mysis, Kleis’ Mysis, Dead Scuds, San Juan Worms, Yarn Eggs, Otter’s Soft Milking Eggs, Glo Bugs, and Clown Eggs.
Streamers – Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Kreelux, Krystal Buggers, Silvey Sculpins, Sculpzillas, Swamp Rats, Murphy’s Bling Minnows, and Beldar Buggers.
Flows have dropped dramatically over the past week. We have been steady at the 600cfs to 700cfs for several day, but warm temps are starting to push the Green to higher levels. Fish it now, because it might not be the same next week.
Much of the river is fishing with similar productivity. This is true whether you are fishing at Forest Boundary or all the way down at Piney Cutoff. Streamers are working best with floating, hover, and intermediate lines. Target banks, structure, bankside troughs, eddies, and seams. Slow to moderate retrieves is the way to go. Nymphs are producing in the same water types as streamers, but are also working in riffles and confluence points. Lightly weighted double/triple nymph rigs are having success. Dry-dropper rigs with dropper tippet of three to four and a half feet are doing just as well.
Caddis are about in the late morning to mid-afternoon hours – call it 11am to 3pm. This is giving fly fishers a decent amount of surface action with caddis imitations. Target banks, bankside troughs, and the head of riffles and seams. You do not have to go with the imitative size of #14 to #16. #12 caddis patterns will work just fine. But don’t be afraid to fish the small stuff as well.
Most of the action is happening in the morning hours and early afternoon hours from approximately sun-up until 1pm (unless you are fishing caddis imitations). After that, there is a noticeable slowdown, although expect there to be better activity in the afternoon when there is substantial cloud cover and some precipitation.
Dry Flies – El Hair Caddis, Stimulators, CDC Caddis, X-Caddis, Will’s Winged Chernobyls, and Winged Peanuts.
Streamers – Galloup’s Sex Dungeon, Sundell’s Sun Fire, Sundells Sun Dancer, Booty’s Quad Bunny, Silvey’s Sculpin, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow, Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Chicklets, Kreelux, and J.J. Specials.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, 20-Inchers, San Juan Worm, Psycho Princes, Lightening Bugs, Foxy Stone Nymphs, Flashback Princes, Nymph Formerly Known As Prince, Beadtail Caddis Pupa, Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph, Robins, and Rainbow Warriors.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone opened to fishing this past weekend. As usual, our guides have been concentrating on the following waters -
Firehole River – Very low for this time of year at just over 100cfs. Fishing is not ideal by any means, but focusing on deeper lies in riffle pools, eddies, and undercut banks will get you into hook ups. If you stay focused, fishing is actually pretty good. Morning hours from approximately 8am until noon have had the best fishing activity on nymphs imitating blue-winged olives and caddis. Swinging soft hackles in the late morning hours has been the best way to go, especially on days with loud cover and precipitation. Dry fly activity is there in the early afternoon hours, but it has been sporadic at best.
Yellowstone Lake – Clear of ice and fishing decent here early in the season. Lake trout are being caught more that cutthroats at the moment, but they have the advantage only by about 10 or 15 percent on a given day. Flats and drop-offs are producing best in the West Thumb and going down into the South Arms. Small streamers – Clousers, Mohair Leeches, Kreelux, and Crystal Buggers – have been working best. Fish them with slow retrieves on floating and hover lines and put some strategic stops to your strips every now and then. Nymphs like Soft Hackle Princes and Scuds are also working with the same retrieves and tackle.
Lewis Lake – All the ice is off Lewis and the fishing has been very good. You have to go noticeably deeper with lake trout and brown taking streamers and animated nymphs in the six to nine foot level of the water column of deep flats and steep drop-offs. As on Yellowstone Lake, go with small to moderately sized streamers on floating, hover, and intermediate lines. What is different is that you need to go with slow retrieves. Do not be afraid to allow a significant countdown – five to ten seconds – before your retrieve. Damsel and dragonfly nymphs are also working OK on the shallower parts of flats that are between two and four feet of depth.
Mid-day fishing - 10am until approximately 3pm - has been best regardless of where, how, and with what you are fishing.