Cooler temps and unlocking the code

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Cooler temps and unlocking the code

You won't hear us complain about the end to the summer heat! Temps are creeping down slowly, which is good news for our rivers and the fishing.
This time of year can be tough for many as there tends to be a decrease in insect activity making the puzzle of choosing the right fly a challenging one. Many of the bugs we find to be successful day to day are not easy to explain. Purple, blue, red, flashy and lacking many of the characteristics of natural insects. Instead of writing the same old boring fishing report I will address some of the challenges and possible solutions to this problem.
Take some time soak up your surroundings when you first get to the river. A seemingly insect-free river may turn up some good clues if you take the time to look. Walk around in the grass to look for grasshoppers or other terrestrials, look in the air for flying insects, walk the banks of the river to look for recent shucks and turn over some rocks to look for more active and prevalent insects. This may not always produce real clues, but it's better than wading in blind.
We all love to fish dry flies, but is it the right call? The reduced insect activity means that fewer fish will be looking toward the sky for a meal. If you want to throw dries this time of year look for more shallow areas where fish will more easily see your offering, choose sections where there is an increased likelihood of terrestrial activity like hoppers and ants and play around with size and patterns. If you're throwing a size 6 tan Morris Hopper, but they are seeing naturals that are more similar to a size 12 with a yellow belly you may not entice them to the surface.
If your only goal is to put more fish in the net you need to become skilled at nymphing. Most of a fish's diet comes from aquatic insects, some say 90-95% of their diet is from below the surface . Also nymphing is sometimes seen as an easier form of fly fishing (and sometimes a lesser one), but it requires a lot of thought, practice and fly knowledge to become very proficient. A few things that will help; If you have patterns that you believe in carry them in good quantities and increase your variety of sizes and colors, learn different nymphing styles like Czech, dead-drifting, swinging and tight line techniques and play around with weight, leader dimensions and type of indicators used. If something isn't working you need to find different water, different flies or change how your flies are being presented to the fish.
Tight lines and happy fishing!

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Gallatin River Guides

  • Gallatin River Guides Big Sky, Montana fly fishing store and guide service near Bozeman, Montana and Yellowstone National Park
  • 406-995-2290
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