September is here and the Snake and South Fork are in Great Shape
Still fairly warm water temps, so early starts continue to be the way to go. The big change over the past two weeks, however, is that 1) we are seeing a lot more larger 18-plus inch trout on the surface, and 2) inconsistency in terms of the sweet spot during the day when the best surface action occurs. Most days, it is still 11am to 2pm. But there are times when the morning hours and post-3pm time period takes the cake. Claassenia stones and PMDs are the main fare. Hecubas have FINALLY started to show up on the scene and will only intensify in numbers as September progresses. Grasshoppers round out the rest of available surface forage for Snake River trout.
Larger hopper, stonefly, and attractor patterns have been performing best along banks, bankside troughs, and structure throughout the day but are getting into fish in riffles and seams from late morning until around 4pm. Mayfly dun and emergent imitations are most consistent when fished as part of a tndem rig in riffles, riffle pools, seams, and banks with slow to moderate currents and shallow to moderate depths. Side channels have come on a bit stronger over the last two weeks and should be part of your focus. If targeting banks and structure on the upper reaches above Moose Bridge, squeeze them in as tight as possible. Inches will matter.
Double and triple nymph rigs are working best down in the Canyon reaches from South Park to Sheep Gulch and can get into fish in deeper riffles, riffle pools, and eddies on the reaches above Wilson Bridge. Dry-droppers are producing with less success and smaller fish in the same water.
Streamer fishing has been the most reliable way of hooking into, or at least moving, larger cutthroats. The past two weeks, however, we have been seeing a lot more of these fish, especially by going deep (think six to eight feet of T-8 to T-14) and targeting faster currents in riffles, seams, and along banks and bankside troughs. More action on moderately sized patterns than larger articulated versions. Nonetheless, both will get the job done. Go with downstream mends along banks and troughs and upstream on riffles and seams and moderate, yet consistent retrieves. Lighter sinking tips in the INT to 6ips range will work, but not as consistently, especially for larger cutties.
Dry flies – Mary Kays, Circus Peanuts, Will’s Winged Chernobyls, Trina’s Stimi Stone, Morrish Hoppers, Parachute Hoppers, Club Sandwiches, Jimmy Zs, Parachute Hares Ear, Booty’s Hecuba Emerger, Parachute Adams, Parachute Extended Body PMDs, Booty’s DL PMD Cripple, Booty’s PMD Emerger, Comparaduns, and Snowshoe Duns.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Peach Fuzz Jigs, Hot Wire Princes, Psycho Princes, Copper Johns in red or copper, Nymphomatics, Flashback Pheasant Tails, and Brillion’s Mean Machines.
Streamers – Booty’s Quad Bunny, Sundell’s Ghost Dancer, McKnight’s Home Invader, Stolis’ Head Banger Sculpin, Weir’s Love Bunny, Masked Avengers, Booty Call Minnows, Sheila’s Sculpin, Baby Gongas, Galloup’s Mini Dungeon, Arum’s Lil’ Kim, and J.J. Specials.
Flows from Palisades Reservoir stand at around 9,400cfs. With subtly warming water temps and a little more suspended vegetation in the water column, the South Fork feels like a riffle game on just about every reach with the sweet spot starting at around noon and ending between 4pm and 5pm. Think PMD dun and emerger imitations with your dry flies. The same patterns will work along banks with slow to moderate current speed during the same period. Larger attractor, mutant stone, and hopper patterns continue to do very well using along banks and structure and, to a lesser degree, the head of seams. This approach can produce through most of the day. Nonetheless, many days such a strategy will pale in comparison to what PMD imitations are doing in the riffles.
Double/triple nymph rigs and dry-dropper rigs are a solid way to go at the moment for more consistent action but you run the risk of hooking into vegetation a fair amount. Target riffles, seams, eddy current margins, and banks and submerged structure. Double/triple rigs are working best with between six and seven and a half feet of leader from trailing fly to line or suspension device. Dry-dropper rigs have been working best with a longer than average dropper tippet (four to six feet), especially in riffles, riffle pools, seams, and bankside troughs. All nymph rigs are working better than usual in slow water targets, especially the margins of seams, side channels, and banks.
Streamers continue to produce well but are a bit more inconsistent compared to the last few weeks and, like nymph rigs, there is the chance of snagging suspended vegetation. Sinking tips in the INT to 6ips range is the way to go. Target banks, structure, riffle pools, and confluences. Moderately sized patterns are outperforming larger ones, but this, too, has been inconsistent from day to day. What hasn’t been inconsistent is the retrieve that is working. Definitely go with slow to moderate retrieves and throw in some long hesitations from time to time.
Dry flies – J-Slams, Snake River Water Walkers, Bug Meisters, Winged Peanuts, Dunegan’s Young Hopper, Hi-Viz Cricket, Galloup’s Ant Acid, Hi Viz Fly Ant, Sparkle Ants, Parachute Extended Body PMDs, Pink Parachutes, AuSable Wulffs, and Pink Sulfur Emergers,
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Lex’s Improved RL Stone, Half Backs, Bloody Marys, Duracells, Psycho Mays, Bruised Mays, Ninch’s Ball Gag Mayfly Nymph, Bubbleback Pheasant Tails, Lightening Bugs, and Rainbow Warriors.
Streamers- Keller’s Nightmare, Galloup’s Peanut Envy, Galloup’s Boogeyman, Silk Kitties, McKune Sculpins, Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Slumpbusters, Beldar Buggers, Keller’s Mouthwash, and Kreelux.