Trip Report: An ode to old shoes

Today marked my first wet wade of the year. Wet wading is my preference but is only tolerable from late April through early October.


These were my old man’s tennies. Then they became his “old shoes”. Then my mowing shoes. And finally my wet wading shoes. In a world where we consume SO much it’s important to try to make things last. Somehow these shoes have reduced my footprint. I’ve fished em hard over the last couple years and they’ve weathered well.


After a short drive and a long hike I arrived on stream around 11am. This fish and the next ate the same gray sz 16 elk hair caddis fished tight against the big rock on the far left size of the pictured below.


I wasnt sure what to expect in terms of hatch activity. After the last few days of prolific bug activity I figured it may be hit or miss. The hatch seems like its waning and the fish are still stuffed, possibly explaining why despite lots of bugs the duration of rising activity has shortened. Today they only ate in a flurry until around 12.


I landed a dozen or so before things slowed down. Fish continued to rise sporadically but with chores at home I decided to call it a day.

Trip Report: Too much of a good thing

Yesterday I headed out expecting to encounter another outstanding hatch and non stop, all day, best ever fishing. I arrived on stream around 830am and struggled to catch fish on various nymphs until the hatch kicked off at around 11am.


This chunky trout was my first of the day! Feeding was concentrated in shallower runs and riffles. Much like on Friday fish most enthusiastically ate the fly when it rode high on the surface.


I fished through one run with great success before concentrating my efforts on the deeper riffle just upstream. Fish continued to feed heavily.


By around 1230pm the emergence discontinued. An unbelievable amount of adult caddis continued to flutter around laying eggs, doing caddis things, but the fish just quit feeding. I decided to hike around and take pics before heading out of the valley around 3pm.


The only reason I could think of that the fish quit feeding right after the emergence was that they were stuffed! Every fish I landed had thick bellies. In hindsight switching to a caddis nymph or soft hackle pattern may have produced.

Trip Report: Epic hatch

With dreams of a good caddis hatch dancing around my brain for the last week I’ve been looking forward to today. I decided to hit the stream early and put in some miles to find a little solitude. I arrived at around 8am under cloudy but clearing skies. Winds were light and temps were in the mid 40’s and rising. I hiked, took pictures, and landed a few wee little ones before the caddis hatch kicked off at around 1130am.


Fish ate a size 16 elk hair caddis readily when the fly rode high. I forgot my floaty paste at home which would have helped a little.


These pictures dont do these fish justice. They were fat, engorged with caddis! After an initial hatch of larger caddis a blanket hatch of sz 20 caddis started. Fish continued eating enthusiastically but catching stopped. There were too many naturals to compete with! I spent that time observing and taking pics.


Within a half hour that hatch waned and catching resumed. It seemed like every hour or so a wave of caddis would come off, keeping the fish looking up.


Toward my turnaround point I ran into a fella that was having a great day of fishing as well. We chatted about all things fly fishing before parting ways.


I continued to land fish on the long walk back to the car. Today’s caddis hatch was easily one of the best hatches I’ve ever encountered. I easily landed 50+ fish, all but three on the sz 16 elk hair caddis. No monsters came to hand but all fish were stuffed with caddis. I arrived back at the car by 530pm, eager to get some dinner.


Stay tuned, I plan to fish hard this weekend as I’ll be unable to get out next week due to work obligations. Get out while you can, the caddis hatch will probably slow down within the next week or so.

Trip Report: Stubborn

With the caddis hatch in full swing throughout the area I headed out anticipating great surface action. I arrived on stream around 4pm to find the hatch waning, yet plenty of tan sz 16ish continued to flutter about. Fish rose consistently but for some reason I hesitated to fish the dry. A few came to hand on the pink squirrel of prey before I reached a piece of water that was alive with activity!


This beautifully adorned brownie hit my sz 16 elk hair caddis with enthusiasm. Shortly after landing this guy I landed one of around 16 inches. Unfortunately he flopped out of my hand before I could snap a pic.

Quite a few hit the fly dead drifted until surface action waned at around 530pm. I then worked the fly through deeper, faster runs on my way back to the car. Another half dozen took the fly on the skitter. I arrived back at the car around 630pm with the slime of 2 dzn or so trout on my hands!

Trip Report: Montana of the midwest

I’ve found a few precious valleys in my area that remind me of Montana. Today I explored one of them. I hoped to encounter a caddis hatch but didnt expect one as this water seems to take a little extra time to warm up.


Those who know this spot know what’s up! It was sunny and the stream was clear except for the deepest pools, which held a light chalky green stain. I started out fishing a sz 16 pink squirrel of prey in tandem with a sz 16 mayfly nymph. Both flies fished well.


I found fish in all types of water but had the most success in riffles and fast runs. Some of the nicer fish were really nosed up in shallow water. I turned over a few rocks and found both mayfly and caddis nymphs around sz 16.


I wouldn’t want to get into a fist fight with this bruised up brown but I gladly battled him on the 7′ 6″ fiberglass rod. This valley was sheltered enough to protect my casts from the wind.


I only spotted three rises from arrival at 730ish until departure around 1pm. They were not interested in the small clouds of midges and only spare craneflies and bwo’s kissed the sky. Fish came to hand consistently at a rate of around a half dozen per hour, but none much over a foot! I’ve heard about and seen solid caddis hatches throughout the area. Action should only improve throughout the week so now’s the time to tie on a dry fly and get after ’em!

Trip Report: Stretching the legs

We got much less snow than was forecast last week, and less to the south. We didn’t have the runoff I thought we may and the stream I chose today was running crystal clear. Area streams are in great condition, although a little cold.


I arrived around 8am and started picking apart likely spots with size 16 and 18 mayfly nymphs fished in tandem. I fished the flies around 4 ft deep. Plenty of fish came to hand on that rig, with most fish taking the sz 18.

By moving frequently I covered a ton of water. By the time I turned around at about 4pm I’d brought 10 or so fish to hand. One of those came in a gray sz 16 elk hair caddis. Fish rose consistently as the afternoon carried on, seemingly rising to midges. I did spot a few little bwos and a tiny caddis. Rather than just walk back to the car I decided to try skittering a sz 16 quill mayfly through areas with broken water.


Usually fishing mayflies on the skitter doesnt pick up until early summer. Good thing I gave it a shot. I picked up another dozen or so on the walk back to the car. With temps forecast in the 50s and 60s over the next 10 days, next week will see great dry fly fishing. I turned over a bunch of rocks and found three different sized mayfly nymphs and caddis larvae with dreams of flying. It won’t be long.

Tying Flies

I’ve spent considerable time tying flies over the last few days. My wife has taken over my rod building desk to sew masks so I’ve been relegated to the production desk. Rather than tying various patterns I’ve stuck to tying a ton of my springtime go-to flies!


You cant go wrong with the elk hair caddis, pictured in sizes 18 and 16. These should begin fishing well over the next two weeks and won’t quit until October. Black, peacock, gray and tan are good colors round these parts.


This mayfly pattern starts to work around now and slays all summer. It fishes well dead drifted and on the skitter. I fish this pattern in a size 18 and 16.


I’ve been diggin these mayfly nymphs, tied in sizes 18-14. The smaller ones are killing it right now. I’ve also tied up a heaping helping of parachute mayfly patterns and sj worms.

Note: We didnt see as much snow as forecast, and areas south of I-90 even less. The sun was strong today and I’m bwtting many small to medium sized streams will be fishable later in the week! Stay tuned.

Trip Report: Last chance

I felt the itch to fish for a few hours today. Despite being on call for work I went for it. A winter storm is forecast for tomorrow and conditions will be less than ideal over the next week. When temps do warm up toward the middle of the week all the snow will cause runoff issues. That’s not to say smaller streams won’t be fishable.

Screenshot_20200411-204116_The Weather Channel

I arrived on stream by 1030am and fished until around noon. Fish rose in a frenzy as I approached the stream. Initially fish were keyed in on midges. Two sizes, 24 an 18, emerged as eager trout chowed down.


The Griffiths Gnat fished well at first but lost effectiveness as the morning wore on. I switched to a sz 20 Matt’s Midge and they continued to chow! In 1.5 hrs fourteen little brown trout came to hand. Fish ate the fly dead drifted, twitched, and skated. Around 11am two kinds of mayflies hatched sporadically, one around sz 20 and one sz 16. I saw my first craneflies of the year too. In a week or so bwo’s, dark hendrickson’s, craneflies, and caddis should start coming on stronger. We’re on the cusp of dry fly season!

Trip Report: Before the storm

I braved the cold an wind for a couple hours to get out fishing before more wind and snow move into the area this weekend. Temps measured in the low 30s when I left the house around 9am and reached the high 30s by the time I returned home at 11. The wind was light, but constant, making casting with the glass rod a little tricky. But not too tricky.


Fish teeming in the first pool I encountered and I knew it would be a nice little outing. The fish pictured above came on my first cast. He took a gray sz 18 mayfly nymph like the one pictured below.


Most of my trout over the last month have come on this fly or a rusty colored zebra midge. They fish particularly well in the spring and fall, when baetis action is on! I’f I’m having trouble fishing to risers this fly under a tiny indicator or beadless works wonders.


This bespeckled brookie took the same fly. I spotted he and some friends darting around in a shallow run and heaved a heroic cast in their direction. I saw him chase down the fly as soon as it hit the water.

Quite a few more fish came to hand before I was chased off by some curious cows. Toward the end of my time on the water i ran out of 5x tippet, which had a noticable impact on the fishes willingness to eat. I could often see them swim up, inspect, and refuse the fly. Conditions should be less than ideal over the next week with 4-8 inches of snow in the forecast for Sunday and highs near freezing for much of the week. Hopefully I can sneak out when time allows. Conditions are always good for fishing!

Trip Report: Day of fishin’

After too much dawdling I arrived on stream around 1030. I anticipated a bwo and/or midge hatch so laced up the Blue Halo glass rod. With 4 cars in the lot upon my arrival I’d resigned myself to fishing behind people. Rather than putting in distance I began fishing just up from my access point. I’m glad I did!


This bucky rainbow trout took one of the two rusty mayfly nymphs that I  fished in tandem. The stream was crystal clear with emerald green pools.


I fished deep under a small indicator which did spook ’em out of shallower water, but still plenty of fish came to hand.


This guy was a stunner! Fish were concentrated in the riffles and big current seams for most of the day. When they started rising consistently a sz 16 parachute Adam’s worked, although an 18 would have been best.


Decent trout came to hand all day! The water was so clear I could see em inspect and eat the fly in many cases. A few refusals really hurt.


To my amazement I didnt see anyone all day. Fishing was good. By the time I returned to my car my arm was sore from casting and my legs were jelly. My mind however was perfectly at ease.