Well the Snake River is still running clear and here it is Cinco de Mayo, that doesn’t happen too often and to be quite honest we are ready to get this 2013 Runoff started! I really enjoy our Spring river fishing but as runoff starts we turn our attention to Jackson Hole’s Fly Fishing creative side — venues and tactics. Creative only in the sense that they are unconventional for most anglers in this region, yet are widely used and celebrated techniques the globe over.
My species of choice in May and early June is the Lake Trout, aka Mackinaw. These fish are actually char, native to Canada and cousins to the Brook trout. They prefer lakes and slow river systems that run cold, in fact by summer they prowl the depths in search of cold water, often well out of fly range. This is why the Spring window is an important period for Mr. Mackinaw. After ice out thermoclines are at or near the surface allowing lake trout to search shallows for nymphs and minnows and thus easy for fly casters to place a fly. The other reasons for a Spring love affair with Macs includes: exciting sight casting(much like bonefishing), delicious eating fish and it is acceptable to harvest within regulations and lastly, they can get HUGE! Just about all the lakes within a 2hrs drive of JH hold healthy populations of Lake trout so no need to name our favorite spots, I have fished them all and they all can produce incredible action when the conditions line up right.
Boats are a critical tool but not always the case, look for creek inlets and warm sandy flats. The most critical tool is a good sinking line, I prefer a type III full sinking for all around. If the fish are very shallow go with a floating line and a long leader(12′), they will be very spooky in water less than 3′. If the fish are deeper than 8′ go with a type IV or deep water express. My favorite flies depend on if you are hunting trophies or just want some trout tacos. The big boys(macs over 15lbs) are not easy and demand some luck and patience. Armed with an 8wt., heavy grain line and some big streamers that resemble whitefish or chubs is a good place to start. On the other hand the macs under 10lbs are quite common and juvenile numbers can be insane… these fish will pick up almost any well place streamer but as they get on flats and feed on nymphs they can become quite selective. At that point try a small leech followed by a #14 PT soft hackle nymph or a scud. And of course, the old spinning rod is effective… spoons, jigs and soft plastics get the job done.
Another great Spring pursuit is for the ugliest fish in North America… CARP!
Carp are Asian natives that are widely distributed all over the U.S. They can adapt to a very wide range of habitats and are found in South Florida to Montana. Fly Fishers have come to love the carp for its wily behavior, urban distribution and fighting power. Three main species are found to take flies but not always so willingly, the grass, common and mirror carp. The Mirror & Common carp is most common in the lakes and rivers outlying JH and can provide one hell of a drag burner if you put in the time. Carp tactics almost always involve sight casting, go walk and hunt the beast down. The fish can be in the 30lb(most are 10lbs) class so finding them is obvious when the wind is light. I think 7-8wts with a floating or intermediate line is best and flies should resemble redfish patterns, leeches, crayfish and buggers. If they are on the chow you got him!
Be sure to follow our upcoming posts on the 9th Annual Carp Tournament on Blackfoot Reservoir(May 16-18), better yet if you can make it come join in on the fun!
Tight Loops and Wild Trout… or Carp!
Best to all, GTFF
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And after this post Jackson Hole’s Fly Fishing Runoff Alternatives