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  • Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    Hopper Harvest

    Fly Shop Bias ?
    you watch-we'll catch
    .. There is a single cloud in the sky and it's rapidly disappearing. It's becoming a symphony of long transparent white strings. It'll be gone soon.
    .. The forecast calls for some rare 90's over the weekend. The office pools and the pub pools are filling up. Get your number before Thursday.
    .. It' not just us. The whole nation, (yes even Alaska,) will experience some interesting temperature ranges for the next couple of months.
    .. As an aside: the neighbors who plant corn may see some full ears, ever bearing strawberries may continue until October, Dairy Queen will make enormous profits, ice sales will skyrocket, model airplanes will be blessed with strong thermals, fishers will abandon mid day fishing early, and fishers may not get back to the rivers in the evenings.
    .. Contrary to popular belief and the extensive rumor factory in West Yellowstone; we do fish quite a bit.
    .. We even catch a few fish. Sometimes more than a few. We've learned not to offer unsolicited advice. We've learned to just watch as visitors dash to rivers and leap in to start fishing.
    .. We keep our thoughts quietly to our self as fishers are more eager to wet their pants waders rather than watch the river. We've learned not to giggle too loudly as we watch folks spend more time changing flies than fishing flies. We've learned quite a bit over the last 14 lustra or so.
    .. When asked what we're using to catch so many fish while others are catching fewer, we tell the truth. They are sadly disappointed. The damn flies are usually subsurface offerings.
    .. They are old fashioned. And they are not in the fancy fly boxes of the fisher that asked the question. We offer a couple of ours as gifts. They are usually refused. They don't float.
    .. We do our best to offer the trout of the neighborhood the food that they are probably eating. Most trout food is in the water rather than on the water - no matter what the newly arrived counter help tells you.
    .. Trout seldom stop hunting and eating. They don't wait for minuscule bugs to pop up to the surface before they eat. Sad but true!
    .. We get chastised for not fishing dry flies. For us catching a fish is an important part of fishing.
    .. To set the record straight we do fish the dry. We often hear the purist talk about blind casting and blind fishing. There is nothing blind about being able to read the water and catch a fish where they are hiding. Oh well.
    .. For many fishers it's how to fish for fish rather than catching fish. We've seen times when folks will spend $500.00 for a boat ride with a very competent guide and catch no fish. But they did it right. Dry or die. Catching seems very remote in their heads. To each his own.
    .. We've been told, (by visitors,) that (insert famous feather merchant name here) only reports the hatches of surface bugs. They do this because that's when you can catch the most fish! Really? Is this a bias against catching fish?
    From:  Andrew Heard
    .. Perhaps it is a bias toward a technique that attracts the big spenders. The elitist attitude engendered by Frederic Halford in the late 19th century has carried down to the contemporary anglophile of the modern stream.
    .. Americans seldom acknowledge their debt to jolly old England. Dry fly fishers deny that they are elitists. They do, however exhibit characteristics that hearken back to centuries old attitudes. Form over substance was the attitude of the chalk stream fisher - Skues be damned.
    .. The disdain of Halford echoes today in the attitudes of the dry or die crowd:
    Those of us who will not in any circumstances cast except over rising fish are sometimes called ultra purists and those who occasionally will try to tempt a fish in position but not actually rising are termed purists... and I would urge every dry fly fisher to follow the example of these purists and ultra purists.
    — From A History of Flyfishing, Bark, 1992
    .. It must only be sporting to catch fish while it is eating a minority part of it's diet - and on the surface - and exhaust them - only to release them. So be it.
    .. Halford was a rich elitist, had little experience with sunken flies, arose late in the day, took winter vacations out of England to avoid the weather, and set the pattern for folks that dry fly fish today. Most of the modern feather merchants have adopted the same sort of predilection.
    .. As for catching fish; the Gallatin River is experiencing a massive influx of visiting fishers.
    .. Of course hoppers, caddis, ants, beetles, and other bits of fish food are plentiful.
    .. Catching can proceed all day, (even in an 80° F afternoon.)
    .. The hoppers are mature and plentiful. Fish will love them either on the surface or drowned.
    .. The Gallatin River demands that you fish to the food. There can be hatches of heroic proportions but there is not a good way to predict them.
    .. The warm bright days combined with the cool water of the river produce exceptional hatches.
    .. They are localized and dense. They sneak up on you, explode, and vanish quickly. Be quick to change a fly and you'll have an hour of frenetic catching.
    .. If you happen to be on the Gallatin River it might be worth your time to investigate Bacon Rind Creek.
    .. It's a favorite of some of the neighbors. The hoppers seem larger. The water is thin with nice deep feeding holes. The meadow is handy for the fish because of the dense willow shade and the need for fishers to walk away from their car and through some dense vegetation. Short casts, short leaders, and long quiet stalking will pay off.
    .. The upper Firehole River is a pleasant refuge if you find yourself in the Old Faithful area.
    .. There is an easy path. There is shade and sweepers. There is a giant population of eager Brook Trout that seem not to care if their food is on the surface or on the bottom or anywhere in between.
    .. For those fishers that want large fish and don't mind dredging the bottom for them we suggest that you visit a foreign country.
    .. The Box Canyon of the Henry's Fork River in Idaho is about in perfect shape and just full of giant fish.
    .. Gather up a good boat, (or walk a lot,) get a guide familiar with the subtleties of the "BOX" and have at it. This is a good place for big and ugly flies.
    .. Despite what you may have heard - trout appreciate groceries delivered in large packages.
    .. As bright as it's been the shade and boulder hides will deliver on their promises. Just be sure that your leader is strong and your fly is deep.
    .. We've seen some spiffy cell phone photos of fish from Slough Creek.
    Big Fish Food
    .. A couple of kids from Nebraska in a road weary Subaru provided the following. (second hand report:)
    "Took a couple of dozen good fish on streamers. Had to sleep in the car. Too dusty. Hot as Omaha. Not many hatches. Crowded. Used bass flies."
    It's A Green One
    .. We believe them. But, there have also been reports of the mighty Green Drake hatch starting. This is the holy grail for those that need to see their fly.
    .. The bugs are big and the fish can make fools of themselves at times. At other times it only looks like they are eating what you are seeing.
    ..With our heat the mornings are usually dead still. This draws the gulper crowd to Hebgen Reservoir. The most popular, (though not necessarily most catch friendly,) area is the weed beds in the Madison Arm of the reservoir. It is close to town. It's easy for boat launching. It's praised far and wide by famous gulper fishers.
    .. Interestingly most, if not all, weed beds of proper depth and exposure produce the sought after callibaetis flies. The ones at the end of Horse Butte have the flies and are also full of leeches and snails. Lots of fish there.
    .. The South Fork Estuary has some magnificent weeds and is a nursery fishery. That's why big fish fishers haunt that area - ask some counter help.
    .. The road along the "other shore" of Hebgen Reservoir is closer to the mountains, (by many miles.) It's in a wind shadow and gulper fishing over there can last way past noon - long after the other folks have been blown off the reservoir. Take your choice and decide what you want.
    .. It's approaching the hottest part of the day. Time to finish lunch and head to the empty water of the Gallatin River. The hoppers will be dancing nicely. The ants will be busy. The beetles will be rumbling. There will even be a few caddis around. We'll even take a dry fly or two in case we get tired of "blind casting."