Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Aug 25, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 5 can be found here

Case #4: Green Drake Feeding Frenzy – Part 1

Green Drake:

Western Green Drake (Drunella grandis), like the PMD discussed before, is not a minor but super major and popular hatches for both the trout and anglers in Yellowstone Country. They are huge and gorgeous mayflies. When they are present in the air or on the water, it's hard to miss.

At Slough Creek

One of my stomach pump results

Chasing and fishing for hatches, I always notice something funny with trout behavior. In my personal view and interpretation, this is the hatch when trout exaggerate themselves more than anglers do. Of course, when hatch is strong and insects are apparent trout act aggressively. But even when hatch is sparse, trout seem to compete among themselves about who is going to rise and feed. Furthermore, several days (or even longer) prior to the actual hatch, Green Drake patterns are taken by trout. Those could have been taken as attractor dry-flies but I strongly believe trout recognize them and feed as if the Green Drakes were already hatching. Information from guide books and magazine articles would help but observation and noticeability at streams are real keys to decode what trout are doing.

At the Gallatin:

The Gallatin River within Yellowstone Park (and sections in Montana along US-191) is definitely one of the most scenic rivers in the area. It's not wrong to call it "Little sister of the Madison" as some would do. The Gallatin is one of the coldest rivers around here. Hence the season may start later than other rivers in the area. Therefore, most anglers think of the Gallatin as an attractor dry-fly and terrestrial water. However, the Gallatin does have insect hatches and does offer some decent match-the-hatch fishing. One of those insects is Western Green Drake.

I had one day scheduled to guide this section in early August. So prior to that, in late July, I went to test the water. On both days, the water was really cold in the morning. Searching pockets and pools with nymphs under an indicator was the good way to get started. Then, on both days, the real action started in the afternoon (right after lunch time) as if by clockwork. When I was on my own scouting, I actually saw rises; very subtle on tumbling surfaces of the pool, but my eyes didn't miss those tiny movements. I did bring Green Drake patterns with me. Readers may wonder and ask "so was there actual hatch?" I'd say "Yes". "Did you see them in the air?" "Not really", I would answer. Then "why would you know?" readers would ask. My answer is "knowledge, experience, and observation". But the fact is "ask trout!!"

Very hefty 'Bow!!

Pump result

When I took one client to fish the Gallatin it was the same scenario. This time we didn't really see rises after lunch. No insects were really observed in the air or on the water either. Yet I encouraged my client and had him fish with Green Drake patterns.

He was totally in an awe of this clockwork like action. He kept asking me "why would they rise? How would you know?" Well, simply because I scouted several days ago. But the fact is "trout know better than I do!!"

Killer Flies:

I don't think you will ever find these patterns at fly-shops as these are totally original.

Master Angler's Green Drake Soft-Hackle

  • Hook: Standard dry #10, 12, 14
  • Thread: Olive dun 8/0
  • Abdomen: Turkey biot, dark-olive (BWO)
  • Thorax: Superfine dun, dark-olive (BWO)
  • Hackle: Grouse, partridge – dark & gray feathers

Yamamoto's UFL Green Drake

  • Hook: Standard dry #10, 12, 14
  • Thread: Olive dun 8/0
  • Rib: Yellow 6/0
  • Tail: monofilament or 6X tippet, painted black and passed through the extended body
  • Extended body and underbody: Used fly line in dark green, olive, sage, that sort.
  • Body:  Superfine dun, dark-olive (BWO)
  • Wing: EP Fiber, Widows' Web, or other synthetic materials in white or gray
  • Hackle: Olive dyed grizzly

Another Roadside Fishery

The Gallatin is just another river that runs along a major highway (US 191) from West Yellowstone to Bozeman (and beyond). There are plenty of accesses and each section has different structures and offers a different kind of fishing situation. However, it doesn't seem crowded, compared to other roadside rivers in the area (many other waters within Yellowstone Park). In other words anglers (local and visitors) don't seem to spend enough time (which works for me!). "Little Madison" does not imply fish there are little. Indeed regardless of body sizes, those trout thriving in this cold water are really strong once hooked. Better hang on tight to your rod and watch your steps on the rocks as you chase them downstream.

Satoshi Yamamoto, http://leftyangler.blogspot.com, is a guide and a professional fly-tyer in Livingston, MT.

Sysadmin Note
Part 7 can be found here


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