Announcing Our 2nd Annual Short Video Contest!

Did you get some great fly fishing footage on the Go Pro this summer? Package it up into a short (5 minutes max) video and enter it in the 2nd annual Sweetwater Fly Shop short video contest. Fish porn? Humor? Scenic? We’ll accept all genres. Telling a good story will be weighted more heavily than production slickness. Extra props for including the Sweetwater Fly Shop logo somewhere in your video. All entries will be posted on the Sweaty Waders blog for the world to see. The Grand Prize? Well, we gave away a fly rod last year, so why not a reel this year? Let the editing begin! All entries must be received by midnight on December 31st, 2014. Amateurs only, please (if you got $50 for filming your cousin’s wedding, you’re still eligible). For details on how to submit your entry, just send us an email. Be creative and have fun!

For some inspiration, check out last year’s entries.

Don’t Forget Dries

The emphasis lately has been on fishing streamers on the Yellowstone River. And for good reason. This is the season for throwing the big bugs, and some nice fish are being picked up on streamers. But that’s not the only game in town. Dry flies are still catching trout. Even though the baetis mayflies have been scarce, the trout are taking small mayfly imitations. A small (size 18 or 20) Parachute Adams or Parachute Purple is worth trying, even if you don’t see any rising fish. Or tie on an ant or beetle pattern; we haven’t had a hard freeze yet, so the terrestrials are still out and about. Have confidence in your choice of fishing methods, stick with it, and you may very well be rewarded with some nice surface-feeding trout.

Don’t stay in this weekend! The meteorologists are predicting some very nice Fall weather. Highs in the 60’s and only a breeze (a nice change from yesterday). Get out on the river and enjoy the Autumn colors while you still can!

On an unrelated note, it’s been well worth getting up a little early to view the spectacular sunrises over the Absarokas. Wow! If you’re not an early riser, not to worry. The sunsets have also been something to see lately.

Yesterday on the Yellowstone

In the two weeks since my move from Pennsylvania to Montana, I’ve had the opportunity to do some cool things.  I’ve begun working at Sweetwater Fly Shop.  I’ve hunted geese and ducks.  I’ve nearly hit a herd of elk with a truck.  I’ve seen my first in-person bull moose.  And, of course, I’ve floated the mighty Yellowstone several times with my friend and fly fishing guide, Jason Corbin.  One of those floats occurred yesterday.

My wife and I have been coming to Montana for several years, so I’ve floated the Yellowstone before.  But I’ve never been here in the fall when I had the chance to watch puffy clouds drift into barren, rocky mountain slopes and then leave them painted white with snow.  It was snowing in the mountains yesterday when Jason and I launched the boat.  We weren’t looking for just any trout.  We were throwing big, articulated streamers for brightly colored browns that are quickly becoming spawn-aggressive before the long winter freeze.

We did see some of the first redds of the season in the tail of a long pool.  One had a pair of very large browns that quickly scattered as our boat approached only to rejoin at their gravely love-nest once we passed.  We weren’t looking to hassle these fish anyway.  I’ve long believed that its best to let wild trout make more wild trout without interference from me.  Besides, all the river’s brown trout do not spawn at the same time.  So while some are busy dealing with the birds and bees others are looking for something to eat.  Hopefully that something is tied to my fly line.

Jason and I both caught trout yesterday, but Jason got the fish of the day: a lovely, buttery brown that exceeded the magical 20″ mark.  The stars must have been aligned for him because he also caught a nice brook trout, not unprecedented, but certainly uncommon, in the Yellowstone.  I had my chances at some big one too.  After boating a couple nice 16-17 inchers, I had follows from two very large fish, but I couldn’t make them eat.  Near the end of our float, my streamer swirled around a boulder before being inhaled sideways, like an ear of corn, by a big brown.  But the heavy brownie kept its mouth open just enough, as I stripped to set the hook, that the fly pulled free.

Most of our fish came from black streamers.  We moved more fish on olive, but for reasons known only to trout, they failed to completely take the bait.  Maybe they’ll want them later in the week.  I know I’ll be fishing.  Fall is too brief to spend any unnecessary time at home, and the biggest trout of my life just might swim in the Yellowstone.  I’d like to meet her before that mountain snow reaches the valley and winter is here.

Fall Is For Fishing

Now that the mud has cleared (again), the fishing on the Yellowstone River has returned to its previous state – very good. Now’s the time to get out, before the snow begins to fly. The dry fly bite remains good. Smaller hoppers (try pink) have still been taking fish on top, as have Chubby Chernobyls. So have smaller dries, such as Hippie Stompers, ants, and beetles. For a nymph dropper, the red Copper John in a size 16 or 18 is hard to beat. You might run into a baetis hatch out there, so have some small Parachute Adams or other blue-winged olive mayfly patterns at hand. And yes, the streamer fishing is picking up. Brown and yellow is a hard color combination to beat this time of year. J.J. Specials, brown and yellow Space Invaders, and brown Beldar Rubber Legs all fit the bill. This weekend looks a bit rainy and cooler, but the fishing should still be good. Or call in sick and do a Fall float on Friday. Enjoy the river now that the crowds of summer have gone home.

Fishing on the Paradise Valley spring creeks has also been well worth the rod fees. One of our guides had an epic day on DePuy’s the other day. Most of the fish were caught on nymphs, but the baetis hatch is also going on, especially on cooler, cloudy days. So be prepared with all life stages of the blue-winged olive mayfly, in sizes 18 and 20. I like the Sparkle Dun Biot for a dun pattern. CDC winged patterns are also very effective. Sprout Baetis and Harrop’s Captive Dun are effective emerger patterns. Cripples, such as Harrop’s Last Chance Cripple, can be good when the fish are being finicky. You should also be prepared with some nymphs for when the fish aren’t rising (a nymph fished in the surface film as a dropper from your dry, dusted with a powdered floatant such as Frog’s Fanny, can also be good during the hatch). Sawyer Pheasant Tails and Split-Case BWO Nymphs are a couple of favorites (and midge patterns, such as a Zebra Midge, are always effective on the spring creeks). Oh, and bring a few midge emerger/dries (Sprout Midge, Dom’s Midge Hanger), as a few fish have been up on midges as well. Stop in and see us on your way to the creek and we can point you toward these and other patterns.

Fall Is In The Air

Pat McIntyre scores a Fall brownie

Pat McIntyre snares a Fall brownie on a warmer day

Oh, wait, that’s falling snow! The good news is that this weekend should be lovely. And the fishing continues to be good. We didn’t really have a hard freeze, so I’d guess that the grasshoppers survived the cold nights. So don’t be afraid to try a hopper pattern this weekend. Chubby Chernobyls are still picking up fish (try black & purple). And the usual dropper nymphs will dredge up a trout now and then, in amongst the whitefish. Go with a smaller (size 8 or 10) rubberleg stonefly pattern or a small streamer if you want to limit your whitey catch.

Fall means baetis (blue-winged olive mayflies). And the afternoon baetis hatches have been good to spectacular. Fish up all over the river (admittedly, some of them whitefish, but plenty of trout as well). The Yellowstone River is not the spring creeks, so don’t stress too much about a perfect imitation. A good old Parachute Adams in 18 or 20 will fool plenty of fish. If you want to get more technical, feel free to bring out your spring creek fly box, but visibility at a distance is going to be key. CDC patterns with a darker wing (e.g., dark grey) are surprisingly easy to spot when the sky is cloudy.

Fall also means streamers. Yes, catching fish on dries and nymphs is good fun. But what really gets folks salivating this time of year in the opportunity to catch big browns (with possibly some rainbows thrown in) on streamers. Yes, it can be hard work chucking and stripping big flies all day long, and you’re unlikely to net a large number of fish, but the possibility of a trophy catch keeps the aficionados casting over and over. Imparting motion is key, both in your choice of streamer patterns and in your retrieves. Getting your fly down deep where the big trout hang out is also important, which is why most “streamer junkies” use sink-tip lines.  Good sink-tip lines include Rio’s StreamerTip and Scientific Angler’s Streamer Express.

These days, there are a ton of different streamer patterns available, both traditional-hooked and articulated. Having a variety of colors and sizes to try is probably more important that the particular pattern you’re using. If one color’s not at least getting some chases, try something in a different hue.

Some patterns we like: for single hooked flies – the Sparkle Minnow in the J.J Special or peacock color,  Morrish’s Sculpin in Olive, Bow River Buggers in White or Olive, the Conehead J.J Special, and the Zoo Cougar in Olive or Natural. For articulated patterns – the Sex Dungeon in Yellow, Olive, or Orange is super effective. Swimming Jimmies, Silvey’s Sculpin Leech in Olive, the Bottom’s Up in Olive or White, the Articulated Butt Monkey in Brown and Yellow, and Sculpzilla’s in Orange or Olive are all excellent choices to entice big trout.You can fish streamers, at least smaller ones, with your 5 weight. But throwing big articulated flies and sink tips all day will be a lot easier with a 6-8 weight stick (plus you’ll have more fish-fighting backbone when you get that monster hooked up). A fast-action rod is best, preferably with a somewhat softer tip to help you impart motion. Winston’s BIII-SX, Sage’s One, and Scott’s Radian are all good choices.

If you want more streamer-chucking advice, feel free to stop in at Sweetwater Fly Shop and talk to Beau or Ed, our streamer experts. Or give us a call at 222-9393 and sign up for our free streamer clinic on September 27 (4:00-6:00).
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