Fishing conditions have changed remarkably since the first of July, which generally marks the official kickoff of fishing season on rivers like the Shoshone, Yellowstone, Green and Snake.
Their miles of tributaries that flow into these rivers further increase angling opportunities in the northwest corner of Wyoming. Most remarkable has been how quickly the flows have dropped in a few short weeks. Few would have imagined that these major watersheds could lose so much volume after a cold, wet spring and a snowpack well above 100 percent going into July.
Also remarkable has been the stupendous hatches of aquatic insects that have been emerging and hatching on rivers throughout the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, especially during the past two weeks.
Mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies are everywhere. The trout are happy now as they binge feed on a smorgasbord of what most people call bugs. Anglers in the know can do quite well imitating these insects with creations of fur, feather and foam for the rest of the summer and fall months.
While my column has been a regular fixture in the Cody Enterprise since 1987 detailing the trout fishing found in this part of Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, there are days when the fishing gets in the way of a column deadline. This happens more often during high summer which is why I missed getting last week’s column submitted in time.
Like anyone hooked on a powerful drug, it is easy to overlook responsibilities and have one more hit to indulge the reactions of that drug. In my case, that drug is fishing hatches and I am, admittedly, most happy when indulging myself during the peak time of some type of insect hatch on local rivers or the Yellowstone, one of my all time favorite rivers, even if the native cutthroat population is still recovering. If lucky, I can continue this indulgence for a long time to come.
If you have the same proclivities regarding the insect hatches of mayflies and caddis, specifically during this time of year, you have probably promised someone close to you that you would only be fishing for a few hours and would be back home by a certain time, only to return well after dark-thirty.
This loss of time is difficult to explain to those that keep track of such things. It isn’t like we were out partying and carrying on, right?
It is because we are, for the most part, dry fly junkies who cannot stop fishing as long as the trout are rising and we can still see our fly on the water.
While the rivers are still high compared to low-water years, they are low enough to wade the edges for sure and even cross back and forth in some places. I highly encourage you to be in the water waving a long stick while this insect activity is going on.
The plethora of aquatic insects will pass too quickly then be gone for another year. I won’t give away my secret spots where the fishing is best during the hatches because I have never been a kiss and tell kind of man, but I will tell you to visit the rivers and streams that drain the Absaroka, Beartooth and Bighorn mountains for the next few weeks to see for yourself how exciting fly fishing during hatches can be.