It’s been quite a while since my last Fly Zone entry on February 21, though Dan has continued to soldier on with his posts. My silence hasn’t been due to a lack of fishing or lack of a desire to write about it. It’s new product season in most fly shops across North America and that includes Sweetwater. And though there is some Christmas-morning-like excitement to getting a bunch of new, shiny and colorful items in the store, there’s also a lot of work involved.
New items need to be counted, added into inventory and our web store, merchandised, priced, and hung. Flies need put in bins. Fly patterns we haven’t carried before need to be given a space and labeled. Anything we missed ordering last fall (next year’s preseason orders are always due in late summer and fall) needs to be ordered now. And since our true mission here is to sell things about fly fishing, not just talk about fly fishing, store merchandising takes precedent over blogs. But the store is now packed full and ready to go, so it’s time to get back to fishing talk.
February and the first half of March saw the last of the ice recede from the river’s surface and quickly melt on its banks. The photo above was taken on March 18 when a 4′ x 4′ wall of ice extended from the Yellowstone’s Loch Leven access to Mallards Rest. It was like fishing in HBO’s Game of Thrones. But there were still trout to be caught (as you can see in the photo above) for those willing to scale the wall. All that mid March ice is now long gone in mid April.
As the ice left, the Mountain Blue Birds returned
And the wild flowers began to appear in my fields
But between the ice wall and the arrival of birds and flowers, there was a lot of fishing. My first dry fly fish of the year was caught on April 5 after it ate a size 16 parachute during an intense Baetis (blue winged olive) hatch. Midges and olives have been thick on the river some days, and the trout have noticed.
The nymphing has been good too…mostly with Rubberlegs and size 12 or 14 beadhead droppers.
I’ve spent some time alone time on the water this spring, but most of my trips have been with Jan Axtell or Dan Gigone, and the fishing’s been good for them too.
We’ve had some rain this week and a couple days of muddy water, but the river looks good this morning. Saturday, the roads to Old Faithful open in Yellowstone National Park (though you can’t fish the Park till Memorial Day weekend). The ice is gone. Birds are signing. The Park is opening. Our mountain snowpack looks great (140%). Aquatic insects are hatching. Trout are rising. The fly shop is full of cool new stuff. Mother’s Day Caddis will be here soon. It’s spring in Montana. The long late winter silence is over and everything begins again.