Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
It’s getting closer to what has to be my favorite time of year for fishing our area rivers. Days start out chilly, mornings are crisp and afternoons warm. The fishing conditions have generally been pretty good, and we’ve got a couple of breaks here and there to keep the water temperatures from getting too bad.
Another thing I enjoy about heading into late summer and fall is that what crowds we have compared to some rivers in the state, have thinned out dramatically once hunting season is here, school started and tourist season winding down. It won’t be long and fall colors will be with us too! It’s possible to get out on the river and pretty much have the whole place to one’s self.
As night time lows start to get cooler, first thing in the morning, the water will be downright cold. Even for a guy who likes to wet wade, it’s probably wader time pretty soon. With the water being as cold as it is to start the day, there’s no point in hurrying to get out on the water.
The fish aren’t likely to be too active first thing, and may be hunkered down a bit. So, nymphing or streamers may be the way to go to start the day. It may mean adjusting tactics too and getting the nymphs down deep and allowing streamers to sink a bit deeper.
As the day goes on, the big dry fly/hopper should still get some attention. On the warm afternoons, you can hear the hoppers chattering on the banks. If there’s a bit of a breeze, but not too windy, all the better! It’s also the time of year when some hatches are appearing.
There have been some tricos on the Yellowstone in the morning, but that’s a pretty tough deal to try and fish too….very small! There are some occasional PMDs and Caddis about also, as well as some larger mayflies. Look for rising fish in the foam lines, tailouts, and slick water.
A good tactic to use is to fish a larger dry fly like a Parachute Adams, purple haze, or Royal Wulff in a size that is easily visible, and trail a smaller dry fly or emerger pattern. Use a size smaller tippet than what’s used to the top fly and use a short leash of a foot or so. Most times, if fish are actively feeding, they will eagerly hit both patterns. Sometimes they’ll neglect the dry fly and be all over the emerger variant.
One thing to be aware of this time of year is that the angle of the sun is noticeably changing. This means that depending on how the river is oriented and being fished, there can be quite a glare to contend with. This makes wearing a good pair of polarized sunglasses all the more valuable.
As the shadows start to get longer too, it may be necessary to wear a pair of sunglasses with a color of lens that are designed for reduced visibility fishing conditions. It’s extremely frustrating to be fishing to rising fish and be unable to see the fly.
It’s a great time of year to fish in these parts. There are scenic waters with excellent fishing conditions right here in our back yard without having to burn a tank of gas to get there. Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.