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August 6TH Double R Fishing Report "Found Flies"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014:

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

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

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

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

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 30TH Double R Fishing Report "Aliens"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014:

Aliens . . . . 

Last night down here in Picabo we had the first significant rain storm since my arrival back in April, about a half inch.  My immediate thought was that it would result in some good Baetis fishing whether the morning was overcast or sunny.  I was bummed that I would not be able to fish because my truck was in the shop overnight getting a new U Joint installed.  Around Noon I spoke with some Members who had experienced an epic morning where the trout were keyed on black bodied male Trico spinners and Tiny Blue Winged Olives.  They both landed a number of plus 18 inch Brown trout.  Of greater interest to me were the two Aliens they encountered late morning.

The first unusual critter was the Sulfur mayfly which I have seen last year and the season before, though not in fishable quantities.  The Sulfur generally has a yellowish body with an orange tinge and pronounced blue wings and is about a size 20.  It is present in good quantities on the three Livingston area spring creeks and may be found on the Conservancy water, but not often on the Ranch water.  I read up on this mayfly several years ago and learned that it requires colder water than we’ve had below the Dam.  However, now that the bottom release capability has resulted in a 4 degree drop in water temperature. I have felt that in a couple of years we may well have fishable quantities of an exciting new summer mayfly.  So, I was thrilled to learn of the first Sulfur sighting of the season and am hopeful that we will see more of them this season and in the future.

The Members also saw a small stonefly-like insect with a brown body and opaque double wings.  My sense was that they had witnessed a flight of termites which I had run into a couple of seasons ago at the beginning of August.  It happened just one day.  Like everybody except the most prepared (or insane) angler, I didn’t have a termite pattern on hand but I scored very well that day on a peacock bodied cricket imitation.  Until I lost both of my cricket flies I landed a half dozen fish up to a 21 inch Brown trout in an hour.  

This just goes to show that you never know what you will encounter on the Double R Ranch water and that one needs to keep one’s eyes open!



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

Monday, July 28, 2014:


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


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

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

July 24TH Double R Fishing Report "Invasion of the Callibaetis!"

Thursday, July 24, 2014:

Invasion of the Callibaetis . . .

Okay, it is finally happening, at least to my observation.   The Callibaetis may fly . . . aka the Speckled Spinner . . . is finally becoming a significant insect on the Double R Ranch, both on The Pond and out on the field water.  There were scores of duns and spinners around my trailer last night and this morning.  It is no longer the case where one sees a few spent Callibaetis spinners floating by you early morning making you question whether the trout are really feeding on Tricos and small Baetis.  There are now Duns on the surface and in the air by mid-morning and the trout are taking them.  Sure, Tricos are still causing a riot on isolated sections of the field water and sometimes on The Pond, and the hatch of tiny (size 22-24) Blue Winged Olives are appearing on cool and overcast mornings.  But, the shrewd angler will be on the lookout for the relatively large (size 14-16) Callibaetis.  

If you run into significant Callibaetis activity, you will want to fish sparsely tied dun patterns.  I tend to favor my trusty Callibaetis Hatch Matcher because I feel that the forked tail and extended body are a “trigger” to the trout.  I also like the Callibaetis Thorax Dun, tied with an upright wing of brown Partridge and a long synthetic tail.  The Parachute Adams tied with just a sparse application of hackle is a consistent deceiver of trout.  And, you can’t go wrong with a gray or tan bodied Comparadun.  

Now is the time to ply the water with a nymph pattern, particularly if you see fish which are swirling subsurface rather than rising to insects on top of the water.  Traditional ties such as a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph take fish year in and year out.  I tend to favor a more flashy offering such as Mercer’s Poxyback Callibaetis nymph.  A slender abdomen is a desirable characteristic for a Callibaetis nymph.  The key on The Pond (or on a lake, for that matter) is to let the Callibaetis nymph sink and make 6 inch strips pulling the fly toward the surface, which imitates the behavior of the natural.  On the field water you will want to drift the nymph in front of working fish or a suspected fish lie, slowing the nymph down using a line mend if necessary.  

If the fish continue to rise when a gentle wind picks up, consider switching to a “cripple” pattern or a dun pattern one size larger.  Under these conditions you can get away with a larger tippet, which is better for the trout as we shift into August.  

Doug Andres 

Stream Keeper 

July 21ST Double R Fishing Report

Monday, July 21, 2014:


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. 


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 19TH Double R Fishing Report

Saturday, July 19, 2014:


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

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

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

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper   

July 18TH Double R Fishing Report

Friday, July 18, 2014:


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

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

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 14TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, July 14, 2014:

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


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

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

Doug Andres 

Stream Keeper

July 13TH Double R Fishing Report

Sunday, July 13, 2014:

There was quite a variety of mayflies hatching on the field section of the Double R Ranch on Saturday morning.  The reports I received included Tricos and Blue Winged Olives, depending on where you were fishing and what part of the morning you fished.  Both mayflies were small, size 20 to 22.  You can’t go wrong with a green bodied dry fly as it would imitate both the BWO and the female Trico which hatch in the morning.  Around 11:30 a.m. I was shooting the breeze with a Member and a half dozen Callibaetis duns accumulated on my dark shirt.  I thought about getting back in the creek but wimped out.  

Meanwhile, The Pond fished extremely well, initially with an early morning hatch of Tricos and later Callibaetis made their appearance.  

The lack of wind has certainly contributed to the great fishing opportunities.

We are beginning to experience some interesting evening fishing all over the Ranch.  The trout have been rising from behind my trailer all the way down into the Field.  Sure, the hatch is sparse, but the fish are taking what could be BWOs or hatching male Tricos, and you will have plenty of solitude.  

As the White Miller Caddis hatch wanes, be on the lookout for Damselflies.  

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 12TH Double R Fishing Report

Saturday, July 12, 2014:

On Friday morning I had my best session fishing the Trico hatch of this season.  I got out early which I stress is one very important key to a good day, around 7:30 a.m., and the fish were already rising all over the place.  I fished Beat 4 and took out at Beat 3.  I decided to ignore the hordes of White Miller Caddis that were hovering over the water.  I saw just a few Tricos and that was enough to convince me to stick with the fly on my leader which had been so effective two days earlier, Rene Harrop’s olive bodied Trico No Hackle in size 22.  My 6X tippet did not seem to spook the trout.  There was no wind so the creek’s surface was like glass and the No Hackle was quite visible to me.  I took the approach of moving my float tube back and forth so that I was in a position to cast directly downstream to the fish and watch the fly as it was inhaled by trout.  I landed a dozen fish, mostly mid-sized Rainbows, but I played a rather large trout for 5 minutes before the hook pulled out on his third strong run.  Delightful!  I called it a day at 11:00 a.m.  While I sat on a bench shooting the breeze with a couple of Members a half dozen Callibaetis duns took a rest on my black tee shirt.  I would have jumped back in the creek but I had foregone breakfast this morning . . . .

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper


July 9TH Double R Fishing Report

Wednesday, July 9, 2014:


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.


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


Monday, July 7, 2014


This is a time where one needs to get out on the field water of the Double R Ranch early, that is, if you want to see bugs, fish dry and encounter working fish.  Each morning when I look out the door of my trailer I see hordes of White Miller Caddis hovering over the creek; the masses are largely gone after an hour and a half.  Depending on where you are on the Ranch water, you might encounter isolated fish taking really small stuff, such as Trico spinners or Tiny Blue Winged Olive spinners and duns.  It’s usually over by 10:30 a.m.  One caveat is the gathering evening flight of White Miller Caddis . . . if the wind is not blowing.

The Pond is a different animal.  Fish are generally rising so long as the wind is not blowing.  It can go on, with ebb and flow, all day and sometimes after dinner.  Check your weather report.  I use weatherunderground.com, which has an hourly report feature.   


At the Members’ Barbecue your Stream Keeper launched his Silver Creek Willow Project, the goal of which is to plant streamside willows and native trees along the Double R stretch of Silver Creek.  

Generous Members donated $1,000 in cash and I received $2,000 more in pledges.  That will buy us 100 five gallon buckets of rooted willows (or native trees).  

Next Spring before opening day of trout season we will be planting 5 gallon pots of rooted willows along the east bank of the Ranch water from Beat #6 all the way down to Beat #1, and elsewhere as contributions permit.  

Mature willows and other woody vegetation:  (1) stabilize the stream bank; (2) provide shelter for trout; (3) moderate water temperature by shading the creek; (4) reduce sediment runoff; (5) favorably influence nutrient processing, specifically nitrogen; (6) and create wind breaks which benefit the angler.  

Native trees shade the water, break the wind and create buffers between the creek and adjacent agricultural lands .  

According to the Nature Conservancy’s report entitled, Silver Creek Watershed: An Ecological Enhancement Strategy for Silver Creek, Idaho, re-vegetating the riparian zone is the best passive strategy for achieving long term benefits to the ecosystem and its fishery.

An information sheet and car window decals are available at the Sign-In Wagon.  

Members who made pledges can direct their pledge payments to Doug Andres, Stream Keeper: (1) by leaving the payment inside the Stream Keeper’s trailer; (2) by flagging down his bright orange pickup; (3) by calling him at 503.939.7657 to make arrangements; or (4) by mailing cash or check to Doug Andres, General Delivery, Picabo, ID 83348.  

You can purchase a 5 gallon bucket of rooted willows or a native tree for $30, or four buckets for $100.  All sponsors will receive a snazzy car window decal.  

Any Member who donates $200 or more will receive a dozen “Hatch Matcher” dry flies tied by your Stream Keeper . . . . !  Members who donate $300 will receive two dozen “Hatch Matcher” flies, etc.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper

July 6TH Double R Fishing Report

Sunday, July 6, 2014:


FIELD WATER.  With this string of 90 plus degree days, it is getting increasingly important to hit the Double R Ranch water early.  By 6:30 each morning I have looked out my trailer door and observed hordes of White Miller Caddis hovering over the water and when I get out and drive the field water I see the same thing, all over the creek.  As I’ve said before, your Stream Keeper does not have much success fishing dry patterns for this huge Long Horned Caddis; instead, I consistently take fish by swimming a #14 Pheasant Tail soft hackle across the creek and under the caddis cloud, or by swinging the soft hackle directly in front of a working trout or likely holding spot.  A flash back or regular Pheasant Tail Nymph will work well, too.  My sense is that the trout are taking caddis on their way to emerging rather than taking adult caddis hovering or on the surface, with obvious exceptions.  The Tricos are also present early morning on the field water, both hatching green females and, later, black bodied spinners; small sparse Trico patterns are key.  Later in the morning and early afternoon we are seeing Tiny Blue Winged Olives on the field water, both Duns and Spinners in size 20 or 22; I like a Hatch Matcher fashioned from dun colored mallard flank feathers, brown tying thread and grizzly saddle hackle.  

THE POND.  The Pond continues to fish well every day.  So long as the wind is not blowing, you will see many rising fish.  The insect culprits can be Callibaetis duns or spinners, Blue Winged Olive duns or spinners, caddis or midges.  When you see fish clearing the water with their tails, start thinking caddis or, possibly, Callibaetis nymphs being followed by trout on the nymph’s way to the surface; tie on a Callibaetis nymph, let it sink and give it a jigging action.  If you see more of a sipping rise, try a dry midge pattern (e.g. Griffith’s Gnat) or a small BWO spinner.  Be on the lookout for larger trout feeding along the banks of the new islands.  This morning there were a lot of flying ants (black front body, cinnamon rear body and translucent wings, size 18) at the Gazebo (looking for roast pig?) and there is no reason why these flying ants will not make their way out onto The Pond, so be alert.  On Friday, I hooked (and lost) a brute of a trout while reeling in a small bead headed black flashy leech.  Be on the lookout for damsels as this hot weather goes on for the next week.  

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.


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!


June 30TH Double R Fishing Report

Monday, June 30, 2014:


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

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

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

June 28TH Double R Fishing Report

Saturday, June 28, 2014:


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.


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