Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday 12/4/17 Report- Caddis, Olives, streamers & nymphs

Killer hook-jawed male brown deceived by customer Damon Matus recently, he's been tearing them up on streamers. With most browns now post-spawn and a little down in bodyweight, the trout are hungry and looking to eat and bulk back up, and a streamer looks like a lot of calories to a trout. December is typically a good post-spawn streamer bite. Colder winter weather is moving in soon, water temps are slowly creeping downward, so make sure to slow down your streamer presentations and use some form of weighted flies/split-shot/sink-tips/sinking leader/sinking lines to get your streamers down deep. Water temps in permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA & upriver have averaged low 40s of late, with temps ranging from high 30s to mid 40s depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam. Swinging & slow stripping are typically the way to go with streamers in cold water, but make sure to try a faster strip too, as sometimes even in the winter they will respond better to that some days (but day in, day out, slower is normally better when it's cold). Also, play around with colors, it can make a big difference. Olive has been good, but also try black, brown, white, yellow and combinations thereof. Many good fishing reports from the nymphers too, just make sure you have enough weight (either in your flies or in the form of split-shot) to get down in the slower water near the stream bottom. Finally seeing some good dry fly fishing lately, see below for detailed hatch info.

Don Butler's 2nd Beginner 2-Day Fly Tying course will be on January 6th & 13th, 2018. Click on "Classes, News & Reviews" in top website toolbar to see detailed info on it. Call store at 860-379-1952 to sign up- fly tying is a fantastic winter activity, and this class also makes a great Christmas gift

Best dry fly hatch by far remains the morning Winter Caddis, their numbers were good most days over the past week and brought trout to the surface, the afternoon Blue Winged Olives (BWOs/Olives) have been a very light hatch most days but we did have two decent BWO hatches so far this past week. Colder weather moving in later in the week may actually improve both the Olive & Winter Caddis hatches- Winter Caddis hatch best after cold nights, and our November/December BWOs also like colder, crappy weather (especially snowy/cloudy days). Make sure to start early if you want to catch the Caddis hatch & rising trout, it's typically an early/mid morning deal, although sometimes they start later and end later, and even appear in light numbers sometimes late in the day. Many mornings trout have been rising well to them, and other mornings it's been more of a nymph & streamer deal. Those adjusting to the conditions are finding success- the key is to be FLEXIBLE. 

Late fall/early winter can be an above average time to fish streamers, just remember that water temps are colder now and will drop later this week when the colder weather arrives, so get those streamers slow & deep. Nymphing is a consistent way to catch trout now that the "off season" is here and hatches are less. Expect takes to be subtle, as trout generally won't move far to eat a small nymph in cold water. Look for trout to lay in softer water now, skip the faster runs & pocket water. Looks for current seams & riffle tailouts in pools, and fish deeper/softer runs. Conserving energy & safety become paramount to trout when water temps are cold. They will often pod up, so where you find one, sometimes there are many more. Sometimes trout will slide up into moderately fast riffle water during warmer sunny days that see some good bug activity.

Noon Update-
At 9am, the MDC cut the dam release in Riverton by 50cfs, bringing the total flow in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA down to about 240cfs- this is medium/medium-low and still an excellent level for fishing. In fact the lower the flow, the more trout will rise during a good hatch.

Total flow at 8am this morning (Friday) is great at a fishermen-friendly medium level of 291cfs in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (237cfs in Riverton plus 54cfs from the Still River). Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, water temps have ranged from upper 30s to mid 40s the past week, cooling weather moving in later this week will drop those temps a little. The warmest water will be coming out of the dam in Riverton, and mornings will see the lowest water temps.  Other than the exception of the Winter Caddis hatch, generally the better time to fish is late morning until dusk (higher water temps). Most of the water is coming out of the dam now, which helps to moderate the water temps and keep them a little warmer and more trout-friendly than on other streams. Long range weather is highs in the 40s-50s through Wednesday, then it gets more winter-like from Thursday onward, with highs mostly in the 30s and lows averaging in the 20s. As I mentioned above, this may actually improve the Winter Caddis and Blue Winged Olive hatches.

Bug activity has varied from day to day, with fishable dryfly hatches occurring randomly. The fluctuating weather in November has been a factor and may hopefully mean good hatches through Christmas and beyond. Winter Caddis #18-24
(dolophilodes distinctus) are the "glamour hatch" lately, coming off in good numbers in the AM- look for them normally in early/mid mornings after cold nights. Blue Wing Olives #22-26 to are still very light in numbers most days and hatching in the afternoons, but we've seen a couple of good days lately and they could get heavier anytime now. Other bugs you might see include Black Caddis #18-24 and Midges #22-28. Subsurface with nymphs has been some of the more consistent fishing lately, but there have been windows of dry fly fishing too. Streamers are working well.

New Stuff:
Simms new 2018 version of the G3 wader is here now- 190% more breatheable (!), 30% more puncture resistant, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets with side zips, a velcro docking station for a fly patch, and a G4-style reinforced seat/butt area. And the best part: NO price increase! We also have their new redesigned versions of their Freestone, Guide & G3 vests. And last but not least, their new super-warm heavyweight Guide Thermal OTC Sock. FYI the old style Simms vests are on sale at 40% off.  

In addition to trout tying materials, we have a very good selection of materials geared toward Steelhead. We have 12 colors of the deadly & popular Eggstasy Egg Yarn on the wall now, it works great on trout too. Just tie it in and take 2-3 wraps and then tie it off, easy peasy. Plenty of good strong hooks for from Tiemco, Mustad, Gamakatsu & Daiichi. We now carry Adams Built landing nets, including a collapsible handle model sized well for Steelhead. 

We  have the new Hardy Zephrus Ultralite 9' 9" series of rods, from a #2 up to #5. Think of them as a Crossover tight-line/Euro nymph rod that will also do a very nice job with dry flies, killing two birds with one stone (rod). Antoine Bissieux ("The French Flyfisher") loves the 9' 9" #2 version of that for light tippet French style nymphing.

5x flurocarbon tippet should be about right, depending upon fly size, with 6x for the smallest nymphs. If you haven't yet tried it, the Cortland Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon tippet is amazing, by far the strongest out there with the most abrasion resistance, stretch, flexibility & clarity. Total game-changer, and an extra-good choice if you like to nymph with lighter tippets. Use patterns like BWO Nymphs #16-22, Midges/Zebra Midges #16-24, Egg Flies #10-18 (yellow/pink/orange), Caddis Larva #14-16 (olive to green), Cased Caddis #8-16, Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan), big Stoneflies #6-12 /Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Antoine's Perdigons #16 (various colors), Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-20 (Pineapple Express, Frenchies, Triple Threat, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-22, and Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-14.

Cold Weather Strategies:
A big key to fishing this time of year is dressing properly so that you are warm. Synthetic thermals for a next-to-skin base layer, layered with heavy fleece and a shell to break the wind are all key. Complete this with fingerless gloves, a warm hat, and a pair of heavy Merino wool socks. Make sure your wading boots don't fit tightly- if you sized them to fit perfectly in the summertime with thin socks, make sure to get a winter pair that are a size bigger. Tight boots = cold feet. 

The cooler late fall/early winter air & water temps are here now, so an adjustment in tactics is required. The warmest water by far will be coming out of the dam, and it will get colder as you move downriver during colder weather. The Still River will be coming in significantly colder than the dam water. As such, if you start early, begin in Riverton to hit the best water temps, and wait until the afternoon for the water temps to rise before heading downriver. In general during cold weather, the strategy is to focus on late morning until dusk when air & water temps are highest- it's the most comfortable, and the trout & bugs are most active. The one exception to this is the Winter Caddis hatch. When they are hatching, you need to be on the water in early/mid morning to catch it. Other than that, no need to start early. Subsurface with nymphs has been some of the more consistent fishing lately, and we are getting some good streamer reports, and there have been windows of good dry fly fishing too.