2015 ANGLING REVIEW MICHAEL P. DAWKINS - WORLDCAST ANGLERS MDAWKINS@WORLDCASTANGLERS.COM 800.654.0676
ANGLING YEAR REVIEW INTRODUCTION Happy New Year! I hope this finds everyone doing well and having enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with family, friends, fishing buddies and loved ones. It was such a pleasure getting to spend time on the water with each and every one of you in 2015. Whether that was at home in Teton Valley/Jackson Hole, a remote destination location or during one of our educational workshops or clinics; I personally thank you for your support of WorldCast Anglers. It is always a fun exercise for me to reflect about the past fishing season, its weather, hatches, adventures and challenges, while getting ready for the new year ahead. At the end of this review you can find my available 2016 guide dates as well as some short photo essays and highlights from angling adventures in 2015. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing everyone in 2016!
2015 - ANGLING YEAR REVIEW 2015 was the year of whacky weather! In fact, 2015 was the second warmest year on record in the state of Idaho, 1934 rated as the warmest. Wyoming was plenty warm as well but nothing to break their records. January began with subzero cold and wind after a large snow cycle exited our region and dropped plenty of fresh snow during the 2014 holiday season. Storm cycles continued to miss us throughout the winter season. The occasional winter storm would connect on the Jackson Hole region but were usually in the form of a Pineapple Express variety (originating out of the mid-Pacific) where temperatures were above average. Grand Targhee Ski Resort closed their season at 301 total inches of snow, 199 inches short of their annual 500 inch average. Snow coverage in both valleys receded and melted during the months of February and March. In normal years, the valley snow had melted away at my house in Victor by the first of April; this year it was the beginning of March. The first American Robin visited my bird feeders on March 10th. The first hummingbird visited my house looking for food on April 29th. Both of these avian visits were the earliest I can remember in my 10 years of living in the Jackson Hole region; a little over a month and half early. The fishing conditions and hatches followed that â€œone month early markâ€œ for most of the 2015 year.
The end of February marked a warming trend that felt like the beginning of spring. Fishing was spectacular! Skwala stoneflies began creeping around the banks on the Snake River at the end of March. This hatch turned on and off as the Snake’s clarity fluctuated due to above average warm days. The Snake River turned to chocolate milk around April 20th, the same day Mother’s Day Caddis
were out in full force on the Henry’s Fork. The South Fork continued to nymph very well during these late winter and early spring months. Anglers were happy, guides were picking up skiers unhappy with snow conditions and the fly shop was open on the weekends to service all the local anglers trading in their skis for fly rods. Was this the new spring in Jackson Hole and Teton Valley? 3
Salmonflies started buzzing around on the lower Henry’s Fork around May 13th with the Green Drakes finishing up around June 15th. The Snake River dropped into fishing shape around June 19th. My personal favorite fishing of the year (PMD’s on the upper Teton River) started early (mid-June) and ended quickly around the 4th of July. I normally can expect 4 to 6 weeks of this hatch but record heat created aggressive weed growth on the upper Teton River. This weed growth slowed the water flow down and water temperatures warmed. Subsequently, the bugs and fishing slowed down too. Record heat hit us during the last weeks of June pushing our daily temperature highs into the mid 90’s. Everyone expected the worst but the heat wave was short lived and the Salmonflies were right on time on the upper South Fork during the week of July 4th. The South Fork’s PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and Golden Stones rounding out the bug mix on a more normal schedule. Fishing was fantastic!
Monsoonal moisture was prolific during the months of July and August, just as the Farmerâ€™s Almanac predicted. Almost daily afternoon rain events and some solid precipitation days helped recharge our fisheries with cool and clean water. Reservoir levels grew slightly during those times and water temperatures stayed cool on the South Fork. Afternoon cloud cover and thunderstorms gave fish confidence to feed on the surface. Our local wildflowers were incredibly dense and robust. A freeze advisory was issued for the evening of July 27th for Jackson Hole and Teton Valley. While driving home that day from a weekend fishing and camping trip to Sun Valley, the Sawtooth Mountains and Teton Range had a blanket of new snow covering them. I covered my vegetable garden that evening and lost only two tomato plants due to the freeze. It was the first time I built a fire in my wood burning stove in July!
The months of August and September were quite smoky around Jackson Hole and Teton Valley, some locals said it rivaled 1988. Wildfires plagued western Idaho which included 279,144 acres that burned in the Soda Fire near Boise. As the whacky weather continued, waders and rain jackets were needed on a South Fork Hilton Overnight with friends at the end of August and new snow covered Lolo Pass when driving back from a early steelhead trip to the Clearwater River on September 5th. Fall harbored the true â€œdog daysâ€? of abnormal warmth and limited precipitation. Our guides still wore wet wading gear through mid-October. Fall fishing was challenging, if not downright tough. Low water flows, plenty of bright sunshine and above average day time temperatures marked another Indian Summer for the region.
Mid-October Pheasant hunting was done in short sleeves and long sleeves were needed on the last day of Sharptail grouse season (October 31st). Finally, old man winter returned with a vengeance the first week of November and sub-zero temperatures during Thanksgiving. His grasp has been tight on Teton Valley and Jackson Hole all the way through the New Year. At the time of writing, the Snake River Basin snow pack is sitting at 91% of average, the Yellowstone Basin snow pack is 88% of average while the Henryâ€™s Fork Basin snow pack is 98% of average. Grand Targhee Resort has received 230 total inches of snow this season, over half of the total they received in the 2014-2015 season. Our current water condition looks good; however, February and March have now become our largest question marks! Fingers are crossed that substantial precipitation continues during the winter and spring months to help align us for a wonderful summer ahead.
I will have the following dates available to guide during the 2016 fishing season: June 9th–11th - The Firehole River can offer some of the earliest opportunities of consistent dry fly fishing in the area. Due to an abundance of geo-thermal influences, warm water temperatures create some of the first fishing opportunities in Yellowstone National Park. Anglers will stay at the legendary Old Faithful Inn. Built in 1903-1904, the Old Faithful Inn is possibly the largest log structure in the world. Days will be spent fishing the Firehole and Madison rivers (weather and water levels depending) in the midst of geysers, natural geo-thermal features and Yellowstone’s wildlife. Dinner reservations have been secured for each evening at the Old Faithful Inn’s Dinning Room. 2016 is the centennial celebration of Yellowstone National Park. 2 Angler spots available. June 29th and 30th – Sheridan Lake, located in Shotgun Valley – east of Island Park, ID, is a 300 acre body of water that is closed to the general public – only 10 rods are available per day. Its shallow depth (10ft – 25ft) creates a nutrient rich environment for Kamloop Rainbow Trout. The lake is full of chironomids and leeches that provide great subsurface action. Callibaetis and Chironomids can bring fish to the surface where they can be targeted with dry flies. Sheridan Creek, a private spring creek that flows into Island Park Reservoir can also be accessed via the property. Anglers will stay in a comfortable cabin on property where we’ll throw some steaks on the grill and you can relax on the front deck and enjoy your evening. 2 Angler spots available.
August 20th – Red Rock Ranch is a private guest ranch located high in the Gros Ventre Mountains outside of Jackson Hole. A 2.5 mile section of Crystal Creek, a Gros Ventre River tributary, is located inside the ranch. Offering classic western dry fly fishing for Cutthroat Trout, this creek is a blast and offers an incredibly refreshing experience to the larger and busier rivers in our area during the summer months. Bring your 2wt – 4wt and your dry flies! 2 Angler spots available. September 1st–3rd – The Lamar River Valley, located in the more remote Northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park, is nicknamed America’s Serengeti due to its high concentrations of wildlife. Hopper and terrestrial season should be in full swing by September in this area of Yellowstone where anglers have plenty of grassy meadows, gentle riffles, boulder gardens and undercut banks to target native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Anglers will stay in the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins (each complete with your own wood burning stove), located within striking distance to the famous Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, Pebble Creek and the Lamar River. 2 Angler spots available. Please email me at MDawkins@WorldCastAnglers or call 800.654.0676 if you have any questions about these offerings or are interested in any of these available dates.
AGUA BOA AMAZON LODGE - BRAZIL FEBRUARY 14TH - 21ST, 2015
The Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is located in the heart of the Amazon jungle in northwestern Brazil, bestowing access to one of the most unique ecological territories and fisheries in the world. Located 200 miles north west of Manaus, the lodge is located directly on the banks of the Agua Boa River which is one of over 1000 tributaries to the Amazon River. As the largest drainage of freshwater on the planet, the Amazon and its surrounding jungle produces 25% of the worldâ€™s freshwater, creating a vast region of lush vegetation and diverse wildlife. Agua Boa Amazon Lodge has separated itself as the premier peacock bass lodge and outfitter of the Amazon. As the only fly fishing only lodge in Brazil, anglers have the opportunity to land over 18 different species of unique jungle fish including the mighty Peacock Bass, Piranha, the Pirarucu, the Arowana, the Pacu and the Oscar. However, Agua Boa Amazon Lodge is not just about the fish. Deep in the Amazon, you never know what is around the next corner. Elusive gray and pink freshwater dolphins, groups of the enormous and very vocal Amazon River otters, the tapir always on watch for caiman or jaguars and howler monkeys that call at night before you go to sleep. Did I mention the birdlife? I now understand why scientists and explorers flocked to the Amazon for years; there is no ecosystem or environment that is that rich in birdlife and wildlife in the world. There is nothing like it, anywhere!
TREVELIN, ARGENTINA PATAGONIA RIVER GUIDES APRIL 4TH - 11TH, 2015
It is no secret that anglers are infatuated with Patagonia. The monstrous Andes mountain range provides ample cold, clean water to the region that, in-turn, creates some of the greatest trout rivers and watersheds on the planet. Enjoying the famous Malbec wines served at almost every meal, world-renowned Argentine beef and genuine over-the-top Patagonian hospitality; trout anglers quickly feel comfortable and at home at the bottom of the world. Explorers brought trout to Patagonia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Little did they know, they would be creating a troutangling utopia! My friends at Patagonia River Guides have one of the best fly fishing operations in all of Patagonia. Lakes, big rivers, small rivers, spring creeks and more; their mentality is to fish a different piece of water daily with the best guides at the best times. Monster Brook Trout, no problem. Bruiser Brown Trout, check. High flying Rainbow Trout, consider it done. They have it all! The fall months even offer upland bird hunting for one of the densest and healthiest California Quail populations in the world. The dry and arid ecosystem around Trevelin reminds one of the Pinedale area of Wyoming. It is the perfect location for a cast and blast that you will never forget. I often reflect about what fishing and bird hunting was like in Teton Valley and Jackson Hole in the 1900s. After experiencing Patagonia, I have a pretty good idea of what my home was like â€œback-in-the-day!â€?
JOHN DAY RIVER CENTRAL OREGON MAY 25TH - 29TH, 2015
Located in the north central Oregon desert, the John Day Wild and Scenic River is the second longest free flowing river in the United States. This river flows through a jagged and remote canyon and three Wilderness Study Areas on its journey to the Columbia River. Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Oregon, the river snakes through vertical basalt cliffs with an almost haunting feel. The surrounding land contains steep basalt canyon walls, juniper and sagebrush dotted hills, abandoned homesteads and petroglyphs. It is also one of the most incredible Smallmouth Bass fisheries in the world. We floated the 70 mile Clarno to Cottonwood section in 5 days. This section of river is inaccessible by road and incredibly remote. Only committed anglers and river users can reach the heart of the canyon via raft or driftboat carrying their supplies and gear. Camping under the stars in an area untouched by time while landing 50, 60 or even 70 bass a day on a fly rod was an experience like no other. This river trip was so unique and different; words and descriptive adjectives werenâ€™t enough to paint the image of this journey. In reflection, we put in at a bridge and took out at the next bridge, 70 miles and 5 days later and caught more smallmouth bass than most anglers see in a lifetime. We laughed as who would have expected that 4 guys that grew up in Southeast, that all moved West chasing trout, would head to the Oregon desert for a spectacular smallmouth bass river adventure!
DESCHUTES RIVER DEEP CANYON OUTFITTERS SEPTEMBER 28TH - OCTOBER 1ST, 2015
Steelhead are known as some of the hardest fighting freshwater fish on the planet. The Deschutes River in central Oregon is home to some of the best summer Steelhead habitat in the United States. Draining the massive Cascade range in conjunction with a heavy spring creek flow influence, the Deschutes River canyon was carved millions of years ago through Oregonâ€™s basalt plateau. This desert oasis and its legendary steelhead have solidified their place in angling culture. Partnering with our friends at Deep Canyon Outfitters, a group of anglers enjoyed a magnificent and educational experience targeting summer Steelehead on a wonderful 4 day/3 night camping journey down the heart of the Wild and Scenic Deschutes River canyon. This trip was unique and we built its foundation around anglers that were searching to accelerate their learning curve in the sport instead of that grip and grin photo. Instead of fish numbers, we concentrated on becoming better anglers. And with that, plenty of fish came to the net. Every angler came away from this trip a better spey caster, knot expert, productive water identifier with more knowledge and skills for targeting summer Steelhead and Trout. Steelhead fishing is no easy task and every one of our anglers did an incredible job. A comfortable and cozy river camp greeted us every evening while we sat around under the stars telling fishing stories and reviewing the day. Plus, my dad was able to join me on this trip!
PLAYA BLANCA YUCATAN, MEXICO NOVEMBER 14TH - 21ST, 2015
While hotels, lodges and fishing guides from Cancun to Punta Allen utilize and operate in the famous Ascension Bay, Playa Blanca Fly Fishing Lodge is located at the north end of the lightly pressured Espiritu Santo Bay. Anglers rarely see other flats skiffs during their angling day, if not during their entire angling week. From Playa Blanca, the angling options are endless. Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Snook, Barracuda, Jacks, Snapper, Sharks and several different species of reef fish; there are simply too many to list. The challenge is deciding where you want to go and what fish you want to target. Decisions are never second guessed when anglers return to the lodge, cold margarita in hand! With salt of coarse. If you had to sum up the angling experience at Playa Blanca fly fishing lodge in one word, it would be “Diversity.” The lodge and its waters fished are perfect for any angler. New anglers will find plenty of opportunities to develop their saltwater fly fishing skill sets. Experienced anglers can push themselves to the limits perusing permit or the elusive grand slam. Adventurous anglers can journey into the backcountry lagoons hooking and jumping baby tarpon and snook in the mangroves. Tour and view the historic Chac Mool Mayan Ruins built in 900 A.D. 200 yards from your room. There is a reason anglers and WorldCast Anglers hosts return to Playa Blanca every spring and fall and year after year!
WorldCast Anglers 38 West Center Street PO Box 350 Victor, ID 83455 800.654.0676 MDawkins@WorldCastAnglers.com
A Jackson Hole and Teton Valley fly fishing review of 2015 from WorldCast Anglers Vice President, Mike Dawkins.