Yellowstone Park has been fishing very well the past week. Hot weather has been something to deal with on long hikes into the high country on Slough and Pebble creeks where the insect hatches have been nirvana for those like me who enjoy an entire day fishing dry flies. If you don’t know what fishing a dry fly is all about, it is simple. Dry flies typically imitate the adult version of aquatic insects. These imitations are fished on the surface of the water and float. They are not dry in the general sense because they are in the water after all, but these flies do ride on top of the surface well enough that the trout are fooled and come to the surface to eat them.
That is the ultimate experience because the angler usually gets a good look at a trout when it comes to their imitation of choice. There are other ways to fish for trout with a fly rod. It is true that 90% of the time, trout feed below the surface. That is the reason many anglers fish a wet fly imitation all day with good success. However, because most aquatic insects like mayflies, caddis and stoneflies complete their life cycle from egg to hatch as larvae or nymph, before emerging as adults during the months of June through October, fishing a dry fly during this time frame can catch as many trout as when fishing an artificial wet fly below the surface. I should say, catching trout is easy as long as the right fly choice is made and then a cast is placed on the water in the way the trout like to eat a mayfly, caddis or stonefly adult.
This coming week, anglers will witness and have the opportunity to fish green drake and pale morning dun mayflies, which look like sailboats on the water. Also, caddis flies (these look like small moths flitting about over the surface) and small to large stoneflies will be seen on the waters of Yellowstone as well as those rivers and streams found outside the boundaries of Yellowstone in the rest of Park County.
There are many imitations of these insects to use during the adult hatches of aquatic insects. I could take the space to write down all of them, but generally speaking, the following fly patterns will work when dry fly fishing during the above hatch events this week and well on into the rest of the summer.
• Parachute Adams with a gray, tan or dark olive body in sizes 10-16.
• Elk hair caddis and, or snowshoe caddis, in white, gray, olive, tan and brown work well in the same sizes.
• Stoneflies can be imitated using a stimulator in either yellow or orange, size 4-18.
• Royal Wulffs work well for the larger mayflies as an attractor pattern and royal trudes in colors gray, royal or chartreuse do a good job of imitating caddis and stoneflies. Because both Wulffs and trudes have white wings, anglers can better watch them as they float down a river or stream.
I hope I have spurred some interest in fishing a dry fly during a hatch or emergence the next week or throughout the summer months. The other important thing you need to know is the Yellowstone River opens for angling July 15. This is a dry fly river extraordinaire and one you should put on your bucket list to fish this summer. The river has large native Yellowstone cutthroat and the trout have had several weeks of great insect hatches and activity already. The trout will be primed and ready to eat your dry fly offering opening day and the rest of this week. After that, the trout will be a lot smarter since they are catch-and-release only and will be wise to dry flies. Having said that, be persistent and change your flies often in order to keep your fly rod bent and your drag singing.