Cold weather has finally pushed into Wyoming.
November is the month when smaller reservoirs and ponds begin to freeze over eliminating fishing opportunities until the thaw comes next spring. Luce, Hogan, Wardell, Beck, West and East Newton and, of course, the Beartooth chain of lakes take on a mantle of ice. The freeze-up is already occurring and will continue now that we have more hours of darkness than we do daylight.
Cold weather will also impact rivers and tributaries on the Shoshone, Clarks Fork, Greybull and Wood. Water temps are already in the mid-30s in these rivers. Trout still feed, but the edge or shelf ice that is building along the banks of flowing water will continue to move to the middle of the current where the trout can hide under the ice.
Anglers will see some respite on the South Fork of the Shoshone which, for some reason and probably due to underground springs that feed the upper valley sections of river, manages to remain open. Fishing is good except on the coldest of days. For the next four to five months, anglers will have to resort to fishing the lower Shoshone, the Wind River Canyon or the Big Horn River near Thermopolis if open water is what they seek.
There is some good in the freeze-up and reduction in fishing options or opportunities. Fall and winter are a good time to haul out the fly tying kit and tie up fresh flies for the next year, or to imitate the insects and crustaceans that remain active in tailwater fisheries throughout the winter months.
If fly fishing isn’t your thing, but ice fishing jigs is, one can also tie a good supply of bucktail jig ice “flies” and/or some balanced leeches to dangle and move under a hole in the ice on Yellowtail, Boysen, Buffalo Bill, Sunshine or any other lakes or reservoirs that have trout, perch, crappy, walleye or lake trout abiding in them.
The Palomino Midge is a great fall through spring fly when midges are active on rivers. This fly imitates midge pupae and was originated by Brett Smith in Sheridan to be used initially on the Bighorn River near Ft. Smith, Mont. This fly works and was once a staple in many a fly fishers’ midge fly boxes. Brett’s original Palomino Midge used a tying material called New Dub. This material was really nothing more than a polyester carpet fiber that was “discovered” by Smith while playing around at his tying bench.
The fly was originally tied in a tannish/olive body color. When wet, the fiber that was used as a tailing body material imitated midge pupae behavior very well. The trout would not leave it alone. As the fly gained popularity at Ft. Smith and other tailwaters, the colors red, olive, black, orange, purple and gray were also great options when the tannish/olive color just didn’t get any looks from trout.
Unfortunately, the source for New Dub material and color options went away in the mid-2000s. Tyers replaced it with micro vernille chenille, but the fly just didn’t work as well once the New Dub ingredient was unavailable. Now, there is a new tying material that comes very close to the original New Dub. That material is called EZ Magic Dub. It also comes in an array of color options so the fly tyer or fly fishing angler can once again add the Palomino Midge back into our fly boxes.
Here are the tying instructions. The fly is quick, simple and fast to tie, so cranking out a dozen or so during an NFL game is easy enough.
Hook: Tiemco 2488 size 16-20, or a light wire scud or pupae hook equivalent (Kumoto, Dai Ichi, Anrex, etc.)
Thread: 8/0 or 10/0 UFC or Uni Thread – colors - Black, Olive, Brown, Red or Gray
Tail/Body: One strand EZ Magic Dub. Body color is your choice, but black, gray and olive work consistently. Red, orange and purple are not bad colors to use when the sun is high and bright.
Tie the strand on top of the hook so the EZ Dub material extends a hook length beyond the hook shank. Trim with scissors, then hit the end of the strand with a butane lighter flame to singe/seal the end and keep it from unraveling. (This is a quick step. If you overdo it, you will melt the material and have to start over!)
Overwing: White marabou fibers (approximately 10-15 fibers) tied in the thorax area of the hook, with the tips facing to the back of the fly hook. When the thorax has been dubbed and shaped, the marabou is pulled over the top of the thorax as the final step to form a wing pad. The tips of the marabou extend forward past the hook eye about ¼ the length of the hook length.
Thorax: Squirrel or rabbit dubbing that matches the color of the body/tail material. The thorax should be ¼ to 1/3 the length of the shank. The thorax should be small and not overly large. Remember midge pupae have a long abdomen, short compressed thorax and gills, so don’t overdo the dubbing or use large amounts of marabout fibers!
Finish the Palomino Midge by pulling the marabou fibers forward as described to form the overwing and head portion of the fly. Then, whip finish right behind the hook eye and glue. Viola. There you have it. Make sure you tie this fly in several, if not all, of the available colors of EZ Dub. One never knows which color will be the hot one for the day. If you struggle with this description, the original Palomino Midge can be found on YouTube to aid tying correctly.
Now, go fish the fly. The Palomino can be dropped below an indicator using a weighted fly such as a pheasant tail, Hares ear, North Fork Special, sowbug, scud or San Juan worm to take the fly deeper.
If trout are rising but not sipping on the surface, drop the Palomino 15 inches or so below a Griffith’s Gnat, parachute Adams or sparkle dun. When your dry fly is pulled under, or your indicator moves, a trout has just crunched your Palomino. Set the hook and keep up the action.