Spring in the Rocky Mountains is kicking out some serious weather whiplash. Sunny and unseasonably mild today segues right back into snow and northern wind tomorrow and into the start of the week. Looks as though we will get back into warmer weather late next week, but it should be a chilly start to the work week (are those still a thing?). Regardless, the fish are enjoying the rising water temps and starting to look up. We’re not quite yet into peak spring dry fly fishing, but the opportunities are certainly out there. Remember, it will only get better from here.
Nymphing: The Baetis nymphs are becoming a bigger factor as the hatch starts to roll. Throwing a hot spot scud to a second hot spot scud will still turn plenty of fish, but we are definitely noticing some fish transition to faster water/swirilies and mayfly nymphs. I try to start the day lower in the water column and then work my way upward and into slightly faster stuff by the afternoon. They’re not in the summer water, but the trout are starting to head up and out of their winter lies. Keep in mind that for every fish that has left those spots, there’s at least one two that are still there. I’d still default to the classic early spring inside-out game. BB shot or a B for the shallower stuff should suffice for weight. We’re still below 4,000 CFS and there’s little indication that will change drastically anytime soon.
Dry flies: The dry fly fishing is trending in the right direction. We’re seeing a strong midge hatch in the upper river. Low light periods are best. And of course, the Baetis are taking center stage. The fish aren’t too picky right now, you just need to put in the necessary time to find working fish. Some days, that’s not a tall task by any means. If you’re faced with a sunny day, your best bet will be the evening. Last night the best fish were up from about 7-8:30 P.M. I’ve been deploying a two fly setup with a larger Adams in front of a small Buzzball or Cluster Midge. The Smokejumper Baetis has been a good trailing bug as well.
Streamers: More good news in this department. We’re excited to report that the fish are definitely responding better to the long fly of late. Rip rap banks and deep swirls are producing some nice springtime browns. I haven’t personally had much luck yet with the grossly large modern style streamers. My go to of late has been the humble Brown Skiddish Smolt. That fly has gotten it done this week. Move ‘em slightly slower than you would like to and you’ll be barking up the right tree with regards to retrieve speed.
Other bulletins: The shop here in Craig is back in action for the season. Guide trips, rental boats and lodging are still on the table, but we are rapidly filling June/July primetime. Our hours at press time are 8-5 every day of the week. The rainbows are in full spawn mode, so please for the love of pete don’t wade all over those shallow gravel-bottom runs with redds on ’em. We’ll see you out here in person or on the phone at (406) 235-3433.