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.
· 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: email@example.com.
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.