Don’t Be Afraid of A Little Color

LVNPG_lYes, the Yellowstone River has muddied up over the last couple of days. Up in Yellowstone National Park, the Lamar spiked up to daily record highs with the warm weather we had recently. That usually bodes bad news for the Yellowstone, and the Yellowstone’s water is currently more brown than green. That’s the bad news. But there’s plenty of good news. Relatively cooler temps are bringing the Lamar back down, and the Yellowstone could very well clear up a lot by this weekend. And then there’s the fact that the Yellowstone can still fish well even when there’s limited clarity. Trout have amazingly good eyesight, even in the dark, and a few inches of visibility is all they need to find your fly as it drifts by them. True, dry fly fishing is usually a no-go when the river is brown. But drift some nymphs or a streamer through the muddy water, and you’re likely to be surprised by how well you can do. I favor bigger, dark-colored flies under these conditions; the fish seem better able to see a black or dark olive fly. For example, you might try the old favorite Rubberlegs in a size 6 or 8, black or olive (or peacock, which we just got in). I’d still go with a smaller nymph as a dropper, perhaps a black Copper John or a Prince of Darkness. Or dead-drift a black Slumpbuster or Mini Sculpin with the Rubberlegs as a dropper. Stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop and we’ll be happy to point you to these flies and others that have a good chance of working in dirty water. Remember, you won’t catch any fish sitting on the sofa.

Mellower Day

Montana Wind SockYesterday’s wind storm was quite something – branches down, rafts blowing about behind the shop…. It wasn’t quite as bad up high in the Paradise Valley, but there were still some significant gusts. Today should be much better. It’s not bad right now here at Sweetwater Fly Shop. And the prediction is for 9 to 16 mph. Knock on wood. Looks like it’ll be a beautiful day to do some fishing.

As for the fishing, it remains consistent, fair to really good. It’s still primarily nymphs and streamers. There just aren’t enough blue-winged olives (or March Browns) hatching to get the fish particularly interested. Especially with the predicted sun today. There’s some color to the water, but plenty of visibility to pick up fish. Green is good. Try the usual spring nymphs – CDC Pheasant Tails, King Princes, Soft-Hackle Copper Johns (as I mentioned on Friday, blue was a killer color the other day), Rubberlegs, Anatomay Peacocks, etc…. Tired of catching whitefish? Try dead-drifting a Bugger, Zonker, Beldar Rubberlegs, or other smallish streamer. Maybe with a Rubberlegs dropper (brown, black, olive, tan) in size 8 or so. Want to do some streamer stripping? We’ve got a bunch of juicy new patterns here at Sweetwater Fly Shop. Stop in and check out the selection.

Don’t forget the sunscreen today!

Dun Leave Home Without It

First, a short up-to-date report. Clarity on the Yellowstone River remains good; there’s a bit of color but plenty of visibility. Yesterday’s fishing was excellent with all sorts of nymphs. The big winner was a blue (go figure) soft-hackled Copper John. If you’re choosing a day based on the W (you know, the breeze), you might want to go on Sunday, or head up relatively high in the Paradise Valley on Saturday. Things tend to be calmer up there.

We’re still waiting for the blue-winged olive (baetis) mayfly hatch to really take off, both on the Paradise Valley spring creeks and the Yellowstone River. Folks have been seeing the bugs, and some fish up on them, but the large numbers haven’t shown up yet. As we move towards April, the hatch should really get going. If you’re headed out for some fishing, particularly on a cloudy day, you’ll want to be prepared with some baetis patterns. We’ve already written about nymphs and emergers, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention patterns that imitate the dun stage of the bug. The dun is the iconic stage of the mayfly, the winged adult that rides briefly on the surface of the water before flying off to live its short lifespan, if a hungry trout doesn’t slurp it down first. On the Yellowstone, you can often do quite well with that old favorite, the Parachute Adams (in about a size 18). But you might do even better with a more realistic pattern. And on the spring creeks, going with a true-to-life dun imitation can be critical to your success.

CDC Biot DunRene Harrop’s CDC Biot Dun is one of our true favorites. It has an excellent profile and the darker-colored CDC wing is relatively easy to see on the water. The biot body has a nice segmented look. Dust it with a powdered floatant such as Frog’s Fanny, or squirt it with some Dry Magic (don’t use paste floatants on CDC). Pick out a rising fish, get a drag-free presentation, and there’s a good chance your fly will disappear in a rise ring. Try starting with a size 18 and move down to a 20 if you’re not having success.

Here’s a tying video for this excellent pattern, if you’d like to tie some up on your own. Or, of course, you could just stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop and pick up some from our extensive spring creek fly bins.


Spring is Baetis Time!

Spring officially begins at midnight tonight. But the spring baetis (blue-winged olive) mayflies have beaten the calendar to the punch. Baetis duns have been spotted on both the Paradise Valley spring creeks and on the Yellowstone River itself. They’re hatching in the early afternoon, not heavily yet, but enough to get the fish interested. With the warm temperatures, and consequent rising water, the Yellowstone has some color to it, but it’s still very fishable so far. Combined with the bright sun, the stained water might limit the surface action, but we’ve had reports of fish being caught on small baetis nymph imitations. A little while ago, we posted about one of our favorite mayfly nymphs for the spring creeks, the Sawyer Pheasant Tail. In about a size 18, that guy should work well on the river as well. You could also try any small mayfly imitation – regular Pheasant Tails, black Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, etc…. I’d still drop one of those off of a Rubberlegs or similar stonefly nymph. Streamers are still catching lots of nice fish, though the bright, sunny days have been a bit slower. Cross your fingers for a little cloud cover. It certainly should be warm enough to fish this weekend. There’s some wind in the forecast for Saturday in the lower Paradise Valley, though it should be better up higher.

Sprout BaetisDuring the baetis hatch, we often do as well or better with emerger patterns as with duns. One of our favorite mayfly emergers, particularly for the spring creeks, is the Brook’s Sprout. Tied on a curved hook, its back end hangs down under the surface, like an emerging mayfly struggling to break through the surface film. The white foam post helps with floatation and visibility. Try tying some up in size 18 and 20 and make a date with one of the spring creeks. I couldn’t find a tying video, but did find a recipe and tying instructions on this site. Or of course you could save yourself the trouble and stop by Sweetwater Fly Shop to pick some up.

In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about one of our favorite baetis dun patterns.

Planning your first trip to the spring creeks? Check out some advice that I gave in a recent Sweaty Waders blog post.

Heard through The Grapevine

Beau's StreamerStreamer fishing on the Yellowstone River has been good to very good. And the first blue-winged olive (baetis) mayflies are being spotted on the Paradise Valley spring creeks. What are you waiting for?

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