A Salmonfly Story – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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A Salmonfly Story

With the salmonfly hatch closing in on our Bozeman area rivers, here is the tale about an epic day of fly fishing using nothing but salmonfly patterns on a River in Montana in the Spring of 2020.

The year was 2020; early June. The river will remain unnamed. The fishing partner also requested to be left out of this recollection. An epic day of aquatic insects and dry fly fishing led to a life-long memory. Hungry brown trout, beers, and Karma all played huge roles in the results of what could have been just another day floating the river.


Settling In

We launched the boat on the slowly dropping river. The sun, unaltered by clouds, hung high and warm overhead, heating my back and the river. Only a week earlier a yellow streamer produced abundant action throughout the day. I of course resorted to this Yellow Sex Dungeon as my initial fly. After about 30 minutes of no action and fish rising next to the splash of the fly the streamer rod found it's final resting place in the Clackacraft's rod tube. Let the fun commence.

A few fish were missed right away. After shaking the rust off, a few more fish kindly came up and ate my size 8 Pteronarcy's Chubby Chernobyl. I thoughtfully let them carry on without putting a hook in the corner of their mouth. That was strike 4 and 5. Time to change anglers. G, the angler who is to remain unnamed, nestled into the front knee locks of our trusty craft and started off the day with a few nice brown trout. Time for lunch. By this point, the number off adult salmonflies in the air and on the water was just astounding.

Salmonflies

Salmonflies are really cool, particularly when they are out in hundreds of thousands.

A little info on their life cycle real quick like.

Stonefly Life Cycle

Okay, back to the story.

So these huge bugs are flying around and if one makes the mistake of getting stuck on the water.... Well, violence. Trout on aquatic insect violence. Luckily, this was also the case for those Pteronarcy's Chubbies that took an absolute beating. After devouring a sandwich and beer, hungry browns kindly devoured our fly in a swift side channel. One of which can be found below.

The Weird

We caught a bunch of fish and missed several more. This is when things got a bit strange. A very nice brown smashed my fly after a beautiful cast under a low hanging bush. It took everything I had to pull this trout out from brush hanging in the water and G was able to net it. We pulled to the side of the river to reflect and fish yet another juicy side channel. I caught a few dinks, made a final cast and my fly sunk. I set just in case; snagged. Unable to get my fly off the snag we walked to the shelf my fly had drifted over and G pointed out that my chubby was hooked to the stripping guide of a 7 weight Winston. My most surprising fly fishing catch to date.

Pteronarcy's Chubby Chernobyl

After grabbing the custom, inscribed Boron III X, G fished. He proceeded to miss the next 11 fish in a row (not that I was counting). Karma. We ended the day pushing through the last few miles of river against a stiff 30mph upriver wind.

Monday came, we called Winston and were able to track down the gentleman who had lost the rod. He was incredibly grateful and both G and myself have had great fishing since. Good Karma.

Summary

All said and done, we had roughly 75 eats on our massive foam dry flies, missed over half of these eats, caught a fly rod, and saw approximately 1 million salmonflies. Great day.

There are a few morals to this story.

  1. If you find river booty, return it. Some fly fishing items hold sentimental value and mean a lot to people.
  2. Salmonflies are cool.
  3. Fly fishing is fun and can lead to some unexpected yet unforgettable circumstances. (Possibly the most important)
  4. Fishing karma is real and you want that s*&t on your side.
  5. If you have beers, drink them.

Get out there!