The word for the day is “presentation”. No matter your choice of water, time of day or fly selection, presentation will be your most important factor when it comes to success on the river. At this point in the season these fish have seen a lot of poorly presented flies and have become less forgiving of a sloppy cast or dragging drift. At least that’s true of the bigger fish.
Time of day is also pretty critical now with the lower, clearer water of mid-summer combined with high, bright sunshine. The lower light hours of morning and evening will provide your best action. Fish will be holding in faster, deeper riffles and in the shade near banks, logs and overhanging branches. As dusk approaches they may move into a bit more open water, but target the banks during daylight.
On the Big Wood right now it’s pretty easy to catch good numbers of fish. Finding the bigger fish will be a little more challenging. The keys will be; first be at the proper time of day. I’m suggesting mid morning into early afternoon, and evenings after the sun is off the water. Next; look for the faster, deeper riffles, little pockets along the banks next to faster water, near wood obstructions, and under overhanging branches. Where it looks near impossible to get your fly, that’s where the big fish will be. Cover lots of water to search out these spots. Finally, make your first cast in a likely spot count. The first cast is your best opportunity to bring up fish. A poor presentation in a likely spot will put a wary fish down on the bottom for good. There are not a lot of strong hatches now, but we are beginning to see some tricos and baetis appearing, look for these as the morning begins to warm. Other than tricos, I would suggest throwing some basic attractor patterns. Hoppers, , para wulffs and adams with or without trailing nymphs and a variety of caddis patterns for later evening.
On Silver Creek presentation is always critical and especially so now with the fish having seen a lot of fishermen and flies recently. Longer leaders (10’+) with drag free downstream presentations will be required when fishing “the creek’s” great mayfly hatches. The exception to this will be later in the day when the wind blows and terrestrials come into play. A splashing hopper next to the bank may be the trigger to a strike at this time. Remember when fishing hoppers to be patient and let the fish actually eat the bug. Often times they may bump it with their nose before actually opening their mouth to eat it. Tricos continue on the creek, but are beginning to wane a bit. This generally means baetis becoming the more predominant hatch. Callibaetis will be present in the slower water sections and sloughs. If you’re heading for the creek, bring a good selection of trico, baetis and callibaetis, supplemented by terrestrials and bring your “A” game.
Over the hill, The Upper Big Lost and Copper Basin waters are fishing well. Take your Big Wood game and fly patterns and do some exploring. Covering water in this area is the most fun (as-well-as productive) ways to fish. The Lower Lost is getting down to a more reasonable wading level and will continue to drop as we get towards fall.
All-in-all the water conditions are holding up quite nicely and fishing has been pretty darn good for mid-summer. So get out and enjoy some time on the rivers and remember, presentation, presentation, presentation…
– Jim Santa