Follow by Email

Friday, January 31, 2020

Truckee Area...Winter Bugs

Personally I like to fish dry flies in winter...if conditions and access permit. Locally, in the Truckee area, currently there three aquatic bugs to consider if you're looking for surface feeders. I'm intentionally not mentioning midges because they are ALWAYS present, 365 days per year. I haven't observed intense bug hatches, but the below bugs are emerging...and trout are selectively eating them at the surface or in the surface-film.

Best time-frame to be at the stream has been noon to 3PM. I prefer a bit of cloud cover because there is less solar-heating to dry the adults' wings;  their wings have to be structurally sound before they  alight off the water. The longer they drift, the more susceptible they are to be eaten.

NOTE: Unless specified the images are mine taken in Truckee area

Little Black Winter Stoneflies:

When they are about, you'll see them "peppering" the snow-banks; either crawling about as winged adults or as nymphs preparing to split their thoracic wing-case to emerge.  Today they were fluttering at the water's surface in slow-running runs; otherwise they are very difficult to observe in the drift. Trout, generally, ingest these diminutive insects with gentle "slurps". Thin, 6X tippets are suggested for these size 16-18 aquatics. Consider two patterns; one that sits flush on the water's surface or a high-profile pattern with splayed wings, mimicking the top-water, fluttering adult (egg-layer?)

Blue-Winged Olives:

The existing BWO hatch is this year's "first-brood" emergence. I believe there may be three broods; winter, spring and fall...heresy? These small bugs are more visible while floating because they are "up-wings" as opposed to being a "down-wing"  relative to the two  stoneflies mentioned in this post. I prefer "old-school" Quigley Cripples, sparsely-tied ParaDun or CDC ComParaDun patterns; attached to minimum 10'-12' leader and a wispy 6X tippet. My first 20" RainBow of the 2020 season was fooled by the latter-mentioned pattern; size 18. Using the thin tippet, the hope is there are no obstructions while playing the trout.

Skwala Stonefly:

A bit early, but we brought one to hand today. We anticipate a more robust emergence starting about the 3rd week of February. While at rest on the water they can be difficult to see being a "down-wing". The telltale of their presence is an aggressive swirl or bulge at the surface; unlike the gentle slurp for the Little Black Winter Stones. When the trout become aware of this stonefly adult, I like doubling my chances of a hook-up by trailing off the bend of the #8-10 Skwala dry a pattern such as a  #18 JuJu Baetis or Flash-Back WD-40.  A 5X tippet will suffice; being sturdy enough to "turn-over" the big fly fraud.
image by

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Montana's "Wide Missouri"...a 2020 option

Big Sky Montana
I again returned the Missouri River in  Montana for a few days of drift-fishing during late-summer/early fall of 2019. The guiding and bedding was provided by Wolf Creek Anglers; 2-3 miles from Holter Dam. I'll return in 2020; August 29 to September 6. 

Below you'll find my journal entries...roughly UNEDITED. So please enjoy the gist of the fly angling we experienced and disregard the grammar, absence of sentence structure and my obsessive dots. Generally, I'm not a compulsive "fish-counter" but I include numbers in these entries to give a perspective of the tempo and "drift" of the fly angling.

9/11---Our nation's "NEVER FORGET" day

Holter Dam to Craig: We indo-fished in the rain from 9AM-1PM; not really comfy, but we were prepared with the right clothing and stayed warm. It cleared to over-cast/drizzle in the afternoon. The productive fly pattern was a #18 or 20 Black Zebra Midge (silver bead), with a  6' drop to one BB shot. We netted good-sized RainBows in the 16"-18" range; strong, deep-bodied...some with 3-4 high aerials, others with long, first runs. There was one 12" Brown and a 15"-16" Whitey. No numbers  but enough to keep us interested...guessing me at 8/5 and Bob at 12/8; approximately 20 hook-ups and more than a dozen netted.

9/12---“Sunny today with a high near 71. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 5-9 mph in the morning”

Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickley Creek:  Our "slowest" day. As in past years, we meet-up with the day's guide in front of the WCA fly shop at 8AM, and on the water guessing 8/7  (hook-ups/netted); all RB's in the 16"-18" range and one brown at 13"...all were jumpers with the exception on one thick, 18" RB that made head-long, pull-downs attempting to bury itself in the rooted, waving, bottom weeds.. Bob hooked about ten and boated the boat cumulatively hooked a dozen-and-a half and a dozen were brought to hand.
The Wide Missouri
We saw Tricos in the AM until 11; no trout were slurping them at all. Throughout the day we saw sporadic “one & done” bulging trout  chasing emerging  Brachycentrus caddis ("Grannoms") at/near the surface; Productive patterns were #16 Green Machine, #20 Black Zebra Midge and a #6 Crawdad pattern; a short drop of 4 feet to the upper fly, no lead under old school, stick-on  Pulsa indicators…ideal for shallow-water, indo-fishing on the LT!

The weather cleared today. It was balmy, low-70's with mostly clear skies, and occasional puffy cloud and mild breezes with...very comfortable.

9/13---"A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly between 3PM-5PM. Increasing clouds, with a high near 75. South, southwest wind 7-12 mph increasing to 16-21 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph."

A non-fishing day; a grand tour of watersheds of Little Prickly Pear Creek and the Blackfoot river east of the town of Lincoln Montana. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the orientation for future alternate fishing when not drifting the Big Mo.
The Blackfoot River...of the "River Runs Through It" fame

53 Grizzly present in this one valley!...we turned around

9/14---"Cloudy, with a high near 77. Southwest wind 6 to 15 mph."

Dearborn to Prewitt: Best numbers day; Cumulatively, guessing 40+/24+. Sub-surface in AM & dries in afternoon (minimum 3/4 of count) …sunny skies & gusty winds…RB’s 10”-“18”, Browns to 17”…one small Whitey…9 mile drift...Indo in the AM with a #16 Frenchie, at "outstretched hand to outside nipple" drop to one BB...dries in the afternoon, #14 green-bellied Elk Hair Caddis and #16 Parachute Black Ant. most ate the latter by a wide margin.
Bob with a typical Missouri Rainbow

Mid-Canyon to Pelican Point...30/20, missing many takes...The smallest brown and biggest Brown of the trip, a dink at 5 inches, along with two decent Browns at 17" and 20"...both ate a #12 Black Fat Albert (my favorite southern Chilean Patagonia dry fly).  Otherwise most of the surface-eater trout ingested a #12 Parachute Ant. The morning's best patterns via indo-fishing was a #14 Red Copper John and #16 Green machine...on a short drop, 4' indo to one BB shot.

Several fish hooked played the "grass-release" routine mentioned in the 9/12 report. Once hooked the trout dives for the bottom, attempting to bury themselves in huge matts of both floating and rooted aquatic vegetation. eventually, the weeds slide down to the trout's mouth and unhooks the trout!
..a dry fly eater
The Untouchables Bridge of the "Untouchables" movie fame
Bob with one of numerous hook-ups on the "lower" water

vistas and uncrowded conditions