Thursday, December 9, 2010

July - August { Missouri River Montana }

By the end of July, the water levels should have been perfect for fish to " pod up" in great #s and really get feeding . Everything was in perfect order, water temps, air temps, water level, hatches, but, the problem was that the water flows were changing on a daily occurrence. Why this was taking place, I cannot tell you, but, it had a significant out come on the numbers of rising trout throughout the entire river. Yes, we did have some "pods", but nothing like it could have been, the dry fly fishing should have been stellar, it was just "fair'.
The one part of the summer that was really wonderful was the hopper fishing. Many huge fish were taken by all different types of hopper patterns, and this seem to come to a peak around that first two weeks in August. At this time, just about any hopper pattern that was , good sized, and had some kind of rubber legs, seemed to work. The trout were really looking for just about anything that resembled a hopper, and they were not shy about eating them! Huge "toilet bowl flush" takes were common, it was really fun to see just how many different ways a trout will take a hopper.
 My favorite, and I think for most, the take that is the most difficult , is when the the trout comes all the way out of the water to take the artificial on the way down , much like a cat pouncing on a mouse. For many anglers as soon as they see a trout move toward the fly they start to set the hook, which in this case is just the wrong move, as when the trout is coming down on the fly, the fly has moved. I remember a day on the Yellowstone River , in 1988 (year of the fire in the Park), when I was guiding a single, young man, who was from Livingston, he had moved to New York, and had made enough money to return, and fulfill a life long dream of having a guide take him Fly Fishing on the Yellowstone. It was perfect weather and in August, hopper fishing was full on, so we went to "3 mile" just North of the Park and I put my boat in to start the day. There were hoppers everywhere, it was going to be warm, sunny, just a bluebird day, great hopper weather, things looked perfect. We started out fishing hoppers right from the get go, but, a few hours had passed and we only had one to the boat. This young man was pretty new to Fly Fishing, but, only one to the boat in this water seemed a bit off, even for a beginner. By lunch , we had only a couple of trout and the day was just about half over. Of course I was trying different sizes and patterns of hoppers, but the results were coming out the same. The problem was that the trout were coming to the fly, but , they would bump it with their nose, or, flash under it, or, jump over it. I kept trying different flies, even gave the Trude a good run, same results. By three in the afternoon, we were both a bit on edge, we had landed only a few fish. I then told him" we need to get some, lets go with a Girdle bug, or a Yuk bug and catch a few , we can try dries later". It worked, thank god, we were both getting testy, and he did get some lovely big browns,  that help take the pressure off. On a normal day , I would see 40-60 trout , to the boat, so you can imagine how I felt , it was 4:00 pm and we had less than half a dozen. Then, I remembered, there was a full moon the night before, and it was high pressure, no clouds, clear all night! I said, " lets try hoppers again, the sun has dropped enough were they might be feeding now, they must have fed all night , they must be ready to start again". Well, sure enough, first cast the trout came without hesitation, this went on for the next two hours. we ended up with a respectable day , we landed over 20 nice trout, Rainbows, Cutthroats, and Browns, and he even got a Brookie, a Yellowstone 'grand slam".
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