Since I got home from Africa the weather has been lousy to say the least. We’ve had high temps in the 20’s and 30’s with blustery winds and just enough sloppy wet snow each day to make going outside miserable. It’s been a bummer because I really love fishing the South Fork in November. It can be the absolute best streamer fishing of the year. The weatherman is predicting some big snow for us here during the weekend and with the storm on its way our temperatures rose to the mid 40’s last night. The only catch is this temperature change brought along strong wind. Nonetheless we had to give it a go.
It was windy when Gary picked me up in Victor at 8 AM. I had to wedge my trash can up against my truck so it wouldn’t blow over while I was off fishing. Then as I carried my waders to Gary’s truck a gust of wind filled them and nearly took me half way down the block. But it was so warm that my driveway is practically clear of snow.
Gary and I met up with Ed Emory at the Angus, hopped in his truck and headed for the Irwin slide boat launch. Ed has been guiding the South Fork for years and this season alone I’ll bet he has over 100 days under his belt. His knowledge of the river is far beyond the average. This is the second time I’ve had the good fortune of fishing with Ed. My first time was in December of last year. Ed has a reputation of catching some huge fish out of the South Fork. I have posted a picture of Ed holding a memorable brown trout he guided his client into in the summer of 2009. This beast was taken on a dry fly! What a monster!
It was blowing so hard at the boat ramp that there was no question we’d have the South Fork to ourselves, something worth a little suffering. While Ed launched his boat down the narrow shoot Gary and I rigged up with streamers. As always for me, it’s a simple set up, straight 0X Rio Fluoroflex Plus with two flies, a heavy fly at the bottom (the point fly) and a light fly 5ft above (the dropper fly). My point fly was a black and silver conheaded Screamer and my dropper was a terribly tied, light as a feather chartreuse Kiwi Muddler. I’m sorry to say I tied this one.
Our fishing started slow. I’m talking real slow. I heard from several friends that it wasn’t so hot lately, likely because the flows out of the Palisades Dam recently dropped to winter levels. This massive water level change scares the fish pretty bad. But once they settle fishing is good again. Even though things started slow we caught a few fish here in there. I got a big rainbow, then a decent Yellowstone Cutthroat, a brown and then a Snake River Cutthroat all in a row in less than an hour’s time! That’s about when things turned on.
These first few fish I caught were on the black and silver Screamer. In an attempt to catch more fish I made some unsuccessful fly changes. Before I knew it I was back to the Screamer and stuck with it the rest of the day. Gary changed flies numerous times but he too found the black and silver Screamer to be best. That was until the end of the day when he tied on some Scott Sanchez creation. I have no idea what Chez calls this tan rabbit fur with big red eyes concoction but it was relentless from about 3 PM till dark.
It was a good day on the water. The threatening wind gradually subsided throughout the day to where the afternoon was quite pleasant. And the slow fishing I heard about didn’t happen to us. We probably caught 20 fish or so. And if we switched to dries tonight when the fish got hot to trot on a major midge hatch we could have easily doubled that total.
Now that I’m home I can see the forecast is calling for even bigger snowfall then was predicted this morning. They say we may see up to 17”s of snow by Saturday night. Weather forecasters around here are just like any old fisherman, meaning we’ll probable get only around a foot – ha! Regardless, of what happens, it’s good that I took advantage of the fishing opportunity today. It looks like temperatures will plummet after the storm and who knows how many more fishing opportunities will come about this year.
With less fishing on my schedule, unfortunately there will be fewer postings. I will do my best to keep everyone abreast of any neat things that come about. At the moment I’m painting up a bonefish for my friend Dan Beistel. I’ve painted fish for Dan before and he’s got quite a collection going. I’m also taking on pets and next week I’ll be painting up a dog. I’ll be sure to post him when he’s done. This is art season for me so if you’ve been waiting to have a fish or pet painted or want to challenge me with another subject, now is a great time to do it. In the meantime, I better tune up the snow shovel!