Fishing conditions this Spring has been like most Springs, often cold, windy or wet days punctuated by the kind of brilliant weather you wish it would be all year. The river has remained low, which means less zones to fish but fewer places for the fish to hide out. We’ve been seeing an exceptional proportion of large fish come to the net, but like most Springs it has been a quality over quantity type of game.
Streamer eats were at their heaviest in late January through February, and though you can still find a fish on a streamer any given day their forage preference is certainly moving towards insects. For a dedicated streamer day I’d recommend black, olive or brown sculpin patterns, but egg-sucking leeches have had some amazing results as well. Target zones with slow deep water (preferably with structure) that sit adjacent to faster flowing zones. If possible slow down your retrieve and don’t neglect dead-drifting – lots of fish prefer a slow downstream presentation.
Nymphing remains a strong strategy for finding fish before the mid-day hatches. Look for walking speed water with about three feet of depth, preferably near a drop off or long underwater slope. Focus on zones where the current runs over these depth changes and make sure to get the longest drift possible so the nymphs have time to get down. When in doubt, land your flies further upstream than you think you need to! We are predominately fishing Pat’s Stoneflies and TJ Hookers in the tan, olive and coffee/black colors. Weight and rigging strategies depend on the water you’re fishing, so dial in the weight of your stonefly until you can maintain a good drift with your bugs in the strike zone. We are seeing lots of BWO and March Brown nymphs crawling under the near shore rocks, so pheasant tails and other dark small nymphs should definitely be in your box during your outing. Spanish Bullets, Copper Johns and flashy Perdigons (as well as the good ol’ worm patterns) have all been effective as a dropper nymph under the stonefly nymph or under a dry. Which brings us to…
The much anticipated Skwala hatch has started on our upper river. When floating we see some zones with a high concentration of fish willing to take a dry, with eats in most other zones being few and far between. This is to say don’t lose hope on getting the dry eat, but you may have to cover more water than you’d like to find a willing fish. With size of fish being what it is right now, one fish on the dry may make your whole day. Most sunny days are producing strong hatches of the tiny winter stone in the afternoon, so keep your eyes out for this diminutive cousin of the Skwala. Cloudier days are producing decent hatches of BWOs around 1:00-3:00, and March Browns should be right around the corner with our guides spotting a few adults each day recently.
We hope everyone is excited and ready to get out on the water and enjoy this wonderful, sometimes challenging fishery. As always give us a call or stop by for any information/advice you need – we’re happy to help anytime.