Sunday, August 15, 2010

Montana - Flies that Worked

It was the probably the toughest visit I've had to the Madison River in all the years I have fished it.  Despite historically high numbers of trout, the hatches were unreliable and the weather less so.  There were plenty of bugs about, but for some reason they rarely hatched in concentrated numbers.  By evening, there would be tons of caddis fluttering about the cabin and bushes along the river, but they had hatched throughout the day.  In most years, the caddis would begin to hatch late in the afternoon and peak numbers would be coming off the last hour or two of light, sparking a trout feeding binge.  We also saw plenty of mayflies, but again, no concentrated hatches came off on any of the days we were there.  The best we had was evening spinner falls that did produce some great fishing as long as the wind wasn't blowing at gale force levels, which was rare.

That said, plenty of fish were caught, but most days I had to work for each and every one of them.  No complaints, that's just the way it was.  I learned a lot while fishing in difficult conditions and always had fun just being on the water in beautiful country.

On one of the calm evenings, the spinner fall was epic.  Here's a well-chewed, #16, foam spinner that I took many fish on before I had to change to a new one.  The wings are snowshoe rabbit foot.

On another evening, we decided to go over to the Gallatin River to fish the meadows in the YNP section.  Having fished this section many times in past years, I knew we would encounter pesky flies - they look like house flies, but they can bite like a horsefly.  We wore long-sleeved shirts and after covering any and all exposed skin with bug spray, we off to fish.  The flies were the worst I've ever seen them here, and we lasted about an hour before high-tailing it back to the car for relief.  The flies were thick and aggressive - they managed to get into our shirts and ears, and even up our noses!  Flies 1, fishermen 0.

After the bug fest, we headed down river and parked just above where the Taylor Fork enters the river.  Here there were no flies and the river was in perfect condition and the sky windless and clear.  I walked up river after spending some time near where Bruce and JB were fishing, and found fish rising in many of the pockets, runs and slicks to caddis.  I used two flies that evening to take many nice fish on top, some of them quite large and healthy.  A #15 Iris Caddis, and a #15 Missing Link Caddis.  The fish took them aggressively and they fought even harder.  It was a blast.

Here's the well-chewed Iris Caddis:

And here's the well-chewed, but not showing it, Missing Link Caddis: 
More flies that worked on our trip to come.  In the meantime, sharpen your hooks, and look outside - it's finally raining here!!!!   

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