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October 27TH Double R Fishing Report "End of Season"

Friday, October 24, 2014:

This is my final blog entry of the season.   I have been somewhat remiss in blogging at times, not because I was too busy fishing, but rather because my computer’s “mother board” self-destructed in August and about two weeks ago I had  trailer fire and have been preoccupied packing the contents to move them to  replacement trailer in Oregon.  I vow to be more diligent next season.  If you get a chance, email any suggestions you might have regarding what information you would like to see in my blog next season.  Is it just fishing reports?  Fly tying tips?  Fly recipes?  Fishing strategies?  Fish tales?  Stories about other Members?

We’ve certainly had an interesting season on the Double R Ranch.  To be honest, I began to tear when I saw how low the creek was upon my arrival in mid-April.  Word was that the fishing would suffer on the Ranch but, in the view of many, we had some of the best June fishing in memory.  While only the lower 6 “beats” were fished early season, the renovated Pond provided expanded water to fish and rising trout were dependable, provided the wind stayed down.  We received a pleasant surprise in the form of a Green Drake hatch the first 5 days of the season.  My opinion is that the nymphs came down with the silt from the Pond Project; now that we’ve “seeded” the Ranch water and lowered the water temperature I believe there is a good chance that the Green Drake hatch will be an annual event.  We got up to normal creek levels at the end of July as soon as the Water Master shut down surface irrigators up valley, and I felt that life had begun anew!  I firmly believe that had the Pond Project not lowered water temperatures by 4 degrees when we moved to 85 percent bottom release, we would have seen fish kills during the summer.  To my observation the Pale Morning Dun hatch was brief but denser this season, and the Trico hatch was scattered but present on the Ranch water for quite some time.  We saw very few Damsels this season, perhaps because of the lower water temperature.  Next season be on the lookout as we very well could experience fishable hatches of “Sulfur” mayflies and Gray Drakes, due to the lowered water temperatures. 

The most difficult fishing of the season was experienced during our two Indian summers when the unseasonably warm temperatures retarded the hatches of Fall Baetis and Mahogany Duns.  But, the cold fall temperatures have arrived and two days ago I ran into what I felt was the first legitimate hatch of Fall Baetis, ranging from a #16 to a #18.

I want to personally thank all the Members who contributed to my “Silver Creek Willow Project” which kicked off at the Members’ Barbecue and continued through the summer.  We raised a total of $4,000 which will buy us 196 five gallon buckets of rooted willows (four varieties) 25 gray alders, plus 8 shade trees (two each to be planted at the access points with picnic tables and the toilet).  Next April the plants will be installed in appropriate locations from Beat 6 down to Beat 1, the willows in the Canary Grass and the Gray Alders in the streamside sedge.  I am optimistic that over time these plantings will go a long way towards providing shade and refuge for fish up against the bank, will help cool the water and will provide wind breaks for the angler.  I will personally defray the cost of spraying rings of fish safe herbicide in the Canary Grass which can often out-compete young willows.

Last week I spread a pound of Wild Blue Flax seed, a native wild flower which has done well when seeded elsewhere along Silver Creek.  Next spring I will be raising yellow Monkey Flowers and Indian Paint Brush from seed and planting them in the moist riparian zone; most spring creeks feature wild flowers like these and they are a delight to me.

Next season, in conjunction with Picabo Anglers, I am going to present two seminars focusing on aquatic entomology pertinent to the Ranch water and related fly selection.  Several Members have told me that they would benefit from information regarding the succession of insect hatches through the season and some fly patterns addressing particular situations.  The Double R Ranch Fishing Club wants to do what it can to maximize Members’ fishing experience.  When we have dates and times we will be sure to get that information out to you.

Over the winter I will be drawing up plans for several access improvements, both boardwalks and hand rails, to be installed along the newly renovated Pond.  Any ideas regarding location or design would be appreciated.  I want to make the Pond accessible to every Member.

If you have any suggestions for improving the experience on the Double R Ranch, pop me off an email or give me a phone call.

Thanks, again, for another great season on the Double R Ranch.  I look forward to seeing all of you next season. 

Doug Andres

(503) 939-7657

dougandres.whenpigflies@gmail.com {C}

October 6TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, October 6, 2014:

The past several days on the Ranch water there has been a Blue Winged Olive hatch around 2:00 in the afternoon and a Mahogany Dun hatch around 3:30 p.m. and the sporadic appearance of those bugs here and there most afternoons before the height of the hatch.  Oh, there have also been some rising fish in the morning, probably feeding on a few BWO duns or spinners.  I suspect that this pattern will continue on these warm days before the weather takes a turn for the south.  Guys are also scoring on beetles.

Yesterday afternoon I went out around 3:00 in search of the Mahogany Duns.  As soon as I hit the water the breeze came up.  I could see a few Mahogany Duns but they were getting blown off and the rise form of the trout indicated fish swirling below the surface.  So, I tied on a #18 Pheasant Tail soft hackle tied with red dyed pheasant tail fibers which made it a good match for the Mahogany nymph.  I ended up having an epic afternoon on the soft hackled flies, hooking 12 trout, landing 8 Rainbows up to 17 inches and missing several nice “tugs.”  I’ll be out there this afternoon!

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper 

October 3RD Double R Fishing Report

Friday, October 3, 2014:

FISHING REPORT:

The first of what I suspect will be an extended period of great fall fishing.  I got on the field water with a friend around 2:00 p.m. and we encountered  a nice hatch of #20 Baetis, which I “matched” with a #20 green bodied Female Trico No Hackle for just one fish.  After some frustration I switched tactics, changing over to a #20 soft hackle which I swung in front of “swirling” fish, hooking up once.  About 3:45 p.m. a really good Mahogany Dun hatch came off and the fish started to get greedy around 4:15 p.m. when my friend had to start his drive to Salt Lake City so I had to leave the feeding fish.  So, the afternoon may be when you’ll want to get down to the Ranch water.

Back by popular demand . . . . . 

ON MISSIONARY POSITION FLY FISHERS.  

Most of us know at least one fly fisherman who will only tie on dry flies.  Some of Them will only cast to rising trout.  Some of Them will only cast in an upstream direction.  Some of Them will only cast to individual rising fish.  Some of them will only fish Dun patterns, eschewing cripples, emergers or even Knock Down Duns.  Some of Them aren’t even English, or of aristocratic lineage.  Some of you are Them.  Some of you aren’t Them but have Them angler friends whom you perceive to be a bit snooty.  And, you can’t understand how a fly fisherman would rather not catch fish, or even cast a line, if a dry fly is not attached to his leader.  You feel the whole thing puts too much pressure on taking a friend out on your favorite productive water.  You’ve tried to communicate the joy of hooking large territorial Brown trout on streamers, large soft hackles and other “meaty” flies.  You don’t know what to think of Them, or how to deal with Them on a consistent basis.

I call them Missionary Position Fly Fishers, because they only fish On Top.

Hey, I’m not one of Them but I’ve known or run into my fair share of Them.  I used to be somewhat intolerant of Them, but have now found Peace.

At the end of productive morning on the Henry’s Fork I asked a guy at the Last Chance access how his day had been.  With a deep frown he told me that he had not made a single cast because “there were no Risers.”  I ran into him the next day around Noon and he related the same experience, appearing a bit more disappointed than the previous day.  On the third day he was elated, having cast to three fish, albeit without a hook up.  

The next year at the Wood Road access on the Henry’s Fork I approached the boat ramp in my float tube and came upon a half dozen dudes from Japan, all standing on the bank obviously on the lookout for rising fish.  I wanted to fish the usually productive water in front of them but didn’t want to cause an international incident, so I just left the river.  I made the same float the next morning and came upon the same contingent engaged in the same observation mode with fly in keeper.  After sitting in my tube for a half hour enjoying lunch and a cigar, I decided to push the tube out past what I felt was reasonable casting range and fished my Who Knows Freaking Why soft hackle further out into the Henry’s Fork, landing a half dozen spirited Henry’s Fork rainbows in 20 minutes.  I heard one guy remark to his companions that I was a very good fly fisher.  As walked past them back to my shuttle car I asked in my broken Japanese whether they wanted to see the fly I had been using.  As they eagerly approached me I was thinking that this could be the start of a bond, then, one of them appeared disappointed and said to me, “Wetto fry.”  I felt like I had been caught fishing a nymph downstream on an historic English caulk stream not wearing Tweed.  

Perhaps my most Immaculate Deception was conversing with recently deceased Bob Evans who fished the Henry’s Fork more than a hundred days a season, but only with the Dry Fly.  Bob was a great mentor to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of developing anglers over the years, taught me a lot and gave me numerous shuttles in return for one of my home baked pies.  But, he was rumored to break off all communication if he found out that you fished the Dreaded Nymph.  Bob died without discovering my affinity for fishing soft hackles subsurface (sometimes blind rather than in front of working fish!)  One of my deepest regrets is having deceived such a fine person (even more so than lying to my ex-wife when it was occasionally necessary to explain my late returns from fishing trips).   

My best friend in these parts is one of Them; he will only cast dry flies to individual working fish and will not run a dry fly through a pod of fish, even during a Trico hatch.  Over the years we’ve had a number of spirited discussions about what I refer to as his “problem.”  We’ve long past the Pedestrian and have elevated the debate to a more lofty search for Truth and a focus on Entomological Integrity.  I’ve taken the postulated that the selection of a fly which does not imitate the current stage of the insect being preyed upon by the trout is wholly lacking Integrity.  (It was relatively easy for us to come to this fundamental understanding because we both disdain “attracter” dry flies.)   I have pointed out that many anglers incorrectly assume that the “ring in the rise” is always made by a trout taking a dun, or at least cripple or emerging dun in the film.  At the early stage of the hatch the rise form is often a swirl made by a trout nipping away at nymphs well under the meniscus.  From this I have urged my good friend that fishing a dry pattern to trout swirling for the nymphal stage of mayflies involves no more Integrity than blindly swinging a soft hackle under hovering clouds of White Miller Caddis or, even worse, blind.  I convinced my friend that fishing a Pheasant Tail soft hackle to fish swirling for PMD nymphs might very well be using a proper imitation of a specific stage of the insect, provided that the presentation was in harmony with the situation and gave him a selection of small soft hackles which he used with success, once.  

The ungainly debate between us rages on, although we become less passionate about The Controversy as seasons come and go.  In the course of these discussions I have learned a lot from my friend, and a lot about my good friend, both about angling and about Life.  While most of us arrive at the juncture where it is not the landing of fish which is important and we are more focused on mere hooking of trout by whatever means possible, my friend has attained a rare purity of satisfaction which comes from hooking a solitary trout on a fly he can see.  While it is either not for me, or I am evolving at a snail’s pace, I respect his Quest and his Arrival.  We should all respect Missionary Position Fly Fishermen, even if their stated preference may not involve my friend’s Zen principles.  After all, it’s just fishing. 

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

October 2ND Double R Fishing Report "WILLOW PROJECT UPDATE"

Thursday October 2, 2014:

The weather was just too nice to spur the fall insects to hatch in force.  It was warm and sunny the first half of the day and just a few Blue Winged Olives were hatching in the morning with a few fish rising to them.  Mid-afternoon brought out a similarly sparse hatch and a buddy and I fished during the rather strong afternoon breeze.  We had just a few rises on a BWO dry then I scored a 14 inch Rainbow swinging a #14 Pheasant Tail soft hackle tight against the bank.  It took a hot shower, several Bourbons and a hot meal for me to warm up.

WILLOW PROJECT UPDATE:

Progress continues to be made on my “Silver Creek Willow Project.”  Members and others have now contributed a total of $4,000, which will enable the Club to purchase the equivalent of 265 five gallon buckets of rooted willows.  

I recently was accompanied in a site inspection by Jeff Klausmann of Intermountain Aquatics, based out of Driggs, Idaho, which will be the vendor of the plants and trees we will install on the banks of Silver Creek on the Double R Ranch next April.  The mission that day was to determine where particular species of shrubs would be planted.  I learned that willows and other native plants used for re-vegetation need to be planted in specific locations along the slope down to the creek bank, in order to achieve the proper amount of moisture.  Jeff advised that, in essence, willows could be planted where the streamside Canary Grass is located and that areas containing Sedge would have to receive River Birch.  The Canary Grass can potentially out compete newly planted willows so later this month Intermountain Aquatics will return to spray round circles in the Canary Grass with environmentally safe herbicide.  I will personally cover the cost of the herbicide spraying and related flagging; 100 percent of the contributions to the Willow Project will go towards willows, river birch and 8 shade trees to be planted, 2 each, at the take outs at Beats 1, 3, 4 and 5.  Your Stream Keeper will arrive in Picabo at the beginning of April so that he is able to supervise the delivery and planting of the willows, river birch and trees.    

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

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.  

Nymphs.  

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.

Emergers.  

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.  

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.

Spinners.  

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 29TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, September 29, 2014:

Today’s fishing on the Double R Ranch was a mixed bag, in that one’s success depended upon where and when you fished.  A buddy and I fished the field water between 10:00 a.m. and Noon, encountering a few Mahogany Duns and a few Baetis.  We each had strikes on dry imitations for both insects.  I “matched” the #18 Baetis with a #20 green bodied female Trico No Hackle.  After lunch my buddy fished The Pond for an hour and had several strikes on a small olive bodied parachute.  For about 2 hours he fished from the gazebo bridge back down to my trailer and encountered a good hatch of, all things, Callibaetis duns and landed a half dozen fish.  Just goes to show you that one has to be observant and willing to wait out the rain and the breeze.  What tomorrow brings is anyone’s guess.  Look for the hatches to stabilize and become more reliable as the weather improves starting on Wednesday.  

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:

FALL FISHING IS HERE . .  .!

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:

INDIAN SUMMER MEANS THE LAST DAYS OF COMFORTABLE FISHING

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

September 5TH Double R Fishing Report "Transition"

Thursday, September 4, 2014:

Members (and other readers) I apologize for the one month drought in blog entries but the “mother board” of my old computer busted and it took me quite a while to purchase and set up my new lap top.  But, I’m back at it, whatever “it” may be.

FISHING REPORT:

We are now smack in the middle of the “transition” period of the season, i.e. between summer bugs and fall insects.  Many years that portends pretty marginal and unreliable fishing but that is not the case this season.  The trout are rising all over the field water of the Double R and up on The Pond, all day in the absence of wind.  With the great variance in weather one day to the next, we are experiencing an ever changing assortment of mayflies.  There also are 2 inch long grasshoppers next to the field water and some anglers are scoring on large black beetles in the wind.  But, the unanswered question is, “Where are the damsels?”   

Callibaetis has been my favorite hatch to fish these days.  Provided the wind does not get too strong, we have been experiencing Callibaetis action starting as early as 11:00 a.m.  Some days the action begins with a spinner flight followed by a hatch of Duns, some days the order is reversed, and some days they occur simultaneously.  The “naturals” currently are about a size 16.  One tip:  If you are fishing the Callibaetis dun hatch or spinner fall in “glass” conditions (which happens many days around noon for an hour until the wind picks up) one will have greater success with a pattern that is one size smaller, these days a size 18.  I have been using a size 18 Callibaetis Hatch Matcher followed by a size 16 Harrop Callibaetis No Hackle with a salmon colored body.  I’ve heard that Members have been scoring with Callibaetis Emergers. 

Blue Winged Olives (aka “Baetis”) can be a troublesome hatch to fish these days.  The “summer” Baetis have been on the field water for a month and most of us did well with them until the uncharacteristic overcast even rainy conditions of this August became a daily reality.  There are nearly 50 species within the Baetis family and those in the summer group thrive in the heat but hate the cold, rainy overcast weather which makes Fall Baetis explode.  Last night’s frost in Picabo may well be the “opening day” for our Fall Baetis, as I have observed dark gray spinners with brown bodies which are characteristic of some Fall Baetis species.  Tie or buy some spinners with this coloration (if you can find them) or drag out your favorite Rusty Spinner pattern, especially for those after-the-hatch “bank sippers.”

Mahogany Duns are my favorite fall insect and they have just started to appear on the water.  This bug will be the feature of a future blog entry.  They are a size 16.  They are most often seen in the quiet calm margins along the (true) bank or a patch of aquatic vegetation.  On the Ranch they are present both on the field water and on The Pond.  

“Pistachio” Duns.   Members have reported sightings of this unusual Baetis which we see each Fall on the field water, but generally not on The Pond.  You can use just about any dun pattern (Comparadun, Sparkle Dun, etc.) to imitate this unique mayfly, provided the body is made using Rene Harrop’s “Professional Dubbing” in his “Caddis Green” color (or something pretty close tending towards a chartreuse coloration).  Currently the “natural” is running around a size 18 but in the weeks to come the bug will appear in size 16.  

2nd annual “Stream Keeper’s Paella Party.”

Members of the Double R Ranch Fishing Club are invited to my annual Paella Party set to begin at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 13 at the Gazebo.  I will be serving my infamous Paella together with a tomato salad, sliced watermelon, Epi bread and a dessert of Grilled Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream.  

If you live under a bridge and haven’t encountered Paella before, it is a spicy Spanish rice dish.  I load the rice up with boneless chicken thighs, spicy Italian sausage, shrimp, scallops, crawfish tails and mussels.  

Bring your own adult beverage, soft drink or bottled water.  

If you really feel that you MUST bring something else (always appreciated) an appetizer would be fine.

Come and celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fine fall fishing.

 

July 21ST Double R Fishing Report

Monday, July 21, 2014:

FISHING REPORT:

In a nut shell, when the early morning breeze tapered off this morning the overcast sky prompted some small Baetis and a smattering of Tricos to hatch and fish were intently working the buffet.  Hardly any Members were out on the field water or The Pond, where fish were rising, too.  In both locations, Callibaetis duns and spinners seemed to interest the trout as well.  Even the large Brown trout seem to be readily taking small sparsely tied imitations off the surface.  Anglers have been scoring well on beetles and ants; if you can’t seem to successfully match the hatch on a given morning or afternoon, throw out a small terrestrial as the fish are clearly looking up.  Tomorrow should be as cool as today’s weather so look for the three mayflies to continue to hatch in about equal numbers until the 90 plus degree heat resumes on Wednesday, when the Tricos and Callibaetis should take over. 

ON “OLD” FISHING BUDDIES AND OLD “FLAMES”:

This week four college fraternity brothers will be visiting me in Picabo.  Back in the proverbial Day, we were inseparable partners in crime, partying and the pursuit of the female gender.  It was, after all, The Post Sixties.  The Five Musketeers dispersed to Oregon, California, Colorado and South Carolina.  This reunion will be the first time the five of us have all been together in one location since we graduated in 1974 and, given that it took us 40 years to work out the logistics, it probably will not happen again.   None of my fraternity brothers fly fish so I will likely spend most of the three days giving futile instruction; I usually don’t drink while fishing, but I may need to make an exception.

Like just about every serious fly angler, I have a number of men and women with whom I’ve fished for years.  One good buddy and I have fished together at least one a season for over 25 years in Oregon and on Silver Creek each September.  Another showed up yesterday (on his way to The Big Hole and the Missouri, bearing a case of his “Stream Keeper’s Reserve” Pinot Noir made from grapes he grows in the Willamette Valley.  Another buddy and I have fished together since I introduced him to The Deschutes on the one year anniversary of his remission from Lymphoma.  Then there is a woman friend who has been fly fishing Yellowstone National Park streams since the mid-70s, and whom I have turned into an expert soft hackle angler.   Of course, I fish with local anglers and those friends who make an annual pilgrimage to the hallowed waters of Silver Creek.  

A friend recently asked me what I would prefer, three days with an old fishing buddy or 72 hours with an Old Flame.  You would assume that an increasingly heavy set, graying one legged man now in his early sixties would jump at the chance to “reunite” with a love from his now distant youth, wouldn’t you?  Well, not exactly, as the passage of years has made me less tolerant and attentive to the vagaries of the female gender, and I am increasingly more difficult to tolerate than one can imagine.  The pleasures of the flesh may no longer be a panacea for seemingly irreconcilable differences in philosophy or each other’s outlook on Life.  One’s priorities change as the decades pass.  For more detail read (or re-read) Russell Chatham’s wonderful short story, “The Great Duck Misunderstanding” found in his Dark Waters collection.      

With long term fishing buddies, one is not reliving or grasping at past relationship high points.  You are back out on the water, sometimes new and sometimes familiar, both of you attempting to solve the Riddle of the Day.  Necessarily, there is something serious and engaging to talk about around the evening camp fire, over fine spirits and paced by a good cigar.  This debate does not inadvertently rub salt into old wounds which one would think should have healed by now.  The bond between you remains fresh and new; it is not being relived.

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.  

EFFECTS OF THE NEW DAM        

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

July 10Th ~ MISSIONARY POSITION FLY FISHERS

Thursday, July 10, 2013:

ON MISSIONARY POSITION FLY FISHERS.  

Most of us know at least one fly fisherman who will only tie on dry flies.  Some of Them will only cast to rising trout.  Some of Them will only cast in an upstream direction.  Some of Them will only cast to individual rising fish.  Some of them will only fish Dun patterns, eschewing cripples, emergers or even Knock Down Duns.  Some of Them aren’t even English, or of aristocratic lineage.  Some of you are Them.  Some of you aren’t Them but have Them angler friends whom you perceive to be a bit snooty.  And, you can’t understand how a fly fisherman would rather not catch fish, or even cast a line, if a dry fly is not attached to his leader.  You feel the whole thing puts too much pressure on taking a friend out on your favorite productive water.  You’ve tried to communicate the joy of hooking large territorial Brown trout on streamers, large soft hackles and other “meaty” flies.  You don’t know what to think of Them, or how to deal with Them on a consistent basis.

I call them Missionary Position Fly Fishers, because they only fish On Top.

Hey, I’m not one of Them but I’ve known or run into my fair share of Them.  I used to be somewhat intolerant of Them, but have now found Peace.

At the end of productive morning on the Henry’s Fork I asked a guy at the Last Chance access how his day had been.  With a deep frown he told me that he had not made a single cast because “there were no Risers.”  I ran into him the next day around Noon and he related the same experience, appearing a bit more disappointed than the previous day.  On the third day he was elated, having cast to three fish, albeit without a hook up.  

The next year at the Wood Road access on the Henry’s Fork I approached the boat ramp in my float tube and came upon a half dozen dudes from Japan, all standing on the bank obviously on the lookout for rising fish.  I wanted to fish the usually productive water in front of them but didn’t want to cause an international incident, so I just left the river.  I made the same float the next morning and came upon the same contingent engaged in the same observation mode with fly in keeper.  After sitting in my tube for a half hour enjoying lunch and a cigar, I decided to push the tube out past what I felt was reasonable casting range and fished my Who Knows Freaking Why soft hackle further out into the Henry’s Fork, landing a half dozen spirited Henry’s Fork rainbows in 20 minutes.  I heard one guy remark to his companions that I was a very good fly fisher.  As walked past them back to my shuttle car I asked in my broken Japanese whether they wanted to see the fly I had been using.  As they eagerly approached me I was thinking that this could be the start of a bond, then, one of them appeared disappointed and said to me, “Wetto fry.”  I felt like I had been caught fishing a nymph downstream on an historic English caulk stream not wearing Tweed.  

Perhaps my most Immaculate Deception was conversing with recently deceased Bob Evans who fished the Henry’s Fork more than a hundred days a season, but only with the Dry Fly.  Bob was a great mentor to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of developing anglers over the years, taught me a lot and gave me numerous shuttles in return for one of my home baked pies.  But, he was rumored to break off all communication if he found out that you fished the Dreaded Nymph.  Bob died without discovering my affinity for fishing soft hackles subsurface (sometimes blind rather than in front of working fish!)  One of my deepest regrets is having deceived such a fine person (even more so than lying to my ex-wife when it was occasionally necessary to explain my late returns from fishing trips).   

My best friend in these parts is one of Them; he will only cast dry flies to individual working fish and will not run a dry fly through a pod of fish, even during a Trico hatch.  Over the years we’ve had a number of spirited discussions about what I refer to as his “problem.”  We’ve long past the Pedestrian and have elevated the debate to a more lofty search for Truth and a focus on Entomological Integrity.  I’ve taken the postulated that the selection of a fly which does not imitate the current stage of the insect being preyed upon by the trout is wholly lacking Integrity.  (It was relatively easy for us to come to this fundamental understanding because we both disdain “attracter” dry flies.)   I have pointed out that many anglers incorrectly assume that the “ring in the rise” is always made by a trout taking a dun, or at least cripple or emerging dun in the film.  At the early stage of the hatch the rise form is often a swirl made by a trout nipping away at nymphs well under the meniscus.  From this I have urged my good friend that fishing a dry pattern to trout swirling for the nymphal stage of mayflies involves no more Integrity than blindly swinging a soft hackle under hovering clouds of White Miller Caddis or, even worse, blind.  I convinced my friend that fishing a Pheasant Tail soft hackle to fish swirling for PMD nymphs might very well be using a proper imitation of a specific stage of the insect, provided that the presentation was in harmony with the situation and gave him a selection of small soft hackles which he used with success, once.  

The ungainly debate between us rages on, although we become less passionate about The Controversy as seasons come and go.  In the course of these discussions I have learned a lot from my friend, and a lot about my good friend, both about angling and about Life.  While most of us arrive at the juncture where it is not the landing of fish which is important and we are more focused on mere hooking of trout by whatever means possible, my friend has attained a rare purity of satisfaction which comes from hooking a solitary trout on a fly he can see.  While it is either not for me, or I am evolving at a snail’s pace, I respect his Quest and his Arrival.  We should all respect Missionary Position Fly Fishermen, even if their stated preference may not involve my friend’s Zen principles.  After all, it’s just fishing. 

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 3RD Double R Fishing Report

Thursday, July 3, 2014:

We’re in the midst of a week of 90 plus degree weather and a forecast of relatively low wind conditions, a prescription for strong emergences of both Tricos, damsel flies and White Miller Caddis (which have been on flights both morning and evening) in the field water of the Double R Ranch.  Last night trout were rising and jumping clear of the water on The Pond until sunset; consider an evening fishing session.

FIVE WAYS TO AVOID HOOKING SILVER CREEK TROUT:

First, make sure you cast a short line.  Sure there are times when fish are so focused on feeding that you can literally fish right on top of them, but day in and day out on Silver Creek and other spring creeks you will catch more trout if you keep your distance from working fish or likely trout lies.  Wild trout have an innate fear of shadows created by the casting angler and of brightness caused by shiny reels and fishing equipment.  Cast as long a line as is within your abilities; practice and proper equipment will lengthen you cast.  

Second, make sure to fish a short leader.  While there are circumstances where the angler can “get away with” a 9 or 12 foot leader (such as when a “chop” is on the water or when fishing subsurface), Silver Creek veterans will advise you to fish a longer leader; again, to deep distance from the trout and to avoid alarming trout.  To a 2 foot butt section, your Stream Keeper generally attaches a 14 foot, 6X Trout Hunter leader, recently declared the best leader in the industry, which are available at the Picabo Angler fly shop.

Third, make sure you tie on a bushy, heavily hackled dry fly with a high profile.  The slow water of spring creeks affords trout an extended opportunity to differentiate natural insects from your fly offering.  Fly shops serving big western rivers sell heavily hackled and bulky flies designed to float in strong currents.  You will want to patronize fly shops in the immediate vicinity of Silver Creek where you can buy sparsely tied flies.  

Fourth, make sure you cast directly across or upstream of trout.  This is the best way to “line” fish and put trout down.  Experienced Silver Creek anglers cast both wet and dry flies downstream and in front of working fish to suspected trout lies.   Move your float tube to gain better position in relations to working trout.

Fifth, make sure that you “false cast” at least a half dozen times before launching your cast.  With fly floatant and flies constructed from appropriate materials, it is not necessary to “dry” your fly via false casting.  Repetitive false casting creates shadows and movement which only serves to spook fish who have evolved to be paranoid of predator birds.  Instead, let your fly drift directly downstream, pick up slack line with your free hand, pull the rod back and launch your cast in one movement.    

Each of these “no noes” will reduce your chances of consistently landing Silver Creek trout by 20 percent.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper 

 

July 2ND Double R Fishing Report

Wednesday, July 2, 2014:

This is one of several times a season on Silver Creek which I characterize as being in “transition,” that is, between strong insect hatches.  The Tricos are just coming on but they are not yet a reliable consistent hatch all across Silver Creek; right now the angler will encounter isolated sporadic hatches of the tiny Trico, and it is a situation where you might not encounter the hatch in the same place you saw it yesterday.  For example, there were clouds of male spinners around my trailer for two consecutive nights but none last night.  The damsel flies are also about to come on in force.  A few adult damsels can be observed hovering over the water surface here and there, but not in the quantity where the trout riot, slashing after them and becoming airborne.  The weather forecast calls for a week of 90 degree plus weather and the sometimes questionable thermometer in my pickup read 105 degrees by late afternoon.  I would be surprised if the hatches of Tricos and damsels do not reach epic proportions sometime this week on the Double R Ranch water below the Gazebo Bridge.  Now would be the time to drop in at the Picabo Angler fly shop and pick up a selection of Trico and damsel patterns 

So, what is happening and what strategies could one pursue.  

FIELD WATER.  Arrive on the field water early and fish the dense flight of White Miller Caddis either with a large dry fly (an X Caddis, Light Cahill, Elk Hair Caddis, Goddard’s Caddis) or by swimming a #14 or #12 Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle under the insect hovering over the surface.  Be on the lookout for isolated trout making gentle rises up against the banks or in mid-stream channels and pursue them with a #18 or #20 Baetis spinner pattern; I use a BWO Hatch Matcher.  I believe that fish can be had by swimming a damsel nymph pattern along the banks and through the deeper channels, and I would bring some Callibaetis patterns along as well.  When all else fails, put on a beetle or ant.    

THE POND.  The Pond was on fire this afternoon.  In 10 minutes I observed a dozen fish clearing the water, their tails as much as 2 feet above the surface.  I suspect that the trout might have been chasing Callibaetis nymphs on their way to the surface, but it might have well been damsel nymphs or even a caddis emergence.  This behavior occurred both when the surface was calm and in the “chop” formed by a slight breeze.  If you want to fish dry, target the sipping trout with a #16 Callibaetis Hatch Matcher or other spinner, or a sparsely tied Callibaetis dun pattern.  To take their more acrobatic brethren, you might cast a Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph or other Callibaetis nymph, let it sink to a count of 15 , and make 6 inch retrieves.  Be on the lookout for small Baetis or possibly even Tricos.  I saw an inch and a half long tan grasshopper on the bank of The Pond yesterday, so beware.       

MEMBERS’ REMINDER . . . . The annual Members’ Barbecue starts at 4:00 pm on Saturday, July 5, kicking off with adult beverages, leading to the roast pig and roast beef dinner, and centering on the official dedication of the new dam and related Pond Project.  There will also be a sporting clay competition and an art show (with 10 percent of the proceeds donated to our stream restoration fund).  There are rumors of dancing into the night . . . . 

RV PARK . . . . . It used to be difficult for fishing RVers to get relief from the July and August heat in Picabo, but no longer.  The Purdys have built a 17 space RV park kitty corner across from the Picabo Store, where you register.  Tell your friends that the new park has water, a waste dump, bathrooms and electricity to run your air conditioner.  Hey, a comfortable afternoon nap is now possible!

 

July 1ST Double R Fishing Report

Tuesday, July 1, 2014:

This entry should be of interest to those who tie their own flies and like to fish Silver Creek subsurface.  I am a “soft hackle” fan and have success with the soft hackled flies detailed below.  Tie a few up and let them rip.

If you think about or read too many fly tying books like me, it is likely that the first fly patterns designed involved soft hackle materials.  I mean, no synthetic materials were available.  The first flies were tied using what was available at the time (as early as the first century B.C.) were limited to bird feathers, wool and other animal fur, and thread fashioned from natural fibers.  Dyed thread or wool permitted anglers to tie in a limited range of colors.  Dry flies were not conceived until relatively recent times.  Yet, at least among the privileged class in England, the dogmatic convention of fishing dry flies upstream can be seen as discouraging experimentation with soft hackles and other wet flies fished down and with the assistance of the current.   

Unlike most commercially tied soft hackled flies tied on light wire hooks to be fished in the film as “emergers,” my soft hackle patterns are tied on 2XL, 2XH streamer hooks (e.g. the Tiemco 5262) so that they can be swung 3 to 5 inches below the water surface.  As a general rule you’ll not want to fish soft hackles on a leader lighter than 5X because the “take” is akin to that of a steelhead strike.  Unlike the traditional dead drift nymphing technique, you want the fly line and leader to drag the soft hackle across the stream and in front of trout.  Depending on the speed of the water you are fishing, you cast the fly either straight across the stream (if the current is slow) or on a 45 degree downstream (if the current is fast).  The goal is to swim the fly downstream in a natural manner, somewhat slower than the current speed.  When you are not casting to a working fish, just thoroughly cover the water giving special attention to lies along the reeds or solid bank.  You will want to avoid unnecessary slack and hold the line in your fingertips, as the take can be subtle.  Sometimes a slight, gentle mend of the fly line (not the leader) is advisable.  Sometimes you can prompt trout to hit the soft hackle by applying a slight “tug” to the fly line (or by lifting your rod slightly) when you think that the fly is right in front of a working fish.  Some anglers will strip the soft hackle like a big river streamer.  Always be vigilant because trout will frequently take the soft hackle on the “plop,” particularly during a hatch of damsel flies or under a flight of the large White Miller Caddis.  

I tie soft hackles for Silver Creek in a range of sizes, from a #10 to a #20, and selection of size is usually governed by whether the soft hackle gets caught in underwater vegetation or by the size of the insect which has been hatching.  You will want to invest in a bottle of “Zink” (the opposite of the “Gink” floatant) or other liquid product which helps the soft hackle sink immediately rather getting held up in the meniscus.  

I generally tie my soft hackles without a base of lead wire, but when I do I use red tying thread, for easy identification in my separate soft hackle fly box.

I buy whole bird skins for tying my soft hackles; you get better quality feathers and a wide range of markings than are contained in those little bags of loose feathers sold in most fly shops which typically include a lot of waste feathers not suitable for soft hackled flies.  A variety of Grouse and Chuckar skins provide me with a range of colors and marking for size 10 and larger soft hackled flies.  Partridge, both natural and dyed, is my feather of choice for sizes 12 to 16.  Several species of Quail and other small birds such as Starling do the trick for sizes 18 and smaller.  By the way, the purpose of tying in a firm thorax of peacock herl is to provide a base on which to support the soft hackle feather, so that the resultant hackle will “pulsate” with the ebb and flow of the current.   

In my fly tying life I grew up reading Sylvester Nemes’ series of largely repetitive books about soft hackled flies.  A more concise but thorough treatment of soft hackled flies, patterns and strategies to fish them is Allen McGee’s recent work, entitled “Tying and Fishing Soft-hackled Nymphs.” 

Okay, now the fly patterns.

PHEASANT TAIL SOFT HACKKLE

The Pheasant Tail sot hackle is my most versatile soft hackle for Silver Creek, not surprising given the universal effectiveness of the myriad of pheasant tail patterns.   Why ignore or mess with something which works so well?  Well, for me the answer is that after a decade of experimentation I have found that using red or orange dyed pheasant tail fibers results in a fly that is consistently more attractive to trout; brown or olive dyed pheasant tail fibers make effective soft hackles as well.  My theory is that this coloration helps set the fly apart from sticks and other debris that has the same color range as natural pheasant tail fibers.  I have also eschewed the use of copper for ribbing, finding that “Hot Yellow” Uni-Thread lures more trout, perhaps it provides more realistic segmentation or functions as an attractive “trigger.”  No matter; I am sold on bright wire.  

Hook:        Size 10 to 20, Tiemco 5262 (or other 2XL, 2XH streamer hook)

Rib:        Hot Yellow Uni-Wire

Abdomen:    Red or Orange dyed pheasant tail fibers

Thorax:        Peacock herl

Hackle:        Grouse or partridge, depending on hook size.

WHO KNOWS FREAKING WHY SOFT HACKLE (aka “Beats Me”)

This is a ridiculous fly.  It is ridiculous in appearance.  And, it is ridiculously effective on Silver Creek and in any stream you fish.  It is a bit depressing to know that I will never come up with a fly pattern more effective than this fly which I “invented” two decades ago.  Such is life, I guess.  The fly gets its name from uncertainty regarding exactly why the pattern is so universally effective.  Some speculate that the fly looks like a Green Rock Worm Caddis pupa.  Other accuse it of being a damsel imitation.  Still others feel it resemble a bait fish in larger sizes.  Who Knows?  Who Cares?  Beats Me!  The Who Knows Freaking Why will also catch steelhead!  It is a simple, quick pattern to tie.  The “trigger” of this fly is undoubtedly the metallic green abdomen and a variety of materials are available in today’s market which will fashion and effective body.     

Hook:        Size 10 to 20 Tiemco 5262 (or similar 2XL, 2XH streamer hook)

Abdomen:    Bright green metallic Diamond Braid (or similar material)

Thorax:        Red-dyed peacock herl, or other contrasting color

Hackle:        Natural Guinea, Blue Grouse or similarly marked feather

BLUE DAMSEL SOFT HACKLE:  

I swim this Blue Damsel Soft Hackle under hovering clouds of damsels in preference to dry adult damsel patterns because the trout will follow and take the soft hackle in addition to grabbing it on the “plop.”   I generally tie the pattern on a #10 hook but also have had success with a #14 which friends have nicknamed “The Smurf.”

Hook:        Size 10 or 14 Tiemco 5262 (or similar 2XL, 2XH streamer hook)

Rib:        “Hot Yellow” Uni-Wire

Abdomen:    Twisted Royal Blue dyed long pheasant rump feather, from the top of the rump patch

Thorax:        Red dyed peacock herl (or other contrasting color)

Hackle:        “Church” feather from Royal Blue dyed pheasant rump patch

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

 

June 30TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, June 30, 2014:

FISHING REPORT:

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.

June 28TH Double R Fishing Report

Saturday, June 28, 2014:

FISHING REPORT:

The White Miller Caddis have been making an early morning appearance on the lower field water of the Double R Ranch.  On Friday morning your Stream Keeper landed a half dozen fish, including a 20 inch Brown and a 17 inch Rainbow, by swimming #14 Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles under the hovering caddis and in front of swirling fish.  Some Blue Winged Olives came off under the cloud cover.  Isolated hatches of Trico mayflies have been observed; look for the hatch to intensify with continued hot weather.  The trout have started chasing damsel nymphs; a green bodied soft hackle is an effective pattern for hooking these trout.  The Callibaetis hatch on The Pond is a reliable daily event; the larger trout have been holding against the north bank of the new islands.

SUMMER READING LIST:

If you want to do some serious summer reading focused on improving your knowledge of aquatic insects, fly design and fishing techniques, the following selection would be a great start, in no particular order:

Learning from the Water, Fishing tactics & fly design for the toughest trout,  Rene Harrop

In your Stream Keeper’s opinion, this is the fly fishing and fly tying book of the decade.  It focuses on hatches and techniques for fishing the Henry’s Fork, but the wisdom it contains is transferrable to Silver Creek, any spring creek and many other venues.  There are recipes for most of Rene Harrop’s significant flies.  If you want to read one fly fishing book this summer, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Tying & Fishing Soft Hackled Nymphs, Allen McGee

While I am a devoted soft hackle addict and cut my teeth on Sylvester Nemes’ series of books on the subject, I regard Allen McGee’s recent book as the repository of all Western Knowledge about soft hackled flies.  It contains pictures and recipes for more current fly patterns and detailed instructions regarding many effective techniques for fishing soft hackled flies, and they all work on Silver Creek.  A “must read” for soft hackle devotees.

Western Mayfly Hatches, From the Rockies to the Pacific, Rick Hafele & Dave Hughes

These prolific Oregon fly fishing authors have collaborated on a book chock full of information about our may flies, written in a straight forward manner easily understood by the average angler interested in practical information.

Mayflies, An Angler’s Study of Trout Water Ephemeroptera, Malcolm Knopp & Robert Cormier

This work will be right up your alley if you are interested in delving into the minutia regarding mayflies.  It is your Stream Keeper’s favorite reference book.   

Caddisflies, Gary LaFontaine

This is the greatest book ever written about Caddisflies, a timeless classic.  LaFontaine sparked the Antron craze, at least regarding its use for imitating caddis.  What I particularly like about this book is the Index which you can use to find out what species of caddis are present on your destination rivers and which LaFontaine patterns you should carry.

Mastering the Spring Creeks, A Fly Angler’s Guide, John Shewey

This may be the first “modern” work on fishing spring creeks.  Shewey covers a wide range of effective techniques and fishing strategies, illustrated by excellent photographs.   But what your Stream Keeper finds most interesting is the fly recipes.  Shewey has a dozen standard mayfly patterns directed at aquatic insects (both mayflies and caddis) and specifies what color materials needed for each species one would expect to encounter on Western spring creeks.  Particularly interesting is the absence of any parachute patterns. 

Selective Trout, A Dramatically New and Scientific Approach to Trout Fishing on Eastern and Western Rivers, Doug Swisher & Carl Richards

A landmark book with wisdom still valuable today. 

Hatches II,  A Complete Guide to Fishing the Hatches of North American Trout Streams,  Al Caucci & Bob Nastasi

Another classic and pioneering book with current validity, which should be present on the serious angler’s bookshelf right next to Selective Trout.

Tying Emergers, Jim Schollmeyer & Ted Leeson

An extremely helpful book for those fly tiers who are devotees of emerger patterns.  It will take your tying skills to the proverbial next level.

Micro Patterns, Tying & Fishing the Small Fly, Darrel Martin

This extremely talented master fly tier has written a manual for tying small flies capable of raising your catch rate when the PMDs, Tricos, midges and BWOs are minuscule.

Tricos, A Practical Guide to Fishing and Tying Tricorythode Imitations and Related Patterns, Bob Miller

Although Miller hails from the East, this small book is full of sage advice for fishing hatches of the tiny Trico mayfly.  It contains the recipe and tying instructions for the “wonder wing” pattern. 

The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph, James E. Leisenring & Vernon S. Hidy, 1971

If you can find a copy of this out-of-print book, pick it up.  It will take you back to the early days of spring creek fishing, as Hidy was a noted Silver Creek devotee.

A River Never Sleeps, Roderick Haig Brown

Inspirational accounts of time on the river.

Spring Creek, Nick Lyons

One of Lyons’ finest works, this book chronicles a summer spent figuring out the puzzle of O’Dell Spring Creek which flows into the Madison River just outside of Ennis, Montana.  It will inspired the angler to explore a new river. 

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

 

June 26TH Double R Fishing Report

Thursday, June 26, 2014:

    This blog entry should be of interest to those spring creek anglers who tie their own flies and are looking for a new weapon for finicky trout.

THE “HATCH MATCHER” . . . A HERITAGE FLY FOR TODAY’S SPRING CREEKS & STILL WATERS

As the Stream Keeper for that private stretch of Silver Creek which runs through the Double R Ranch in Picabo, Idaho,, I am privileged to be able to fish this fly fishing Mecca 90 days each season.   There almost never is a session on Silver Creek during which I neglect to tie on a Hatch Matcher dry fly at some point during the prevailing mayfly hatch.    The Hatch Matcher is truly a heritage pattern, one which has inextricably fallen into disuse despite its effectiveness as both a dun and a spinner imitation.  The Hatch Matcher is said to have been invented by noted Catskill fly tier Harry Darbee in the 1930s.  Why it fell from favor in that locale is hard to determine at this late date; perhaps this extremely delicate pattern was not suited to the freestone streams of upstate New York, or maybe the Hatch Matcher was a casualty of the dominance of the Catskill convention of dry fly design.  One wonders why the Hatch Matcher never became established on the limestone spring creeks of Pennsylvania.  In any event, the Hatch Matcher became a trusted fly on Silver Creek when Dick Alf gave the pattern its western introduction at his Sun Valley fly shop in the 1960s.   Ask any old codger and he will tell you that Hatch Matchers could be found next to Pete Hide “flymphs” in his fly box.   

I have fished the Hatch Matcher with great success on other western spring creeks, including Armstrong Spring Creek, O’Dell Spring Creek and Milsinek Spring Creek.  Trout eagerly take the Hatch Matcher in the calmer stretches of tail waters such as the Missouri and on Yellowstone area lakes such as Hebgen and Ennis. 

 The Hatch Matcher is fairly simple to tie once you master a few techniques which may be new to you.  It is a delicate, elegant tie created from just two materials.  The forked tail, extended body and wing are fashioned from a single mallard flank feather.  Back in the day, the fly was tied in various sizes using natural mallard flank feathers and colored streamside with Panatone pens to match the prevailing hatch.  Nowadays, a wide range of commercially dyed mallard flank feathers and thread of varying colors are available to the tier.  The creative tier can also incorporate a variety of other bird feathers into Hatch Matchers, such as the white breast feathers of Wood Duck or Gadwall drakes for small Tricos and PMDs.  The authentically tied Hatch Matcher involves a body of tying thread matching the mallard flank feather.  The pattern calls for an upright hackle collar fore and aft of the wing, however, one can also apply hackle in the parachute style if the feather’s stem is not clipped off.  When production tying, I apply head cement to the tail, extended body and wing of the fly before hackling the batch, in order to make the delicate tail more durable, but one can apply the head cement after a single fly is completed.  

 The completed Hatch Matcher may look a bit oversized in relation to the hook.  Not to worry.  If the hackle is the same size as the hook the fly will tilt backwards, showing fish primarily the forked tail and extended body.  As a fly designer I increasingly am of the view that the vast majority of effective fly patterns feature a component which operates as a trigger, and this is I believe is the effect of the forked tail and extended body.  It is much like the Zelon shuck of the Sparkle Dun or the red floss band of the Royal Wulff.   This characteristic of the Hatch Matcher also serves to make the fly extremely visible to the angler.  The Daiichi 1110 hook may feature a longer shank than a traditional dry fly hook, but it has excellent hooking efficiency and the advantage of an oversized flat eye that makes it easy to attach to tippets too large for a regular dry fly hook with a standard aperture.         

    I no longer apply dubbing over the hook shank as I prefer to keep the fly’s profile as sparse as possible which I feel is a requirement for flies to be effective on spring creeks and still waters.  I use 8/0 Uni-Thread for my Hatch Matchers and have found that this manufacturer’s range of colors is suitable for most mayflies, but sometimes I resort to dubbing or thread from another company.  You can get fancy and apply an over-rib using a contrasting colored thread to achieve the appearance of segmentation.  Rather than whip finishing, I just apply three half hitches and apply head cement right behind the eye, allowing the cement to leach into the thorax for greater durability.  

    Members who are interested in a free one-on-one lesson in tying Hatch Matchers should give me a call or just stop by my trailer on the Double R Ranch.   

 

TYING INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. Wrap the hook shank with the appropriate colored thread, from the eye down to the bend.  Return the thread to the hook point. 
  2. With your left thumb and forefinger, grasp the tip of a mallard flank feather.  With your right thumb and forefinger, pull back 5 or 6 flues of the feather, creating the extended body.  Let go of your left fingers.
  3. Position the pulled back feather with your right fingers on the hook shank so that the extended body begins right at the hook point.  Switch to your left fingers, maintaining tight pressure.   Grasp the thread bobbin and attach the extended body with or 4 firm thread wraps.  
  4. While keeping the extended boy under tension, wrap the thread back and forward to create a thread body of uniform thickness.
  5. Grasp the butt ends of the feather; raise the ends straight up.  Wrap the thread in front of the butt end to elevate the wing.  Trim off the butt of the feather, leaving the wing.
  6. To create the forked tail, first open a pair of sharp fine scissors.  Poke the bottom scissor through the outside edge of the “fan” (closest to you) and separate two flues (one flue for flies that are size 18 and smaller).Poke the top scissor through the outside edge of the “fan” farthest from you.  Slide the tips of the scissors down to the base of the flues and snip off, creating a forked tail.
  7. Trim the forked tail to your preferred length, generally half the length of the hook shank. Behind the wing, tie in an appropriate colored saddle hackle, curved side facing forward.  Apply one wrap of hackle behind the wing and two wraps in front of the wing.  Tie off. 
  8. Apply head cement to the forked tail and extended body to make the fly more durable.

 

HATCH MATCHER RECIPES

Blue Winged Olive Hatch Matcher 

Hook:        Daiichi 1110, sizes 16-24

Thread:     8/0 Uni-Thread: Olive, Olive Dun, Light Olive, Rusty Dun

Body:         Mallard flank feather, dyed in shades of olive

Hackle:      Whiting 100:  Light, medium or dark dun

 

Pale Morning Dun Hatch Matcher 

Hook:         Daiichi 1110, sizes 16-20

Thread:      8/0 Uni-Thread:  Light Cahill or Yellow

Body:          White breast feather from Wood Duck/Gadwall drake; or yellow dyed mallard flank feather

Hackle:       Whiting 100:  Light or medium dun

 

Callibaetis Hatch Matcher: 

Hook:           Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-20

Thread:        8/0 Uni-Thread:  Tan, Gray or Iron Gray

Body:            Mallard flank feather: natural or dyed dun or tan

Hackle:          Whiting 100:  Grizzly 

 

Brown Drake Hatch Matcher 

Hook:             Daiichi 1110, sizes 12-14

Thread:          8/0 Uni-Thread:  Dark brown or Camel 

Body:              Mallard flank feather: dyed medium or dark brown

Hackle:           Cree, furnace or Whiting 100 brown dyed grizzly

 

Female Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:              Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:           8/0 Uni-Thread:  Olive

Body:               White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadwall drake

Hackle:            Whiting 100:  Grizzly

 

Male Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:               Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:            8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Body:                White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadwall drake

Hackle:             Whiting 100:  Grizzly

 

Sparkle Trico Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                Daiichi 1110, sizes 20-24

Thread:             8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Over Wrap:      Midge Crystal Flash:  Peacock

Body:                 White breast feather from Wood Duck or Gadxwall drake

Hackle:              Whiting 100:  Grizzly

 

Adams Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                  Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-22

Thread:               8/0 Uni-Thread:  Gray or Iron Gray

Body:                   Mallard flank feather dyed medium or dark dun; quail for smaller sizes

Hackle:                Cree, or blend of brown and grizzly Whiting 100

 

Mahogany Dun Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                   Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-16

Thread:                8/0 Uni-Thread:  Dark Brown or Camel

Rib:                       Copper Crystal Flash (optional)

Body:                    Mallard flank feather dyed medium or dark brown

Hackle:                 Whiting 100:  Dark Dun, Black, Brown or Brown Dyed Grizzly

 

Purple Haze Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                    Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-20

Thread:                 8/0 Uni-Thread:  Purple

Body:                     Mallard flank feather dyed purple

Hackle:                  Whiting 100:  Grizzly

 

Black Hatch Matcher 

Hook:                     Daiichi 1110, sizes 14-22

Thread:                  8/0 Uni-Thread:  Black

Body:                      Mallard flank feather dyed black; Starling for smaller sizes

Hackle:                   Whiting 100:  Black 

 

June 25TH Double R Fishing Report

Wednesday, June 25, 2014:

Over the past week I have begun to see a few of the White Miller Caddis which usually blanket Silver Creek in early June.  Yeesterday morning there was a bona fide flight of White Miller Caddis down in the field water.  I have no explanation for the relatively late emergence of White Miller Caddis this season.  I would have expected an early hatch this year due to the low creek level which has warmed the water, particularly downstream of Highway 20.  But, I feel the White Miller Caddis is about to become a significant event in our daily fishing.  Keep your eyes open, particularly in the evening.

The term “White Miller Caddis” is a label applied to the family of caddis flies featuring antennae unusually long for a caddis fly, also colloquially known as the Long Horned Caddis.  The species we encounter early season on Silver Creek is the Oecetis.  A similar but somewhat smaller species distributed all over Yellowstone National Park and nearby waters is the Nectopsyche.    

On Silver Creek the initial hatches of the White Miller usually occur during the first week of June but may be present on Opening Day if Spring arrives early.  The conventional wisdom at Point of Rocks is that the Brown Drake hatch will start 4 or 5 days after the onset of the White Miller emergence.  This season the Brown Drakes preceded the White Millers, if the White Millers have yet even came off at Point of Rocks.  

A hot afternoon winding down into a warm evening is the prescription for a dense White Miller hatch in the evening.  One will see swarms of White Millers dancing over the creek surface in the morning, often before the day’s mayfly hatch.  In the evening there can be a thick emergence, often a blizzard hatch blanketing the creek from bank to bank, from the Gazebo Bridge (Beat #14) down to Beat 10 or 11.  

Your Stream Keeper finds the White Miller to be one of the most difficult caddis to bring to the dry fly, at least in the morning.  I’ve had only sporadic success with standard caddis patterns such as the X Caddis, the EZ Caddis or the Elk Hair Caddis.  In fact, my effort to solve the “White Miller dry problem” led me to develop my “Nectarine” series of caddis dries which turned out to work well on every species of caddis except White Millers.  I have much better success with the White Miller flights on Silver Creek by running a #10 Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle subsurface under egg laying flights of White Miller caddis; a size 14 might be a better choice this season given the low creek conditions.  I have a theory that the fish you see swirling below clouds of White Millers or coming out of the water are really chasing White Miller Caddis making their way to the surface.  That could be why swinging a soft hackle can be so effective.  Last year when the White Millers emerged in force below the Gazebo Bridge I had a succession of four nights where in the two hours before dark I landed 21, 17, 19 and 31 trout, respectively.  So, once the White Miller hatch is upon us, don’t hesitate to come down and fish the evening hatch, err flight, of White Millers.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper