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