And there it is, in a nutshell.
Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of low water. But that’s what we have, and it’s up to Ma Nature to remedy that. (It may get worse before it gets better. More on that later.)
So. I’ve been out four times this week, evenings into dark. Here’s what I can tell you. The evening rise has been active and at times productive, but where I’ve been it’s been a small, smaller, smallest game. For example, last night I went through a couple flies sizes 18-20 before I gave in and tied on a tiny (22? 24?) rusty spinner. First cast, fish on. Managing dry fly drifts has been critical — that is, find a fish in a lane, and feed him that fly dead-balls-on-target with a dragless drift. My trusty Catskills Light Cahills have also been working as darkness falls — starting around 8:30pm. Size 16 is the smallest I can go and still have an eyeball on the fly. For all you micro-tippet fans, I’ve been fishing with 6x. (A plea here to use the heaviest tippet possible under these potentially stressful conditions. Get those fish in fast!) In fact, I broke off a pig of a brown last night on my 6x. Better that than a stressed fish.
The bite last night shut down at 9pm, even though the water surface was littered with spinners for the next hour.
Finally, to the conditions. Don’t be misled by last night’s rain — it didn’t even make a dent in the flows or the deficit. The closer you are to the dam, the cooler the water (I got just under 60 degrees last night near Riverton) . I wouldn’t fish below the permanent TMA. You may want to consider not fishing during the day — or not fishing at all. This is a tough time for the trout, so get your hooked fish in FAST. And it may get worse, says Neal Hagstrom of the DEEP: “Hang on, the flows are going to drop again shortly. We will be looking at 50-60cfs soon if there is no significant rain. Thankfully there is still some cold water behind the dam.”
Chillin’ on the bottom. I almost stepped on this big brown on my way out of the pool. It’s either stressed or on Xanax to let me get this close. Check out that old bird wound.
As I walked out of the pool at dark, I threw a size 6 olive Zoo Cougar, letting it swing and then giving it some micro strips. A fat wild hen in the mid-teens found that presentation to her liking. When taking photos during this stressful time, please consider keeping your catch in the water as much as possible.
Very good advice Steve. I can’t remember ever seeing the river this low at this time of year.
Shades of August 2012 when they dropped the flow to 78cfs. The biggest problem in that situation was that they had dumped too much water earlier in the year and what was coming out of the dam wasn’t cold enough.
It’s time for a rain dance.
I’m doing the Wilbury Twist right now.