Big Dries for Big Browns

The big stones were due to pop on the lower Blackfoot any day now. And while the school year drags on, the weekend warrior in me was feeling a little put out at all the hype happening on Rock Creek, where the hatch was thirty miles up the river and moving fast. Would we miss salmonflies altogether this year? Probably. We had a babysitter for just long enough to get a float in on the lower Blackfoot, our old standard float where we know every inch of the water but we weren’t too excited about the prospect of staring at a bobber all day if the bugs were still subsurface. With bright sun on a Saturday in early June, the boat ramp was a busy place and we put in with what seemed like a flotilla of rafts and fun floaters, and a whole mess of rods hanging out of boats in every direction. By the first bend I’d spotted a lone salmonfly. Then another. A few more and we put the bobber away for the day and tied on a dry/dropper combination that found a few fish willing to take the nymph. Then the bugs started coming off in earnest. We parked on a grassy bank and I shook some willows that were just full of the bugs, which meant it might have been a little early but we clipped the dropper and went with a single dry fly the rest of the day. We did not regret the decision.

Big fish eat big flies, or so I’m told. This pig brown trout ate a size 4 stonefly in a slow riffle tight to the willows.
You know, textbook salmonfly water. If you look closely you can see the fly hanging out of his face.

Even though they are big dry flies the size of your thumb, in my book they are still dry flies and I like a longer leader. Stout tippet. Strong knots. Put it close to the willows. Put it right on that rock. Lots of eats, with a few worth the wait. With bugs in the air and on the water everywhere, we had some drifts where two little fish went after the fly at the same time. We were close to the end of our day when Jayme put it right where it needed to be on a tight inside bend with a great cast and a quick mend, and was rewarded with a slow-eating brown that bent her rod over and had her losing line from the reel in a hurry. Pretty good fish when we finally managed to rope him in. We might not get many chances to get after it during the school year, but when we do we make the most of it. We got lucky and found the salmonflies after all.


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