Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Dec 17, 2012

Sysadmin Note
Part twentyone can be found here


Armstrong's Spring Creek, July 20th around noon Neil and I moved up to the water above the bridge (Culvert) stopped for a bit of lunch and to apply some insect repellent since the mosquitoes in the shade were unbelievable and without the repellent we would have been the lunch.

After lunch Neil began to explore the two channels around the island, I moved out on the rip-rap bank to fish the old bridge pool which is to the east of the present culvert. By now there was a real mix of insects with PMD's, Baetis Dun and Spinners, a sprinkling of small Black Caddis, a few Midges and even a Sulphur Dun or two.

I sat there on the rip-rap and just watched pretty soon I watched a nice rainbow take a Baetis Spinner, then another so I selected a size 20 Olive Parachute Spinner and was soon attached to a nice 13 inch Rainbow. The stomach sample showed a real mix of insects however the majority of  insect were Baetis Spinner and Baetis Nymphs, so I watched and soon I noticed two trout that appeared to be eating nymphs about 14 inches beneath the surface, then I added a 18 inch dropper and size 20 Baetis nymph.

Over the next two hours I took several trout between 12 and 15 inches and I never moved more than 20 steps during that time period, the activity was steady but far from what I would normally see on Armstrong's this time of year. You had to watch and then slide a step or two to get in the proper position so you had the proper angle of vision and the proper angle of presentation. Fishing from the position I had chosen meant that I fishing upstream the entire time and I had to be careful not to line any of the targets. It goes without saying that I did line a couple of trout and I also missed several rises.

When I am fishing sometime I am so intent on the activity of other anglers around me, however around 2:45 p.m. I was sitting on the rip-rap and watched Neil slowly inch up the east channel. He stopped intently watching his target, I watched as he changed flies and began to carefully cast. I watched as he place a nice left-handed hook cast out about 25 feet, watched the drop of the rod tip, the gathering in of the slack line as the imitation drifted back and the lift and tightening of line.

Then I watched the explosion of water as very nice rainbow trout went airborne, after several more jumps and runs the trout was brought to the net, photographed and released. The rainbow was 17 inches long and was eating PMD Duns.

A late scattered hatch of PMD's had begun and as Neil continued up the east channel I proceed to fish up the west channel. Now the interesting fact was that the PMD's were hatching in the east channel however there were none in the west channel.

I know that this sounds odd but it is not all that unusual and often you can find insects hatching in one section of the creek and not on another. That is why it is so important for the angler to be observant when spending a day on the stream. While fishing up the west channel I did manage to take two trout using a mini Chernobyl Ant. This was the first time this season that I have used the Chernobyl on the spring creeks.

Another effect of the long cold winter and extremely wet and cold spring was that the grasshoppers were going to be very late this year. Normally we would be seeing small hoppers by this time of year, but this year they were still weeks away from appearing as a viable food form for the trout.

We both reached the head of the island and talked about the day and the fishing. Neil had to depart around 5 p.m. as he had other activities scheduled for the evening. After Neil depart I sat on a log at the head of the island and the noticed that a big black cloud had filled the western sky and soon there were PMD Spinners in the air. On that part of the creek there is some shelter and even though the wind was still blowing the spinners were soon on the water.

Often the observant angler will find these mini flurries of insects in certain area of the creeks. I was able to take a few more trout before the dark clouds passed and the sky cleared and the mini spinner fall was over.

As we had spent our day on the upper end of the creek I decided to move down to the middle section of Armstrong's and see what action I could find. I found a riffle where there were a few Sulphur Duns hatching but the trout had no interest in the adults. I could clearly see that they were eating the nymphs that were swimming to the surface, and these nymphs were being taken three to six inches beneath the surface.

The sulphur hatch has long been known as the most frustrating and challenging hatch found on the Spring Creeks of Paradise Valley. These hatches have caused the untold numbers of patterns to be developed and have caused the frustration of untold numbers of anglers and guides alike. I know because at times in my early guiding years I was at times frustrated and none of the patterns seemed to work consistently, however over time I learned that the patterns were not the problem. The problem was how the imitations were being fished, and during the sulphur hatch the trout seem to key on the nymphs as they approach the surface to hatch. The sulphur nymphs are very active swimming nymphs therefore the takes can be very aggressive and resemble trout feeding during a caddis hatch where the trout will change direction to chase the swimming emergers.

I solved this problem by fishing a floating emerger or dun and dropping sulphur nymph six to eight inches behind the floating imitation and when the floating imitation just begins to drag I will twitch the fly. This method has been very effective for both me and my clients for several years and it was effective today.

By 7:30 p.m. I found myself at what used to called gate riffle which is the last riffle before Armstrong enters the pond-like area above the earthen dam. There was still a slight breeze but the PMD Spinners had returned and were dancing above the riffle but their numbers were not very heavy. However, the trout seemed to be really looking for them and I was able to take several trout on spinners. As I released my last trout I realized that it was almost dark and another wonderful day had come to an end.

Sysadmin Note
Part twentythree can be found here


Comment on this article

Archive of the Eye of the guide

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice