First off what would be a benefit of crimping your barb or fishing barbless hooks? The most obvious to me is that in fly fishing it is a culture based around the beauty of a challenge between humans and fish. All the game really consists of is fooling an animal to believe what you offer is a sustainable prey and the victory of conquering that beast. I would say this is a primary focus over fishing to provide yourself food from your catch in fly fishing. Since catch and release is not intended to kill or harvest the game often the satisfaction comes from the victory over your adversary. A barbed hook is harder for a fish to be prematurely released (how embarrassing) and designed in the anglers favor especially if he intends to eat his catch. This is certainly contingent on a number of factors such as setting the hook so the it penetrates past the barb and other issues while playing the fish, jumps, head shakes, trees, corral, other anglers in the way for example.
Dry Fly Action
The last two weeks has been just beautiful for dry flies. Last couple weeks the Mother's day caddis were so thick i had to scrub the dead ones off the windshield after driving home from the river. Yesterday we had a real thick March Brown hatch with good BWO's in the afternoon after the rain came through. Just really cool to see heads coming up to the dry fly. A few Yellow Sallies here and there and we've seen a couple skwalas scattered about still. The Moose hatch was pretty good yesterday we saw a cow and a bull on the other side of the river just munching on willows doing their moosey thing.
First Salmonfly of the Season
Last weekend I took my girlfriend and her family fishing on the Upper Madison. The reports were good, and I really wanted to get them into some fish. Fishing was a little slower than I would have hoped (for everyone we talked to, not just us) but we still had a great day. Walking back to the car under a bridge I saw this guy fall into the water:
Yes, that is an adult Salmonfly. Yes, it is way early. WAY early. But still... To be seeing them this early means the hatch will be a bit early this year. I hadn't heard of any other sightings so far this year but talking to customers this week it sounds like at least one more has been found around the area.
The Mother's Day Caddis hatch is still happening on the Madison. The main bulk of the hatch is moving up river, and now the front of it is up in Bear Trap a ways. If you're willing to walk up the canyon a bit you can get ahead of it where the fish are still eating dries with reckless abandon. From the bridge to Black's Ford the fish are pretty full and are being a lot more picky about what they are eating. Some days they want the dry and some days they want the emerger. Bring both with you and be willing to keep changing it up until you find what they need.
The caddis have moved up onto the Upper as well. They haven't quite showed up in the numbers they have on the Lower, but they are out! The bugs up there seem to be larger than those on the Lower, about a size 14. Dark olive, black and peacock caddis are working the best. The natural bugs are pretty dark. Our customer and friend Ed brought in a caddis from the Upper this morning and we matched it up with one of the special ties from the shop:
Chasing the hatch
Been chasing the caddis hatch around a lot lately and the best piece of advise i have is to get upstream of the bugs to find the best dry fly action. The Mother's Day caddis hatch is so prolific the fish strap on the feed bag and rise in a frenzy. I watched a rainbow on the lower the other day rise 5 times in a row propelling his whole body out of the water and snatched caddis literally out of the thin air. With this many naturals on the water and in the air it can be puzzling how they can be eating with reckless abandon all around your fly taking no interest in your pattern. I had this issue the other day and finally switched to a olive body pattern with a dark wing and then it was game on. I have also had great success fishing more emergers and short leashed pupas behind the dry.
Don't Overlook the Crayfish...
The Mother's Day Caddis hatch is on on the Lower Madison right now. Dry fly fishermen can rejoice! If you want to throw the dry all day you certainly can and you can probably do pretty well with it. The fish are feeding on top the best in the afternoons to evenings. Fish darker patterns, blacks and dark olives, in smaller sizes like a 16. A dry dropper rig will really work well. Put an emerger or a pupa behind a larger dry and see what happens.
We've heard a number of anglers this week in the shop that have been frustrated with the dry fly fishing. If you aren't on the front of the hatch or if it's a really bright day getting fish to eat on top can be a bit of a challenge. If they aren't eating on top, then switch it up.
Being willing to fish the indicator rig can make the difference between catching just a few fish and having a great day on the water. If the fish just don't want the dry, then go deep. On the Lower Madison in particular, one of the best flies you can use is a crayfish pattern. Tan and olive crays have just been killing it right now. The fishing has been just nuts. Ethan was down on the Lower recently and they caught most of their fish on the cray. Use the larger Cray as a point fly and hang a smaller caddis pupa, lil spanker or caddis pupa behind it. You won't be disappointed.
Catch and release
Explaining fly fishing and the practice of catch and release to those who don't fish is kind of like trying to show your parents how to use an iPhone. Often you may hear upon return from a fly fishing trip "where are all the fish?" I usually answer slightly confused "well they're in the river" before it occurs to me that most people see fishing as a way of harvesting food and don't understand why you'd go fishing just to let them all go.
Intro to Fly Fishing Classes Start May 9
Have you ever wanted to learn to fly fish, but haven't gotten around to it yet? Our Intro to Fly Fishing Classes are starting next month on May 9th. This class is a great primer to fly fishing and will cover all the topics you need to get out on the water with confidence. The cost is $125 for the full day class and space is limited to 10 students. Some of the topics covered in the class include:
And a lot more.
We will be offering this class every second Saturday of the month through September. Stop in the shop or give us a call at 406-587-9111 for more info or to sign up.
Messed Up Browns and Hook Removal
Staff guide Ladd Hogue was fishing with his dad on the Big Hole a couple of weekends ago and happened to catch this strange brown. Pictures of similar fish have been circulating on the blog circuit and social media for a while earlier this year. While no one is absolutely certain what caused it there are a couple of good theories out there.
One of the more cogent one involves the fish being caught when it was young and careless hook removal damaged the jaw so much it was either ripped off or injured enough it fell off. Somehow the fish was able to survive without it’s top jaw.
Hook removal can make a huge impact on the survival rate of caught fish. You need to be able to take the hook out quickly and easily, and without tearing the jaw off the fish. One of the easiest ways you can do that is by simply pinching the barbs on your flies. This makes removing hooks so much easier.
Bring Your Gear Down Today
Our Gear Swap starts tomorrow morning at 8am! If you're planning on selling anything, you have to bring it down to the shop by 5:30 tonight. We can get you checked in and your items priced and ready to sell. Just a reminder... Items priced to sell will move, items priced at retail value will likely not sell. Keep that in mind when pricing your gear. If your items sell, you can either get a check for the sale price minus a 20% commission, or get 100% of the sale price in store credit.
This event is always pretty well atteneded, so if you're looking to get rid of any old gear or upgrade your equipment now is a perfect time!
See you tomorrow.