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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 10/31/2017 (1962 reads)
Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co., 10/21/17

WEATHER: Blue bird skies with highs in the 70s.

WATER: 3.2' at the Harrisburg gauge, gin clear, 60 degrees. A few boaters and yakkers but not a lot of activity.

HATCHES ETC: Nothing significant. A few scattered bugs, no rises; large schools of small minnows around 2" in length around shoreline areas. No crayfish seen. One bass caught in a riffle today had multiple caddis larva in his mouth and gullet. These caddis were dark colored and about #16.

Teamed up with Afishinado today to put some autumn hurtin on the Susky bass.
We arrived at mid day about 11am and fished until 5:30pm. It was a tough day. The bright sun and very clear water seemed to have the river switched off. We fished some very good sections with little success. Around 4pm, with the sun lower in the sky and softened by haze, the river seemed to wake up. We found active fish in fast water, mostly along current seams but also in shallow riffles. I had expected to find SMBs around ledge rock and and deeper tailouts today, but these spots didn't produce. The active fish were in pretty fast water. Had luck high sticking a helgy nymph and swinging a Clouser. I tried poppers briefly with no success. I managed about eight fish with three in the mid teens. Afish got fifteen bass with one at 18 inches.

A very nice day to be outside, but fishing was sub-par for what I'd expect on the big river in October. Nevertheless, with water levels still quite low, if you're a wading angler, the Susky is in great shape for FFing right now.

Members can follow along with comments in the forum here.

"Susquehanna>


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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/26/2017 (2183 reads)
The Hardy Zephrus Ultralite rod is the ultimate light line, technical fly rod for the advanced angler. Designed and manufactured with Sintrix in the 440 configuration the Zephrus ultralite sets a new standard for durability in an ultralight weight rod. Custom design reel seats reduce the weight further and the slim cigar style grip adds feel and refinement to what is sure to become the ultimate technical fly rod on the Market today.

SINTRIX 440 blank construction
REC black pearl recoil guides
Fuji titanium stripper guides
Custom designed and built ultralight weight reel seat
Blank action optimised for delicate presentation and refined techniques
Supplied in a custom aluminium tube with engraved metal end caps




Shop Now: https://www.tridentflyfishing.com
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/05/2017 (1864 reads)
By Brian McGeehan at Montana Angler Fly Fishing

September in the greater Yellowstone region is quickly becoming one of the most popular times to visit and fish. September is a great time to fish Yellowstone National Park because water temperatures are dropping into the optimal range and trout feel the urge to pack on the pounds for the upcoming winter. Weather in September is usually very pleasant with cool, crisp mornings and warm afternoons. September is the only month of the year when literally every river in the Park is fishable. The Madison drainage has cooled enough for productive fishing but the high country streams are still warm enough for fish to be active. Throw in a few bugling elk and some fall colors and you have the recipe for a great trip. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of September fishing in the park.

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Firehole River

As the weather cools, the Firehole once again becomes a viable option for fishing. At the beginning of the month, it may only be cool enough to fish in the mornings, but by the middle of September it should fish well all day. The main attraction during September is the White Miller Caddis, which typically emerges from mid morning until early afternoon. On cloudy days, especially towards the end of September, Blue Winged Olives emerge in the middle of the day. When no hatch is present, swing soft hackles through the riffles. I prefer drab, generic flies like a soft hackle pheasant tail or hare’s ear. In the fall, primarily due to low water, the fish in a Firehole can be a bit pickier than they were in June. Downsize your tackle a bit and take care not to spook fish with your movements.

Madison River
The main attraction on the Madison River in Yellowstone Park in the fall is the run of fish out of Hebgen Lake. While this run peaks in October and November, there will usually be some fish in the system in the latter part of September. The best way to target these fish is by nymphing or by swinging a streamer in a down and across fashion. No matter the technique, the key to catching these fish is locating where they are holding. These fish are used to a lake environment, so look for deeper, slower water. When nymphing, I prefer a stonefly nymph as my lead fly and small, nondescript mayfly pattern as my dropper. If I am swinging a streamer, I like the intruder style patterns that are popular with steelhead fishermen.

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Lamar Valley- Lamar River, Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek
Fall fishing in the Lamar Valley can be challenging due to low water and the cumulative effect of fishing pressure throughout the summer. On sunny, warm days turn to small terrestrials like ants or micro hoppers. On cloudy days, especially towards the end of the month, look for mayfly hatches of Blue Winged Olives or Tan Drakes. Plan on fishing a 5x leader that is a few feet longer than your standard 9ft length.

Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River inside the park is a nice option in September as it falls off the radar for many once the famous stonefly hatches have ended. The river hosts an excellent Blue Winged Olive hatch, especially on cloudy days and towards the latter part of the month. Hopper patterns and attractors will still be your bread and butter for much of the month. September is a good time to start working in mayfly style attractors such as a purple haze or parachute adams as the fish may be a bit more selective than they were in July and August. A small streamer will fill the void if the dry fly bite slows.

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Gardner River
The entire Gardner River should fish well in September, as the section below the Boiling River will have cooled sufficiently for all day fishing. In the early mornings, I like to nymph fish with a stonefly trailed by a attractor pattern like a prince or copper john. As the day heats up, small hoppers and various attractor patterns are your go to. Cloudy days will see hatches of Blue Winged Olives. Remember that the Boiling River essentially creates two separate rivers. Fall mayfly hatches will appear above in the cooler water first while hopper and attractor fishing will hold on longer in the warmer waters below. During the fall, keep in mind that there is always the possibility of a surprise up from the Yellowstone.

Fall fishing is truly one of our favorite windows for both Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Cool mornings and warm afternoons often produce the perfect blend of ideal water temperatures coupled with fall hatches and late season terrestrial fishing. The general family vacation season has slowed dramatically leaving the park to more serious anglers.

Brian McGeehan is a Pennsylvania native and has been guiding Western rivers in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado for 19 seasons. He is a licensed Montana outfitter and owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman, MT.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/06/2017 (2829 reads)
All students across the country get a chance to learn about biology and environmental sciences when attending middle school. However, the students at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School (TEMs) have the unique opportunity to actually go beyond the regular curriculum with raising trout in their classroom.

Raceway Trout Basket


The program is led by Mr. Gordon Davis, 7th English/8th science teacher at TEMS. The Trout in the Classroom program at TEMS is supported by the PA Fish and Boat Commission, PA Council of Trout Unlimited and Valley Forge Trout Unlimited.

Along with raising the trout, students learn about the importance of cold-water resources throughout their middle school experience. It is a great fit on the heels of the 6th grade curriculum which studies water resources. In addition, they benefit from learning about the chemical factors affecting water quality.

In the beginning of the school year the students learn about the Pennsylvania state fish, the brook trout. Then, when trout eggs arrive in early November, the “eyed” eggs (where the eyeball and spinal cord is visible in the egg) and the trout are raised through the “fingerling” stage, before being released in early May at an approved trout stream.

Raceway Ray Teaching


As part of the program this year, the students visited a trout raceway, owned by the Chester Valley Sportsmen’s Association. Ray Andrews and other members of the association take care of roughly 5,500 rainbow and brook trout prior to stocking, which they receive from the Carlisle state hatchery.

“Students were able to see a real-world connection to the trout care we practice in the classroom and also study the behaviors of mature trout,” said Mr. Davis

The students are involved in an in-depth program raising the trout that includes exploring YouTube videos posted by anglers which highlight trout fishing across the state. One of the most popular activities this year occurred when the program partner from Valley Forge Trout Unlimited, Dave Dickens, visited to discuss his life spent trout fishing.

Raceway Ray Seated Teaching


The program has enjoyed outstanding support from the school district, community and parents, and is very well known by many. “Mr. Davis is a wonderful teacher and my daughter is tremendously excited about the program,” shared Melissa Kennedy of Berwyn.

For many years Mr. Davis has been enthusiastically supported by the PA TIC program director, Amidea Daniel. He was extremely grateful to the PTO for their support in purchasing materials needed for trout; our Principal, Andy Phillips, for his support of our program; our VFTU representative, Dave Dickens; and our friend, Ray Andrews, for the connections through TIC.

Trout In the Classroom is a partnership between the PA Fish and Boat Commission and PA Council of Trout Unlimited. It was created to introduce students to cold-water resources and the importance of maintaining healthy streams. The partnership provides brook trout eggs, trout food, technical assistance, curriculum connections and teacher workshops each year.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/24/2017 (2472 reads)

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Inside the cabin by TigerTrout4wt (Kevin)

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I went out with Tom Ciannilli on Friday evening to my favorite place on the the Little J. Great night and a classic May Sulphur hatch at about 8:00 pm to close the evening.

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Saturday Dave, Maurice, Tom, Mick and I went over to Penns. A big change in the weather with a cold front dropping the temps into the 50's and some light rain in the morning.

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Dave showing off with catching a nice bow on his first cast in the Class A section of Penns.

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The long and winding trail to fly fish.

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Tom looking kinda serious about his fly.

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We move off the Class A Section and Maurice pulls together another one of his masterful fly fishing tailgating experiences.

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Yeah that is pretty damn good when you've been standing in cold water all day.

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Of course we had an IPA with a trout on it. The bonus was it was 14 proof.

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Back at the Seven Mountains Campground the crew converges after fly fishing all day. Saturday was tough for everyone. The good news is we had some spirits to loosen everyone up and get warm. Some of the attendees for the weekend: JackM and Gino, DaveW, Maurice and Mick, Afishinado (Tom), Aducker (Jeff), pcray1231 (Pat)
DanL, tomgamber - sons Joe and Adam, Swattie87, TigerTrout4wt (Kevin), Bikerfish and Chuck, lestrout (Les) Ace Sedgley (Darby) Pennypack Flyer and friend Jerry, csoult, Bruno, Alby (Greg) & Glenfidich (Don) Trapshooter , chuckyblack09 (Chuck/Charles) Tim Robinsin (Derek), ryguyfi (Ryan) zenherper (Chris)
GenCon, Don Thompson, Paparise (Phil, +2), Captain Hook Bearfish, (Rookie) (Dave), Bopper (Tom) Skybay (Jared), and Shakey!!

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Mick was the winner of Dave Weaver's wonderful painting

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My own personal team of rivals: Jack, Maurice, Dave Kile, Tom, and Dave. The best moderators on the Internet and why we have the community we do!! Thanks guys for all your help.

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Until the next Jam!

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/08/2017 (3978 reads)
Friday, May 19th is the start of our annual gathering for the Paflyfish Spring Jamboree Weekend. This is our annual meet-up for members of the site to get together to fly fish, tie flies, camp and share a few stories. We have a lot of fun fishing over some of Pennsylvania's finest streams including the Little J, Penns Creek, Spring Creek, Fishing Creek and plenty more in the region.

DSCF3951


The pavilion at Seven Mountains Campground is rented by Paflyfish and is used as a meeting point during the weekend. Plenty of impromptu conversations, fly tying and meet-ups take place at the pavilion. The idea of the weekend is to provide a setting for a casual weekend of fly fishing in a great region of Pennsylvania . As with every year we will be meeting up in the evenings at the pavilion to catch up on the days fishing trips. Friday and Saturday mornings we meet for coffee and plan the day. Often plenty of opportunities for some fly tying and casting lessons being shared.


Video provided by Skybay


This year we are going to make the weekend at little more informal. At this time we are not going going to be planning any special speakers or activities. There is always plenty of impromptu fly tying, casting lessons and support on where to fish. So if you are unsure about the area, do not worry there are plenty of members from the site that can help get you started. Many anglers from the site come up early or stay later after the weekend. Follow the latest details in the forum here.

Friday – May 19th - Sunday, May 21, 2017
• 7:00 am Coffee at the pavilion Saturday and Sunday mornings
• 9:00 pm Gathering after the day of fishing Friday and Saturday evening (BYOB)

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Please contact Sevens Mountain Campground directly if you would like to stay there that weekend. They have a limited number of cabins and campsites. I encourage you to make your reservations now.

Sevens Mountain Campground
101 Seven Mountains
Campground Rd.
Spring Mills, PA 16875
(814) 364-1910
(888) 468-2556
Call between 8:30-4:30 M-F
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Published by Dave Kile [davekile] on 04/07/2017 (12274 reads)
flyboxesWell after almost 30 years of fly fishing I have assembled quite a sundry of storage boxes for my flies, nymphs and streamers. Not that any of these boxes are special. Just a real eclectic set of Plano, Orvis, Perrine and Tupperware containers. I have Adams stuck with Sulphurs, midges with my little BWO’s and Caddis flies with my nymphs. Imagine a house with about seventeen additions of all different shapes and sizes bolted on.

How I got to this point is anybodies guess. Probably it has been based on my early experiences and knowledge with certain flies. As I learned more I just added it in to what room I had and seemed logical at the time. What I don’t get is how I caught just as many fish being a numnuts with a small limited arsenal of flies compared to my expansive cache today.

shamwowguyAll these boxes have served me well and actually I still have my first fly box that my friend Ron gave me the first year I started fly fishing. He set me up with a great selection of starter flies. I guess he felt I was worthy enough not to lose the darn box on the stream. I think my hope over the years has been that the ShamWow Infomercial Guy would show up on the TV early one Sunday morning with some sort Super Fly Life Organizer Box for $19.95 that included a special offer of two for the price of one and my life would be twice as good going forward. No such luck.

Still waiting, I moved on and purchased a new chest pack that has started me down this unintended, but well needed holistic journey. It’s like when you buy a new car you have to clean the garage out to make the new ride fit it inside.

The new chest pack won’t fit all my stupid boxes so I need to get organized. I knew this was going to happen, just like I can anticipate what’s going happen every time I go to the dentist for my semi annual cleanings. It will be painful, I will get a scolding and new appointment to come back in four weeks to replace a 35 year filling that is falling apart. It must be part of the 101 class on how to run a dentist office.

So what the heck am I going to do? Does this mean I move my Caddis flies out away from my nymphs? Do I put my BWO with my Sulphurs? Can I keep my Red Quills near my Adams? Oh the humanity what would Brad Pitt do?

Well the first thing I did was take stock of my situation. No that did not mean dashing to the fridge for a Yuengling. It meant not only figuring out where to put the flies, but understanding what I already had in the inventory. Maybe the dentist visits aren’t such a bad thing after all.

I then spent some time sorting through all those flies by putting them on the kitchen table. It became evident that this was not going to work when my English Springer Spaniel came up to me with a head full of flies that looked like Colonel Henry Blake’s fly fishing hat from M*A*S*H.

So I needed a way to get these flies organized. Just like you find at a fly shop, only smaller, cheaper, portable and something my dog wouldn’t wear on her head. Well after a little research it seems people who dabble in beads, whatever the hell that is all about, seem to have many of the same anxieties I do about being organized. Apparently there are lots of beads needing organized out there because there are quite a few choices on the art supply websites.

With a little more research they advertise these boxes for workshop organizers too. So I trucked on over to Home Depot to see if I could find something right away. I couldn’t possibly wait for the beadheads to ship me something that could take days. I needed to solve this problem before my next dentist visit.

I found the Rimax four tier rack of removable trays. Next to it were extra spare trays and I was able to get the whole set-up with a few extra trays for about $21. [chorus singing and clouds are parting] After what I saw the beadhead organizers were going to have to solve their problems without my help. I snapped up the trays and ran on home.
flyboxes
So now I can place all my flies into about eight portable trays fully organized by type and size. I could even label each tray. The plan will be to still haul most of my flies with me as I head out. However, I’ll load up just a couple of fly boxes as needed and leave the trays in the truck.

I know this has its fault’s. The most obvious is numnuts anticipating what might happen on the stream. Since my name is Dave and not the Amazing Kreskin this could be not so good when the March Browns make any early visit to Penn's Creek this year. I figure I’ll just always have to bring my standby favorite of five flies that catch me 90% of my fish anyway. I think that is all Ron let me have when I first got started. We will see how it goes.

Now if I can just get the ShamWow guy to clean my garage I’ll have time to go fishing!
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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 03/28/2017 (2220 reads)
While most Pennsylvania fly fishermen target river smallmouths during the summer, bass can be successfully targeted all year and the "pre-spawn" is among the best times, especially if you're after large fish. When water temps hit the mid 40s - this would usually coincide with mid March here in the southcentral part of the state - river smallies become noticeably more active and move up out of their winter hibernacula. These winter locations are usually the deepest part of a river, often the low, deep, slack water in front of dams. As bass become more active, they start to spread out a bit but still tend to eschew current.

By this time of year, they start to feed quite a bit more but, unlike summer when most of the bass lay up in front of boulders and mid river structure and aggressively hit poppers, my experience has been that pre-spawn bass are shoreline denizens. In part, this is simply due to the higher, cloudier, water conditions so often prevalent in March and April. However, this preference for specific shoreline locations makes locating pre-spawn river bass more predictable. When you catch a bass, there's usually more in the same spot. Often these are large females staging to move to eventual spawning sites later in May.

Finding these spots starts in summer. If you've got a bass river nearby, walk the bank during summer and familiarize yourself with the shape of the shoreline when the water is low and clear. Come high water, you'll know where to go. Perhaps the ideal pre-spawn location would be a point of land that projects out into the river, especially if there are large chunk rocks or boulders on it. Oftentimes there are river willows or vegetation that grow on the point in summer, but that often has water flowing thru it this time of year. If downstream from this point, there is an eddy (there almost always is) and the water is at least 3-4 feet deep, it's worth checking out. If the water in the eddy is very calm with little current or swirling action, and if there are boulders or woody debris along the shoreline of the eddy - it's a hotspot! Mouths of feeder creeks are usually good too.

drawing
Bass stage right on the current break along shoreline eddies this time of year. A typical hot spot would look something like this diagram. Image courtesy D. Weaver


These eddies don’t have to be large. I have taken multiple fish in the upper teens over the years from a single eddy that is only about 4 feet deep, maybe twenty feet in length, and the current break is only four or five feet from the shoreline. The key is slack or very slow water swirling back. When water temps are still cold, usually under 40 degrees, bass are likely in the slack water in the deepest part of the eddy, right on the bottom. As temps move up to and over 40 degrees, the bass move out and sit right along the edge of the current break where the faster water is moving as can be seen in the accompanying diagram.

Most of the time, I like a 7 or 8WT fly rod with floating line and a 8-9' tapered leader. Don’t go lighter than 12 lb test for your leader unless you absolutely have to. I typically use 14 or 15 lb. test. Despite smallies' reputation for being jumpers, in reality big smallies, especially in colder water, are bulldogs. They fight down and dirty close to the bottom and cover. You'll need a stout tippet to keep 'em out of the woody debris and shoreline brush.

bassDuring the months from about November until April, I prefer minnow imitating flies, the estimable Clouser Minnow is always dependable. For the (usually) cloudy water this time of year, black or chartreuse/orange is tough to beat. Many gear bass anglers like a black hair jig for early spring bass. I usually keep my flies for this time of year a bit on the smaller size, typically about 3-5 inches in length.

For rigging, place a large strike indicator at the base of the leader, or maybe a foot or so down the leader from the junction with the fly line. A "thingamabobber" would likely work well. I prefer the large, split, peg type bobbers you can get at the kids' fishing section at big box stores. Roll cast this rig out; you're aiming to get the fly to drop right at the outer edge of the eddy's slack water along the current break. This is often the money spot where bass are positioned during the pre-spawn. Roll cast your rig and do a mental five or ten-count to allow your fly to sink. In effect, you're just fishing a jig under a bobber. The key is to keep your retrieve slow. The indicator will suspend your streamer in the zone. Smallies often scrutinize baits/flies very carefully, then suck 'em in and turn away. Strikes are subtle this time of year and I find a big, floating strike indicator really helps detect these subtle strikes. When that indicator budges, do a strip strike and fight the fish hard. Despite the light takes, large bass are much more catchable on flies in the early spring than summer in my opinion. Big bass see a constant barrage of tube lures, plugs, and other stuff raining down on ‘em in summer and they can get shy or nocturnal. An eighteen-inch river bass in Pennsylvania is probably ten to twelve years old and has seen it all. In the early spring, I believe trophy sized smallmouths are just more willing to feed on flies after a long winter.

While it's easy to get distracted by the prime trout fishing this time of year, don't ignore river bass. Scout out a shoreline eddy on your favorite river, watch those water temps, and then present a fly low and slow along the current break. River smallies are definitely active now and this is a great time of year to catch big fish.
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Published by Tom C. [afishinado] on 02/17/2017 (2579 reads)
Many times the rising fish you see in the winter are taking midges. I’ve done well in the winter fishing midges on warmer afternoons. It’s great covering rising fish fish in the winter since I become tired of dredging the bottom, doing the chuck-and-chance-it to unseen fish. I could never stand watching fish rise in front of me without giving them a try.
Dave Weaver Midges

Tying Midges

Midges are not hard to tie. I use a small sized emerger hook which is a wide gape 2x short curved hook. For dries, just add a thread body and a few fibers for wings or a wisp of dubbing for pupa:

Hook: Emerger hook size 20-28

Body: Thread (black, cream, brown, white, olive) to match naturals. I always try to catch a few insects with my net before I select a fly. If I can't capture a natural, I'll usually try black first.

Wing: 8-12 CDC fibers, or Z-lon, or Antron yarn.

I like to use 6/0 or 8/0 thread for the body depending on the brand of thread and the size of the fly. The body should remain thin like the natural.

Start the thread on the shank behind the eye and wrap it back to the bend. Spin the bobbin to wind the thread tightly by spinning and wrap the thread back to just behind the eye. The tightly wound thread gives a segmented appearance and makes it easier to wrap. On a size smaller fly hook, one pass back and forth is enough to build the body. On larger flies several passes may be needed.

I tie off the heavier thread with finer 12/0 thread to finish the fly. Cut 8-12 CDC fibers (Z-lon or Antron yarn also work) and tie in on top of the hook shank and trim the wing fibers slightly shorter than the body and whip finish. That’s it!...a thread body with some wisps of CDC or yarn for the wing. On larger sized midges I sometimes use a little dubbing the same color as the body to finish off the head.

Don’t make the wings too heavy – sparse fibers look more natural to suggest wings, and adds just enough buoyancy to float the fly in the film like the naturals.

For midge pupa, do the same thread body as above, except instead of wings dub in a small wisp of light colored dubbing fur near the head of the fly or trim a small clump of CDC at the head.

Fishing Midges


With a size 28 fly, I may go down to a 7X tippet, not so much because of visibility of the tippet by the fish, more for getting a good drift. Heavier tippet tends to drag such a small fly around in the water.

Use a fairly long and soft tippet and try to cast some s-curves and slack in your line and tippet to avoid drag. Also, be sure not to cast your leader over the fish. Try to reach mend or curve cast it so the fish see the fly and not your line. Getting a drag-free drift is the key to fooling the fish.

I grease my line down to 1’ or so of the fly and watch the tippet for strikes. If I have problems seeing the tippet, I put a pinch of strike putty on the tippet knot for visibility. When you line moves a little on the take, just tighten up and the battle is on.

After covering a few fish and believing I have gotten some good drifts over them, I will often change over to a pupa pattern that rides in the film. At times they are feeding on pupae.

The hardest part of fishing is often trying not to spook the fish. Careful casting and wading (if you must get into the water) is most important. When fishing to rising fish, I often ease into a casting position and wait until the fish resume rising. Just slow down and try to stay low, and take as few false casts as possible.

In the winter fish are often found rising in the long, slow pools. If there's a deeper bank with rising fish I'll often cross over in the shallow riff below the pool and slowly wade across to deeper bank. Casting from the shallow side will often expose you to the trout, and laying all your line out over the entire width of stream to reach the opposite bank often causes issues trying to get a good drift, especially when trying to dead-drift tiny flies.

After crossing over and most times putting all the rising fish down, I sit along the bank next to a tree or any cover I can find. I proceed to pull out my Wawa shortie and Wawa chocolate milk and began to feast. By the time I am finished, the fish resume rising and I began to target one fish at time. Don’t worry, it’s not just a Philly thing, for those in western and central PA, the strategy works, but not quite as well with Sheetz MTO hoagies and drinks.

Tying and fishing midges is not really that hard. I look forward to it every winter when I tire of nymphing.

Give it a try and good luck. Follow in the forum here.

Artwork by Dave Weaver
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/09/2017 (2096 reads)
By Doug Casey, Montana Angler

montana-fly-fishing-slideshow-ynp-6


As a fishing guide in Yellowstone National Park, I am often asked questions like, “Where can I fish close to West Yellowstone in August?” or “What rivers near Gardiner fish well in early June?”. I pick these examples because, frankly, you would be very disappointed with the answer to each one. While Yellowstone Park is justly famous for its trout fishing, it is a very seasonal affair. You can find good fishing in the park every day of the fishing season, but no single river drainage fishes well for the duration of the season. Given that Yellowstone encompasses 2.2 million acres and sees over 3 million visitors per year, you can find yourself facing significant travel time to productive fishing if you do not plan your stay accordingly.

The two factors that drive fishing in Yellowstone are snowmelt, which is true all over the West, and the effect of thermal heating and thermal runoff, a situation unique to the park. Streams that are heavily influenced by snowmelt will not be low and clear enough to fish until sometime in July. On the other hand, streams that drain thermal areas will be too warm for fishing during mid-summer. Understanding this dynamic will help you to make sure that you are in the right place at the right time during your Yellowstone fishing trip.

Early Season: Late May thru Late June
Without a doubt, the Madison drainage is the place to be during Yellowstone’s early season. When the season opens over Memorial Day weekend, the Firehole River will be fishing well, and it is often the only river in the park that is fishable. Both the Gibbon and the Madison River will begin to fish well within about a week of the opener. Good mayfly hatches are a common occurrence in June, allowing anglers to toss dry flies while many rivers around the West are choked with runoff. Around the middle of June, several lakes in the Gibbon drainage like Grebe Lake and Cascade Lake will become accessible and the bite will be hot. The Firehole also offers several tributaries that hold fish, such as Nez Perce Creek, that can provide some variety to a trip.

The town of West Yellowstone, MT is the hub of early season fishing activity. From West Yellowstone, you can be on the Madison within 10 minutes and the Gibbon and Firehole within 20. If you wish to stay inside of the park, camping at Madison Junction puts you right in the middle of the action. Old Faithful is a good choice as well, as the Firehole River is just minutes away.

Transition Time: Late June thru July 4
The last week in June marks the transition from spring to summer fishing in the park. The waters of the Madison drainage are becoming too warm for good fishing, especially in the afternoons. This can be a tricky time, as the Lamar drainage is not quite ready yet. Fortunately, the Gardner River provides a good option during this time frame. The river will just be dropping into shape and the Salmonflies and Golden Stones will be starting to hatch. Trout Lake, which opens to fishing on June 15th, is a good option during this time frame as well. If it has been a lean snow year, it is possible that the Yellowstone River may be fishable as well. You shouldn’t count on this, but be prepared if the opportunity presents itself.

The town of Gardiner, MT makes a good base during this transitional period. You can be on the Gardner River in a matter of minutes and Trout Lake, in the Lamar drainage, is a manageable day trip. The Yellowstone flows right thru town, and you are close to good access if it is in fact clear enough to fish.

slough-creek-yellowstone-national-park-1


Mid Summer: July 4 thru August
The entire northern portion of Yellowstone Park will fish well in this time frame, giving the angler plenty of options. The Gardner and Yellowstone will fish well early on in July, with Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, and the Lamar River gradually becoming fishable in that order. The Lamar is usually fishable by mid-July, but won’t be ready until the end of July after a winter of above normal snow. This is the time of year to fish terrestrials, and hopper fishing is something that serious anglers look forward to all year. During August, the above rivers are still fishing well, but fishing pressure can be high. This is a great time to get out the hiking boots and check out some of Yellowstone’s small creeks and backcountry waters.

The best mid-summer bases are out of Gardiner, MT and Cooke City, MT. Cooke City is very convenient to access Soda Butte, Lamar, and Slough. Gardiner provides easy access to the Gardner and the Yellowstone, while the Lamar Valley is a manageable day trip.

Early Fall: September
September is an interesting month, as it can be warm and sunny or snowing, sometimes both in the same day. This is another time of transition in Yellowstone Park. During early September, the Lamar Valley streams are still fishing, though the fish are quite spooky as they have been fished hard all summer. By mid-month, the waters of the Madison drainage will have cooled enough to fish well again. Both the Yellowstone and Gardner River should fish well all month.

If you are visiting in early September, Gardiner, MT is probably the best base. The Yellowstone and Gardner will fish consistently, and you can make the day trip to the Lamar Valley if it is fishing well. Towards the end of the month, West Yellowstone would make a good base as well. The Firehole will be fishing well and some early migrants will be showing up in the Madison from Hebgen Lake. While this run peaks in October, a few fish will be present later in September.

Late Fall: October thru early November

Just as it was at the start of the season, the Madison drainage is the place to be for the last month, up until the season ends on the first Sunday in November. Large trout push out of Hebgen Lake on their spawning run, giving anglers the shot at the biggest fish of the year. These fish are available in the Madison River as well as the lower reaches of both the Gibbon and Firehole. Target these fish, which average between 16” and 20”, with large nymphs and streamers.

On the Firehole River above Firehole Falls, hatches of Blue Winged Olives draw fish to the surface all the way to seasons end. The Firehole provides a great change of pace to chasing the big migrants during the fall. As in June, West Yellowstone, MT and the surrounding area is the place to be in October.

[Montana Angler is a sponsor of Paflyfish and was asked by me to contribute this article. I think it is important for anglers on this site to hear about all kinds of fly fishing opportunities and Brian McGeehan was gracious to share some of his adventures and images from their travels this fall. Please contact Brian if you are interested in joining him on one of these great trips. Montana Angler offers domestic fly fishing trips in Montana and Yellowstone National Park as well as international trips to Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas. - Thanks Dave Kile]
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