We are currently getting some much needed precipitation with back to back storms hitting us now through early next week. Flows have dropped out of Hebgen Dam down to 733 cfs, Kirby Ranch is at 875 cfs, and Varney Bridge is at 916 cfs. Water temps are still hovering around the low to upper 50s (expect temps to drop starting early next week). Per usual for this time of year, nymphing is still the most productive way to catch fish. Streamer fishing is still producing some quality fish, with dry fly fishing becoming a possibility with these cloudy days in the forecast.
My nymph set up the past few days has been small (#10 or #12) black and olive/brown rubber legs up top and a #18 BWO nymph below. T-Jig Baetis #18, T’s 0351 Baetis Olive #18, and TBH Pyscho May Olive #16 have all been productive for me. Fish those flies on Scientific Anglers Absolute Fluoro 4x tippet. With how low the river is right now, try running a dry dropper set up with a tungsten jig fly 2’ underneath.
In regards to streamer fishing, you can do one of two things. The first option is to dead drift (tightline) a small olive, natural, or black sculpin/leech pattern with a #18 BH nymph trailing 12-18 inches behind. If that doesn’t work, I would suggest stripping (small/quick 1-3 inch strips) olive, black, or white Dungeons, Silk Kitties, and Peanut Envys. Floating lines are all you need right now. 10lb Maxima Fluorocarbon to the streamer and SA 4x fluoro to the trailing nymph.
Here is a list of streamers that I’ve been cycling through this last week: Sweeny Todd Olive and Natural #2, Sculpzilla Black #8, Sparring Partner White/Gold #4, Delektable Screamer Olive #6, and Sparkle Minnow Smoke #4 are all great tightline patterns. For the bigger flies, I recommend: Galloup’s Laser Legal Olive/White #6, Swim Coach Baby Olive #4, Dragon Bond Sculpin #2, and Side Hustle Olive #2.
With cloudy days in the forecast, look for more dry fly opportunities. The best chance to target Baetis is up above the West Fork Bridge, as well as on the Lower Madison below Bear Trap Canyon. Razor Mayfly Baetis #20, Cripple Baetis #20, Tilt Wing Dun BWO #18, and Thorax Long Tailed BWO #18 are all great patterns this time of year. Fish these small mayflies on Umpqua’s new 9’ 5x Perform X Trout Leader. I have also been using Scientific Angler’s new Absolute Stealth Green Tippet in 5x if I need to bloodknot additional tippet on the end.
Continue to be patient and help others out when you can at the ramp so that everyone can pull out in an orderly and efficient manner. As it gets colder in the year it can be easy to forget your safe fish handling practices. We urge you to wet your hands and keep those fish wet! Avoid fish pictures for the gram whenever possible so that we can continue to have healthy fish populations for years to come.
- MRFC Guide Borden Porter