It sure has been a funny old spring. Pretty dry, but cold and windy. We’ve watched over the last couple of months as the snow pack has shrunk from around 100 per cent of average to around 80 per cent. And yet, very little, if any, of that precious moisture has made its way down the river. Rather, it has been blown to the heavens, hopefully seeding clouds somewhere that needs precipitation more than we do.
The cooler temperatures had been keeping what snow we do have up there from melting into the river. These same cooler temperatures had also prevented the water temperatures from warming up to a place where the caddis can hatch. Until recently that is. Finally things have warmed up and settled down to where we are enjoying some spectacular fishing. Normally, by well into the third week in May, the river is starting to rise and murk up, but the delayed melt is providing fishermen with a bonus couple of weeks of great dry fly activity. Although blanket hatches have been few and far between, there are enough bugs on the water and in the air to have the fish looking up and feeding actively.
And did I mention that it has been windy? The last few weeks have been some of the windiest I can recall in twenty years of spring time floating. Some days you come off the water feeling like your shoulders have been stretched out of their sockets from standing on the oars trying to slow the boat down and avoid high siding on rocks in a tail wind, or else pushing grimly into the teeth of a gale like you are using a bench press machine for seven hours straight. The trick for the fisherman has been to get the flies to where the fish are, that is along the banks in the slower water where they always hang out.
And when you can get them there, the fishing has been great. Fish have been feeding consistently on baetis and caddis patterns, until recently mainly below the surface, taking pheasant tails, hare’s ears, hot wire princes, RS2’s throughout the day. Now they are looking up consistently, taking caddis dries, royal stimulators, wulffs and blue wings. This particular day on the video, floating from Trading Post to Texas Creek,the afternoon in particular was spectacular, with the fish feeding off the surface, actively chasing anything that came their way. And it looks like we might get another week or so of great conditions before run off begins in earnest, so take advantage of it while you can.