I just spent a week fishing in my region. Most of the summer I have been a weekend angler. It was nice to be off work and stretch several river days together. I fish better when I have more time. I also tend to stop and take more photos while roaming around searching for trout.
I had one cloud covered rainy day and a strong hatch of tiny olives, and a few larger ones, occurred. The trout were mainly on emergers. I fished a few different dangling fly patterns with some success. The key word is, “some”. That was the easiest day.
emerger pattern, foam post for flotation, hook bent out by trout
caught on olive emerger pattern
blue winged olive flat
The other days were full sun and therefore much more challenging. A few were calm, most were quite breezy. There were still some bugs around but not a lot. The rises were infrequent with the bright sky. And when they did occur they were real subtle. Just spotting the faint sips was an accomplishment. I often had to listen for signs of surface feeding on the blinding sun glazed flats. Most of the good trout located were hovering in just inches of water. It’s my favorite type of angling. In skinny water you have to be “sneakier than sneaky” in order to fool them. Mistakes are rarely tolerated… few second chances. To make things even more challenging the trout were generally only feeding on tiny stuff. Time flew by. Hours seemed like minutes. Relaxing? No. Engrossing? Yes. Fun? Yes.
On another river I used the sun and elevation when possible to my advantage in order to spot fish in the shallows. Then I’d drop down, choose my approach and try to fool them.
snow in the mountains
All week I casted olives when they were around, and fed beetles and ants to located trout when there was no hatch. While roaming around I found some old sheds; hiked some smooth wind sculpted hills; took pictures of small trees ( prairie bonsai) which always attract attention in the stark terrain; and caught a few wonderful trout. I also met a sheep herder taking a nap in the shade of my Jetta. He’s an old friend. Every year without fail we run into each other riverside.
One week, one fly, two feet…
great Pyrenees herder
Windshield time while driving to and from a river out on the flats. No stops. No lights. Nobody. Just a wily coyote chasing a blowing A&W wrapper.
“August is like the Sunday of summer”
We’ve had some clouds, some summer storms, some sun and cool nights and therefore river temperatures have remained alright even though the water is low. It looks like we might get through August without any angling restrictions. South of the border (Montana) the situation seems quite different.
I’ve been sight fishing small terrestrials and on one river Tricos; one of my favorite hatches. It’s a good time of year as a few trout are rising and the Blue Jays (baseball) are in the hunt for the playoffs. I want to see Jose Bautista hit a late game homer and fling his bat again…the best “take that!” moment in baseball I’ve seen in a long time.
Here are some river images from the past couple of weekends…I struck out several times but did manage to hit a few long ones…
big sky joe
” The towels were so thick I could hardly close my suitcase”
I just spent five days in my region watching water with a visiting friend. We stuck with one river because we kept locating trout. They were mainly on mayfly emergers and being very, very selective. As usual, as on most tail-water rivers, it was challenging angling. The more we watched the more we saw and learned. The drift boat anglers that floated by didn’t even notice what we were experiencing. They covered the water we fished in seconds whereas we did it in hours. They were probably thinking about what was up head; the promise of water beyond. We were thinking about what was right in front of us. There is something special about picking a small stretch of interesting water, staying relatively still, spending time and simply watching it for signs of life. We did that on two different short sections of the same river for five days. In total we probably only covered only 100-150 yards; however, we caught some beauties. It wasn’t “numbers fishing” although one day we did have that. It was more quality over quantity. Great trout on size 20 and 18 flies. All tiny stuff and all sight fishing. Sometimes the slower you go the more you see…and we went slower than stop!
Here are some images…
bifocal trout spotting
trout spotter extraordinaire
back eddy fins
the big wide open
cutthroat caught by Joe f.
the bonefish flat
“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be”.
The last couple of weekends I’ve fished a local tailwater river 2 or 3 times. Hatches have been sparse with the bright sun. Due to the same weather conditions and clear water, however, spotting trout has been possible. And fortunately some have been willing to rise.
On my last outing I was with a friend, Roman, who was visiting the region. Early on he landed a great rainbow on a black cricket like pattern. Later on we located several large bank fish that were feeding inconsistently. They were picky and rejected most of what we tossed their way. Bug life seemed minimal and their feeding behavior was somewhat of a mystery.
Roman changed flies several times and then pulled out an old attractor fly pattern, a Royal Coachman, from his Magician’s top hat and started casting it with authority as if commanding the trout to rise. And they did. Mesmerized, they kept coming to the fly.
Then he reached out, his hand palm up and said, “try this”. It was another Royal Coachman. I tied it on and then magically, Presto, just like that, landed a large rainbow with the fly.
We missed several others that day but the fish we landed were very spectacular. All were caught sight-fishing with dry flies.
Here are some photos from the Royal Coachman day and from the weekend before when there was more cloud cover.
It was all clouds above. Alone in the river valley. In the middle of the foothills; middle of nowhere. A storm was coming. Then a fin broke the water. Just one. A rainbow.
rainbow trout on dry fly
the rainbow bent the hook
With the cloudy, drizzly and calm weather predicted for the weekend I drove to the Missouri (M0) river anticipating a hatch of BWO’s. And presto, just like that, the little May Fly appeared. In spite of their teeming numbers a lot of the flat water sections I frequent year after year were void of rising trout. It was hard to believe the fish weren’t sipping on the tiny flies collecting in the more gentle/quiet areas of the river. They should have been on them like kids on candy!
blue winged olives and perfect raindrop circles
I watched and waited but little happened. So eventually I went for a walk and hunted, and found some good fish in the Mo’s broad riffles, or more specifically, at the tail end of these sections where the riffles started to flatten out/expire.
brown trout caught on dry fly
Most trout in these spots were focusing on emergers. This is usually the case. I saw many anglers wading right through these sections, never noticing the sometimes quite intense feeding and multiple fish. I’ve done the same in the past. It’s very easy to miss these fish with the grey glare that exists on such a wide river. Riffles also camouflage/mask any sort of surface disturbance made by trout. It can make spotting more challenging. Experience has taught me that if I just stand still and watch (when bugs are around) often I’ll see signs of feeding trout: bulging water or boils, or other subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, surface disturbances. Listening carefully can also save the day as some trout will break the surface and the odd one will occasionally eat on top. I often hear them before I see them. Once you catch that sound, you can then intensify your visual search.
Although most fish were caught in the riffles and some tail-out spots on large pools, early in the day and then late I picked up a few good fish eating duns on the more enjoyable classic flat water sections. Most trout were caught on a Klinkhammer (body dangling below surface) style fly: dry/emerger. The best brown refused all my surface offerings and was hooked sight nymphing. The nice thing about this time of year is that if you see a fish moving water there is a chance it might be a brown trout as many of the river’s rainbows are still spawning in feeder creeks, and thus are absent. I catch some of my nicest browns in the Spring. Some rainbows were around as the photos show.
The Mo is an incredible sight fishing river. I hope to return in May or June… and Catch that Sound!
I stayed overnight at Wolf Creek Angler, in Wolf Creek (great name for a town). Basic lodging and manageable price. They also have an excellent little fly shop.
brown trout caught sight fishing with nymph
rainbow on dry fly