Looks like warm weather is here in a serious manner, and it will effect small streams and still waters the most. Many of them are at their best before waters drop to near base level and warm.
Many of our small streams host beaver ponds. Even the best of these ponds are not much more than several feet deep, and with little movement of water through them, their water tends to warm quickly. So especially for these (Jackknife Creek, McCoy Creek,Cranes Creek, Little Warm River), now is the best time for a visit. Leech patterns in black or olive are always a good choice hese. If you prefer top water fishing, dry damsel adult, and speckled dun patterns work well. So does a hair mouse or frog pattern if very large trout inhabit the pond. Later on, add terrestrial patterns to the mix of patterns to consider.
With respect to small streams in general, those with a large component of spring inflow ( upper Birch Creek, Big Elk Creek, upper Bitch Creek) or lakes with underground outlets (Palisades Creek) have a better chance of maintaining water levels and nice water temps through the summer. But for many other small streams not so fortunate, now is the time to enjoy them, and we can help you make choice.
Teton River drainage is beginning to round into fishing shape. In the river’s canyon reach and below look for golden stoneflies and caddislies to bring some action. Consider that the canyon reach is difficult and dangerous water best fished accompanied by a guide or a person knowing the river “like the back of their hand.”
Looking for places to take that enthusiastic youngster? Put the Birch Creek Family Area above Lone Pine, McCoy Creek, and Little Warm River around Pole Bridge Campground at the top of your list. Sawmill Creek in the Little Lost River drainage is another great choice except for a much longer drive than the others. All these offer very good dry fly-fishing right now with any small pattern working and each is not only easily approached, but relatively safe.
Choice is really great, once again. Exceptions are streams draining west slope of the Tetonsand lower Blackfoot River with its ups and downs flows out of the dam. If you have an entry level person, small streams are the place to go rather than the big waters which can be intimidating. Birch Creek’s Family Fishing Area is at the top of the candidate list. Some other good candidates are Sawmill Creek in the upper Little Lost River Valley, Little Warm River in the Pole Bridge Campground area, McCoy Creek, upper Medicine Lodge Creek, Beaver Creek in the campground area and meadows above Spencer. Even Hayden Ponds between Leadore and Salmon are great candidates. Now that school is out, there is plenty of time to get that inquiring youngster onto the water. There are many other candidates for doing so. Come in and talk to us about where, what to use, and when to go.
Almost every stream not draining high country is in great fishing shape. Teton River drainage is an exception right now with some west slope run-off coming down. Also variable flows in the lower Blackfoot River make fishing success just as variable. Almost every other stream is worth a visit, and beginning now for the next several weeks may be the best time of the season for trying these if rainfall becomes less than normal and air temperatures higher than normal. Get in touch with us to get information on which of these streams are worth visiting at any time.
Some of these are really shaping up for good fishing. Warm River has been good for weeks with cloudy day BWO, PMD, yellow sally, and caddis life cycle patterns. Add Robinson Creek to small streams worth trying. Here small traditional attractors (renegades, various wulffs, irresistables) and nymphs work well. The big stoneflies have gone through, but caddis, sallys and PMDs also make for good fishing. McCoy, Jackknife, and Tincup Creeks are other good bets with traditional attractor and nymph patterns. Some of our great small streams remain closed to protect spawning cutthroat. Consult current regulations to identify these waters.
Are you looking for a small stream that is producing active fish? Try Warm River. Now that Memorial Day weekend has passed, crowds will decrease. Consider walking up the railroad grade from the Three Rivers area, or walk up from the campground. Fish are taking PMD and caddisfly life cycle patterns. Traditional dry fly patterns in smaller sizes will also produce in the faster water. Soft hackled patterns always work on this stream.Try them just below Warm River Spring as well as on the lower river.
Flow out of Blackfoot River Reservoir was increased Wednesday from under 100 cfs to around 230 cfs as irrigation demands kick in. That’s a big change for this small river, so look for fishing success here to fall off until things stabilize, even though a big caddisfly hatch is going on.
Thursday we fished the Blackfoot River about eight miles below the dam. Flow out of the dam is only 67 cfs, and the impact on the river below is almost tragic for trout. This low flow concentrates them in deepest water. It was a bright, beautiful day so the normally sparse BWO emergence did not happen. Hoppers still abound, and trout will come up for them. Streamside cover where fingerling trout find refuge is high and dry because of the low flow. This puts them in deeper water where they are preyed on by larger trout. Need I say any more?
This time of year fishing gets tough on some of our small streams that have dropped to base level flow. That’s not the case for many though. The lower Teton River is an example where afternoon BWO activity, even on fairly bright days, bring fish up to the top. Try the river just below the Hog Hollow Bridge. The lower Blackfoot River is shaping up with flows down to around 100 cfs. Try nymphs and because no killing frost has happened, hopper patterns anywhere below the Dam where there is deeper water. Visit us at the shop for specific information.
We have been watching flow gauges on the lower Blackfoot River. With flows not much higher than 200 cfs, the river is in fly-fishing shape. Streamers would be a good bet, but with plenty of hoppers in the surroundings, some cutts may come up for your imitation. Look for best fishing to begin in a couple of weeks when water flows drop further.