Warming up, waters rising

We had a good stretch of spring fly fishing around here. Unfortunately (or fortunately for those of us who endured a looooonnnnngggg winter) the weather has warmed up and our big snowpack has begun melting. It happens every year but it’s always tough when the weather gets nice and the rivers turn brown. Typically our runoff begins in early May and continues through June. Right now it’s tough to find fishable water. While it’s certainly possible to fish during the runoff season, it often makes for tough days. Best tactics are to nymph fish with large stonefly nymphs, san juan worm variations, etc. and target slow pools and seams. Also, if you can find streams that flow out of lakes or dams, you’re likely to find clear, albeit cold water to fish. Depending on elevation, ice has begun coming off area lakes making them a good place to hunt for fish. Large dark streamers also can get a nice fish or two to strike. Fortunately at the end of May, Yellowstone Park opens up for fishing. Typically the Firehole river and its tributaries stay in pretty good shape and are the best place around to fish. I’m excited to get back up to the park and fish clients on these amazing fisheries.

Over the past few weeks I was able to get out with clients before conditions deteriorated. Larry joined me again this spring spending a few days staying and fishing out of my fishing cabin in Dubois before heading over to Jackson to float the Snake with me. Overall we had some good days catching brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. After Larry left, longtime client and friend, Mark arrived, staying and fishing with Jamie and I. Our day on the Snake was the last before the river turned dirty and tough. We did well with both dry flies and nymphs. Also got out with a few other folks too. Great to see return and new folks alike! Here’s a few photos from the past few weeks on the water….

Larry showing off a nice Snake River Cutthroat trout. Fishing on the Snake leading up to the beginning of runoff consisted of a variety of tactics; nymphs in riffles and dry flies tight to the bank all proved productive.
Always fun to have the local wildlife keeping an eye on us. This ram was grazing while Larry and I did some fishing outside of Dubois, WY via my fishing cabin.
Longtime client and friend Mark W enjoyed a good day on the Snake. Mark was nice of enough to stop and see Jamie and I (and fish) on his way to fish in Montana. Fortunately the water held out for him.
Making a guide proud! Nice fish Mark!

Good Spring Fly Fishing!

April’s always a favorite time of mine to fish the Snake River here in Jackson Hole. Water levels are low and the fish are hungry after a long winter. While this April is definitely the coldest and snowiest I can remember, the fishing has been fun. I’ve done a few guided trips over the past week, getting reacquainted with the oars and the nuances of our local fish. Right now, midges are the name of the game. Good hatches are coming off daily. Also seeing some small black stoneflies hatches. When conditions are right, trout will feed aggressively in riffles and backwater eddies. Looking at the weather forecast, I suspect we’ll get another good couple weeks of fishing in before the runoff begins.

Here’s a few photos from the past couples days….

It’s a family affair! Rusty and Linsey braved the weather and floated with me on Friday. Both picked up the fly casting fairly quickly and were able to hook and land numerous fish, both on nymphs and dry flies. Fun Folks!
My friend Rich works a pool with rising cutthroat trout on the Snake River below Jackson Lake Dam. Rich, Duncan and I celebrated a rare sunny spring day with a wade fishing trip to Grand Teton National Park. The weather was great and we found some fish willing to cooperate. After a day on the water, we decided it best to soak at Astoria Hotsprings.
Dunc and Rich sharing the boat with me Sunday. So great to fish with good friends!
Dunc with a nice cutthroat caught on a tiny black stonefly emerger
Rich with a nice cutthroat fooled by a surface midge
The band back together! Rich, Duncan and myself on the Snake River.

Half vs. Full Day Fly Fishing Trips

Recently I’ve had a number of email inquiries about half day fishing trips. I thought I’d take a minute to discuss half vs. full day fly fishing trips to help potential guests understand the differences. In a quick nutshell, I recommend full day trips when possible and do not do half day float trips. More thoughts below to help you decide…

Angler hooked up in the bow of my boat. Full day float trips allow us to stop and fish, targeting much more water along the way

Here in Jackson Hole over the years, half day fishing trips have become quite popular; a great way for folks to get a taste of fly fishing while on vacation. While I understand why these are appealing, I prefer to take guests out for full day fly fishing trips. Sure it’s easier for guides to fly down the river, hit a spot or two and be back in time for lunch, allowing guests to check fly fishing off their activities list and tell folks they went fly fishing. Full day fly fishing trips allow me to work with guests though, helping them learn, improve their fly fishing skills and hook more fish. I’ve realized over the years that in most cases, this is hard to do in a half day. Possible, yes. Enjoyable, maybe? When I’m committing my day to a fishing trip, I’d like to go fishing with clients and not be encumbered by the clock, rushing through the motions without giving respect to the quality of the experience. Plus, quite a few of the places I and my guests like to fish require some windshield time, making a half day unrealistic. The few half day trips I do are wade fishing trips and are best during the following: May/ early June- folks looking to get out this time of year and learn about fly fishing while potentially hooking a fish or two enjoy wade fishing smaller water. Because our bigger rivers are muddy with snow melt, a half day on smaller water is a good option. Late October/ November- with days getting shorter and temperatures dropping, sometimes it makes sense to fish a shorter amount of time to target prime hours of fish activity. Winter- temperatures are cold and the best fishing occurs only during the warmest part of the day, making 3-4 hours perfect for targeting fish.

I totally understand the demand and rational for half day fishing trips. But I think that if you’re interested in fly fishing around here you’re going to get much more out of a full day fishing trip.

Half day wade fishing trips are certainly productive and perfect for certain times of the year. Here Randy got into some rising cutthroat trout on a cool late October afternoon.
Full day float fishing trips allow anglers time to share stories during a streamside lunch. These guys also got out of the boat and wade fished the productive water we were anchored beside
Full day trips also allow for exploration and off the beaten path waters.

Spring’s off to a fishy start

Releasing a dry fly eater… great way to end March on the Snake River

Despite winter never ending, spring fishing has begun here in Jackson Hole. Temperatures are cracking freezing during the day and midges are hatching. It’s great to see fish of all sizes gorging on these small bugs. Additionally, small black stoneflies are making an appearance and as April gets going and the weather improves, we should start seeing larger Skwala stoneflies emerging. All this means it’s a great time to get out on the water! Looking forward to dusting off the drift boat in next week and getting in some stellar float fishing.

Ben and his father in law, Todd joined me for an afternoon on the Snake. We had a great time fishing dry flies and nymphs to hungry fish!

Ben with a beautiful Snake river finespotted cutthroat trout
Todd was the whitefish king!- nymphs, dries, it didn’t matter. He was into them!

Bahama Bonefishing

Just back from an 8 day fishing trip to the Bahamas. As many of you know, the Bahamas hold a special place in my heart. The great fly fishing, beautiful environment combined with kindest, friendliest people on earth keep me coming back to the islands. Two of my longtime Teton Fly Fishing clients, Chris and Mark, asked me to help put together a trip for them, combining my knowledge of the area and fishery with their desire to catch a bonefish. We rented a house on a fishy beach and spent the days chasing shadows (and hooking some!), relaxing and enjoying fishing at a relaxed pace.

Mark searching for tailers on a cloudy day. Wind and clouds made for tough sight fishing on these vast flats.

The first two days I took Chris and Mark wade fishing, teaching them the basics of bonefishing; presentation, fish behavior, etc. Both hooked fish the first day, with Chris landing his and Mark’s coming unbuttoned. A great start to their flats fishing experience! The guys then fished with Bahamian guides for the next two days, allowing me to fish on my own. The last few days were a mix of wade fishing together and the three of us fishing with a guide together. The guys enjoyed the relaxed pace of a “DIY” trip as opposed to the full service lodge stays they’re accustom too. In addition to the good fishing, it was nice to lounge a bit; reading, painting and relaxing. While we cooked a lot of our meals, the small beach bar a few lots down provided us with some great meals and cocktails.It was a successful trip with all of us catching bonefish, missing bonefish and having a great time in the evenings telling stories with Rum in hand. I think the guys learned a lot and appreciated the difficulty involved in fooling the “grey ghost”. They already proclaim they are ready for next year!

Chris with his first Bonefish! Not a bad size fish to get him hooked!
Shameless selfie on the flats
While the guys fished with a guide, I had a hell of a day wade fishing on my own.
Three’s company… thanks to Shervin for taking his panga to accommodate the three of us. Despite the crazy number of sharks, we caught some bones both from the boat and wading

Always nice to have time to do a little painting when the weather’s not conducive to fish spotting. Fortunately it cleared up and we got out for a few hours in the afternoon.
Chris shows off an angry barracuda. Man can these guys fight!
Chris, me, Danny (our fabulous caretaker) and Mark.

Winter Fly Fishing to kick off the New Year

Hope everyone had a good Holiday season. Ours was pretty low key, opting to stay in Jackson and celebrate Christmas/New Years with friends. We’ve been getting a lot snow so far this winter. This is great for our fisheries and also has kept temperatures fairly mild (high 20s-30s).

I’ve had the pleasure of guiding a few folks over the past few weeks on winter wade fishing trips on the Snake River here in Jackson. As some of you know, winter fishing is a bit of a crap shoot. I’ve had some great days over the years on the water in the winter months and also had some really tough ones! I’d say the past couple trips have been on the harder side. Fish are laying low in the cold water and not willing to move much for flies. We’ve gotten some sporadic action dead drifting nymphs, but so far midge/surface action has remained elusive. Regardless, the clients I’ve taken have had a great time learning and honing their fishing skills. It’s really fun as a guide to work with folks who have a basic understanding of fly casting, reading water, etc and help them gain a good foundation they can take home with them.

Definitely always worth getting out on the water in the wintertime. I suspect we’ve got another month or so before consistent midge hatch start rolling. March and April are some of my favorite times to be on the water. Lack of other anglers and hungry cutthroat trout make for a great time. Below are a few photos of the adventurous anglers who fished with me lately.

John works a quiet back-eddy pool on the Snake river during a snowstorm. This was John’s first proper fly fishing trip and he walked away with a lot more knowledge and confidence. Looking forward to fishing John again this summer.
All smiles in a snow storm!
Great day yesterday with part-time Buffalo Valley resident Norma Jean! Super fun angler who’s working on taking her skills to the next level.