Changes they are a-coming … but not quite yet …
Although the calendar says the temperatures should be dropping any day now and the fall streamer action should get into full gear, Indian Summer still has a stronghold on the Madison Valley, and the dry-flies are still working.
The hopper season on the Madison has been nothing short of wonderful this year. We are at the tail-end of hopper season, with a lot of “lookers” coming up for the patterns then turning away, but some good fish are still taking the offerings, and taking them with gusto! Small dries floated in tandem with the hoppers, especially ants and attractors like Trudes, are also scoring fish. The best tandem, though, has been the hopper-dropper combo, with size 18 mayfly nymphs and caddis emergers getting most of the action.
And while the cooler weather hasn’t officially heralded the streamer season yet, some quality fish are being caught on streamers on these beautiful, pleasant days. Fishing for the last two weeks has been good…not always the biggest fish every day but lots of action, nonetheless.
The latest multi-boat group floating through the shop, Jan and Ken’s Wild Adventures, caught the majority of their quality fish on streamers, and reports of good catches on streamers have increased lately. After some weather extremes during their previous trips this season, including hail storms, Jan and Ken’s Wild Adventures group finally got beautiful, settled weather last week! Noon starts and warmer afternoons made for some fun hopper-dropper fishing. Small tan- or red-bodied hoppers (Fat Albert, Parachute Hopper, Morish’s Hopper, Delektable Slammers, etc…) to a sz.14 or 16 Prince, or a sz.18 Olive Hairs Ear or Delektable Lil’ Spanker, kept rods bent and smiles on faces. If the dropper stopped working we would take it off and fish a single hopper if they were eating it, or tie on a piece of 5x and fish a small ant, Wulff or Trude. On the hot days the fish didn’t always seem to want to chase the streamer, so it worked best to stay on the surface most of the time. When the dry bite wasn’t on, usually between 6 and 7 p.m., we did hook a few nice fish on the size 14 Epoxy Back Olive Hare’s Ear or a small Serendipity. It’s always nice to fish with this group, and we can’t wait to see them again next year. They were lots of fun. Thanks Guys!
Recently, cooler mornings have lent to streamer fishing, and although most of the fish being caught in the morning have been on the bead-head nymphs trailed behind, the streamer seems to be inducing most of the chases. The Natural Zonker, Sheila’s Sculpin, JR’s CH Streamer in Olive/White and Olive/Gold, The White or Badger Delektable™ Screamer and the Olive or Tan McCune’s Sculpin have been the streamers of choice. Trailers have included the sz.14 and 16 Prince Nymph abd the Red Holographic Prince, along with smaller nymphs, like the Tungsten Bead and Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails, Delektable Lil’ Spankers, Olive Hare’s Ears, Shop Vacs, Micro Mayflies and the Chocolate WD-40, all in 18s and 20s. No. 1 split-shot has worked with the streamer/nymph or big nymph/small nymph combos, and a BB split-shot goes on when fishing with two small nymphs. An alternative to split shot with the streamers is to try one of Dan’s Beartooth Sinking Lead Core Leaders.
We’ve enjoyed fishing with many great groups of anglers this summer, and the Williams group was no exception. They enjoyed their day of catching and teasing trout on one of the most beautiful trout rivers in the world.
The hopper bite proved to be tricky at times, with fish slapping at the fly instead of biting it, but enough fish commited to the bite to help make the day successful. The day started with nymphs, but transitioned to hopper-dropper and hoper-small dry combos once the day got warmer. Generally, we used 4X to the hopper and 5X to the trailer; however, if there was an unusual amount of slaps or refusals on the dry, 5X went to the hopper and the trailer. The hopper patterns included Morrish’s Hopper, Red Fat Albert, "Tony the Tiger" and the Flesh-Bellied Triple Deckers. The sz.8 Royal Trude also produced when nothing else seemed to work.
Fishing has been good, but you have to work harder. Flies and water that produced one day don’t always produce the next. If fish aren’t eating; keep changing flies. If fish still aren’t eating try nymphs next to the rocks, then try fishing the deeper runs 10 feet off the bank. If they were only eating the small dry behind the hopper one day and not the next, try tying a smaller bead-head nymph under the hopper.
Bottom line — be willing to change and try different things. Hoppers, nymphs and streamers; they are all catching fish right now. So load up your fly boxes with a good variety, and by all means … Go fishing!
We have been blessed with an incredible variety of fun fisherman and fisherwoman this month. Everyone had a great time learning different techniques, catching and sometimes being teased by the wiley trout, and enjoying Beartooth Bread, along with Trout, Bikini and Monster Cookies. Thanks to our bakers extraordinaire, Elle and Vicki!
Marty the Montajun