Caddis (in the morning), PMDs, hecubas, and blue-winged olives are the main bugs on the Snake currently. You will find a few each day, but the right weather – cool, cloudy, and a little wet – brings them out big time on just about every reach of the river.
Riffles, seams, bankside troughs, confluences points, banks, and structure are all fishing about the same. Fish tight to your targeted water when the sun is out and air temperatures are warm. When it there is some clouds and precipitation, almost all of this holding water opens up and feed lines will be wider. Hit riffles pools as hard as you hit the edge of shelves, and let your flies drift down to the tail of seams and troughs. There can be as much action there as there can be at the heads.
Streamers continue to produce well on all reaches and are bringing in a lot of sizeable cutthroats. As with dry flies, target tight holding water along banks and structure and the heads of riffles and seams on those days with ample sunshine. When the clouds roll in and there is precipitation, expect the holding water to open up significantly with trout prowling riffle pools and the tail of seams and confluences. Bright patterns on sunny days, darker patterns on cloudy days. Larger articulated streamers are working well, but moderate sized patterns are bringing in more fish.
If you are looking for productive sections, keep in mind that the reaches from Jackson Lake Dam down to Wilson Bridge have decent action, but things are much better from Wilson Bridge down to Sheep Gulch. If the weather cooperates and we have cloud cover and precipitation, all bets are off and the entire river can fish well.
Dry flies – SRA Chernobyls, Mary Kays, Turck’s Tarantulas, Stimulators, Parachute Hares Ears, Booty’s Drake Emerger, Parawulffs, Quigley Cripples, Booty’s PMD, BWO, and Mahogany Emergers.
Streamers – Sparkle Minnows, Chickletts, Kreelux, Coyote Uglies, Teller’s Polar Minnows, J.J. Specials, Booty’s Quad Bunny, Galloup’s Circus Peanut, Silvey’s Sculpin, and Arum’s Lil’ Kim.
Nymphs – Lightening Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Psycho Princes, and Robins.
Note – Flows from Jackson Lake Dam will be ramped down from 1,800cfs to 350cfs starting October 1st and ending the week of October 5th through October 9th. Don’t be scared! The Snake has a reputation of fishing great during the October ramp down, especially when the weather cooperates with clouds and precipitation.
The South Fork has some pretty solid fishing at the moment with decent action in the morning and very good action in the afternoon on just about all reaches, with the Canyon sections taking the cake over the Swan Valley reach and the lower river below Byington.
Mornings have been best with double nymph rigs (lightly weighted) and dry-droppers fished along banks and structure (not necessarily close), seams, and riffles. Focus your attention at current margins. Dry-droppers are actually producing better than double nymph rigs.
Afternoons will feature more PMDs than you will see in the morning. Low pressure systems with clouds and precipitation will bring on mahogany duns and, if cool enough, blue-winged olives. This is when riffles and flats will produce in strong fashion on most days. You will see trout hitting the surface and small mayfly imitations can provide action, but dry-dropper rigs – especially the dropper portion of the rig – that is hammering it home. 18 inches to 30 inches is the ideal dropper length. If you are TOTALLY snobbing out and want to fish just dry flies, go with in-the-film emergers. A better bet is to quit being a snob and just go fishing.
The entire South Fork is fishing well, but action is best from Conant down to Lorenzo. Cloud cover and precipitation will turn the entire river on.
Dry flies – Circus Peanuts, J-Slams, Barrett’s Ant, Will’s Winged Chernobyls, Parachute Extended Body PMDs, BWOS, and Mahoganies, Comparaduns, Booty’s PMD, BWO, and Mahogany Emergers, Film Critics, and Pink Sulfur Emergers.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Legs, Biot Bugs, Foxy Sallie Stones, Psycho Mays, Bruised Mays, Copper Johns in red, Lightening Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, and San Juan Worms.
Yellowstone National Park
Lewis Lake – The fishing in the Lewis drainage has started to pick up with browns beginning their spawning run in the river and the mackinaw starting theirs in the lake itself. The lake trout are swarming on the flats in water between three and eight feet in depth. They will spook easily if approached too closely. A 40 foot cast is required (which still isn’t a lot of line). Clousers, Kreelux, big Zug Bugs, and damsel imitations are working as long as you get the retrieval right.
Browns are starting their move up the Channel. They can be found to a limited degree up in the shallow reaches, but larger congregations are found in the deeper water within a mile of the mouth. This should be changing soon.
Snake River – Cooler temperatures have put the Snake River and the Lewis River confluence area into solid footing for good fishing. Cutthroats are coming up for dry flies and feeding strong on streamers fished with a floating, hover, or intermediate sinking line. There are no clear signs of the browns coming out of Jackson Lake to make their spawning run (and it is fairly early), but we are starting to pick up more browns with each passing day.
We are in the last month of the season for Flat Creek and this can be one of the best. Crowds to not start to seriously dissipate until after September and we have great autumn emergences of mahogany duns, caddis (including some fall caddis), PMDs, and blue-winged olives. This is what we have on the water at the moment. There is nothing prolific and nothing consistent, just a smorgasbord that can intensify when weather patterns are correct. We have been using 5X and 6X leader with tandem and single dry fly rigs. It is productive to tie a light mayfly larva imitation as a dropper on a fall caddis imitation and get relatively good action on both.
It is becoming less of a dawn to mid-morning and mid-afternoon to dusk game now. Action has been occurring mid-day and can actually be better than the shoulders when there are cloudy skies about.
Dry flies – Stimulators, Tent-Wing Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Extended Body PMDs, Mahoganies, and BWOs, Comparaduns, Thorax PMDs and BWOs, Booty’s Mahogany and BWO Emerger, Cole’s Split-Wing Cripple, Quigley Cripple, Pink Sulfur Emergers, and Film Critics.
Nymphs – Lightening Bugs, Psycho Princes, Robins, Rainbow Warriors, Flashback Pheasant Tails, Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph, Dorsey’s Mercury Baetis, and Zebra Midges.