Is the fishing good? Yes – very good for some, moderate for others. With the fish spread out from bank to bank and holding in every kind of water, the anglers bringing the largest numbers of fish to the net are nymph fishing from the boat.(Mostly being guided) Why are the fish so spread out? Mostly because of water temperature. The water coming out of the dam is currently 58 degrees(warmer than normal), which means the water throughout the rest of the river is in the low to mid 60’s spreading the fish throughout the well-oxygenated riffle water. These higher water temperatures have caused large growths of aquatic grass along the edges of the river. This displaces water in certain ways and changes the way the water flows in the river and where fish hold. For the most part the riffles and tailouts are loaded with fish and the deep trenches mid river.
What about the hatches? Black Caddis are the hatch du jour as always this time of year. The emergence is by far the strongest on the upper 3 right now, but can be found all the way down to Bighorn Access. Fish can be found gorging on the pupa in the early afternoon from Afterbay to Bighorn. Look for fish to start feeding on the surface at about 3 O’Clock. A good feeding window can be found from 3 – 5 o’clock and then again from 7 – 9 pm. The hatches at times can be blizzard like. The larger size 16 caddis are still emerging. Having patterns in 16 and 18 will get it done.
Nymph fisherman should be concentrating on faster water lies either from the boat or on foot. Wade anglers fishing the right water – skinny fast water – are doing just as well as guys from the boat. Your rig doesn’t have to be long 6 or 7 feet from the indicator to the split shot is often plenty. Dry – Dropper rigs are working in many of the riffles as well. Worms and sowbugs have been working well during non-emergence periods of the day. Wire worms and san juan worms are working well with a pink soft hackle sowbug, poxyback sowbug or soft hackle ray charles in tan or grey below. Once the pupa start ascending to the surface(early afternoon) switch to black caddis pupa imitations. Olive p tails, black p tails, green wire p tails, poodle sniffers and dill’s caddis pupa are go to flies. Many anglers are running two caddis pupa in the afternoon.
Dry fly fisherman are having terrific dry fly fishing in the late afternoons and evenings on the upper 3 during the black caddis emergence. You will see both splashy rises to fish chasing pupa and sipping fish or head and tail rises to fish eating emergers or adults. I prefer to fish to the fish taking adults and emergers, rather than the splashy rising fish. If you do want to fish to the splashy risers cover them with a soft hackle emerger or nymph stripped just below the surface. I choose to locate fish feeding in rhythm taking sipping adults and emergers. I like to fish a highly visible adult up front such as a palmered caddis or cdc caddis with a bubbleback emerger, Harrop caddis emerger or hemingway caddis trailed behind. If you find fish feeding in the morning or mid-day they are most likely feeding on pseudocleons. On cloudy days you will find these small size 20 and 22 mayflies emerging, but pseudo spinners can be found on the surface at any time. Have some small mayfly imitations the trout love to eat these tiny mayflies.
Terrestrial fishing is ok right now – a few on the hopper and I mean a few are being caught right now. The black stuff is fishing better – ants, beetles and crickets. The grass along the edges of the river have pushed the current off a lot of the good terrestrial banks so focus on the riffles and tailouts with your imitations.
Don’t overlook streamers at this time of year. There are a lot of juvenile trout in the river right now. White and olive streamers have been producing. The lower river has been especially good with streamers. The water is dirty below Bighorn Access down to Leggins because of irrigation returns and the water is getting into the upper 60’s, but still fishing well in general if you know the right spots.
What’s next for the bugs and the river for the rest of the summer? This is a great question and one that will only be answered with time. We have never seen the water conditions go as they have this year, with the water levels and temperatures so high and so warm so early in the season. I would expect the river to fish like a big spring creek by the end of August and thru September. Water temp’s will remain plenty cool on the upper 13 miles, but expect the grass to continue to grow and change the flow of the water in the river. The grass won’t be detrimental until the weather gets cold and it starts to die off. The biggest question mark looming over the river is what hatches we can expect to see. We have received a lot calls from anglers about PMD’s. At this point they are done for the year. The limited to non existent hatch that we had occurred when the water temperatures shot up earlier in the year, mostly isolated to the lower river that was un-fishable. I would expect the black caddis hatch to be strong thru August. Our best hope for great dry fly fishing will happen if we get good emergences of tricos and tan caddis. Will they show up on upper or lower river or both? Who knows but were all crossing our fingers hoping so. As soon as they show up we will let you know. The river and the conditions may not be what you are used to, but expect fishing to remain very good for the rest of the season.
The show is fully stocked and we still have guides available for August and September. If you want more information, call us at the shop anytime and we will help you prepare for your visit to the river. 406-666-2233.
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