Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jackson Hole Spring Fly Fishing Report- April 8, 2014

Before I get into a Fly Fishing report I have to say WOW, what a winter season! The winter started off fairly benign with cold, dry spells that made us skiers twitch, only then to tease us with a storm or two. But then February rolled into action and things changed almost over night. From February through March we received over 250" of moisture goodness and now us fisherman will have to pay-- its tough but a good thing to have plenty of water in the mountains but this year it is a deep base! For now our rivers are running clear and the fishing is HOT! Most areas are seeing very good streamer action and some decent dry fly fishing later in the afternoon, mostly midges but a few BWO's and some tiny black stoneflies. In the next couple weeks we should begin to see skwalla nymphs and adults on the prowl, this hatch often coincides with early runoff-- stained but fishable water.
Guide, Dave Smith somewhere on JHMR, scenes like this were common in the 2013-14 ski season that just wrapped up last weekend.
Skis are all waxed and put away… now we organize flies, clean lines, test rods, gear up boats, purchase permits and yes, of course, go fishing! Some guiding is happening but for the most part this early season bite is for the locals to enjoy and boy is it a good one. Today temps were the warmest of the year topping out around 60 and the next few days look similar so the boat hatch will be in full swing by the weekend.
A true Bugger barn ready for the boat!
Flows on the Snake are still very low, currently around 600cfs @ Moose but you can begin to see a wavy pattern developing in the hydro-graph as afternoon temps climb. This signals a saturation in the low elevation snowpack and once it goes it will take a strong cold front to seize that moisture in the pack from flowing. Inevitably, the river is going to blow out sooner than later(predicting April 24) so now I play the guessing game and study weather patterns, much like a skier freak staring at the radar, waiting on a storm. Your guess is as good as mine but then the next question is when will the rivers clear(predicting July 24)? Currently we are holding a 144% of normal pack, therefore at a minimum I would expect the Snake to clear no earlier than mid-July. This will only happen if we have a nice warm May-June and not too wet, fingers are crossed!
Sculpzilla crushing cutthroats, these are awesome fish!
 The Green River drainage has an even larger snow pack, nearing 170% of normal. This area however drains cleaner sooner and can fish quite well in high water, much like the Big Hole or Beaverhead. I still do not expect to float post runoff here until mid-July, but then the fishing will be insane with hatches and a waining, late runoff… the best will be late summer into the fall. High water years are great, you just have to get your mind around what is about to happen now and get over it. Remember we do guide some awesome lakes as well as the Firehole River in YNP if you find yourself in JH in June, look us up!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing: Mid Winter Report, February 10, 2014

The past few mornings I have woke to bombs detonating in Teton Village, a sound sweet to any local skier's ear as it signifies a fresh dump up in the Tetons. In addition, my morning routine has included a good 20 minutes of shoveling the truck and driveway out as the recent storms coat the valley floor as well. This is the point in the winter season when I begin to watch the snowpack closely and I am happy to say it is looking fairly good at the moment, especially when compared to the severe drought in much of California. Water in the Tetons is a two fold experience for many locals… December through April we make countless turns on some of the best snow and terrain in North America. By May the rivers are flowing full pool and our diverse watercraft then prepare for a long season on the water, a wonderful cycle to experience!
GTFF Guide, Dave Smith lays into a deep turn at JHMR
According to the Wyoming Water Resources Data, almost every drainage in the state is well over 100% of normal thus far in the winter season. After last summer's moderate drought we can use every drop to avoid deepening drought conditions in Western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho but a good summer forecast is too premature at this point. Our best moisture can often come in May or June, at that point you know what the summer will hold and it generally is not normal, much of the data is averaged from extremes.
Happy March angler on the Snake River near Wilson Bridge.
In any case, we will be fishing the Snake River in March and April as it comes back to life from a long winter. Last year March was quite warm and the fly fishing exploded into action well into April. I think this year we have much more valley snow and the river could easily blow out by early April if the temps climb into the 40's or better as they often do.

Floating the Snake River in April is a unique and beautiful experience.
Now booking March and April! If you're out for a spring ski trip and the conditions on the slopes are less than expected, good chance the fishing is HOT!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- November 17, 2013

So the fly fishing season is nearing a wrap for me personally as I prepare for a good dose of MOUNTAIN TIME... as I write this a hefty snow storm has pushed into the area increasing my excitement for some much needed skiing time. Since the later part of October the fall fishing in and around JH has been exceptional, in fact better than usual. Why? Well, late September and the early part of October came in wet and cold. We had steady rain and some snow days that resembled November and that quick shock slowed the fishing just enough to force many to stay home, especially if its wet and windy out. The trips I did manage to get out were good but raw on the body. However, by mid October the weather turned around and we had a nice push of Indian Summer well into November now. Flows are low and cold but with pleasant afternoon temps the fish get podded up in flats and corners sipping midges and a few stray BWO's. The best venue for me was the Upper reaches of the South Fork and then on the Snake around Jackson. Streamers are still your best bet to find the best trout  but it sure is fun to hunt a few snouts with a small dry in November.

Last week I made an annual fall trip to the Atlanta area to visit friends and family and of course, chase some warm water species. I had a fun full day on Lake Lanier with my friend Brian Shinall hunting striped bass on the fly. Lanier is a premier striper fishery in the South and when the conditions are favorable these hard fighting beasts chase schools of bait to the surface, the exact condition we were hunting in order to get a fly in front of a fish or two(SEE THE VIDEO BELOW).
I also got out with my dad for an afternoon kayaking the Chattahoochee River south of Atlanta. This river is one of my all time favorites due to the excellent diversity. Here you can catch hefty brown trout, largemouth, spotted, striped and shoal bass. I have even caught some good sized blue catfish and chain pickerel on flies on the Hooch. Because this river is surrounded by so many large and productive impoundments it doesn't see the hard core and ardent angler in dense numbers, a real treat in a large Metropolitan area.
Fly Fishing from kayaks on a lonely section of the Chattahoochee River  near Newnan, GA.
Now back in the Hole we can expect the season to be waning to the winter techniques that I can appreciate and enjoy(ice breaking guides & deep nymphs) but as good skiing presents itself it is quite hard to sneak away for some fishing. I have, however experienced some of the best midge fishing I can ever recall in early December on the Henry's Fork below Ashton. Perhaps its time to re-visit!
A stunning late season brown from a remote section on the Green River.
A PIG rainbow that fell for a dead drifted crayfish to end the day on.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- October 12, 2013

Fall conditions rushed into the region earlier in September and has not yet released its grip to allow for any pleasant Indian Summer cycle to settle in, therefore our nice days have been few but the clouds and cool weather have encouraged some strong hatches and the trout are happy and relaxed. Flows have dropped on the Snake River over the past two weeks and are now at low winter levels(300cfs). The best window locally here in Jackson Hole is from about 11am to 4pm with BWO's and mahoganies making up the primary bug du jour. This will give way to midges as temps drop sharply in the next few weeks. Before and after the hatch small PT's and slow streamers will get the job done. 
Thanks for tuning in, more fall pics and notes soon!
Couple days before the shutdown in GTNP, the scenery and fishing was top notch!
Neil and Sam closed out a nice day with this native 20" Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat.
Guide Tom Montgomery lands his clients over some gorgeous water below Wilson, WY.
Late season floats on the Snake River are spectacular, a fine way to spend a day head hunting.

Skip Herman super happy with this catch on a lonely stretch of river in Western Wyoming.

I closed out my season with great client and friend John Campbell on the Wind River,  a fabulous fishery to explore.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- September 27, 2013

Fall has arrived in the Western Wyoming mountains with a gorgeous blanket of white over the Tetons, Wind River and Gros Ventre ranges. The recent rain and snow have recharged many tribs and smaller rivers of the area and fall fishing is in full swing. With cooler flows we are seeing fair BWO hatches and many days the streamer bite is hot. The Snake River is scheduled to drop over 1200cfs in the next week and another 1200cfs the week after, reaching winter flows around 4oocfs by October 11.
On top of some great fly fishing the wildlife viewing on or near the river has been excellent. Bears, moose, bison and elk are spotted regularly, time to get out there!
This grizzly took his time strolling along the park road near Pacific Creek... if fishing in GTNP's small creeks it is recommended to carry bear spray.

This handsome brown fell for a late season hopper on the Green River just after a thunderstorm passed through.

Matt Lenzen enjoying some humbling trico fishing for rainbows on the Upper Bighorn River.

Another pristine brown during the September 25-26 snowstorm, pre-spawn pattern with fish staged near tailouts.

"Wait a minute, yours is bigger than mine!"
GTFF guides Josh Galivan and Ben Brennan out hog hunting.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- September 10, 2013

The post One Fly report for me is humbling and once again confirms how wonderful this treasured sport of fly fishing truly is. Before the weekend the region had been gripped by summer like conditions, fairly hot for early September and fickle, up and down fishing. Daily the windows for good action were small and inconsistent. On top of that flows on the Snake River remained higher than normal(4500cfs @ Moose) and set the stage for some challenging conditions. To make matters worse for some, better for others the storms rolled in Friday and by Saturday morning the Snake River was beginning to become off color from nearby tributaries. 
Dan Fox showing off his fine cutthroat.
My One Fly section was again on the Dam to Pacific Creek(second season there), a true tailwater section of the Upper Snake River in JH. Throughout the season this section can produce wonderful hatches and some pretty impressive trout(my best was a 29" lake trout of 9lbs, a 24" brown trout and a 23" cutthroat). To be honest, the main reason for favoring this short and gorgeous section of river is due to its technical aspects and most importantly, the chance to sight cast to these large trout. With all that said the One Fly delivered a particularly challenging experience this year.
Chuck Campbell setting the hook!
Day 1- Our fly choices were a #14 mahogany emerger(Scott Sanchez tied) and a #10 mohair sculpin(Scott Smith tied). I thought the emerger looked buggy and could be confused as an ant or beetle, or more likely a trico cluster. The streamer is a tie that I have done quite well with and I wanted to know what would produce better for Sunday's choices, dry vs. wet! Both flies came out of the gate doing well but right away I noticed tentative strikes from the trout and the better fish were coming un-buttoned! It was almost unexplainable, good solid hook-ups but then the fly would simply let go, NOOO! Have these darn fish figured out a way to let go of hooks? Our best application was to keep the fish below the surface and stop the cutty death roll. 
Day 2- I shook off a frustrating day 1 and just wanted to do my best to help the contestants put up a good score for their teams. They wanted to stay dry so I offered up a #16(olive) and a #14(black/rust) foam power beetle that I tie and have complete confidence in... this was going to be a fun day head hunting with terrestrials. Again the perplexing un-buttoned cutthroat syndrome inflicted us right away and I thought WTF! The day got better as we applied different hook setting and playing techniques but overall we might have dropped 500 points! My point is this sport can always open your eyes to unchartered territory and provide anglers with an ever changing scope of challenges.
The latest from the field is get going because the post One Fly bite is heating up with the changing weather. Our fall hatches are cranking up, mahoganies, hecuba drakes, tricos and BWO's are all making an appearance lately as cool nights and shorter days become a strong force. 
Recent rains have flushed some streams and the Green has a fair flow again in some upper sections near Daniel. Lastly, the South Fork is in a late season funk due to the low lake levels, yet good streamer anglers are finding some hefty trout on bunnies and the nymphing can be quite good in some areas.
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- August 18, 2013

A stunning native from crystalline waters!
Ain't Life Grand! That about sums it up for guiding the past few weeks... nice trout and smiling faces. Our overall report is quite good on the Snake river with patchy slow periods but the fish are looking up nicely and moving on large to medium sized dry flies. Terrestrials and our late season stoneflies are the main ticket but if you are on the upper river remember your trico skills to hunt down some nice heads-but beware they are getting picky!
As flows are reduced we expect the fishing to gain momentum, do you have a reservation for the show?

At 9 years old... spoiled by the Snake River!

Two friends share the experience of a fine trout in the net.
Other reports are good but the main concern before you head out is river flows on the smaller tribs and non-tailwater drainages. Foot access is perhaps the better choice as many landings cannot float a drift boat adequately, be mindful of this.  Our beloved Green is too low to access via driftboat above 351 but is fishing well otherwise, check out public foot access, it can be pretty damn good.
This horned owl followed us for a good mile.
The South fork is holding at 9700cfs and reports are quite good early(daybreak) but then it slows after 10 or 11am... quite normal for August. Nymphs are the best option after the top show stalls, however hoppers are active in section IV as local ranchers cut hay... sometimes you just nail it!
Tight Loops and Lines! Take care of the trout!