Where are the big bugs?
That’s a question we hear a lot this time of year. When people talk big bugs they usually mean Salmonflies. However, the other stoneflies that hatch alongside the Salomflies are just as important to the trout, maybe more so. By other stones we mean of course Goldenstones and Yellow Sallies, which start about the same time as their bigger brethren, but typically last longer. So, where are these oversized trout meals now?
Well they have been out on several rivers and streams for awhile, but so far their performance has been a little lackluster. They have been out on the Big Hole for a while now and there have been some good days over there, but they are a probably up high and starting to fizzle out. The lower Madison doesn’t have a large population of big bugs compared to some of the other rivers, but there have been a few Salmonflies flying around, which are now up high in the Bear Trap Canyon. There have been good numbers of Sallies on the lower Madison in the afternoons though. We should start to see all three start popping on the upper Madison any day now (if not today even). The Yellowstone has come down a lot and is start to look good, but we haven’t heard of any big bugs popping over there yet – shouldn’t be too long now. The Gallatin cleared up today and there were a few Goldens buzzing around near Sheds.
The other thing to consider when targeting the big stonefly hatches are the nymphs. We all love catching fish on dries and seeing a trout eat a big dry is definitely something special but, especially before main part of the hatchet, the banks are heaving with large nymphs. The trout know this and will gorge themselves on these nymphs. At times, the nymph action can be better than the dry action, but let’s face it who’s going to nymph when there’s big bugs flying around? The dry-dropper is an effective way to fish both at the same time, but it makes it harder to tuck the dry tight to the bank.
Wherever you find them, and however you fish them, chucking big bugs for big fish sure is a fun time to be on the river. The water clarity on most rivers is improving and we could be looking at high and clean water to take advantage of the big bugs in the coming weeks.