The Yampa this morning is flowing at 83 CFS, which means it is officially down. This is the latest point in the season the river has come down in many years. While high water made it somewhat difficult to capitalize on many of our early hatches, the higher flows this year through late summer and fall should prove to benefit our dry fly fishing on the tail end of our season.
With the river finally down, we are able to play the games we know at conducive flows. Anything below 100 CFS in town is considered low and potentially stressful, however we are already entering into cooler night phases indicative of early fall. This means that we should not have a stress incident this year. We are just skirting by conditionally this season. We have had some warm water, and we are getting to low water, but have avoided both at the same time.
The fishing continues to be stellar this week, with some colder nights keeping the fish chomping throughout the typical afternoon lull. With cooler mornings, the Trico hatch often pushes later in the morning and even into the early afternoon. This allows the headhunters, opting to site fish small Trico spinner dries to patterned risers, the opportunity to play that game deep into the afternoon right now.
Fish capitalizing on the Trico hatch will likely be towards the tail outs of rising flats or under the foam in back eddies eating clusters of spent insects.
Hoppers also continue to fish well. With our landscape starting to turn brown, we are beginning to see more and more hoppers making it to the water. The last few days I have been witnessing the afternoon winds pushing lots of mature hoppers into the river. Fish your hoppers where you see them, grassy high banks and rock walls. Remember, trout get pounded with large terrestrials this time of year, so those willing to walk to less pressured, uneducated fish tend to get rewarded with explosive hopper eats. Fish your hoppers like you fish your streamers. Work water thoroughly but quickly, most fish willing to eat a hopper will eat it on the first good drift over them.
Redundancy while hopper fishing is really a waste of time. Most of the fish in and around town have been pestered with big foam flies for sometime now and may be more willing to eat a dropper than come to the surface on the terrestrial.
With the bumps in flow coming out of stagecoach periodically throughout the summer, it is important to key in on opportunistic stonefly hatches. Every time the river comes up throughout the summer and fall there is a small overnight flurry of golden stonefly activity. This occurs from Pleasant Valley all the way down to the lower Yampa below the confluence of the Elk River. Look for the shucks on the rocks, if you see them, throw them. This is a huge food item during Trico season and you can bet the fish take advantage subsurface when they have the opportunity. Being observant to these golden stonefly hatches midsummer can truly make the day.
Generally, keying into seasonal patterns is our usual approach to the river. This season with non traditional flows, the only pattern has been that there is no pattern. So being observant of opportunistic hatches, like these mid-summer golden stones during flow bumps, can make the difference.
The next highly anticipated hatch is the mahoganies! These beautiful mayflies should be popping any week now, so keep your eyes peeled. You can bet I will be singing about them as soon as they show! The river is going to be perfect flow for the mahogs this year and conditions are shaping up for an excellent fall dry bite!
Tight lines til next week, and be nice to each other out there... it’s just fishing.