We had our first high country snowfall last week. Fall has fell. The weather is shifting back and forth from hot and sunny to cold and rainy. There are still hordes of hoppers out there, but they aren’t active until late in the day on warm days and not at all on cold days. Having said that, fish are used to seeing them and eating them. I’ve been sticking with a large hopper and a small nymph dropper instead of deep nymphing and streamer fishing. Fish will eat the hopper here and there in the morning, and you will be ready when the hopper bite starts in earnest. Smaller nymphs, especially a size 18 flashback pheasant tail, are working all day. Drop them at least 3 feet down if you are fishing the Yellowstone, 2 feet on the Stillwater or Rock Creek.
Tricos are finally showing up in big clouds on the Yellowstone. They haven’t been much of a factor, though. Small fish, mainly whitefish, are eating the spinners in slicks and tail outs, but I haven’t seen anything big on them. There has been a brief baetis (size 20) hatch on the Stillwater on those cold, rainy days. It’s only lasting about 30 minutes and mostly small trout are eating them. I’m guessing the fish aren’t interested in the small stuff with so many hoppers around.
Expect the fishing to be slow on the transitional days, when the barometric pressure is changing suddenly. Stick with the hopper-dropper and you will catch fish. If you see fish rising, go to an olive or yellow parachute, size 16, with a trico spinner trailing.
Dry fly fishing on the West Fork of Rock Creek is great. Small hoppers are killin’ it.
The high lakes are pretty unpredictable right now. Swinging soft hackles at the inlets and outlets is working, and mosquitos are a good bet for a dry fly.