Fishing Report: Chasing the Salmonflies
I am sitting at the bar at Trouthunter watching the water race by outside. The river is bank full due to yesterday’s water releases from the Island Park Dam. Twenty-four hours ago the river was running at around 750 cfs it is now well over 1700 cfs. The sudden release of so much water was precipitated by a day of steady heavy rainfall pretty much filling the reservoir to capacity requiring immediate action to try and lower the water level in the lake and allow room for still more runoff from rain and melting mountain snowpack. Now, back to the subject of salmonflies. As I predicted the big bugs started to emerge from their watery world on the 20th of May. I always pick this date because over the years one of the Trouthunter guides usually volunteers to take me on a birthday float, my birthday being May 20th, and nearly every year we find that the bugs are just starting to emerge on that day. This year turned out to be no exception. We are seeing salmonflies spread out from Warm River down to the Fun Farm. The hatch is just starting so we should anticipate fishing with the big bugs over the next couple of weeks as the hatch moves steadily upstream.
Box Canyon: The Box had been producing some decent fishing over the past week. Dead drifting a two- fly combo of a size #6 black, coffee/black or brown rubber leg and a size #14 or #16 brown, black or olive Zebra midge had produced the best results. I had also talked to several fishermen who reported they had good luck dead drifting their favorite sculpin pattern. Usually it takes the fish a day or two to adjust to the change in flows so you might want to skip the Box until Saturday.
Last Chance Area: Fishing on this section of the river has been spotty over the past couple of weeks. I think it is due to the lack of any predictable and steady insect hatches. We have seen a few March Browns around as well as even fewer caddis and baetis so there just has not been enough of any of these bugs on the water to really get the fish feeding. I don’t think the sudden rise in water level will help either. If you are into swinging a small streamer or leech pattern on your favorite trout spey rod (three, four or five weight) this might be the section of the river to give it a try there have been some nice rainbows caught here using this technique.
The Ranch: This section of the river is closed to fishing until the 15th of June.
Warm River to Ashton: Fishing down on this part of the river has been very productive with dry flies and nymphs. The streamer fishing has been a little slow. Dead drifting stonefly nymph imitations with beadhead droppers under an indicator has produced the best results. There’s been some good activity fishing dry/dropper rigs. Try fishing a combination of a purple or brown Chubby with a small (size #10) black rubber leg or beadhead Prince nymph. Fishing a single adult salmon fly imitation has also produced good results. I don’t think the increase in water levels will affect the fishing down on this section of the river like it will on the upper river. You might want to concentrate your efforts closer to the banks as the higher flow will push the fish over towards the banks.
Ashton Dam to the Fun Farm: This is where the most salmon fly (both nymph and adult) activity has been taking place. Subsequently this is where the most fishing pressure has been. The most productive fishing has been with stonefly nymph imitations fished deep and slow. We were beginning to have some top water action using adult salmon fly imitations but the inclement weather we have been experiencing the past few days has put a damper on this action. It should get going again as soon as we get a couple of decent days of weather. Which should be this weekend.
Yellowstone Park: The Park opens to fishing this Saturday. About your only option will be the Firehole River. Expect the Firehole to be running high. Use caution when walking to the river as much of the surrounding land will be swampy. Remember park officials have banned wearing felt soled wading boots so be sure you have rubber soled boots when fishing in Yellowstone Park.