Had the pleasure of taking some new folks fly fishing this past week. The winter fishing here in Jackson Hole has been pretty good. As some of you know, the Snake is the go-to place for casting a fly in the winter. Days can vary from tough to great. Because of snow depth, access can be difficult. Fortunately several bridges over the Snake allows wade fishing anglers the ability to find productive water. My client today, Leslie, caught a lot of fish and was blown away by the number of heads poking through the surface gorging on midges. Definitely a fun time and since temperatures are warming and days getting longer, the fishing will just get better!
Kicked February off with a little fly fishing this past weekend. Conditions were far from ideal; wind, snow, cold temperatures, but my friends Seth, Rich and I decided to rally. We ended up doing pretty well nymph fishing, landing whitefish, rainbow and brown trout. After a few hours, we retreated to the cabin and warmed up with a fire in the wood stove, whiskey and sloppy joes.
I’ve been tying a lot flies recently. Any day not substitute teaching has been spent at the fly tying desk cranking out various patterns. I like to tie in the mornings with a fresh cup of coffee and podcast on the radio. As many know, I supply my clients with my own hand tied flies during the course of the season. I try to do most of my tying this time of year rather than during the busy fishing season. Naturally though some early mornings or late evenings, pre and post trips, require me to bang out patterns that are working well and I’m running low on. Over the years of guiding I’ve paid attention to patterns I use a lot, focusing on them rather than everything under the sun. Sure, I like to experiment too; creating my own patterns and tweaking existing flies to suit my needs better. I want flies that are durable and are quick to tie. And since most of the water I fish out here around Jackson Hole is fast flowing, freestone streams and rivers, the flies need to float well and be easy for clients to see!
Fly fisherman are inundated with tons of new patterns every year. I think most of them are made to “catch” fisherman’s attention more than fish. Sure every few years there are some innovative things to come off the vise, but more often then not “new” patterns are just slightly tweaked old ones. When clients ask me about fly patterns to have on hand, I often recommend many of the classic patterns. While they might not be as sexy as new ones with flash and bubble eyes, they work and there is a reason they’re classics. Examples include: Parachute Adams, Stimulators, Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wulffs, Double Humpies, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Prince Nymphs and Wooly buggers to name a few. I’m fairly confident that these patterns in various sizes will work 90% of the time.
Of Course there are newer pattens that are fantastic, both because they catch fish and because they bring something new to the table. Kelly Gallop’s articulated streamers come to mind as do any number of Chubby Chernobyl variations and hopper patterns.
At the end of the day flies are part of what makes fly fishing fun. Whether you’re creating at your vise or stocking you boxes, it’s fun to try and think what fly will outsmart a fish.
The weather’s been cold around here lately and as a result I haven’t done much in the fishing department. Instead I’ve been doing a little cross country skiing, tying lots of flies for the upcoming fishing season, strumming the guitar and working on some new paintings. Folks have been booking fishing trips and it’s fun to plan days on the water for the upcoming spring, summer and fall. I’ve also found time to get over to our cabin in Dubois and relax. As many of you know, the cabin is my favorite place. Situated a little west of Dubois, Wyoming, it’s tucked back along the upper Wind River and the surrounding wilderness. It’s a great place to spend some time, allowing for fishing, hiking, exploring and skiing. This time of year I like to go over and work on projects, fish for a few hours and watch movies.
While I was over there this past weekend with Jamie and Lulu, I checked the game cam that’s posted on our deck and was excited to see a mountain lion graced us with its presence. Mountain lions are common to this area of Wyoming and while their population is strong, they are very elusive. I’ve seen them a few times over the years in the flesh, but always at a distance while they lounged around winter kills. Surely they’ve watched me on occasion in the backcountry, but I haven’t noticed.
Mountain lions are solitary creatures up to 7 or 8 feet in length and weighing as much as 150 pounds. They cover a large territory preferring rocky, forested terrain, making Dubois prime habitat. Over the years at the cabin I’ve seen plenty of tracks and sign but pictures are rare, making this pretty cool! Last year to the day, another one (or the same?) was captured on the game cam.
The mountain lion sightings are part of the reason I love the cabin so much (in addition to the great fishing nearby). Despite having a few neighbors, we are part of the wilderness and there’s no telling what will pass through. Over the years our game cam has recorded Deer, Moose, Elk, Antelope, Coyotes, Badger, Grizzly Bears and Fox. I keep hoping a wolf will show up (they’ve been seen in the neighborhood) but so far they remain elusive.
If you’re looking for a really cool, all-inclusive fly fishing experience, join me at the cabin and see for yourself why this area of Wyoming is so special! Learn more here- Fly Fishing Cabin Stay
Below is a new painting. The photo isn’t best, but you get the idea… head study of a cutthroat trout.
Thought I’d share this years Christmas cartoon I did for all my fishing client friends. All’s well out here in Jackson Hole. I’ve been keeping busy tying flies and working on some new paintings. Hope everyone has a great Christmas! Looking forward to fishing in 2021.
The other day was my first proper guided winter fly fishing trip of the season. It was cold, there was snow and ice and I had some eager vacationers from Georgia hell bent on wetting a line! We found a few cutthroat sipping midges off the surface but they were challenging due to the slow, gin clear water. After working a dry fly emerged for a while with no luck, I had Brooks and Lindsey switch to small pheasant tail nymphs stripped slowly under the surface. This produced and Brooks landed his first ever Snake River Cutthroat trout! As the sun started setting we switched to nymphs and caught some nice whitefish, including a monster. Overall it was a great day on the water and I have to give credit to Brooks and Lindsey for wanting to fish regardless of the cold.
Despite Covid and the current crazy state of the world right now, I’m coming down from a great fishing season. Really appreciate all those folks both new and returning that fished with me this year. Hopefully days on the water provided some relief from the weird situation we all find ourselves in.
Since wrapping up the busy season, I’ve managed some fishing on my own; primarily in the Dubois area but also on the Snake. It was nice wetting a line with my lady as well as good friends. Now that winter has set in in Jackson, Jamie and I treated ourselves to a much needed vacation and currently are enjoying California’s Pacific Ocean. We’re here a few more days taking in the sunshine and visiting with friends before returning home. Naturally I brought my fly rod along (a new 7wt) to cast on the beach. So far I’ve gotten nothing… no strikes, bumps, tugs, etc. I’m beginning to think it’s a loosing battle, but it’s still fun. I’ve also found quite a few mullet in the coastal stream beside us. These guys become pretty active at sunset but I have yet to fool one. These guys feed on algae, etc and all I have with me are crab and baitfish imitations. I hear bread works well……
I hope everyone’s doing well. Have a great turkey day (we decided to throw tradition aside and have crab as the main course tomorrow)
Been slow on the blogging due to fishing trips. This summer and fall has been extremely busy and I’ve had the pleasure of fishing great folks! We’ve been prowling the waters of Western Wyoming, floating the Snake and Salt, wading in Yellowstone and Dubois. It’s been great to see anglers new and returning fooling nice fish with dry flies! Below are some photos from the past weeks. Enjoy
It’s been an extremely busy July around here. My days have/ are being spent with great folks casting dry flies to our local trout. In addition to wade trips, float fishing has really gotten good. Lately I’ve been floating anglers on the Snake and it’s great to be back on this old friend. Here’s a few pics from the last few weeks.
Fishing’s been pretty good around here lately. I’ve had some great guests and it’s been a pleasure spending time on the water with them fooling fish. Over the past few weeks, many days were spent up in Yellowstone Park on the Firehole River. There, we wade fished for wild rainbow and brown trout while Bison watched from afar. Yesterday I floated Brian and his son in law, Matt, on the upper Green River. The river fished pretty well. Lot of bugs fluttering around and we decided to go with the most fun option- giant dry flies to mimic emerging stoneflies. A few nice fish were landed and many more ate our bugs but got away. Really nice to be on the oars watching big bugs float on top of the water. Fly fishing around here in Jackson Hole is going to continue to improve as more and more waters clear and begin fishing well.