Bear sightings, big fish stories, no-fish stories, cute fawn pictures, unidentified hatches, too cold, too hot, too many people, and no one around: that’s a week of drakes. The heat blew this size 10 burrower through the system so quickly it was easy to miss it. By the weekend the drake spinners had started to taper, and were somewhat overshadowed by everything else: yellow stones, the first Isonychia, sulphurs, a bigger yellow stone, golden stones, the last of the brown bugs (this time of year it’s often the March Brown spinner), and other, odder, stuff. Everything sort of comes to life the first week of June. The brown drakes are something of a gatekeeper between the subtleties of May and the excesses of high season.
A mega dry-fly brown
It was one of my favorite weeks.
After finding some good drake fishing on Wednesday and Thursday on foot, Holden and I did a short float that quickly turned magical. The river was empty on a Friday night where we floated – something of a miracle on a weekend – and we hit one of those episodic drake spinner falls that, for whatever reason, had big fish looking. There were just enough bugs to get the fish rising, and not so many that they would ignore his. All told he hooked four big trout, lost a giant at the net when his reel got ensnared in his life jacket, and found late night redemption on the edge of a riffle – an epic battle that ended with me up to my chest fishing the trout out of a log jam.
He even let dad catch a few of the “lesser” trout rising in the moonlight near the end of the float.
Aaron and I went a few days later and the drakes were very sparse but there were tons of other bugs, a potpourri that didn’t seem to inspire the trout. The river was dead until dusk, when we found a willing pod of brook trout that were feasting on a localized spinner fall. I wish I knew what separates a good night from a slow night, because the overall biomass of bugs on the night with Aaron was five times the night with Holden and yet I never saw a trout over twelve inches rise. Odd.
The river has been moody, the weather unstable: As soon as the forecast appears to be moderating a new forecast pops up with more change. The only good news is that, while I’m confident there are more drakes that are going to hatch over the next few warm nights (heard of some hatching in the rain last night), the cool weather this weekend is perfectly timed for the Isonychia which, on the right day, can provide the sort of dinner-time dry fly fishing that can sound like a tavern fib. This leads to that early left-over drake, Iso, yellow stone sort of blind-fishing/scattered big fish rise evening that, with careful study, makes for some of my best days on the river.
As has happened twice this spring already, I’m writing this report before a forecast of rain. Feel free to call the shop if you’re concerned about water flows. This upcoming cool down should delay the hex and help the trout and make for a great week of fishing – an awesome mixed-bag of opportunity.
A letter from Josh and Katy
Since March, we’ve known that 2020 would be a very different year, and undoubtedly your year has changed as much as ours. We are very grateful to be open, and to be busy. Now that we have a better view of what the rest of our season looks like, we thought it appropriate to provide an update.
Restaurant: The various stay-at-home orders, the current restrictions on seating occupancy, our limited staff numbers, and the shortness of our season requires us to make some changes to the restaurant in 2020. There is simply no other way for us to keep the restaurant open this summer. Rather than feeling burdened, we are excited to take this opportunity – presented by necessity – to try something a bit different based on the success of our to-go menu this spring.
In short, in 2020, the restaurant will become an order-inside, eat-anywhere restaurant with an always expanding menu. We have limited inside seating, and ample tables outside along the river for folks to enjoy their meals. While we still have limited days of operation, we are quickly moving back into a 7-day/week operation. This is still a work in progress, but come on in and have some food!
Current Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 8 am – 7 pm (7 pm starts this Friday)
*Lodge guests will have breakfast and lunch available, 8 am – 2 pm, on Monday and Tuesday
Fly Shop: We are now welcoming folks into the fly shop but asking that we all practice social distancing which, in our fly shop, means about four to five customers at a time. We love helping people catch trout on the fly be it with a guide, or your personal DIY adventure that requires us to draw a good map. We will continue to offer window assistance to folks that prefer the safest shopping experience. We are here to make your trip as trout-filled as possible.
Lodging: For everyone’s safety, we’ve discontinued daily room straightens, and we use sheets and blankets but no comforters, so that all linens can be removed and industrially cleaned off-site. We have additional blankets, fresh towels, and anything else you might need available upon request.
Guide Trips: Our guides are back in action. We will happily make special accommodations for folks who want to maximize safety.
Gates Lodge: The service industry has felt the coronavirus particularly hard, and Gates Lodge is, at root, almost entirely a service-based operation with a very short season. 2020 will be “Gates Lodge Lite”…but it isn’t going to stop us from doing what we love.
Josh and Katy Greenberg