- Jay Walden
August 23, 2020
"Greed is Good," Gordon Gekko. As Americans, we want it all and we want it right now, and with extra Ranch dressing. We also want unlimited bread sticks. I was wondering the other day, why in the world would a trout, intelligent as they seem sometimes, ever eat a size 10 Griffith's gnat? Something we refer to around here as a Dead Chicken. The only thing I could come up with was, greed. Gekko also said in the 1987 movie "Wall Street," "Greed is a clean drive that captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit." Now, I have witnessed the same trout on this river that have previously refused a size 26 midge on a 7x tippet, eat, with reckless abandon during a big midge hatch, a size 10 midge cluster on 5x without so much as blinking an eye, if trout could blink, that is. It is the only time where I have hooked the same fish and lose them, only to have them come back and eat the same fly, until they were landed. Try that with any other fly at any other time here—it just doesn't happen. But—but, but, but, but— when there are midge clusters on the water and the trout are keying in on them, then and only then, they'll drop their guard. Greed is good. A clean drive that captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit of fish—take advantage of the food source while they are aplenty—the day may come when the unlimited bread sticks run out, or worse yet, discontinued altogether at non-participating restaurants. We have been blessed in the last couple weeks with some pretty good midge hatches, if you know where to look—along grassy banks, behind islands, protruding rocks, or just those, otherwise, annoying beaver cuttings of Russian Olive branches that stick up in the river and seem to always snag your fly line or leader—basically, anywhere midges can gather until they are blown or washed off into the current. It always starts the same, first you'll start to see a few fish porpoising in the surface film—it usually begins with the little guys first, then you'll start to see some bigger fish doing the same thing, next you'll see some fish start to take individual midges, this will go on for a while until you start to see clusters of midges break lose and then you'll see them all line up and eat like the early-bird buffet line at Golden Corral. My recent outings have gone mostly like this—start out throwing a size 14 PMX to fish that are holding in water that is shallow enough that they can get a good look at it (not easy to come by when the water level is at 985 cfs like it is now) when I see enough fish taking emergers to pique my interest I go to a size 24 Morgan's Midge until I see some snouts, which means they're beginning to eat adults and then I'll switch to a size 24 gray midge adult or Fore and Aft, and then finally when they start eating clusters, I'll switch to a size 22 Bloody Butcher, or even a Dead Chicken if the clusters I'm seeing are big enough. The main part of the hatch—the cluster part, the really fun part, starts around 3:00 and goes on till around 4:30 or so and by 5:00 it's over like someone flipped a switch and you've been transported to another river on another planet. The good news is, if you work at it, you can catch a lot of fish in an hour- and- a- half. The earlier part of the day hasn't been too shabby either, but that last hour till qittin' time at 6:00, has been a tough go for dry fly fishing, not to mention, the wind is usually an issue around then. Now, if I was nymph fishing—I said if—I'd probably start in the earlier part of the day with a red larva and a size 24 pupa pattern, then go to a pupa and emerger pattern around 11:00 and basically stick with that all day. I would note that with the higher flows we have been experiencing, expect to use a little more weight that you've been accustomed to and also check and clean your flies often since there a lot of moss out there right now and any little bit of trash on your fly is gonna result in a refusal. Well, I'd like to tell you that the water is going to go down real soon and the fishing is just going to get better, but judging by the weather report, we most likely won't see any appreciable rain until some time in September, so if anything, there's a greater likelihood that it will go up again, before they go in the other direction. Still, the fishing has been pretty good, and the dry fly fishing surprisingly better than I can remember from times past when we were around 1,000 cfs., thanks mainly to the good midge hatches and some greedy fish. Stay safe, friends.