Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

Filtering by Tag: sun valley fly fishing report

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 9TH Double R Fishing Report

Wednesday, July 9, 2014:

TRICO MADNESS.

Early this morning in the lower end of the field water the usual clouds of White Miller Caddis were hovering over the surface and fish were working so I made the mistake of assuming that the trout were onto emerging caddis.  I remained under this delusion for an hour, heaving soft hackles and dry patterns with nothing but refusals and the isolated take.  Ultimately, I realized that the beginning of the Trico hatch was overlapping with the caddis, and then I began to see Trico duns on the water.  So, I lightened my tippet to 6X and tried three different colored Trico Hatch Matchers (black, green and sparkly green), to no avail.  The water was too glassy for the Hatch Matcher.  I changed to a size 22 Rene Harrop Trico No Hackle with a green body, my Ace-In-the-Hole pattern for Fussy Finned Trico Gluttons.  The results were immediate and amazing.  I only landed 6 trout but they included 18 inch and 20 inch Browns.  I “missed” or lost another dozen fish, all on the No Hackle.  The working fish pretty much gave it up for Lent around Noon, so I opted for a Mushroom Swiss Cheese Burger at the Picabo Store.  Last night, right behind my trailer trout were rising until dark on “small stuff” which I surmise were emerging male Trico duns, black bodied.  

Evening fishing is becoming interesting; some nights it could be Trico or Blue Winged Olive mayflies, other nights it can be flights of White Miller Caddis.  If no wind is in the forecast, consider coming down for some evening fishing, either on the field water or on The Pond.  

Speaking of which, with no wind to speak of, the trout have been rising all day and during the evening on The Pond.

TRICO ESSENTIALS.

Don’t be the guy who enters a gun fight armed with just a switch blade.  In my view, more than any other mayfly, the hatch of Tricos requires specific tackle, powers of observation and focused technique.

PODS:  Often you’ll find both Tricos and BWOs on the creek at the same time and we all struggle with figuring out which culprit the trout are taking.  A good rule of thumb is that when the trout are “podded up” they are keyed on the Trico.

NARROW FEEDING LANES:   One rarely observes a trout moving any distance to take a Trico dun.  I don’t know why this is the case; perhaps the small bit of nutrition is just not worth the effort.  Trout just sit there and sip what comes directly to them.  As a consequence, the feeding lane is narrow, narrower that is the case with just about any other mayfly.  A successful strategy involves drifting the Trico dry pattern straight downstream to a rising trout; the fish will suck the fly in and turn at least slightly, and that is when you should raise your rod tip.   When casting at an angle to a bank sipper you will want to pile up 2 or 3 feet of slack tippet several feet above the working fish so that your imitation drifts over the trout like a natural insect.         

LONG LEADERS:   Tricos usually do not tolerate the wind, so the monster Trico hatches you encounter will generally be on “glassy” water or, on windy days, in the calm margins along the bank.  The relatively thick fly lines can easily spook trout under these conditions (even a double taper line) so an extra-long leader will enable you to keep an appropriate distance from your quarry.  I’ve said before that my favorite leader is the Trout Hunter 14 foot 6 X knotless leader.  When fishing the Trico hatch I will augment that leader with 3 feet of 7X tippet because 7X readily piles up and is relatively easy to thread into the tiny eyes of size 20 and 22 flies.

DISCIPLINED CASTING:  The Trico hatch on glassy water does not call for sloppy or undisciplined casting; to the contrary, it is the time to bring out your casting “A Game.”  First of all, do not false cast nine million times; you’ll only spook fish by casting shadows over the water.  Second, refrain from casting blindly or right into the middle of a pod of trout; again, you will spook the closer fish with your fly line.  Instead, let you fly line and leader drift out of sight of working fish while you study the water, select a fish to target and figure out where it is best to drop your fly and how you want the leader to lay on the water.  Then, and only then, do you cast.  I often take the approach of pulling back on the fly line just as the leader is unfurling, so that the fly lands on the water gently with minimal disturbance; this also will minimize drag as the fly line, leader and tippet drift downstream at the same approximate speed.   

FLY PATTERNS:  I hate to say it but, as a general rule, when fishing the Trico hatch the specific fly patterns you use are less important than everything discussed above.  You only need an olive bodied dun pattern, a black bodied spinner pattern and a green bodied spinner pattern.  You are better off buying a quantity of one of each of those three basic patterns which have worked for you in the past than carrying a few of 50 different patterns.  The primary reason is angler confidence.  The secondary reason is redundancy.  With that said, there are certain patterns which I feel are a “must” for successful fishing of the Trico hatch; I carry them for the type of situation I experienced this morning.  In no particular order they include:  (1) Harrop’s Trico No Hackle, both olive and black bodied; (2) Shane Stalcup’s CDC Biot Trico; (3) Bob Quigley’s Trico Hackle Stacker in black (or olive if you can find or tie it); (4) any Rene Harrop Trico pattern.   These flies are available at the Picabo Angler fly shop.  

REQUIRED READING:  Get a copy of Rene Harrop’s relatively new book, Learning  from the Water, and digest the section about Tricos.  

TYING TIP:   If you tie your own flies and are getting on in years, consider picking up a box of “big eye” hooks.  They make it a lot easier to connect your fly to the leader, especially if you use a terminal knot that involves threading the tippet through the eye twice, such as the Improved Clinch Knot.  You’ll thank yourself next time you find yourself tying on a 7X tippet in the glaring sun with a big brute of a fish working in front of you.  Orvis makes a Big Eye dry fly hook, but I prefer the Daiichi 1110 because it is a flat eye, big eye hook with a shank that is a tad longer than the standard dry fly hook.

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 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 21ST DOUBLE R REPORT

Saturday, June 21, 2014: 

The Pond was alive with rising fish this morning.  In between minor gusts of wind the fish were rising to Baetis spinners and late morning Callibaetis spinners came out in force.  A few Green Drakes were present as well but were largely ignored by the trout.  Your Stream Keeper matched the surface activity with a #18 BWO Hatchmatcher and a #14 Callibaetis Hatchmatcher.  Any day now we are going to see significant hatches of Callibaetis duns on The Pond.  Try fishing the north side of The Pond, starting your float from the picnic table by the newly dredged “North Channel” and ending at the hand rail by the Dam.  Reports are that the Field water has been fishing well, too, with Baetis and Pale Morning Duns being the main culprits.  There are rumors of Trico sightings on the Nature Conservancy Preserve.  

The current variety of aquatic insects present on Silver Creek demonstrates the importance of being observant.  It makes sense to spend a couple of minutes identifying what insects are present and what bug is actually the focus of fish before tying on a particular pattern.  With the forecast for continued hot days and the low level of the Creek, we can expect an early emergence of the Trico mayfly.  Also, when the wind is down it is critical to fish a sparsely dressed fly and to attach a light tippet on your leader.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

JUNE 12TH DOUBLE R REPORT

Thursday, June 12, 2014:

The persistent wind made the morning fishing on the Double R Ranch water slow this morning.  I was greeted by a flight of medium sized egg laying caddis so I swam soft hackles under them and in front of the few swirling trout that were interested in the caddis.  It looked to me like the beginning of the White Miller Caddis hatch.  My #14 “Who Knows Freaking Why” soft hackle did not result in any takes, so I switched to a #14 Pheasant Tail soft hackle and landed three small trout before the wind came up really strong.  Some trout were rising with authority in the water behind my trailer (Beat #13).

THE POND PROJECT WORKS!  

Up until yesterday the Double R Ranch was operating the new dam by pouring 100 percent of the pond release over the top of the dam.  In an effort to test the effect of the new dam, we started a 20 percent bottom release and also released additional pond water from the sluice gate on the north bank.  Greg Loomis’ measurement at the Gazebo bridge was 2.5 degrees colder than the temperature at Kilpatrick Bridge . . . meaning that the water is cooler on the Double R Ranch than on the Nature Conservancy Preserve!  

One inconvenience of the dam during this experiment was that the level of the Pond would fluctuate, necessitating a series of manual adjustments of the gates of the dam.  However, we are purchasing a computerized automatic gate adjustment system (at a cost of $5,000) which will end the need to make manual gate adjustments and allow us to achieve as much as 100 percent bottom release.  I will let you know about the extent of the additional incremental water temperature reduction.  

Yesterday afternoon trout were rising all along the new island on the north side of The Pond.  I have heard rumors of hatching Callibaetis on The Pond but have not personally confirmed the sightings.  The hatch should happen any day now.  

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

Silver Creek Opening Day

 

Strategies For Opening Day:

 

The flow of Silver Creek through the Double R Ranch has stabilized at what I estimate to be in the 75 to 80 cfs level, compared with the usual springtime level of 120 to 180 cfs.  No one can recall the creek being so low.  The aquifer has not recharged to its usual spring level and the Deputy Water Master questions whether it will this season, due to the lack of significant rain or snow melt.  On the Ranch there are exposed mud flats along some of the banks and at several of the access points.  You will want to scout out your entry and exit points with your physical capabilities in mind, and enter the creek carefully.  On most stretches of the Ranch water the deepest channel is in the middle where the trout are likely to hold, as a refuge from the winged predators; habitat for bank feeding trout is greatly reduced.  You are going to have to float down this deep channel, meaning that dry flies will have to be drifted directly downstream to rising fish.

All is not gloom and doom.  To the contrary, I view it as a rare opportunity to fish structure.  The observant angler will focus attention and casts on the deeper channels, on the holes, on the “buckets” and “bathtubs,” on the remaining troughs along the banks, and on trout rising to bugs on the shallow flats.  This season the program will be more like reading water on a freestone stream.  When the creek is at full pool and nothing is hatching I am often frustrated by not knowing where to swim my soft hackle or small dark nymph, but this year I will be running subsurface flies through these areas of structure and covering this water thoroughly instead of making a few casts before floating on.  The bottom line is that at the beginning of this season no one will really know by experience exactly where the trout are going to hold or feed, or what flies or techniques will be successful.   We will all be experimenting and relying on our powers of observation.  It is a great time to be sharing information with fellow anglers, and I will endeavor to do so in this daily Blog and on the Stream Keeper’s Board in the Sign-In Wagon.           

It quite possibly may turn out that the most productive and easier fishing will be found on The Pond.   This past winter’s renovation produced a lot of deeper water that will be cooler and hold fish.  There is much more fishable water on The Pond than in past seasons because it is deeper and much silt has been removed.  The new islands mean more bank water to target with our casts.  We will be constructing a gravel road that will provide access further up The Pond all the way to the bottom of the now restored channel along the north bank.  An extended boardwalk with steps and handrail is planned near the Dam and we will be installing additional handrails along the bank to improve access.  I am optimistic that there will be good hatches of Callibaetis, Tricos, Mahogany Duns and Damsels on The Pond.

The trout have started their annual move onto the Ranch water.  Many people don’t realize that the fish migrate and move around Silver Creek on a seasonal basis.  It is my observation that much of the trout population doesn’t move south of Highway 20 until the Brown Drake hatch wanes and the water gets too warm for them down at Point of Rocks.  There already are some nice trout on the Double R, including the return of the two foot long “Tiger” trout and a bunch of 20 inchers which have been hanging out above and below the gazebo bridge.  Some large fish have been rising in The Pond as well.  A few are wallowing in “The Hole” at the beginning of Beat #5.  We just need to be observant and cover the water thoroughly.

What will you encounter on Opening Day? 

The Blue Winged Olive hatch started a week ago and has begun to intensify, although it is still a sparse hatch.  The BWOs are small bugs, so plan on fishing sizes 18 to 22.  The creek is clear and the fish spooky, so the wise angler will tie on sparsely tied dry fly patterns including:  BWO Hackle Stackers; olive bodied Hatchmatchers; BWO Sparkle Duns; CDC winged rusty spinners; Harrop emerger patterns and the like. 

There are still a few midges hatching anywhere from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  The adult midges are of the gray persuasion and are about a size 16 or 18.  If your BWO patterns are not being taken by feeding trout, you might want to switch to a wet or dry midge pattern.  

Yesterday, I saw trout rising to the first Pale Morning Duns of the season.  Again, the bugs are running small, a size 18 or 16.

When nothing in the way of flying insects can be seen at the very beginning of a hatch, one might want to swim a pheasant tail soft hackle or dark olive nymph in small sizes like 14 to 18 through the deeper channels, over bathtubs or into holes.  

As far as specific stretches to fish, at this early point in a low water season, your guess is as good as mine but I have some thoughts:

·       Wade in and fish the pool and run immediately below the Dam with a dark Woolly Bugger, leech, streamer or bead head nymph.  Proceed down the right hand channel and cast to the trout that currently are hanging under the bank immediately behind the Gazebo.  Then wade around the corner and cast to the trout that are holding in the troughs and hole above the bridge and exit at the bridge.

·       Launch your float tube below the bridge (access point #14) and take a shot at the large trout hanging out on the shelf of the deep pool, using a soft hackle or small nymph containing some sparkle.  Proceed to your right and make longer casts that thoroughly cover the deep channel.  When you get back to the main channel, position yourself on the left hand side and cast back to the deeper water on the right or south side of the creek.  Exit at access point 13 (where my trailer is located), 12 or 11 (if your scouting makes you confident that you can exit at #11).

·       Launch your float tube at access point 10 and fish the troughs with a soft hackle or small dark nymph if the trout are not rising.  As you move into Beat #9, be sure to thoroughly cover the holding water which is in front of and behind the logs.  As you approach the end of the beat, position yourself in the middle of the creek and fish back to the north bank along the reeds.

·       A fine choice would be Beat #8 which features some deep channels, particularly the extended hole at the beginning of the float.  It is a nice stretch to swim a small soft hackle.

·       The fish have been rising daily above and below The Hole at the top of Beat #5.  The low water level likely has created a lot of “bathtubs” in the straight stretch downstream of The Hole and I would thoroughly cover the left or west bank right above the takeout. 

·       Beat #4 should be productive where it deepens at the narrowing of the creek. 

·       Launching at Beat #2, one might cast soft hackles, pheasant tails or small dark nymphs and swim them back across the creek.  There are some nice bathtubs in this stretch that will hold trout. 

·       It could be that the easiest float and deepest holding water will be encountered from Beat #1 back down to Highway 20, requiring a car shuttle. 

·       Then there is The Pond.

Reminders: 

·       Due to the low water situation this year we are continuing the restriction that Members and their Guests are prohibited from fishing rods lighter than a 4 weight. 

·       Starting just below the gazebo bridge, Members and Guests may only enter and exit the creek at the numbered, designated access points; no “bush whacking” is permitted.

·       A gazebo reservations calendar is located on the refrigerator of the gazebo.  You may also call me about a reservation; I will check the calendar and confirm availability for you.

For those of you who like to participate in the Brown Drake Madness at “The Willows,” Point of Rocks and along North Picabo Road, the prevailing wisdom is that the hatch should come off earlier than usual this year because of the Creek’s low flow.  If you want to rent a beat for an evening of Brown Drake fishing, contact John Huber or Nick Anderson at Picabo Angler.

On Opening Day there will be a barbeque at Picabo Angler. The shop opens at 6:30 AM and the BBQ will start at 11 AM. The store will be open to 8 pm.

Stop in at the Picabo Angler fly shop for last minute essentials and to pick up your hang tag for 2014.

I’d love to hear about your trials and tribulations.  You can flag me down or contact me at my trailer near the brown barn.  My phone is (503) 939.7657.  Email is:  dougandres.whenpigflies@gmail.com.

 

Also:

The Sangers and Halversons are having an informal start-of-the-summer cookout at the gazebo this Friday night. Cocktails at 5:00 p.m. and then we will eat when we feel like it. Anyone who wants to come please bring your own dinnerware, your meat of choice, a side dish, and whatever you wish to drink. Potluck! A celebration of the beginning of the season and why we live in this valley.