The Salmonfly hatch is probably the west's best known hatch and brings people from all over the world to fish Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington State. The adults can be up to three inches long and their clumsy nature makes them easy meals for trout who will gorge themselves on both the nymphs and adults. Like all stoneflies, they have incomplete metamorphism. Meaning that they spend most of their lives (up to three years) as nymphs, crawl to the banks when the water temperature and conditions are right, split their nymphal husks and emerge as adults. They then will live for a few days to about a week where they find a mate and the females will deposit their eggs back into the river, and then die.
When faced with an epic hatch like the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch you might be thinking that it is super easy to catch trout when there is such an abundance of food available to the trout. With millions of bugs out there and the trout looking for easy meals all you have to do is throw out your best imitation of an adult caddis and hang on. I have guided 22 years of this hatch and I am here to tell you that it is not that easy. Why you ask? Just because the bugs are present doesn’t mean that the trout are eagerly eating dries. I believe that there are many different stages of this hatch and you need to fish accordantly to have success. Here are my top tips for success for a mega hatch like the Mother’s Day Caddis.
The Collon Cura Lodge is a great property that is owned by Ted Turner. The property was very nice and had a small house where the guests stayed. And then at the main lodge they had a very nice sitting room, a small bar and a dinner area that could seat about 12 people. Our rooms were very nice and comfortable, and every amenity was welcome after camping the night before. After cleaning up we all made our way to the main lodge for drinks and appetizers. Soon we were seated around the dinning table as our gourmet meals were placed in front of us. We all made short work of a great meal and found our way back to our pillows. The great thing about this property is that they own at least 30 miles of the river so we would have it all to ourselves for the next two days of fantastic fly fishing.
The following morning everyone is up early and ready to go. Needing coffee and a morning snack the guys are looking at each other. Around 8:15 a women arrives at the hotel and starts getting breakfast prepared. Argentines work on a different schedule than Americans and mornings are not for getting up early for. The fishing guides soon arrive and help speed up the process by shuttling coffee to us and getting things up to speed. Soon we are loading bags into their trucks and off to the river. After about a 45 minute drive we arrive at the river and load up the boat with our gear, splash the boats and we are off for an overnight camp trip on the Chimmihein River.
This February I found myself packing in a haste to load my bags with clothes, fly fishing equipment and camera gear for a three week trip to Patagonia. This would be my second trip in the past two years to this region, but I still felt unprepared. Work and other commitments, such as coaching the high school wrestling team, had made my days and nights filled. I made a serious commitment to bring all my camera gear and take as many pictures as possible. I stayed up late one night and did as many Americans do: placed a sizable order from Amazon Prime. I ordered everything I thought I might possibly need, learning from my past trip to Argentina. Too much really, I now realize as I write this, but I wanted to be prepared and had little experience for the region at this time frame.
With the winter sinking its teeth in here in Montana, there is not a lot of opportunity to go fishing. But like a lot of my other hobbies, I still like to take care of my gear and make sure it is in good working order and play with my toys every now and then. During the off season it is always a good idea to give your gear a tune up. Just like your automobile, your fishing gear needs a little maintenance to insure your next day on the water goes smoothly.
In the winter we spend less time outside on the water and more time at the vise re-filling the boxes or researching on the internet. I have compiled a list of websites where I get information from, keep up with the industry news and learn new and innovative patterns to tie and try.
Soft hackle flies have been around from almost the beginning of the sport. They are not a dry fly and not a nymph in most cases. They have a special niche in the sport and many people have neither taken the time to fish them or have forgotten about them totally. They can be a deadly fly in your fly box and there isn’t a wrong way to fish them. Their simplistic patterns make them easy to tie in many different combinations to cover different emergences and patterns.
Some of our new clients ask us how many we are allowed to keep when fishing, or how many coolers should they bring to take home their catch. This is always a touchy subject but many people do not understand how valuable our trout are to us and our local economy. I do not think that you would be able to find a guide, outfitter or fly shop in the state that would allow this.
Some years when we have low water and unseasonable hot weather the state will put into effect the most common restriction called a “Hoot Owl” restriction. It allows the rivers to be closed to fishing from 2pm-midnight.
Many of our customers are surprised about the size of leaders and tippets we use for our western rivers.