The dry fly bite is heating up on the Stillwater and Rock Creek. Fish are still looking for the big stonefly adults. The Chubby Chernobyl, yellow Stimulator and yellow PMX are all working well.
Area streams and rivers are starting to fish. The Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers are in great shape for float fishing. Rock Creek, the Rosebuds and the Clark’s Fork are in clear and fishing well. Wade fishing is going to be a challenge for a while longer, so respect the river at all times.
There are several kinds of mayfly in evidence along with yellow sallies, giant golden stoneflies and the big brown stoneflies. Fish are taking a big dry, with the yellow stimulator and yellow PMX being the best bet. Chubby Chernobyls are taking some fish as well. The fish have slowed down on the big stonefly nymphs. Small mayfly patterns are working best for a dropper or nymphed deep under an indicator. Montana prince, pheasant tail and standard prince are the best producers.
All area streams are dropping fast. Wade fishing is still very challenging on most. Red Lodge Creek is one of the first to be fishable every year, and this year is no exception. Rock Creek and it’s tributaries are beginning to come around. Stoneflies are still in evidence and several flavors of mayfly are available to trout as well. Not only are the big stones around, but yellow sallies are abundant. (Small, yellow stonefly. Imitate with a yellow elk hair caddis size 14, or small yellow stimulator). The size 14 prince nymph was the big winner on Red Lodge Creek this week.
Hey out there! We usually don’t get to fish the Stillwater when the Giants are in full swing due to high water. This is one of the rare years that the water is clear this early. It’s still very juicy (high and fast). Wade fishing is very, very challenging. Float fishing is excellent. Fish ate the big dry fly well, but the dropper nymph was key. Try a Stimulator, Yellow PMX or any foam and rubber leg dry. The Montana prince and pheasant tail killed as a dropper. Stonefly nymphs took some bigger fish in the morning.
The bass were willing at the ranch this morning! Two kids caught their first fish on a fly rod. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Area rivers and streams are still swollen from snow melt, but are dropping. The Stillwater is clear and high, but floatable. It’s about 2300 cfs, which is well below average for this time of year. Not ready for wade fishing, but great for float fishing! The Yellowstone is dropping and clearing some, but it’s a long way from fishable. If you plan to float the Stillwater, try a stimulator, Jack Cabe or other stonefly dry with a rubber leg stone nymph dropped about two feet below it. Fish stonefly nymphs deep under an indicator if you aren’t hooking up.
Due to the heat wave of the last week, area rivers and streams have risen. Flows have leveled out and even come down some in places due to today’s cooler weather, but expect them to remain unfishable for the next couple of weeks. My prediction is an early end to high water this season. That means the Stillwater should be ready to float fish by the last week in June. Wade fishing will remain a challenge into early July. The good news is that the lower elevation lakes are fishing well right now. The damsels and dragons are out early. Small wooly buggers in olive or black are a good bet to imitate the nymphs. Strip ’em slowly to imitate the natural fly swimming. Damsels are being taken dry as well. There is some mayfly activity in early morning. A parachute Adams should do nicely.
Well, who ever heard of fishing the Stillwater and Rock Creek on Memorial Day? Looks like we might squeak out one last weekend before run off. Right now, flows are strong and wading is challenging. Expect some color in the water. Use the standard high water flies, especially stonefly nymphs and black buggers. The fish were absolutely attacking a size 10 halfback this week on Rock Creek. Now, halfbacks are hard to find
anymore. That’s an old, traditional stonefly nymph pattern. Most of the new stonefly patterns have rubber legs now. And they work just fine. The important thing is choose something black colored to contrast with the dirty water. Fish the drop off at the head of deeper pools and runs for the best results. Now get out there and fish!
It was a perfect spring day on the Stilly yesterday! Cold, breezy, rain changing to snow. Midges in the morning, baetis in the afternoon. As I said, perfect!
The midge hatch started about 11 am. Fish were rising to them sporadically here and there. Tail-outs and current lines, naturally. It was difficult fishing. The feeding was sporadic, they wanted a size 20 black midge emerger and the light was bad. Just how I like it. If it was easy, they’d call it “golf”.
Baetis started hatching about 2 pm. The fish started rising more regularly, but it wasn’t pandemonium. You had to find a rising pod. Then target a single riser and get several good drifts before he would eat. They wanted a size 20 parachute BWO, the light was bad and the wind came up just enough to mess with my casting accuracy. A steady rain came down. Every fish in hand was just that much more satisfying.
To top it all off, a huge river otter popped up about 15 feet from me. I got to watch him roll and play for several minutes. Haven’t seen an otter on the Stilly in quite a while , so that was a real treat!
Spring is here, go fish it!
Can’t beat catching big fish on the fly in February. Chris Fleck and I spent two days on the Horn at Thermop. Nymph’s were the ticket. All the standard tail water fare caught fish. Scuds, sow bugs, worms, and midges larvae. The streamer bite was poor, but one nice brown ate a Big Horn Bugger variant. The wind was howling and brutally cold at Wedding of the Waters both days, but you get out of it a few hundred yards downstream. That’s why the Wind River becomes the Big Horn at Wedding! We had nice afternoons with no “rapid air movement”. The rainbows are ready to spawn, but not yet on the reds.
Good dry fly fishing on the Shoshone today at Cody. Midges were hatching from 1 pm to 2 pm. I was surprised to see the hatch switch to baetis from 2 pm until about 2:45. That’s when the clouds came in, the temperature dropped and it started to snow. Oh yeah, and the wind started blowing. The fish called it a day, and so did I. Size 20 midge emergers worked well until the baetis hatch started. Then a size 20 parachute BWO produced. This guy ate the big size 14 marker parachute I was using in front of the smaller flies! Guess he was wanted to super size it.