It's Time for Tailwaters
With the Snake in runoff, the tailwater reach from Jackson Lake Dam down to Pacific Creek is the obvious choice, and it just opened to fishing this past Monday. Flows are at a little over 3,000cfs and visibility is at three to four feet. Cold water temps, so surface action is extremely limited. Double/triple nymph rigs are the best approach. Fish these in the thalweg below the spillway, eddies, seams, and along banks and structure with slow to moderate currents. Don’t go too heavy with your lead or trailing flies. Lightly weighted is the way to go. Six to nine feet of leader from trailing fly to line/suspension device. Fishing slower current margins when possible is producing better than faster currents.
Streamers are a working in specific waters. Target the currents just below the spillway, as well as seams and banks with slow currents (especially in the reach below Oxbow Bend. Use small to moderately sized streamers fished on hover or intermediate sinking line or sinking tips in the INT to 3ips range and go with slow to moderate retrieves at an even tempo. Going deeper with 6ips to 8ips tips or six feet lengths on T-8 or T-11 can pay off in deeper portions of the water column is working just as well.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail Jigs, Peach Fuzz Jigs, Flashback Hares Ear Nymphs, Two-Bit Hookers, Copper Johns in red, olive, or black, Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph in olive or rust, Lightening Bugs, Zebra Midges, Booty’s Day-2 Midge Pupa, Ice Cream Cone Midges, and Jujubee Midges.
Streamers – Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Booty Call Minnows, Chicklets, Baby Bunnies, Strung-Out Leeches, Lite Brite Zonkers, Sculpzillas, Pine Squirrel Zonkers, Slump Busters, Rickard’s Seal Bugger, and Mohair Leeches.
Flows from Palisades Reservoir are at just under 13,000cfs and with four feet or more visibility the South Fork is definitely worth fishing in the region. It is a total subsurface game but one that can be completely worth it most days. The upper reaches from the Dam down to Cottonwood are fishing best.
Double/triple nymph rigs in the nine to 12 foot range from trailing fly line/suspension device are producing riffle pools, riffle shelves with slow to moderate currents, and seams. With spawning underway, fish the water below the beds as best you can and stay off those know to be frequented by native cutthroats (although their spawning run will actually occur in earnest in the coming weeks more so than now. Rainbow beds fished with heavy stonefly nymphs, worms and eggs can hammer it out of the park if you hit them in them hard and with focus.
Streamers are worth fishing if you target slower water, particularly the current margin of riffle pools, seam current margins, and side channels with slower currents (which there are a lot of at the moment at these flows, particularly in the tails). Go with moderately sized patterns fished on INT to 3ips tips and slow retrieves. Below the spillway at the Dam, heavier tips in the T-8 to T-11 range can work noticeably better than lighter tips.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Cheater Belly Stones, 20-Inchers, San Juan Worms, Squirmy Wormies, Hot Wire Worms, S&M BWO Nymphs, Redemption BWO Nymphs, Dorsey’s Mercury BWO, Zebra Midges, Booty’s Day-2 Midge Pupa, Ice Cream Cone Midges, Veiled Eggs, Nuclear Eggs, Yarn Eggs, Clown Eggs, and Otter’s Soft Milking Eggs.