Things are starting to get good!
All the tributaries are receding and the Snake below Pacific Creek is going to be fishing sooner than it is later. Many of us picked. The 1st of August as the date the Snake would start fishing. It now might be mid-July.
At the moment, the tailwater reach from Jackson Lake Dam down to Pacific Creek remains the best fishing place to be on the Snake. Releases from Jackson Lake Dam have been reduced to 3000cfs and lake turnover is for the most part over, which means this section is damn close to crystal clear. What is more, the hatches are coming on strong with infrequen PMDs, yellow sallies, a variety ofcaddis, and, now, Acroneuria golden stones all appearing at some point during the day.
There has been a major uptick in dry fly action now with all the bugs on the water. A variety of holding water types are producing, including recirculating eddies, riffles, banks, and seams. The lower 3rd of the river has some very good dry fly action along banks, but not too tight. Many surface rises are occurring 6 to 10 feet from banks and structure.
Nymphing is still the best way to go to get into numbers. Fish along banks, seams, eddies, and riffles. Really target the foam lines when hitting these water types. Small to moderately sized streamers are producing along banks and on seams. Fish these with intermediate sinking lines and tips in the intermediate to 3ips range and with moderate speed retrieves.
Dry flies – Will’s Winged Chernobyl, Chubby Chernobyls, Parachute Extended Body PMDs, Pink Parachutes, Booty’s PMD Emerger, Pheasant Tail Emergers, Stimulators, and Lawson’s Sallies.
Nymphs – Hot Wires, San Juan Worms, Lightening Bugs, Pinky Jigs, Copper Johns in red, and Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph.
Streamers – Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Booty Call Minnows, Krystal Buggers, and Chicklets.
Still low clarity but flows have been reduced to 18,000cfs. There has been a big increase in activity on the lower reaches from Byington down to Twin Bridges. This is due large part to the plethora of bugs on the water – salmon flies, yellow sallies, and PMDs. Surface action is almost nil (as is action on streamers). However, the nymphing has been more than respectable. Target riffles, seams and eddies and go with 12 feet of leader from indicator down to your trailing fly. You can also target the edge of submerged vegetation along bank. This water is actually producing as good as riffles and seams at the moment. Go big with your nymphs – stonefly imitations should be #6 or larger and trailers should be at least #10.
And we must emphasis this point – don’t be afraid at the lack of clarity. The South Fork is starting to fish really well with nymph, and it is only going to get better in the coming weeks.
Nymphs – Pats Rubber Leg, Kaufmann’s Stone, San Juan Worms, Zug Bugs, Hot Wire Copper Johns, and Copper Johns in red.
Yellowstone National Park
Lewis Lake – Lewis is fishing great right now. Callibaetis and drakes are hatching from approximately 11am until 3pm and these emergences, especially amongst callibaetis have been impressive for an hour or so most days. Fishing imitations is not producing a lot of fish, but there are takes from time-to time and the hook-ups are legitimate. The upside is that 1) the lake trout and browns that are feeding on the surface have been 18 inches or larger and 2) it is quite a sight fishing dry flies on a high elevation lake with so much surface action.
Better production is found subsurface with moderately sized baitfish imitations, damsel/dragonfly imitations and attractor nymphs like Hares Ears, Princes, and Pheasant Tails. Fish these on flats and drop offs with hover and intermediate sinking lines with pinch retrieves, hand twist retrieves, and moderate retrieves with long strips. Nymphs can also be used as a dropper off of drake and callibaetis imitations. Some fish are being picked up that way.
Lewis River – Crystal clear and with it being the 1st week of July, it is primetime for the drake hatch. We are not seeing them on the meadows section below Lewis Falls. Below the Canyon, however, they are really starting to come on strong. You will find them emerging starting in early afternoon and continuing into the evening from the confluence with Crayfish Creek down to the confluence with the Snake River. Drake adults and emergers are working equally well. Short droppers – two feet or less – are also producing.
Yellowstone Lake - Still some inconsistent fishing in the West Thumb but fishing on the main part of the lake has been better, particularly south of the bottleneck and down toward the arms. There is some action on the surface. Even better action is being found in the top two feet of the water column with moderately sized baitfish imitations fished on flats in the three to six feet level, drop offs, and (to a lesser degree) submerged structure along banks. Don’t expect off-the-charts action, but do look for some good fishing and for larger cutthroats in the 18-inch plus range.
Ririe is a good place to be for multiple hook ups and landed fish, although it is a bit more inconsistent with some days producing a dozen and half fish per rod and others only a half dozen. Nonetheless, Ririe has been fun as of late.
The big change over the past couple of weeks is that fish are feeding much higher in the water column. 6ips tips are still working, but so too are hover lines and full-run intermediate sinking lines. You may need to give them a five to ten second could down, but immediate retrieves will work as well. There is ample submerged and exposed structure to target. Slow and rapid retrieves are producing equally well. A good strategy recently is to retrieve rapidly after hitting you target water, hesitate for a five count, then retrieve with moderate speed. Takes are occurring during the rapid retrieve, the hesitation, and the moderate retrieve.
Surface Patterns – Pencil Poppers, Epoxy Poppers, and Gorilla Poppers.
Subsurface Patterns – Clouser Minnows, Kreelux, Chicklets, Bendbacks, Lite Brite Zonkers, and McCune Sculpins.