Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stillwater Angler Fishing Report

Hit the rivers now

Runoff was pretty mild and short lived. Summer fishing is here.
The Stillwater cleared much earlier than historically normal and has been fishing for a few weeks now. The Yellowstone wasn’t too far behind. Flows and water temperatures are more in line with early August than early July.
During the recent heat, I found that fishing on the Stillwater was best early in the day and fairly steady until midafternoon or so when the warmer water temperature started to have an impact.
Sporadic hatches of PMDs and Yellow Sallies have been coming off most days. Nothing big, just a few here and a few there.
Various big attractor dry patterns, like a Jack Cabe, stimulator or PMX, along with a standard Stillwater nymph pattern of some sort has been a successful combination. Good nymph choices are bead head and flashy patterns such as a Prince Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail or Copper John. Fish are hitting the big dry fly with regularity.
The fish are generally where one would expect. That is, along the banks, in the seams and gentler riffles and around structure. When float fishing along the banks, I use the “two and two” rule. That is, getting the fly to drift two feet off the bank and in two feet of water.
Forget about casting long distance. Too often it results in lining over different current speeds that creates an immediate drag that is almost impossible to mend, let alone set the hook.
Concentrate instead on short, accurate casts with a shorter, heavier leader that will produce a decent drift.
On the Yellowstone, be prepared to nymph down deep. If fishing a dry/dropper set up try a fairly long dropper. Streamers could also be dead drifted or stripped off the bank.
As I wrote last week, we have a very real potential for fishing restrictions if the current conditions continue. We did get a nice reprieve from the heat for a day or two, which definitely helped.
However, still plan on hitting the water a little earlier than normal before the water starts heating up too bad. It’s still a mystery what hopper fishing is going to look like this year.
I wouldn’t hesitate to start throwing them now though, as they’re bound to solicit some action.
There has been some terrific fishing to be had on the Stillwater, so I would get on it now and enjoy it while it lasts. This is a tough year to try and predict and forecast, so one just has to roll with it. Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.