Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Sep 22, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 7 can be found here

Case #5: Midges in the River

Winter Midging:

It is true that midges will hatch during winter months (let's define winter months as from December to February for this chapter) and trout will rise. If one hits it right, one can have superb dry-fly fishing for a short while. Conditions we wish for are: no wind and slightly warm (around freezing point 32F or 0C is warm enough for die-hard local anglers). Then some of readers may speculate that I'm fishing at Livingston's spring creeks. Spring creeks are ice-free and water temperature is slightly higher than Yellowstone River. Yes, I fish DePuy's Spring Creek (www.depuyspringcreek.com) with a winter pass (as I wrote in a series last year). But also, I do hit the Yellowstone River during winter months when conditions are right. Over the last couple of winters, I've been observing something interesting to note. I came up with a comparison.

In The Big River:

When I decide to hit the water on a non-windy and slightly warm winter day I have to choose either DePuy's or the Yellowstone River. Since I can go and fish DePuy's any time with the winter pass, I try to push myself to fish the Yellowstone. Besides, on a nice winter day other pass holders would hit the creek, so I could ask them about the fishing conditions later on, while I could be the only one that fishes the river.

On the Yellowstone, I have had good dry-fly fishing with midges during the winter months. Good time would be the warmest period of the day = 1 to 3 p.m. Fish may not be as big but it's really fun. I have caught rainbows, cutthroats, and whitefish on tiny midge dry-flies.

Midge Adult

Pupal shuck

In The Creek:

After those good afternoons on the river I would ask other local anglers who had fished DePuy's if they had seen midge hatches and rising trout. Or oftentimes I would go fishing on the creek in a few days. I would expect to hear and see dry-fly action on the creek. As long as I've been conducting this observation and survey I haven't heard or seen good midge dry-fly actions at the creek, while I was having good time on the river. Isn't it "supposed to be" opposite? The spring creek is warmer and holds more midges than the river, so midge hatches and trout rises are "supposed to be" more prevalent at the creek! Indeed midges are abundant and present in the air and on the water at the creek. However, do trout rise? Not really. Why? Why in on the river and not on the creek?

Think Like Fish:

If I just think like a normal human being, my answer is "I don't know and who cares". If I think like an average fisherman, I would answer "conundrum!" and it has been so. However, I came to a point that I could, at least try to, think like a fish. "What would I do if I were one of fish in the stream system around here?" If I were strong enough, I would swim up to the creek. In the creek, there are many food sources. Many of those are underwater organism who don't hatch, at least during winter months (scud, sowbug, midge larvae, cranefly larvae, leech, sculpin, the list goes on). So "if I would see this many abundant underwater food sources, would I rise for tiny midges on the surface?" I wouldn't think so. Indeed, if I catch trout with the nymph rig at the creek during winter months, they are all respectable sizes. While on the river, all I would catch are nonchalant small ones. The Yellowstone River does not hold as many scuds and sowbugs as the creek does (both of which are year-long constant food sources on the creek). Also during winter months, miscellaneous nymphs and larvae are very much dormant and not available in great numbers for river trout. So trout who are not strong enough to swim up to spring creeks (consequently they tend to be smaller) feed on any food sources available at a time. This includes rising activities on midges. This is my answer to the conundrum deduced by "thinking like a fish". Yes, it took me a while to think like a small fish that rises on midges!!


These flies have been working very well on both the Yellowstone River and spring creeks any time of the year when trout rise during midge hatches.

Yamamoto's Foam Wing Midge Emerger Type 1

  • Hook: Emerger #20, 22, 24
  • Thread & Abdomen: Black 16/0
  • Rib: Fine silver wire
  • Wing: Foam, color of choice
  • Thorax: Peacock herl

Yamamoto's Foam Wing Midge Emerger Type 2

  • Hook: Dai-Riki 270 #20, 22, 24
  • Thread & Abdomen: Black 16/0
  • Rib: Fine silver wire
  • Wing: Foam, gray, dun, or white
  • Thorax: Peacock herl



Type 2 was gladly chewed off.

Trout That Talks…..

This is solely my theory based on a one-man study. I simply can't be in two places at the same time. Although I'm talking to reliable sources, not everybody fishes like I would do. I believe my observation is beyond the level of speculation, yet I never meant to conclude anything here. Till I catch a trout that talks to me.

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

Sysadmin Note
Part 9 can be found here


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