It’s not truly spring until the May caddis begin hatching.  By noon today the feed lines in front of the lodge were bubbling with rises and the parking lot was full of caddises.  Chef Matt was working a few fish off the dock and Jacob was downstream casting intently at a log jam.  These are special days when you think that hey, you know, it’s all going to be alright.  The good vibes carried into a sparse hendrickson spinner fall (at least where I was) and a short evening rise that Holden took advantage of.

 The South Branch has cleared, dropped, and is in perfect shape

The rain last weekend put a major damper on otherwise perfect evening fishing conditions.  I think most people right now are just happy to get out fishing.  I’ve found that just happy to get out is the perfect mindset to make the most out of limited opportunities.  Ashley was just happy to get out and she found late evening rising trout right at the access.

There is a major May cold front headed this way this weekend.  Not ideal stuff for dry fly fishing.  Sure, there’ll be one or two days of great hatches, but there might also be a day or two where the water is simply too cold for much to happen at all.  The saving grace in cold weather is the sun: bright sun can sometimes tease some mayflies from an otherwise too-cold river.  I remember a day on the South Branch with Junker when, between snow squalls, a brief flash of sun prompted a few hendricksons to hatch.  Another snow squall, and then more sun.  A dozen hendricksons.  More snow, more sun — by now it was 4 pm — a hundred hendricksons.  And then, in the next snow, the bugs didn’t stop.  It was much too cold for them to dry their wings and fly.  They just floated on down the river, accumulating in the backwaters, and eventually tempting some fine brown trout to rise right all the way through dinner time and into dusk.  You just don’t know until you go.

Which is how both the fish below were captured.  On Sunday, the hendricksons hatched all afternoon, took a dinner break, and then resumed hatching at dusk.  Odd.  I was on the couch when my phone started pinging with trout pictures.  It was about fifty degrees out and windy.  I’d thought, well, no spinnerfall, might as well just laze about the house.  And I was right, no spinnerfall.  Just an unexpected hatch of bugs at primetime.

A perfect dry fly trophy

Tim with a beauty of a trout under a beauty of a sunset

Barring cold water temperatures, the hendrickson hatch is at peak throughout much of the river system, from the headwaters down to the Trophy Waters below Mio.  This hatch, along with the little mahogany (Paraleptophlebia), are going to be the headliners for the next five cold days.  But, and not to downplay just how good it feels to cast at rising trout, those who take the time to nymph the river, or fish streamers, will have more consistent results and enjoy longer fishing days around whatever dry fly fishing is to occur.  There are many productive hours before the bugs begin hatching.  Given the once again clear river, this is a great time to fish nymphs underneath a dry fly.  I’ll fish a dropper up to three-feet below the dry this time of year, and I’ll use a tungsten bead.  This allow for great prospecting on even the cold days and if the trout start rising, well, just snip the nymph.  Or I’ll strip streamers.  The water that may be too cold for much of a hatch is plenty fine for some great streamer fishing.  The trout in May are on the feed, be it on the bottom, in the middle, or on the surface.

We’re excited to be open(ish) for carry-out and feel somewhat settled into the new routine of fly-fishing season 2020 at Gates Lodge.   Yeah, it’s different.  But we’re still selling flies and food, the river is still cold, and the trout are still fun.  The guides are soon to be back on the river, and are right now making the adjustments to their programs to meet the requirements of the state as well as their own concerns for everyone’s health.

The Restaurant:  Wed-Sun, 8 am – 6 pm, for take-out only, pre-orders much preferred.  Check out this week’s special menu here, including a take-and-bake Mother’s Day Brunch:  https://gateslodge.com/2020/04/a-new-take-out-menu/

The Fly Shop: Every day, 8 am – 6 pm, window service, phone order, curbside, outdoor consultation (ha ha).  Visit us online at www.gatesflyshop.com and enjoy free shipping on every order, or choose pickup and we’ll have it ready for you take fishing.  We are having a tough time selling clothes with this arrangement so expect some sale items to be set outside the fly shop for your perusal.