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September 30TH Double R Fishing Report "Paraleptophlebia"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014:

In the face of the forecast which called for 17 mile an hour wind, only the strong willed angler fished today.  It drizzled for a while this morning but then the rain subsided, the wind waned and the sun came out and illuminated a partly cloudy sky.  It was a beautiful fall day for maybe an hour before the slight breeze started to climb to gale force gusts.  A few #18 Blue Winged Olives appeared, causing a few trout to rise; no Mahogany Duns were sighted today, much less Callibaetis.  When the wind got strong I switched to a #18 Pheasant Tail soft hackle and picked up a single 15 inch Rainbow by swimming the fly parallel to the bank.  The forecasted wind came up and that’s all she wrote for the day.  Nap time!

MAHOGANY DUNS . . . . !      aka Paraleptophlebia

The relatively large Mahogany Dun mayfly is a welcome blessing each fall after matching our wits with the much smaller Blue Winged Olive and the miniscule Trico.  On Silver Creek this mayfly usually tapes out at a size 14 or a size 16.  Entomologists tell us that water temperatures need to plunge to 50 degrees for several days before Mahogany Duns will hatch but we don’t achieve those temperatures locally.  The daily emergence may start around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. and can last two, three or more hours, ending between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.  As with most mayflies, Mahogany Dun hatches last longer on cloudy days and even rainy days, and are condensed into a shorter time period on sunny days.  Mahogany Dun hatches tend to be on the sparse side unless conditions are optimal.

The distinctive feature of this “crawler” mayfly is that it generally resides and emerges along banks, at current seams, in pools, eddies and along the edges of weed beds.  For that reason the beginning of a Mahogany Dun hatch is often not immediately noticed by the angler.  But the Mahogany Dun hatch will often prompt larger trout to move into the shallows and sip daintily.  It is a prescription for exciting and excellent fishing by the more vigilant angler.  


The Mahogany Dun nymphs will migrate to the edges of the creek, can live in water just inches deep, and may emerge by crawling out on rocks or vegetation.  The larger and more mature nymphs tend to rest and browse on rooted vegetation and congregate in calmer water where leaves and other detritus accumulate.  The nymphs themselves are such poor swimmers that they may drift a long distance in the current before regaining a hold on the creek’s substrate.  Immediately before hatching the nymphs make an awkward swim to the surface; the duns escape the nymphal shuck in, or just under, the surface film.  The nymphs may make several trips to the surface before hatching.  Thus, there are occasions when fishing a nymph can be productive, including by slowly swimming a brown soft hackle along weed beds and the bank.  Effective nymph patterns include:  the traditional Pheasant Tail nymph; a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph; a dark Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle; the Western Red Quill Nymph; the Western Blue Quill Nymph.


There are times when the angler will notice “bulging” along the shoreline and has to decide whether the rise form involves trout taking emergers or duns.  If you see bubbles in the ring of the rise then observe whether floating duns are being taken or are floating through the feeding lane undisturbed.  If the duns are not being intercepted, then the trout are likely feeding on emergers.  Try one of a number of standard emerger patterns which hold in the film and have dark gray brown bodies, including the “floating nymph” design.  Typical patterns that may be effective in this situation include:  the Western Red Quill Floating Nymph; the Western Red Quill Emerger; the Western Blue Quill Floating Nymph; and the Western Blue Quill Emerger.  Alternatively, one could simply start with a dun pattern and switch to an emerger pattern if the dun pattern does not produce within a dozen casts to the bulging trout.


Duns of this mayfly look like large, slow moving Chinese junks ambling down the creek.  Trout will often take hatched Mahogany Duns in preference to more numerous but smaller Blue Winged Olives.  One excellent strategy is to drift a dun pattern within 6 inches of the edge of a weed bed or the bank.  Due to the fact that the duns hatch in calmer water, it is often beneficial to lengthen one’s leader to 12 to 15 feet and reduce your tippet to 5X or 6X.  Productive dun imitations include: the Mahogany Cut Winged Parachute; the Mahogany Sparkle Dun; the Mahogany Thorax Dun; the Mahogany No Hackle; and the Red Quill and Blue Quill, both of which are Catskill types in design.


Spinner falls of the Mahogany Dun can be important to the angler who fishes late in the day.  The Mahogany Dun spinners usually swarm in early evening and drop to the water about the time when it becomes difficult to see.  Bring your flashlight and reading glasses so that it is not difficult to change spinner patterns.  Unlike the other stages of the Mahogany Dun discussed above, the spinner can be fished out in open water with equal success.  Two spinner patterns which are effective for just about any mayfly are equally productive when fished at the end of a Mahogany Dun session.  The Blue Quill Spinner’s body is constructed from a stripped peacock quill, its wing is fashioned from white hen hackle tips (tied spent or semi-spent), and the hackle is light blue dun, clipped top and bottom.  The Red Quill Spinner’s body is from a reddish-brown dyed hackle stem, its wings are made from white hen hackle tips (tied spent or semi-spent), and brown hackle is used, clipped top and bottom.           

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

September 28TH Double R Fishing Report "Mahogany Duns"

Sunday, September 28, 2014:

Mahogany Duns . . . !

Yes, it rained most of yesterday and this morning it was chilly, overcast and threatening rain.  Plagued by curiosity, I just had to launch the float tube at Beat #8 of the field water of the Double R Ranch around 10:00 a.m.  No fish were rising and initially no insects were on the water.  But within a half hour my buddy and I started to see some extremely tiny Baetis which were more cream colored than olive.  Then we saw a few Mahogany Duns floating by.  Fish started to take the smaller of the two bugs, within the calm margins left by the slight breeze.  My friend picked up a fat 15 inch Brown on a Mahogany Dun dry, but that was all she wrote for a while.  Around 11:30 a.m. the Mahogany hatch exploded.  They looked like a fleet of Chinese Junks floating through the Hong Kong harbor.  A beautiful sight after weeks of size 22 Baetis, for sure.  I finally landed a Rainbow on my favorite Mahogany parachute.  Fish were rising everywhere and the surface was covered with Mahoganies, but we were frozen to the bone and opted to return to my trailer for some hot soup and the last Mariner game of the season.  

The Fall hatches are upon us, guys and girls.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

September 27TH Double R Fishing Report "Fall Fishing"

Saturday, September 27, 2014:


During out ten days of Indian Summer fishing has been challenging no matter where you have fished Silver Creek.  I felt fortunate on those days when I only landed two or three fish.  But, each day was precious because I figured it was the very last day of sunny warm weather.  A couple of days ago I pulled out my cold weather fishing clothing, just in case the weather would finally change.  

On the Double R Ranch down in down in the field we had been experiencing Baetis  spinners followed by duns starting around 9:00 a.m., and lasting for maybe 2 hours if one was lucky.  In the mid to late afternoon there often were rising fish but all I could identify were size 24 Tan Baetis . . . . the Callibaetis seemed to have disappeared.  Then a few Mahogany Duns showed up but the fish did not exactly key on them.  The fish had developed lock jaw.  When my favorite Blue Winged Olive dun and spinner patterns failed I would often turn to a #18 Pheasant Tail soft hackle or my “Who Knows Freaking Why” soft hackle.  We were in the Transitional Doldrums which plague us on Silver Creek a different week each year as we await the great fall fishing.

Well, the weather changed last night.  The forecast is for gray, overcast snotty weather which should bring out those wonderful appetizing Fall Baetis and Mahogany Duns which appear both on the field water and on The Pond.  Also be on the lookout for that species of Baetis which locally is called the “Pistachio Dun.”  It is distinguished by its lime green body and the trout love them; one can often pick up fish with a lime green bodied dun pattern even if the naturals are not on the water. I saw my first Fall Ginger Caddis the other day, about a size 12.   Terrestrial patterns remain a good choice in between hatches and late in the day.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper


September 18TH Double R Fishing Report "Indian Summer"

Thursday, September 18, 2014:


On the Double R Ranch the hatches have been fairly consistent and reliable the past week, while the cooperation of the trout have ranged from willingness to high level lock jaw depending on the day.  

The most reliable bug has been the Callibaetis.  You can pretty much depend on the Callibaetis starting to come off starting round 11:00 a.m. each morning.  Some days the Duns are the first to be sighted while on other late mornings or early afternoons the spinners appear first.  Some days you will encounter simultaneous significant quantities of both Duns and spinners.  Anglers have had success with Dun patterns such as the Parachute Adams, Callibaetis Thorax Dun, gray or tan bodied Comparaduns and Harrop’s Callibaetis No Hackle.  Effective spinner patterns have included the Callibaetis Hatch Matcher and the Poly Winged Spinner.  A good rule of thumb is to fish size 18 in “glass” conditions, size 16 when the wind creates a slight “chop” on the water surface, and size 14 in breezy situations.  

The smallish (size 20-22) Summer Baetis are still thriving during the current Indian Summer.  Mid-morning you are likely to encounter Baetis spinners and/or and emergence of Baetis Duns.  I have taken most of my fish long the edges of the now substantial weed beds and along the riparian vegetation that lines the “real” banks.  I tent to use olive bodied patterns for the emerging duns and rusty brown bodied patterns for the bank sippers which suck down spinners late in the morning just as the Callibaetis get started.  

I have encountered Mahogany Duns on two early evenings thus far.  They have been running at size 16 and their great visibility is a welcome relief from the bugs that make one squint.  Look for this bug to become the Bug of the Day once the weather cools down towards the end of this month and through October, both on the field water and on The Pond.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

August 6TH Double R Fishing Report "Found Flies"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014:

Yesterday there was quite a contingent of anglers fishing the field water on the Double R Ranch.  The best thing about the large crowd for a Monday was that they were Able to spread out on the field water because over the past week the creek level has risen to the extent that we are on the verge of being at the normal level for this stage of the season.  The overcast sky and cool temperature brought out the Baetis.  

I recently read an interesting article in the latest issue of Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, authored by Dave Hughes.  The concept underlying the article was his long standing intention to visit a favorite lake without flies, packing only his vise, tools and thread.  His plan was to scrounge up tying materials found on site such as bird feathers, animal fur and the like.  Hughes calls the resulting insect imitations “Found Flies.”  Of course, the article closes with descriptions of the flies he tied out of goose feathers and the trout he snookered using them.  He indicates that this approach to fly angling has become popular in Europe, the continent which brought us bottle water, several world wars and burdensome tax structures.  Dave, I have loved and respected your work over the years but these days you might lay off the John Barleycorn a wee bit.  

Anyway, this hunter-gatherer approach to fly tying has consumed my idle thoughts over the past week and has affected the way I react to Death in Nature.  Now when I see a mouse or vole carcass streamside my thoughts turn to dubbing a BWO nymph.  When I see a deer romping through the willows I envision its flank hair fashioned into Comparaduns.   I increasingly covet Great Blue Herons for their feathers which I imagine would make great spey flies.  I begin to think that by ignoring the lowly Coot as a source of soft hackles we are missing the boat.  I kick myself for not gathering bear underfur from “scratching trees” and incorporating it into Stonefly dubbing.  I wonder what I gems I could tie if I could just find a carcass of an American Bittern which I see and hear often on the Ranch water.  I look upon the Purdys’ sheep in a new light.   

While the concept of Found Flies intrigues me, there are several reasons why I am not likely to take up the challenge.  First, I’d never bring materials gathered in the wild back to my trailer because I probably have $20,000worth of fly tying materials and fear an invasion of the little bugs that can strip a fine rooster neck, bags of saddle hackles and fur.   Second, one needs to recognize the possibility of contracting flu strains from wild birds and other diseases from animals such as Hanta Virus.  Third, I am too damn lazy.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 28TH Double R Fishing Report "Great Blue Heron"

Monday, July 28, 2014:


This morning was one of those overcast mornings rife with the prospect of opportunity.  Early on the water was like glass, it was cool and uniformly overcast.  I should have been out on the water but slept in because I was recovering from a 4 day reunion with 4 college fraternity brothers and I felt too groggy to fish.  My loss, from what I heard from some more hardy anglers who plied the lower field water on the Double R Ranch.  Early on there were a good number of female Tricos hatching and sparsely tied green bodied Duns were the answer to the puzzle.   Thereafter, the Callibaetis in a size 16 made a strong appearance and one observant Member saw Duns with down wings floating by, and saw some of their wings become upright just before taking off.  To me, that would have been a wonderful sight . . . to see a very short period of the mayfly’s life unfold.  Just before the wind gained strength the Baetis made an appearance; that is, if you can see a size 24 on the water.   The next several days are forecasted to involve cloudy conditions as well, though maybe not as fully overcast and cool as today, so you might be advised to get your float tube out on the field water and The Pond.


I have long thought that I was the most patient creature in the galaxy.  I say “galaxy” rather than the universe because way deep down I guess I recognized the possibility that someone or something had even stronger powers of patience than me, though in truth I doubted it.  I usually fish Silver Creek 90 or more days a season and I play high stakes No Limit Texas Hold’em poker most of the winter, both endeavors favor the patient soul and I do well at both of them.  

This afternoon I was sitting in a camp chair outside my trailer enjoying one of the few cool comfortable days of July, an unexpected pleasure and a relief from the confines of my air conditioned trailer, when a Great Blue Heron landed in the shallows of the creek and assumed a fishing position.  I didn’t move an inch for a half hour, nor did the Heron.   I admired the Heron’s stamina and ability more than mine because I was, after all, comfortably seated and he was standing up.  It only occurs to me now in retrospect than standing for a period of time might not be taxing for a Heron.  But, I’ve admired the ability to stand motionless for an extended period of time ever since I watched a squad of West Point cadets stand for what seemed to a 9 year old to be hours, in the sweltering heat, until one of them keeled over maybe 20 feet from me.  Just as my increasingly faltering memory made that connection, the Heron’s head darted down and snared a small Rainbow trout.  After gobbling the trout down, the Heron resumed his watch.

July 19TH Double R Fishing Report

Saturday, July 19, 2014:


Saturday morning fishing conditions were rather comfortable as the air temperature was a wee bit cooler than just about every day during the past fortnight and the early morning breeze tapered off quickly so that the hatches came off in reliable fashion.  

While the Trico hatch in the field water was rather sparse, Members reported encountering a hatch of really tiny Baetis, perhaps a size 24.  The problem was being able to see your imitation in the blazing sun and I received a report of fish just “nosing” or otherwise refusing size 20 BWO Hatch Matcher.  My suggestion is to tie on a small (size 22 or 24) parachute pattern or other fly with a high profile (from the angler’s view point!) and cast to fish directly downstream of your position so that you avoid the nasty glare.  Then the Callibaetis made an appearance, both spinners and duns in size 16, but the fish only keyed on the Callibaetis in isolated locations. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in The Red Zone, try a sparsely tied fly such as a Callibaetis Thorax Dun, a Callibaetis Hatch Matcher, a Parachute Adams or something similar in size 16.  If all else fails, you might want to try a beetle or an ant pattern as the trout are used to seeing them by now.  

What can I say about The Pond, other than that we should re-name it “Old Reliable” because it is full of rising fish unless the wind comes up and destroys the hatch.  The more observant angler seems to catch the most fish; the Hatch of the Day could be Trico, Callibaetis or Midges.  If you can’t determine the identity of The Culprit causing trout to rise, get ahold of some gray or tan bodied “Sparkle Dun” dry flies in sizes 16 to 20 which should cover the spectrum.  Keep an eye open for fish taking grasshoppers in the wind as I have seen natural hoppers an inch and a half long in the established grass on the south side of The Pond; soon grasshoppers will become an important factor on The Pond.  

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper   

July 18TH Double R Fishing Report

Friday, July 18, 2014:


Having fished Silver Creek for over 23 years I feel that as a general rule one’ ability to make a crafty presentation is much more important than fly pattern or the size of your offering, within limits.  What I mean by “within limits” is primarily that one needs to fish sparsely dressed flies and that getting within a couple of sizes of the natural insect on the water is close enough for government work.  When I see a trout “nose” my fly offering or otherwise get a “refusal” I quite frequently tie on a fly one size larger whereas “The Book” says to go down a size.  At the bench I have become less focused on tying a realistic imitation, these days I have become obsessed with incorporating “triggering” characteristics into new fly designs.  While I generally avoid casting other than in a downstream direction, as the years pass I am more prone to varying the presentation, such as by giving dry flies a twitch as it comes into the trout’s viewfinder, by applying a six inch “tug” to the soft hackled fly as it approaches the site of a subsurface swirl, etc.  Fundamentally, I am loath to change patterns or fly sizes which led to success the day before even if they spark no reaction today.  For me, it is akin to surrendering at The Alamo.

But, Thursday I felt a chink in the armor.  Thursday was a bit cooler than earlier in the week and there was significant cloud cover.  As I took this all in I was thinking Baetis.  There weren’t that many Trico or White Miller Caddis early morning and it took a rather long time for the trout to rise in force.  When the trout riot began in earnest it didn’t seem like the culprits were TricosI don’t carry a seining net with me anymore; I had to start drawing the line somewhere.  But, it was pretty hard to not see the tiny bugs causing civil unrest as there were so many of them.  Yes, it was obviously a Blue Winged Olive hatch but the size of that mayfly was rather unusual this early in the trout season . . . . a bona fide size 24 and perhaps a size smaller.  Yet, I was stubborn and would not retire my green bodied size 20 Rene Harrop Trico No Hackle which had worked so well over the prior three days.  Hell, due to the tall white wing I could see the damn No Hackle when fishing a long line and the abdomen was green.  One would think it was close enough.  But, it wasn’t.  Admittedly I did land 3 fish.  But the No Hackle drifted over about a hundred other trout without being taken and I experienced a couple dozen refusals and three instances where the fly was “nosed.”  It was one of those days where prudence dictated that I “man up” and try a different fly pattern or size.  However, the Presentation Ego got involved and that’s all she wrote.  I promised myself that next time I will change flies, but I know that when push comes to shove I probably won’t make the adjustment.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 14TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, July 14, 2014:

“Here today, gone tomorrow” was the story line Sunday morning.  Saturday’s strong Baetis hatch did not show up Sunday morning.  But, the Tricos were out in force making for some exceptional dry fly fishing most of the morning and the trout “podded up” in some stretches of the lower field water.  Your Stream Keeper once again caught all of his 8 fish on Rene Harrop’s olive bodied Trico No Hackle, in size 22.  Later I tried my usually trusty olive bodied Trico Hatch Matcher but only experienced refusals.  I came upon two “pigs” feeding consistently in a foot of water but could not hook them on the Hatch Matcher.  I noticed that the two Brutes were swirling subsurface rather than sipping duns or spinners on top so I switched to a #20 Harrop Trico Nymph but could not buy a fish.  My largest fish of the morning was a 17 inch bank sipping Brown trout.  I was off my game and “missed” too many fish today.  There were quite a few Callibaetis spinners and I probably should have cut the leader back and fished a Hen Winged Spinner or a Callibaetis Hatch Matcher.  Bottom line is that despite the absence of a Baetis it was the most exciting morning for me this season.  My Guest landed over 20 fish.  The Pond continues to fish well pretty much all day unless the wind blows.  On both The Pond and the field water we should soon be seeing a Damselfly hatch.  The early morning flights of White Miller Caddis have begun to wane.  


While admittedly your Stream Keeper is no fisheries biologist, I have to say that I attribute the consistently good fishing in the “field” section of the Double R Ranch to the fact that we have lowered the water temperature as much as 4 degrees by using 80 to 85percentof the bottom release capacity of the new Dam.  The winter’s Pond Project is working as designed, apparently worth the $500,000 cost, and may well turn out to be the savior of our trout during this low water year.  The other evening Nick Purdy took a swim in The Pond, armed with a thermometer.  The surface temperature in The Pond registered 69 degrees, but when Nick took a reading immediately below the new bottom release dam the reading was 59 degrees!   Quite a difference from the pre-project era where The Pond warmed the water at a rate of 22 degrees per mile!  I suspect that The Pond and the colder water below the new Dam (perhaps all the way down to Hwy 20) will become a refuge as we progress into August and the water on the Preserve and below Highway 20 increasingly heats up. 

Meanwhile, due to increasingly higher water temperatures on the Preserve, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) management and its biologists are currently discussing what form of temporary closure is necessary and appropriate.  One proposal is to prohibit fishing before 10:00 a.m.  We all are probably aware that Montana Fish & Game has traditionally taken the approach of allowing morning fishing and closing rivers after 2:00 p.m. during drought years.  I have heard that TNC’s rational for potentially prohibiting early morning fishing is that the culprit in fish kills and stressing is a dangerously low level of dissolved oxygen (cause by heat) rather than the warm temperatures themselves.  So, recognizing that dissolved oxygen is at its lowest level at 6:00 a.m. and that it takes several hours of morning sun for photosynthesis to replenish dissolved oxygen, an opening time of 10:00 a.m. is being considered.  Keep in mind that Silver Creek lacks the riffle water of your typical freestone river which aids in oxygenating the water; that might be one of the reasons why TNC is not just adopting MFG strategy wholesale.  If anyone has more information about this difference in opinion, please flag your Stream Keeper down, stop by my trailer, call me at 503.939.7657 or email me at dougandres.whenpigflies@gmail.com.

Doug Andres 

Stream Keeper

June 30TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, June 30, 2014:


The weather report indicates that for the next four days the wind of this past weekend will moderate, perhaps giving the mayflies a chance to hatch in the morning.  Be on the lookout for an early morning hatch of the green bodied female Trico duns, as swarms of the black bodied male Trico spinners have been observed on the Double R Ranch water both in the evening and in the morning.  See my past blogs for information on how to fish the Trico hatch, at least once it gets established; in its early days the hatch can be chaotic.  You can start by fishing miniscule Trico nymphs, then green bodied dun patterns followed by black or green bodied spinner patterns.  On the field water we continue to encounter flights of White Miller Caddis early morning and, just recently, the evening flights are starting to occur.  Try running #16-12 Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles under the hovering insects, casting your fly to within a foot of the opposite bank and swimming it across the stream, or in front of working fish.  Also, be on the lookout for Blue Winged Olive spinners and sporadic hatches of BWO duns, which can range from size 18 to size 22 depending on the field water’s mood of the day.  The trout are starting to chase damsel nymphs in the shallows of the lower field water and the adult damsels will increasingly be a factor in both trout diet and the angler’s strategy.  

The Pond experiences a reliable Callibaetis hatch daily and fish are rising on both sides of the new islands and in the “north channel.”  First you will notice flights of Callibaetis spinners and later you’ll run into Callibaetis duns emerging, that is, if the wind doesn’t blow too strongly.  Your Stream Keeper prefers to use his #14 Callibaetis Hatch Matcher because it seems to effectively imitate both the spinner and dun phases of the mayfly, but anglers continue to take fish subsurface with the usual array of Callibaetis nymphs.   

The Double R Ranch water is running a bit higher as of late; the most recent number I have heard is 107 cfs, but it varies.  Other encouraging signs of a return to near normalcy is that the regular vegetation is starting to appear in Beats 12 down to 6, and I have been watching fish rising more consistency  in those stretches of the field water, perhaps just in time for the Trico hatch.