It was a fun and fast run over the past three weeks with skwala and caddis emergences, but it is safe to say that the Snake is in full runoff, probably starting the afternoon of May 6th. Spring creek mouths from Deadman’s Bar down to South Park Bridge still offers action with caddis and skwala imitations as well as streamers. This will require posting up and concentrating on this water for an hour or so. This can be worth it most days. Keep in mind that the creeks themselves are still closed to fishing until later in the summer or on private property, so pay attention to where and how you are fishing and definitely do not venture up the creeks themselves.
The tailwater reach from Jackson Lake Dam down to Pacific Creek is still clear and will remain so for the duration. This section of river has been fishing well earlier than usual because of the early releases of water. Flows stand at 2000cfs and have been for several days now. It is mostly a nymphing game on the upper stretch down to Cattleman’s. However, there is some fun and well-worth-it dry fly fishing with midge and BWO imitations on this piece of water in eddies and riffle pools. Take advantage of it when you see it.
About a mile and a half below Cattleman’s, the fishing starts to get really good with both dry flies and streamers. In fact, an argument can be made that the fishing on this part of the tailwater section is better than what is offered on the upper half. Think moderately sized streamers on hover and intermediate lines and midge and BWO imitations if you are on the surface.
Dry Flies – Furimky BDEs, GT Baetis, Snowshoe Tricos, and Klinkhamers.
Nymphs – Booty’s Deep Stinker Nymph, Psycho Princes, Lightening Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Copper Johns in red, black, or olive, Zebra Midges, Hare’s Ear Nymphs, and Booty’s Day-2 Midge Pupa.
Streamers – Arum’s Lil’ Kim, Chicklets, Kreelex, and Marabou Muddlers.
Flows remain at 18,000cfs from Palisades Reservoir. All of the stream is in runoff with about a foot and a half visibility. This includes right below the dam. Usually this does not deter the possibility of respectable results on the South Fork, but it takes some hard and concentrated fishing with deep nymph rigs and streamers right now to have success no matter which reach you are fishing.
There have been respectable results on streamers and double/triple nymph rigs fished along banks, structure, riffles, and riffles pools. Nymphs rigs should be relatively long – 10 to 12 feet – and fished with at least one heavily weighted pattern, if not two. The best patterns have been those imitating stoneflies, aquatic worms, and scuds.
Moderate and large sized streamers are both working, but larger patterns appear to be outperforming smaller ones. Use a variety of sinking tips and lines – full intermediate lines all the way down to 6ips or 10 to 12 feet of T-11. All of these are working. Both moderate and rapid retrieves are producing, particularly with rod lifts and half circle rolls. Don’t expect lights-out action, but fish can be had if you target the right water and fish it hard.
Nymphs – Pat’s Rubber Leg, Girdle Bugs, San Juan Worms, Beadback Scuds, Epoxy Mysis, Kleis’s Mysis, Galloup’s Mysis, Otter’s Soft Milking Eggs, and Clown Eggs.
Streamers – Galloup’s Peanut Envy, Booty’s Quad Bunny, Galloup’s Sex Dungeon, Galloup’s Boogeyman, Silvey’s Sculpin, Arum’s Lil’ Kim, and J.J. Specials.