Lovely Day, Lousy Wind!

WindsockIt’s going to be another shirt-sleeve day. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be quite gusty down near Livingston. If you’re going out on the Yellowstone River today, head up high, where it should be somewhat calmer. It might be a day to wade, rather than float, unless you’re looking for a real workout on the oars. If you’re willing to put up with the breeze, you should have a decent day of fishing.

Nymphs and streamers are catching plenty of fish these days. Yesterday, I got into trout with a small white Zonker (size 10), dead-drifted, with a size 20 black Zebra Midge dropper. You might also try a small (say, size 18) Pheasant Tail. Other bugs to try include Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, Rubberlegs (size 6 or 8), and Wooly Buggers. As for streamers, have a variety of colors in your box (both light and dark) and switch it up frequently until you start getting some action. Some to try include the Space Invader, the Home Invader (I notice a trend here), Morrish’s Sculpin, Belly-Dancer Zonker, and Baby Gonga. Take a few midge dries (Sprout Midge, Griffith’s Gnat) – as I walked back to the truck yesterday, I saw some nice trout sipping midges in an eddy. If only I hadn’t needed to get home to feed the pets….

Saturday’s Fishing

Good morning! Hope you remembered to set your clocks forward an hour. If not, you’re running late.

Yesterday’s fishing was a little less action-packed than I would have liked, but I did manage to get into several trout (all rainbows, somewhat surprisingly). It was kind of a mix-and-match day, both because I couldn’t find one fly that was consistently catching fish, and because I kept losing my flies. Some days it’s good to own a fly shop!

I waded in a couple of spots above Yankee Jim Canyon. The weather and scenery were glorious, even if the fish were a bit closed-mouthed. I caught trout on a small (size 10) Wounded Sculpin streamer (dead-drifted), as well as a size 16 red Copper John and a size 8 olive Rubberlegs.

Get out there today! Remember to pack the sunscreen. I didn’t, and now the left half of my face is pinker than the right.

It's going to be a beautiful day on the river!

It’s going to be a beautiful day on the river!

See You Out There!

Space InvaderYou should fish this weekend (if not today). Spring has sprung, at least temporarily. I’ll be fishing the Yellowstone River tomorrow. I have to work in the shop on Sunday, or I’d be out then too. I’m anticipating a good day of catching fish and soaking in the warmth. I haven’t decided exactly where I’m going (and I probably wouldn’t tell you if I had).

I’ll probably start out dead-drifting a small streamer with a nymph dropper. Then, depending on how things are going, I’ll likely switch to stripping a streamer a little later. If it’s bright sun, a lighter-colored streamer will be my first choice. White or yellow produces well for me under those conditions. If the clouds roll in, or there’s more than a little color to the water (which could happen with low-altitude snow melt), I’ll go with something darker, olive, brown, or black. What patterns, specifically? I’ll switch it up until I find something that gets results. Some I will try include a small (size 8) white/pearl Zonker, an olive Beldar Rubber Legs, a conehead J.J. Special, and plain old Wooly Buggers in brown and black. As for the nymph dropper, I’ll probably start out with a black Zebra Midge. If that’s not producing, I’ll try a red Copper John (size 18), a Lightning Bug, and/or a Rubberlegs (the goldenstone color has been good to me lately). When I switch to stripping a streamer, I’ll strip a little more slowly than I would later in the year, what with the low water temperatures. I don’t have my sink tip rigged up, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep the fly near the bottom. I might put a split shot just above the loop knot to the streamer for a little more weight. Chuck and duck!

We’re still waiting to hear of any baetis hatching on the spring creeks. It’s a little early, but should start pretty soon. Stay tuned. In the meantime, nymphing has been productive – small, sparse pheasant tails in natural or olive, midge larva and pupa, and don’t forget sowbugs and scuds. And take a few midge dries, in case you run into any risers.

Get Your New Fishing License!

WardenIt’s that time of year. The 2015 Montana fishing license year begins today. Be sure to get a new fishing license before you fish again, or be prepared to have an uncomfortable interaction with the game warden!

Getting Ready for BWOs

Baetis dun. Photo: Paul Weamer

Baetis dun. Photo: Paul Weamer

This weekend doesn’t look great for fishing, what with the predicted highs below freezing. But it would be a good time to tie up a few flies in preparation for the upcoming baetis (blue-winged olive – BWO) mayfly hatch which typically starts on the Paradise Valley spring creeks (and the Yellowstone River) sometime in March. This may be our favorite hatch of the year on the spring creeks, as the summer crowds aren’t around and the trout are a bit more eager to take an imitation than they are later in the season (and the rod fees are still low). And it’s the first real dry fly action of the year, which really gets the juices flowing.

So plan to take a sick day (BWO fever is extremely contagious) some warmish cloudy day towards the middle or end of the month and get out on Armstrong, DePuy’s, or Nelson’s. If the wind’s not blowing too hard, it’s likely to be a day of fishing dries to rising fish that you won’t soon forget.

If the dry fly fishing is so good, why am I talking nymphs today? Well, the hatch proper typically starts in the early afternoon, and you’ll likely want to do some fishing before then. The baetis nymphs will be getting active prior to the hatch and you can often do quite well drifting some imitations as you wait for the fish to begin rising to the emergers and/or duns. One of our favorite spring creek mayfly nymphs is the Sawyer Pheasant Tail, which is a slimmer version of the traditional Pheasant Tail. It’s tied with copper wire for the thorax, rather than the usual peacock herl, which gives the fly a subtle flash and a bit more weight. In natural or olive, size 20 or 18, it’s a great bug to fish before the hatch. Start out fishing it near the bottom, then shorten up the distance below your indicator as the hatch approaches (the naturals will begin swimming towards the surface, and the fish will follow them up). Be aware that baetis are swimming nymphs, so imparting a little action to your usual dead drift can trigger strikes. Give your bug a bit of a lateral movement as it approaches a sighted fish; you might be pleased with the results.

Here’s a good tying video for the Sawyer Pheasant Tail. In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about dry flies.

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