Caddis hatch with more than one mosquito in the mix.
The abundance of water here in Southern Alberta is holding steady. Reservoirs are nearing capacity and many rivers including the Bow are still cranking above the upper threshold for yearly average flow rates. Water temperatures across the board are still lower than usual with the continued presence of snowmelt meaning dry fly action has been a bit slow even with sustained warm air temperatures. Truly trophy-sized brown trout were caught in the river last week, but most were caught on nymphs, leeches, or streamers. Now would be a great time to break out the trout spey setup and swing over some big water, whether in town or maybe on one of our rivers to the south that are also still flowing high.
There's water runnin' in the crick.
The Bow River has been hovering at a flow rate right around 225 cms, dropping from peak runoff but certainly not business as usual. Visibility has been fluctuating daily but as of Saturday the Bow in Calgary is a refreshing shade of cool spearmint green. Without fail, the warm weather also signals the arrival of the famed bikini & plastic hatch, as Calgarians take to the water on various forms of inflatable watercraft with questionable swimming ability and elevated blood alcohol content.
Mosquitos will be out collecting their tax from the veins of local citizens. They have been absolutely vicious so far this July, as the drenching we received in June effectively rolled out the welcome mat for billions of bloodsucker eggs to hatch under favorable conditions. Test your patience and donate blood this summer while fishing an evening caddis session. Once the sun goes down, things get ugly.
Fill er' up.
The golden stonefly hatch took a while to turn on but certainly did on the morning of the 13th, with numerous reports of anglers roping big bucks in. Wake up as early as you can and go fish a foam stonefly pattern. Try using dry flies that sit at different depths in the water. A heavily hackled pattern will float high and suspend a dropper easily. A low-riding pattern might imitate an egg laying female or drowned adult and can be skated across current effectively.
Speaking of bucks, the 13th of July was also the peak of the biggest and brightest full moon of 2022, with a name fitting for Stampede season - the "Super Buck Moon". While the effect of the moon on fishing is indisputable in the saltwater angling world, less attention is paid to the moon cycle by trout fishers. The fishing certainly got buck during the full moon. Is it worth considering moon phases as a freshwater trout angler?
Caddis hatches are growing in density and duration, beginning once the afternoon rays start to get longer over the hills and the light turns golden. Dusk is when fish will really start smashing caddis, but running a pupa or larvae pattern under a dry will entice some action while the dinner table is being set. The caddis have been doing push-ups and getting swole for swimsuit season, and are now averaging in size between #12-14 as opposed to earlier in the season when less food was available and #16-18's were more common.
We are entering the season for PMD's, a summer staple and the riffle fisher's favorite. Sizes #12-14. Yellow and lime sallies will be a common sight on the Bow and the mountain streams but some anglers will tell you that fish don't eat them at all. The jury is still out on that.
In the mountains and foothills, high water has kept anglers off the creeks and fish are hungry. It might be a slow start in the mornings, but the action should improve as the day goes on and things warm up. If you really need to, throw on a dropper but don't tell your friends. It's not considered sporting to nymph for cutthroat, the fine and noble trout of the West. This week, stoneflies have been flying sorties across the creeks to deposit eggs on the water in bomber squadron formations. Big Westslope cutties were more than happy to bring the clamp down hard on foam imitations.
It's almost terrestrial time, and although it's a bit early for hoppers, you can bet we carry a selection of beetles and ants for the mountains, right through the whole season.
Sure, colder than average water temperatures may be limiting some dry fly fishing but a positive effect is that the lifecycle of the parasite responsible for whirling disease is impacted by the cold and this may slow the spread of the disease in some fisheries, giving a break to the juvenile fish that are particularly susceptible to it. That being said, remember to rinse and dry your gear after use as you travel to different rivers and streams. Ditch the felt in favor of a rubber Vibram sole, which are plenty durable and grip well enough on their own without cleats for the first couple seasons.
Good Luck (Not Getting Bitten By Mosquitoes)
Rubberlegs Stonefly, #6-8
Howell's Shuck It Jig, Olive #14
Smethurst's Stonebomb, Brown/Orange #8
Electric Rock Worm Caddis, Green #12-14
Epoxyback PMD, #12-14
Galloup's Silk Kitty, Black #2
Dolly Llama, White #2
Peacock Bugger, Black #8-12
Bead Eating Muddler, Olive/Red #8-10
Exasperator, Green/Gold #2
Jake's Blackout Stone, Golden #8
X-Caddis, Brown #14
Edible Emerger Caddis, Olive #14
Rubberleg Stimulator, Orange #8
Glo-Ant, Black #12