Autumn

Sun. Rain. Gale force winds. Snow. The weather has been all over the place and so have I. I’ve been driving around trying to find a regional river that has some bugs and rising fish. It’s been challenging.

reel insnow

oldman stumps

snow

My local tail-water river is running real cloudy…not good. Water management has also been drastically reducing flows resulting in several significant water drops. I found some stranded Parr (juvenile trout) in a puddle 20 feet from the river and transferred them in a plastic bag back to the river.

parr4

parr2

parr5

parr1

parr home

puddle where Parr found, snow-covered boot foreground

This tail-water river usually fishes very well in inclement weather. No dense baetis hatch occurred and therefore very few large fish up. However, I covered a lot of water and managed to find a couple.

brwnlong

brown trout

brwnside

brown trout

ab profile

abby

Another tail-water river I’ve had some success on this summer also had few bugs even on cloudy days. I did manage to hook up with a few great fish. This rainbow took a foam beetle.

best bow

rainbow SW Alberta

2legbeetle

chewed-up beetle

bestbowlong

 

beetles

beetle flies, car top frost

I decided to rocket down to the Missouri river for two and one half days. The first day (the half day) was incredible. Cloudy, little wind and tons of bugs. Trout were up everywhere on tiny baetis may flies. Opportunity knocked and although I didn’t fish well, I did fool a few on size 20 olives/baetis. The next morning the sky sort of cleared (Chinook Arch) and high winds came in. I tugged down my hat and gave it my best but got blown off the river and all the way back to SW Alberta.

ab wading

searching for a released trout

 

mobow

Missouri rainbow

sidechannel (1)

Missouri river side channel

molong

Missouri bow

sidechannel (2)

molong2

I fished a lot in the past two weeks. I was on holidays for one of them and managed to get out most afternoons. I hung in there with the varying conditions, put in my time and made some connections with dry flies.

bank snow

another storm

 

side channel

morning flat water and sun

end of day

lst day brwn

sw alberta brown trout, size 18 bwo

lastdaybrwn2

alberta brown trout, size 18 bwo

ledge rock

endofday2

end of day walk back to car

 

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brutal

I had the week off and decided to get out-of-town. It’s something I haven’t done since March. It was a quick trip down to Sun Valley, Idaho. A 12 hour drive for a family vacation along with some fishing on Silver Creek. I’ve waded this beautiful spring creek before and connected with some of its challenging trout.

The air was thick with smoke all the way to south central Idaho. Several towns we passed through on HWY 93 were on evacuation alert. It was burning in BC when we left. It was burning in Montana as we raced through. It was also burning in parts of Idaho when we arrived. Did I forgot to mention that things were burning?! Sun Valley was Smoke Valley for most of the week.

smoke

 

reel

no visible life

I fished downstream of the famous Silver Creek Preserve section as understandably  “no pets” are allowed on the hallowed water. There were few bugs on the lower section; few rises; inconsistent rises…one here, and then one there 10 minutes later. Brutal.

abbyw

excellent wading, no wake

 

abbysit

One morning a brief Trico hatch occurred (once the smoke cleared) which I appreciated but very few good fish broke the surface. Just a lot of little guys. Guppies. Brutal.

oxsmoke

the oxbow in smoke

oxbow1

oxbow, clearing sky

I searched the banks for signs of life: water displacement, any indication of a good one prowling or sipping, or gulping a terrestrial bug or anything. I watched and watched while baking my brain in the intense heat. In desperation I even fished blind, covering water with grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, damsel flies…brutal.

irrig

cloud

Eventually I just had to accept the situation: that the fishing was poor and probably wouldn’t change during my brief visit. Things got easier after that (but not the fishing). At the end of the trip Smoke Valley cleared and beautiful Sun Valley returned. Our lungs breathed easier. My retriever stopped sneezing. I spent more time exploring the quaint town of Hailey, where we were staying, and a little less on the creek. I must say that if I had to pick one western town/region to drop into for three months every summer, and that was close to great fishing, this would be the spot.

rays

I caught several fish on the creek but managed only one good one in 4 days fishing. It was a brown trout, which was occasionally rising. It was one of the few good fish that I spotted. It took a small beetle. It was the prize of the week, and even more significant than it normally would have been, given how few opportunities there were to cast to large rising fish.

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We took a different route on the way home, driving interstate highways at a good clip after spraying our vehicle down with flame retardant (just kidding). Several areas we passed through were very smoky. Once we hit the Canadian border the smoke intensified. There was a fire racing through Waterton National Park. At home ashes were raining from the sky. Brutal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

river paths

path (1)

River paths. For an angler on foot early morning on a river path is always about the promise of the day. With each step one thinks about all the possibilities.

When returning late afternoon or evening on the same path there is always a review of the day. A recalling of great trout seen, those caught, and missed.

A river path takes you in and brings you back out…

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rainbow on dry-fly

 

 

idaho path.JPG

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river trial.JPG

abby.JPG

 

35C

It was 35C/95F in the river valley on Sunday. A lot of low, flat water. No bugs to speak of. No bugs for a while now. Just bright sun, heat radiating off of the river rocks and glare. A lot of walking and looking in the dead calm. Occasionally a subtle surface disturbance would bring me out of the heat induced daze. It would catch my attention. A trout or a mirage?

clifr

absclif

abylight

bwn

brown on grasshopper

 

bettle1

beetle fly

 

bownee

rainbow on ant

 

abtrail

bow

rainbow on beetle

 

rdout

the road out

 

combines

dinosaurs crossing the hot plains

 

mts

mountains cloaked in smoke and heat

august, slow

” The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip”.

Henny Youngman

It’s late summer. Not much happening. Things are dry. No real rain in months. The grass crunches under foot. It’s almost the same sound as brittle snow in January. Forest fires are burning west of here. They have been burning a good part of the summer. The air has been smoky for weeks. Fresh, clear Rocky Mountain air is a myth.

smoke

smoke-filled sky

Hatches on my local rivers are weak. Eventually we will run out of Weak and then enter the Strong realm again as things cool and BWO’s (may fly) make an appearance.

clouds

hop2

Surface eating fish are hard to find during the day. You have to fish real late, on the edge of darkness, or real early. When the sun is up it means prospecting with terrestrial bugs: grasshoppers and beetles or their creative derivations.

hopa

bow

I missed a great fish the other day. Its rise was slow and it ate my impression even slower than slow. It lingered and I struck too fast pulling the grasshopper fly out of its mouth. I’ve been doing that a lot this year. Hmm…have to pause longer before I strike…got go slow.

Some photos from past couple of weekends.

brw1

cloudplain

rockbed

snoozing on firm mattress

 

brwdist

 

man-eater brown trout

“Trashy novels always out sell the classics…tabloids out sell the Times”

bbrown

brown trout on size 16 dry fly

 

In the past three or four years I’ve written 100 plus posts on this blog. One post, above all, received significantly more attention (hits) than any other. It simply blew all the others away…10X more attention. Was the quality of the writing that much better?…”No”. Were the photographs super special or intriguing?…”No”. Were the trout huge?…”No”. Was I giving away cash?…”No”. It was simply the title. It contained the words, “French Assassins”. The post had nothing to do with espionage, mystery or murder. I was simply quoting a phrase/term used by an author in a slow-paced, gentle fly fishing book called, Chalkstream Chronicle, by Neil Patterson. It’s a great book. One of my all time favorites.

 

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faraway

rainbow on dry-fly, size 18 pmd

In one chapter Patterson describes how some French anglers in economically depressed war-time France, or just post war, survived by designing highly effective flies (killer patterns) for flat water creek fishing (difficult water) that allowed them to fool very discerning trout; I believe they were brown trout. If I remember the story correctly they either kept their families alive with the protein they caught from the streams or they sold the trout to restaurants in order to earn money when there was no employment opportunities in their ravaged homeland. Basically, they fished to survive and because of this they became very skilled and specialized at catching trout on their local water. Thus the term, “French Assassins”. The common feature of all of these flat water flies is that they were tied in a very sparse (airy/light) style.

032

Abby, trout spotting from bluff

 

loopbwn

brown trout

best abby

 

I wonder how today’s tabloid title, “Man-eater Brown trout” will fare? More hits? I’ll see…

abbywind

scenery

handhead

rainbow, fly, size 18 pmd

Above and below are some brown and rainbow trout I caught and released over the last couple of weekends sight-fishing late July and early August. The angling was quite challenging. All trout were fooled on Pale Morning Duns (dry-fly/emerger patterns) size 18 and 16. I got lucky as some of the small fly hook-ups held. I also missed quite a few.

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rainbow

004 (3)

 

finger (2)

simple dangling patterns, size 18, black wing for grey glare

 

upclose

close in rainbow