Featured blog post by 2018 Brand Ambassador Heather Hodson
Northern Idaho and Western Montana have been lucky with snow pack levels of 130 to over 150% above average during this 2018 season. Here are my top five considerations when preparing for fly fishing adventures this summer.
1. Always check the weather
Thou shalt not visit the river without a rain jacket! It’s not uncommon for there to be a snowstorm in Northern Idaho and Western Montana well into June. The weather in town might be sunny and warm, but mountain conditions can change in an instant. Therefore, make sure you have an extra change of clothes in your dry bag (a Lightweight Dry Sack is an excellent option), or in the car if you are walking and wading. A Mesh Stuff Sack is a great bag for stowing damp clothes into, for the journey home, if you do get pretty wet.
Though hypothermia is possibly far from your thoughts during summer excursions, you might be surprised to learn that more people die from hypothermia each year than from heat related causes. Contrary to popular belief, the air temperature does not have to be below freezing for hypothermia to set in. It’s possible to become hypothermic anytime weather conditions, including rain or water temperatures, descend below a person’s core body temperature (below 95°F/35°C). Always be prepared and have dry layers on hand.
The Ultra-Sil Nano Poncho is a lightweight, compact solution for staying dry in a sudden downpour. It could be considered as an ideal ‘emergency carry’ essential.
2. Have a backup plan
With this year’s significant snow pack, the run off could linger well into July. Before you head out, it’s wise to have a ‘plan b’. Be prepared to fish in a different river or perhaps hit up a local still-water location.
There are several apps and websites that you can use to check predicted water flows, in order to prepare for your destination of choice. I recommend using water.weather.gov. Using the ‘River Observations’ section, zoom in on the area that you’re planning to fish and click on the symbol over the body of water. Here you can see the past week’s flow rate, as well as the predicted flows for the upcoming week. This site is a great resource for planning ahead and offers several options for creating a solid backup plan. If you rely on your phone for maps or flows while on the river, don’t forget to place it in a TPU Waterproof Case for protection.
3. Mayflies, Caddis and Stoneflies…. OH MY!
Anglers travel from all over the world to the Blackfoot, Henry’s Fork, and Madison River to fish the famous Salmonfly Hatch. Salmonflies are a large species of stonefly, and they are the filet mignon for ravenous trout who have been slurping on midges all winter long. Come summer, the fish are hungry, aggressive and willing to devour all of your Dry Flies.
Though Salmonflies are a highly sought-after bait, don’t forget to give a little love to the other insects hatching during this time of year; it is smart to have a variety of flies on hand. Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) hatch from May to August. High sticking nymphs, swinging soft hackles, and mending dries are all very effective ways to catch fish with PMDs.
Caddisflies tend to hatch in the evening, so don’t be afraid to add a small split shot weight to an adult caddis to submerge it. Caddis dive to the bottom of the river to lay their eggs - by submerging your adult caddis you’re mimicking this life cycle. Sometimes it’s all about getting creative with your flies in order to be more successful when figuring out fish feeding behavior.
4. Hit the water mid-morning and stay out late
Good news! If you’re not an early bird or worm catcher, the evening prior to your fishing excursion, you can enjoy that second glass of wine because you don’t have to be on the water at dawn. Just like you and your morning cup of coffee, the water needs to be warm for the underwater bug life to wake up. Fish thrive at water temps of 45-58°F/7-14°C. Salmonflies like a sustained water temperature in the mid 50°s (10°C), PMDs grace us with their presence at temps of mid 50-60°/10-15°C, and the magic temperature for Caddis is around 56°/13°C. This means that your morning routine can still include cooking a delectable breakfast, enjoying your cherished cup of coffee, and reflecting on the beautiful outdoors that we are so privileged to explore.
5. Support small and shop local
No, this is not the latest trend in the outdoor industry - we have to support small businesses and shop locally in order to keep this sport alive! Did you know that you are going to pay the same price at a small retailer that you would at a big box store? Have you gotten on a fly shop’s website and used their fishing report? Have you taken classes from area experts at a local fly shop? The relationships and information you can gain from a fly shop near and dear to you is priceless!