By Lu Warner, Master Guide
Fly-fishing on the Taylor River at Wilder for the first two weeks of September can best be described as ridiculous. Cool weather, cloudy days, good flows, and lots of Blue Winged Olive and Pale Morning Dun hatches have kept the fish looking up. Small, softly presented dry flies on 5x and 6x tippets have been extremely effective, particularly in the afternoons.
The amount of fish on the Taylor River is staggering and these are 95% wild fish. This fishery is nothing short of amazing so get out and enjoy it, respect it and help preserve it as one of the best wild trout fisheries in the Western U.S. This season we appear to be seeing an increase in “wild” Rainbows as the recovery from whirling disease continues. While the fishery is 80% Brown trout, we have caught a few very big Rainbows this year and look forward to seeing more in the future.
River flows bumped 25% due to hard rain in the high country last week and have recently resettled in the low 300 range. These “average” lows are predicted to last through the month of September. In early October, we will see a “draw down” to leave the river in the low 200 range for the month.
River temperatures have been cold. It has been 48 degrees in the morning and warming into the low 50’s in the afternoons. Fishing as usual is best in the mid-afternoons as the water warms up a bit and bugs start hatching. Leaves are changing color and so are the Brown trout. As they approach spawning time the males get a beautiful golden orange color and their lower jaws (kype) get a pronounced hook. Female Browns are jumping high in the air and slapping the water in each pool loosening up their eggs to get the next generation of Brown trout started.
Timing is everything and being on the water between 1 and 4 pm with a small (size 20) dry can maximize your fishing time and success. In this time period you can catch a lot of trout very quickly. Other patterns that have been successful are a size 14 Royal Madame X and different sized bead head Pheasant Tails for droppers. It’s not rocket science right now!
When the bugs start hatching (cloudy afternoons are best) fish will be seen rising throughout the river. The trick to catching a big one is patience. Take your time, move slow, look around, ignore the smaller fish rising, and find a big fish. Then make your presentation exactly to that fish. Otherwise a smaller fish will be sure to grab your fly and spook the big one. Easier said than done.
In the mornings, I suggest beginning with a smaller Madame X and a long 5x dropper line with a #16-20 bead head below. In the afternoons a size 20 BWO or 16 PMD can be all you need to wear your arm out in a short while catching fish. Most important is making a soft presentation with whatever you are fishing. Even though there is a lot of water in the Taylor River, fish are spooky and the larger fish especially don’t like noisy presentations.
The big Browns getting ready to spawn will not be eating these dries. To catch one of these trophy fish your best bet is to get down and dirty with a large dark streamer during low light periods of the day. Fishing this way is not usually a numbers game but once in a while you might find a huge predator Brown trout attached to the end of your line. Concentrate on the tail outs of the pools and under structure i.e., logs, big rocks.
This time of year is one of the most beautiful and also most productive fishing wise. Fish are fattening up for spawning and a long winter. BWO and PMD hatches can be epic. The worse the weather, the stronger the hatches, so look for the cloudy, nasty days to produce longer and more intense hatches that can last from 12 – 5 pm or so. Dry fly-fishing should continue to be excellent throughout the end of October.
Rarick Creek has had little pressure, great flows all season and is fishing super well. A strong population of wild Brown Trout are growing fast and these fish pull hard and are well fed. Several Rainbows over 20 inches have recently been caught on dries but a dropper is almost a sure bet in the deep holes. The Browns seem to prefer smaller dries while the Rainbows are a sucker for a large Hopper imitation and a large nymph hanging underneath.
The Ponds are full of big fish with several Rainbows over 8 pounds swimming around in plain sight. The problem is catching them as they can see you as clearly as you can see them. Best advice is to approach the water slowly and try to sight the fish. Present a small Hopper/Dropper combo and see what happens. Then try it on a few more fish before changing. Evenings, early mornings and cloudy days are best. Bright sun, middle of the day can be challenging.
Overall we are winding down the season with the best dry fly-fishing of the year.
For up to date fishing reports, gear, fly selection, river conditions, and more, feel free to call me directly at 970-946-4370.