Is it on? Well, if you’re talking the salmonfly hatch, not quite yet. But if you want to catch a bunch of fish on the Yellowstone River, by all means yes. Tons of bugs are out, caddis, Yellow Sally stoneflies, PMD mayflies, you name it. And yes, we’re seeing a sprinkling of adult salmonflies all up and down the Paradise Valley. But the numbers are still sparse and the fish not yet fully committed to eating the big dries. That could change on any day, maybe even today. The water still has some color, but there’s plenty enough visibility for surface action.
At this point, nymphs have still been catching the majority of the fish, whether under an indicator or dropped off a dry fly. I wade fished near Loch Leven yesterday and caught a good number of trout on a brown and black Rubberlegs dropper about 3 feet below a gold Chubby Chernobyl. A few trout did attack the Chubby, and I landed one on the dry (and an ambitious whitefish). But the rest of the action was on the nymph. We’ve had similar reports from our guides. Besides the big stonefly nymphs, smaller beadheads have also been effective. Try a King Prince, a CDC Pheasant Tail, a caddis pupa imitation, or Kyle’s Beadhead Yellow Sally for starters. With the water still relatively high and fast, concentrate on the soft water right along the banks.
The Paradise Valley spring creeks are also fishing very well right now. Good PMD hatches are coming off for several hours each day toward the middle of the day. Sprout PMDs, CDC Biot Duns, and Sparkle Dun Biots are all good imitations. Don’t forget to grab some emergers and cripples, as well. And if you’re starting early in the morning and/or staying later in the day, you’ll want some PMD spinner patterns in case you run into a spinner fall.
This is the golden hour on the Yellowstone River and the spring creeks. Salmonflies are just around the corner and you won’t want to miss that fun. The trout we’re catching are healthy and fat. Plan to get out this weekend, if you can’t get here sooner than that!0