Well let’s hope so. Yes, it has been hotter than the hubs of Hades throughout the land of the Big Sky. Blue bird skies with nary a cloud in site until late afternoon on most days have produced Chamber of Commerce days which are all rather lovely, unless you are fishing for the wary trout who really do not like those types of conditions. Couple that with the continuation of rubber boat traffic jams sporting Missoula, Bozeman, and Livingston license plates and it quickly becomes obvious that adjustments are in order. And so we have. Early is good and the crack of dawn is even better. Out of the way hiddy holes are really where it’s at.
The good news is that some of the traffic is headed to the Jelly which is reported to have wonderful hopper and stonefly dry fly fishing. Apparently the fish are damn near jumping in the boat, or so I’ve read….. I’d be happy to draw some folks a map of where they should go …… but I digress.
Cutting to the fishing chase, not a lot has changed since I last checked in. The big dogs continue to be double nymphs, down and dirty and I do mean way down. The other day I had folks in a mondo honey hole which usually hold some nice fish. We methodically fished and probed the entire hole over the course of 30 minutes. We yarded up numerous small trout and lots of white fish. No fatty trout were encountered until I started adding split shot, first a little and eventually more than that. And yes, it did make a difference. Charlie hooked a pig and the entire thing was apparently captured on video which I may be able to get my hands on. A nice gent by the name of Dave (from Billings) and his son had parked in the same hole after we had started to cover the water. When the hoop’n and holler’n started, they whipped out their phone video thingie and the party was on. Charlie confided that was the largest fish he has ever caught on the Stillwater, in over 50 years of fishing it. Thus in the end, it was all about the depth of presentation and a little persistence. Remember that, it’s not like the old days out there when any ol’ dry fly would catch a fish.
And speaking of dries ….., from my view, damn little interest has been shown. I know that is not what you want to hear, but it is the truth. If you want to fish dry, the most productive dries have been the smaller stuff, like #16 – 18’s. But frankly, that has a lot to do with the caliber of angler that has been chucking them. Yes, we have been fishing chubbies, and golden stone parachutes, and Cabes and all that jazz. And yes you can and will catch some fish, but based on my observations, the dries, especially the big dries, are not really the hot ticket item. Although a gent who has been throwing those itty-bitty dries caught a 21-22″ brown on the upper the other day (didn’t get a picture of that one either, maybe it’s all fake news). Byron indicated that was the largest brown he has ever caught on the Stillwater in over 60 years of fishing it….. so life ain’t all bad.
Coming attractions include, reduced numbers of anglers (school starting), shorter cooler days, and browns that within the next few weeks will begin to develop serious attitude problems….. fall is not that far away. In fact, it’s rather sobering to think that in 5 or 6 weeks, we’ll likely see some snow. It’s usually a mid-September thing and much anticipated because that’s when the fishing can really get nuts.
But I’m not thinking that far ahead. I’m going to enjoy what little of summer we have left. And don’t forget, the Yellowstone is supposed to be red hot …. hoppers, hoppers, and more hoppers …. or so the story goes …. better get out there when you can.