Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- July 12, 2014


 Well its been another hectic month or so and fortunately fly fishing has been a common theme in my everyday life… Jackson Hole summer lifestyle at its best! Granted I spend an awful lot of time watching others fly fish but at this point in my life it is my pleasure to spend precious time outdoors with folks who want to learn and get better and more importantly, share America's awesome natural resources.

Early last month I ventured down South on my annual getaway to spend time with family and wet a hook in some new watersheds. I had the privilege to meet up with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing's guide Robert Cramer in Harrisonburg, VA. My father and I made the drive up from ATL expecting some spectacular smallmouth bass fishing. We did manage to get into some nice bass but overall the bite was off but fortunately for me another critter was stirring… Muskie! The Shenandoah River is spectacular and diverse in its habitat and I have to admit, it occurred to me that I could live near a river like this and be quite happy with the variety, much like the Chattahoochee I grew up on but with a few million less people.
Shenandoah River, Virginia
Third grab was a solid hook set and away we go!
A lifetime species up close, incredible creature!
Stoked!
Like a dream… beach, fly rod and a couple brews.
Since back in Jackson Hole the guide season has had a few starts and stops due to high water in Wyoming. For most of June the South Fork of the Snake River, the Firehole River and Lewis Lake in YNP were about all we could manage to fish but like most Junes, these drainages and venues did not disappoint. Hatches slowly emerged… first some caddis, BWO's and flavs scattered about. Then week by week, day by day the conditions were clearly excellent with sallies, PMD's, drakes of all types and big stoneflies, salmon and goldens!
Early summer rainbow bite gets the summer season underway.
As of lately the best has been the grey drakes of our southern rivers and the tapering off of the big salmon fly hatch buzz on the South Fork. If you missed out, try the Hoback River Canyon for a great hatch lasting another week, the insects are thick in the top of the canyon.

Lewis Lake in June should be on your bucket list of fly fishing.


Late June rain and the most amazing PMD hatch ever on the South Fork.

Stoneflies and brown trout speak summer fly fishing!

Uncrowded Western Wyoming.
Currently we are fishing the Green River drainage with excellent activity mid morning and through the afternoon. Drakes and golden stones are best but a dropper off the large flies can certainly increase overall action as the surface bite slows around 2 or 3pm. The Snake River below Jackson Lake dam is fishing quite well with sallies and PMD's, this should hold up for some time and as the Buffalo Fork clears the lower sections will be finally ready for some serious fishing. Flows at Moose are just over 6000cfs and appear to be dropping, I honestly think good fishing on the Snake is just a week or so away.  
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- June 11, 2014

Well a good month has passed and much has happened locally in the fishing sense. For me personally it has been a busy Spring keeping up with demands for the guide service/fly shop and fishing outings have been minimal but overall excellent, a good start to the 2014 Guide season! The main occurrence that is pleasing to see is that our runoff has stayed strong and we melted away a ton of the season's snow in record time. Many season's we see the snow pack grow some in May but this year the warm temps, especially at night have beat down the pack rather quickly. What once looked like a short compressed fishing season now looks closer to normal yet with healthy, generous, cool flows well into the late summer that keeps our trout quite happy. Happy trout = happy anglers!
10th Annual Blackfoot Carp tournament… beautiful weather prevailed!
Tailing carp in a back bay on Blackfoot Reservoir.
As of lately flows on the region's large rivers are what appears to be past peak and will drop slowly for the next several weeks, some of these rivers like the Green will be fishable soon yet still flowing strong bank to bank. Once we see good hatches and clarity better than 2' the surface bite should heat up. 
Tom Montgomery hoists a nice brown from the Henry's Fork.
Regional Lakes are iced off below 8000' and fishing well as to be expected. Lewis Lake is a favorite of mine in June and early July and the shallow streamer bite is excellent and soon brown drake spinners will provide nice dry fly fishing in the afternoons.
Not your normal Western Wyoming catch, a hefty smallmouth bass off the Lower Green river system.
Other area reports are all getting better as the heavy snowpack shrinks. The Firehole River in YNP is perhaps our best consistent fishing with nice hatches of PMD's, caddis and sallies. The South Fork of the Snake is higher than it was a week or so ago and has slowed the fishing. Here flows are about 17,000cfs, therefore various nymphs and streamers are your best bet set deep(9').

I leave you with a few pics from my annual trip to the Southeast, mainly to visit family but as always I try and scratch the fly fishing itch on some new water. Best of all this trip was landing a 36" Shenandoah River Muskie on a fly with my dad in the bow of the boat… special thanks to the guys at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing for putting me on a wonderful lifetime experience!
White bass run on Allatoona, north of ATL, GA.

An incredible creature up close and hard work to get there.

Finally fulfilling a childhood dream, Muskellunge on the fly!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- Cinco de Mayo!

Welcoming May warmth and higher flows on area rivers highlighted a gorgeous Spring weekend in Jackson Hole. After a typical runoff start and stall in April I think we can safely say it is here to stay for the 2014 season. Flows over the weekend on the Snake River jumped from 1300cfs to 3000cfs(@ Moose) and its important to note that is not dam released, it is all from tribs in GTNP, namely Pacific Creek and the Buffalo Fork. South of town the Hoback River is raging with high flows there topping 3000cfs for the Snake River tributary, putting canyon flows above the reservoir around 8ooocfs.
It will get interesting as warmer conditions come into the mountains over the next few weeks. Our peak flows are typically in June when the high country really starts to flow down, then we may see staggering numbers coming from the gauges.

Finally finished up a video edit from last year… a product of high water, check it out!

In the meantime the best fishing in JH will be below Jackson Lake dam and on Fish Creek and lower Flat Creek until our lakes ice off. The ice on Jackson Lake is shifting and thinning so break up could be close, Jenny is still a couple weeks away. Once our lakes ice off it is hard to pass up a good day scouting the shallows for macs, one of my favorite spring fishing windows.
The South Fork, now @10,000cfs is another hot fishery but flows are soon to jump. There rainbows are hot on worms, eggs and streamers in the upper section, flows are murky below Palisades, Rainy and Pine Creek yet the big trout bite has been good.
Lake trout(char) can be just as attractive as the "true trout" of the region, especially when lying on a grill!
Spring Rainbow on the Bighorn
Last week fellow guide and friend Ben Brennan and I slipped away for a quick two days on the Bighorn in Wyoming. A few years ago I would not think of mentioning this fishery but I think the cat is out of the bag on this river, its simply awesome! 
Ben enjoying a good streamer day on the Horn.

Stay tuned for flow updates and ice conditions, thanks for viewing!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Jackson Hole Fly Fishing Report- April 23, 2014- Rivers on the Rise!

A Skwala stonefly adult tries to escape from the camera… a great treat just before runoff!
Thus far into April I can say I am happy with the results so far and hopeful of continuously shrinking the big snowpack in the hills steadily rather than seeing the pack grow, which can often be the case in Western Wyoming. Just this past weekend I got out for another fine float down the Snake before the runoff starts in earnest and by Monday the flows were turning off color and on the rise. That day we brought several really nice trout to hand on both streamers and skwala dries but the heavy dark streamers worked the best overall.
Once again a front has passed through and we are seeing the river drop some and clarity in Wilson was fairly decent this afternoon. Truthfully I wonder if clarity plays a role anymore, I have seen lights out fishing in very marginal water but psychologically you feel good about having a couple feet of vis. Until the Snake pushes above 2k and gets brown I would venture to fishing it, its good! This time of year you net the fat, robust trout that have over wintered well. In fact some of these fish may not be caught again until the fall- once they key in on high protein minnow prey in the deeper lies they may not look up all summer.
Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat
This year in the GTFF Fly Shop we are gearing up much earlier than in the past and are stocking some pretty sweet products from 3Tand Reels, Free Fly, Mystic Fly Rods & a nice assortment of hand tied "Guide Flies". I have obviously been in and around the fly shop industry from my early days with the Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop but for well over a decade have made my office in a drift boat. This Spring I must say its nice to really dig in and see a small but sweet shop come to life. Our aim is to offer unique products that are up and coming and not well represented… yet! We feel a smaller shop gives you the straight answer quickly and gets you on the water sooner, basically are we going to fish or talk about it?
I encourage anyone to stop by our shop, say hello and check out some new products to JH!

GTFF's 3rd Season in the Dave Hansen's Whitewater building…
225 W. Broadway-- across from Bin22.

Freefly apparel is a must have, on or off the river!



Thanks for reading and pleases share and look us up later this summer…
Stay tuned, its going to be a good one!


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.

THANKS FOR VIEWING! 
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!