Salmonfly Report for Thursday 05/30/19
Angler: Jacob Noteboom
Location: Warm Springs/Mecca Flats
Weather: Mostly Sunny, High of 83 degrees.
There are still a few salmon flies & golden stones lingering around. If you’re lucky enough to find some shade mid-day, then chuck your Chubby Chernobyl into it. The trout are still looking up if the sun isn’t in their eyes. Even if it is I found fish aggressively taking small caddis and mayfly emergers, especially in the back eddies. A couple great patterns would be the caddis sparkle pupa and peacock soft hackle. I moved some fish swinging sculpins as well but be aware, if you see fish holding in tailouts or over pea gravel, the spawn is still on, so please don't wade into Redd’s as you step your way downstream. These spawning fish can give you an interesting show as you take a break from fishing though! The sun has been out enough for the snakes to try and get a tan, so watch your step and mind your ankles as you walk thru sage brush protruding onto the trails. As we go from spring into summer, the aquatic insects will respond to the warmer weather and mayfly and caddis hatches will become more important. Don't forget your PMD and Green Drake dry fly patterns, and bring some small weighted nymphs for fishing in the riffles.
Small Victories Hidden in Defeat.
It happens, we have all been bested by fish while fishing. Whether it be that your fly just couldn’t compete with the naturals being munched in front of you, or that you as the angler simply showed up unprepared for a certain hatch. For me on my days off this last week, it was both. I had set out for the Deschutes in attempt to raise some fish to big foam things, but the trout apparently didn’t get the memo. Although arriving at the water the same time as a fairly drastic cold front probably did nothing to help me. But, there was nothing to gain from complaints. Unfortunately you don’t get to pick what the weather does on your day off. Being defeated by fish isn’t all that bad though, it often leads you to many learning opportunities.
The first step is taking a deep breath and realizing what you have to offer simply isn’t what the fish want. Now, I’m not saying give up after the first few minutes and just quit, but once you throw 12 different flies at the same fish in the span of a half hour like me, it’s probably time to just find a good sitting rock, take a minute and appreciate the performance this fish had been displaying. I popped open my water bottle and put myself in a good position to get a front row seat on this fish without spooking him. I clipped my fly off of my leader before I began tossing salmonflies to the fish, so I wouldn’t be suspect of chumming should a trooper come down and see me feeding it. I sat and watched for 20 minutes, mentally taking notes and trying to solve all the riddles this feeding fish made me ask myself:
The first question that popped up in my head was, “Where was this fish sitting in relation to where he was rising?” Now there certainly are instances such as winter hatches where water temps are drastically colder, and fish are very calorie conservative, where you might watch a fish sit in the same exact spot and sip only when a food item drifts right into its face. This is not the case for all Deschutes red-band trout during salmonfly time; (A Majority of the time, at least). In the case of this fish, his lie was about 4 feet away from the spot he would eat. I watched multiple bugs drift right over him in his lane, but only when those bugs were to his left would he come out and crush them. Some of us at the shop speculated he might have been blind in his right eye ;). These are all things to think about when targeting fish rising in strangely specific areas. “Where do I need to be to make the right cast/drift?” “Am I throwing what this fish is eating?” “Is this fish taking the bugs when they’re positioned a certain way?” These are all questions you should ask yourself before you put a fly in the water.
Great job, you made the perfect drift with the right pattern, but still, no fish. Don’t beat yourself up when they don’t eat. It happens. Here are a few things to try before you cast again:
Downsize your fly and tippet. If I cast a giant pattern like the size 4 Rogue River salmonfly and don’t get any love, I’ll first try downsizing my fly to a pattern like the CDC golden stone or a smaller stimulator. It’s been 2-3 weeks since we’ve first seen big stoneflies on the grass, so that means 2-3 weeks of anglers throwing the same 3-4 patterns at these fish. Give yourself plenty of options in your fly sellection. Have a variety of leader and tippet. 3x is awesome for reckless fish and turning over big bugs, but some fish just require a downsize. I really like the Rio Powerflex Plus+ leaders for situations like this. You can go down to a smaller diameter such as a 5x without sacrificing as much line strength.
But sometimes the fish just don’t cooperate, so if that happens, take a moment to sit down, have a water break, and enjoy the spectacle the fish are putting on for you. Sometimes losing isn’t so bad if it teaches you something valuable.