Flow out of Blackfoot River Reservoir is dropping and currently is just below 200 cfs. This signals the beginning of good dry fly fishing in this part of the river where banks still hold good numbers of hoppers. Evening caddis activity will attract more fish now that water is lower. As we cool down be aware that weeds are breaking up and mats of them will be drifting down the river. Float fishing on the river below the dam will end soon because of the “rock gardens” that emerge with dropping flows this time of year.
Now that most recreationists have left for the summer, the Teton River in the Basin is a lot more tranquil for a visit. Expect a few duck hunters on the river when mid October rolls around, but they will not be scaring BWOs. Warm River offers some good evening fishing, thanks to caddis activity. Some of our smaller streams, i.e. Palisades, Big Elk, Stump, South Fork of Tincup, and Bear, will offer good fishing for weeks to come. The Blackfoot River below the reservoir will become a destination when flows are reduced at the end of the month. Consider taking that lightweight rod to the Birch Creek Family Area. So there is a lot of small stream fishing to enjoy during autumn. Get in touch with us, and we can suggest even more streams to enjoy.
We have a most unusual small stream in our area that can offer most interesting fishing. That stream is Red Rock Creek in Montana’s Centennial Valley, just west of Henry’s Lake. What makes it so interesting is its grayling population, among which are a few individuals approaching eighteen inches in length. These fish can be difficult, however, but when found in a feeding mood provide perhaps amongst our rarest of fly-fishing treats. Right now their season in the creek is winding down, so they are retreating downstream to upper Red Rock Lake. They however can take caddis life cycle patterns (#12-18) and small ( nothing bigger than #10, 2x long hooks is advised) terrestrial patterns if in a feeding mode. If you are lucky enough to encounter then release one, be sure to handle it gently and quickly. That is because these unusually beautiful salmonids are in danger of diminishing. By the way, Odell Creek, further to the west, slightly smaller, and ending in Lower Red Rock Lake also hosts these living gems.
Smaller streams are now mostly at base level. That means concentrate fishing efforts on deepest downstream water. Terrestrial insect patterns will be effective, even for days after a killing frost. In the smaller category Bear, Birch, Palisades, and Big Elk Creeks currently offer the best fishing. Larger small streams offering good fishing are the Teton River throughout, lower Blackfoot River (still a bit high with nymphing and presenting streamers best ways to find action), and Warm River (BWO, hopper, and caddis activity).
With school now in session, most vacations over, and cooling daytime air temperatures, look for a decrease in recreational floaters and boaters on the Teton River in the basin and even through the canyon. That signals a return to tranquil daytime fishing. For the river in the basin successful fishing is tied to Early AM trico activity and terrestrial insects during daytime hours. Big attractors (ie chubby chernobyls) will always be effective in the canyon reach this time of year.
Grass hopper patterns are essential for fishing area small streams this time of year. There are exceptions such as patterns for the Big Elk Creek PM flav event, for speckled dun life cycle events on beaver ponds, for AM trico events, for PM caddis events, and for gray drake emergences on such as the Teton River. Hopper patterns, presented around overhead cover and water of good depth can be effective during these events. Compared to mayflies and caddisflies, trout get more “bang for the buck”when rising to hoppers. Its all about conservation of energy: how many rises does it take to gain the equivalent food value in mayflies or caddis flies compared to one rise to a drifting hopper? The same applies to big stoneflies in season. So regardless of any other insect being available for trout, keep hopper patterns in that fly box for several weeks to come.
The best small stream destinations this time of year are those with either lakes at their upper reaches ( Palisades Creek, Medicine Lodge Creek, Cascade Creek, Modoc Creek, etc. ) or a good inflow from springs (Big Elk Creek, Warm River, Bear Creek, Birch Creek, Bitch Creek, Teton River, and Diamond Creek). In all of these some of the best water to target is where riffles drop into holes or runs. This is the case because trout sitting in this interface have first crack at any edible life form drifting in, can make a quick escape to deep water, and can make more efficient contact with dissolve oxygen from moving rather than still water. Currently terrestrial insect and caddis life cycle patterns are likely the best to use in these waters.
It’s time to begin looking for the famed Big Elk Creek flav hatch. Until then (and during) terrestrial insect patterns provide a great way to enjoy the excellent cutthroat trout population of this stream. The same thoughts for terrestrial insect patterns applies to all the South Fork-Palisades Reservoir tribs, and the Salt River tribs, as well. None of these streams, however, can match the Big Elk Creek flav hatch.
Birch Creek remains one of the best small streams for a youngster to try fly-fishing. At the family fishing area above Lone Pine the flow is stable, access is easy, fish are aggressive, and weather usually nice this time of year (only heavy wind and thunder showers compromise fishing success). Try wet flies early in the day and dry flies from late morning to early evening, and that youngster will have many chance at finding, hooking, playing, and releasing resident brookies and bows.
Looking for a bigger small stream? The Teton River in the basin might be one of the best currently if you remember to leave mid-day to recreational boaters and floaters. Try rusty spinners and terrestrial insect patterns in the early AM, and caddis life cycle and those terrestrial insect patterns during evening hours.