03 Jun 2012 Feathered Hook Fishing Season
Spring Creek Meadows- This season’s low water and warm weather had little effect on the Meadows cabin spring creeks. Strong hatches of callibaetis and PMD’s really had the fish looking up. Cruising browns, cutthroats and brookies’ readily took dry flies throughout the summer.
Late July and August brought on Grey Drakes, Green Drakes followed by the lesser green drake. These meaty mayflies caught the attention of most of the bigger fish. With temperatures fluctuation during this hatch, it was strung out for about 4 weeks.
October brought on the big October caddis. These clumsy bugs bounced across the surface causing slashing strikes from hungry trout.
There were always opportunities to throw dry flies. Full moon nights offered the opportunity to cast mouse patterns into the dark, anxiously awaiting the sounds of a big brown exploding through the surface to attack your mouse pattern. In one evening’s session of casting mouse patterns, it was common to have up to a half-dozen takes.
Through the months of October, November and December, the brown trout began to pair up above the cabin pond to spawn. They competed with cutthroat for space in the deeper holes in the small spring creek. Late hatches of midges and small BWO’s came off at times lending one last chance to throw dries before the cold of winter set in and iced over the still waters.
Salt River- The Salt is a temperamental river, offering lots of action at times yet days of frustration. Hatches of PMD’s, caddis, callibaetis and drakes were the top producers of rising trout in the summer and early fall. Hoppers readily drew fish to the surface and big streamers brought out the big fish from under overhanging willows and cut banks.
The Salt was susceptible to “coloring” up during rainstorms. Fluctuating temperatures in early spring muddied up the river several times. When water levels became more constant, the fishing really began to pick up. Grey Drakes began coming off in late July, of which the cutthroat and browns took regularly. Cripple patterns seemed to be the go to fly, but adult duns worked well also.
During late fall, brown trout from Palisades Reservoir began making their way up the Salt to spawn. Early spawn brought aggressive fish, readily chasing down streamer patterns. We consistently saw fish in the 24 inch range. Locals consistently talked of fish in the 10-15 lb. range in the river. Fish began pairing up in the upper Salt, Swift Creek, and Crow Creek, on the south end of the property, to begin building their redds. At this point I traded in the fly rod for a video camera to film the event. There were however, feeding fish in the lower sections which provided some exciting fishing. Most of the browns had headed back to the reservoir by the end of December.
By mid February temperature had risen into to the high twenties allowing some midge activity on the Salt. Some bigger fish were still willing to chase streamers, but most were beginning to key in on the midges.
Smith’s Fork River- The spring run-off colored up the river through most of June, but came into shape in July. Hoppers were the ticket for the remainder of the summer well into September. Bigger fish could be found feeding in the seams next to undercut banks, behind rocks, and drop-off’s behind riffles.
The Smith’s Fork water levels remained fairly consistent during this unusually warm summer, more so than our other waters. This river has diverse runs of heavy riffles, deep pools, rock gardens, cut-banks and flat water providing many opportunities to feeding fish. We were able to get some good video footage of big cutthroats taking hopper patterns along the banks. There are several fish in the 18-20 inch range with plenty of 14-16 inch fish willing to take flies.
The Smith’s Fork is an easy walk and wade river with plenty of Bonneville and Brown trout to tease with the hopper.
Hobble Creek- This was one of my favorite stretches of water, mostly because of the diversity of the rivers character. The lower section enters a small canyon with big boulders and downed trees, creating deep pools for cutthroat and browns to hide in. Much like the Smith’s Fork, Hobble Creek contains deep pools and cut-banks where many of the larger fish were found. Hoppers were very productive in bringing fish to the surface, and streamers had big fish leaving there deep holding lies to give chase.
Hobble Creek is a perfect half-day or full-day hike-in fishery with beautiful scenery and lots of plump Bonneville Cutthroats.
Hams Fork River- It was a tough water year for the Hams Fork due to high temperatures and low snow levels. Early in the season on the Hams Fork fishing was good during the salmon fly hatch. The water was still off color but the fish were still chasing the big bugs. There were large numbers of golden stoneflies and salmon flies early in July bringing larger fish to the surface. Fish were found close to the edges in back eddies, some in deeper rifles and drop-offs.
Water levels dropped quickly as the temperatures rose. Most fish had retreated back towards Viva Naughton Reservoir by late summer. There were still small numbers of fish in deeper runs, but you had to search for them.
Green River- The Green River is always an exciting float, with large numbers of wildlife around every corner. Bald and Golden Eagles abound here. On one particular float, a pair of immature Great Grey Owls was perched on the side of the river watching us float by. They decided to fly across the river as we passed by. The fisherman in the front of the boat had to duck as the Owl flew about a foot over his head, just another added bonus to the float.
The Green River was plagued with high water temperatures and low flows this season making fishing tough at times. We still had success however, throwing hoppers, Chernobyl ants, parachute ants, Grey/Green Drakes and streamers. There was also a substantial Salmon Fly hatch which had the fish looking up and taking nymphs early in the season when the water was high. The erosion from high water created many holding areas tight to the banks. The Green is where that fish of a lifetime can eat your fly at any given time.
Grey’s River- The Grey’s River behind Deadman Ranch fished very well this season. Three different channels behind the cabin offer a variety of challenges for an angler. The main river held many fish, where the side channels seemed to hold some of the bigger fish. These side channels required accurate casting and stealthy approaches. We had success throwing hopper patterns to these fish. It’s quite exciting watching an 18-20 inch cutthroat come out from under a cut-bank or from deep within the hole to take a dry fly off the top.
We also had some success with streamer patterns fished down deep in the holes. Later in the summer the fish began moving up into the heads of riffles feeding on nymphs and dry flies. Large Adams, Purple Haze, and Caddis were very affective over these fish. The Deadman Ranch is the perfect location for your do it yourself adventure.
All in all, this season was very successful. With so much water to cover, I feel like I barely even scratched the surface of what Feathered Hook has to offer. With the 2013 season approaching quickly, snow packs are at or close to normal; it should be another fantastic fishing season here on Feathered Hook waters. Come and join us for some of the best fly fishing the west has to offer. We will be kicking off the season with our Wilderness adventure trip for very large and extremely beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat.
Tight Lines Everyone