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Yesterday was it. Recent river levels have been kept low by consistent chilly windy weather followed by snow and heavy frosts. Yesterday, this frigid lockup was overpowered by rain and warming temps. The streams have now moved from gin clear or just a bit off-color to cafe au lait. The easy wading is now pushy and demanding. If you want to cross from one side to the other, it's good to carefully pick your spot and watch your foot placement. To do otherwise invites a bone-chilling dunking as each water droplet was a snowflake yesterday.

In the last few days, the fish have moved from the heads of the runs to the tailouts and to the "soft" water.  This time of year, the "foam is home" addage is good advice. Fish prowl in the foam and dash into the faster water to eat any meal that might be whipping by. The bigger fish often sit in the tailouts where the current is slower and rocks provide an additional break in the current. Mature fish guard these prime spots aggressively. Neighbors are not welcome here and any nervous water is usually caused by this selfish terratorial behavior!

70 degrees one day... a blizzard the next.

Fishing pre-runoff is an on again, off again proposition. Blizzards, wind, cold temps push the off-button. Light rain, overcast skies and room temperatures push the on-button big time. This spring, I've seen little brown stoneflies by the hundreds dapple the slick's surfaces as this little bug lay eggs. Of course, baetis also can be prolific on these "fair weather" days. Dry fly fishing can be spectacular and equally not... and for no apparent reason. 

Baetis hatches can be prolific in the spring.

On some days, baetis can carpet the water's surface and inexplicably, no trout will rise to consume this feast. It seems as if an inter-office memo was circulated and all the fish in the river comply. I suspect it has to do with water and/or air temps, but it is a weird phenomena. Two days later, the same conditions occur (or at least the same conditions to us nonpiscene homo sapiens) and every fish on the river is up and eating bugs. It's weird... how do they ALL know what to do. Wouldn't there be some that ignore the bulletin and eat on those days when no one else is interested at all?? The phrase "God does not play dice with the universe" comes to mind. I'm sure there is a scientific reason, but I am not privy to that masterplan. 

Another angler wanted to share this pool.

 

In any case, nymphs are usually reliable during this pre-runoff period. A traditional double nypmh rig can be great or simply mediocre. And I'm fine with mediocre after a long Wyoming winter! In fact, mediocre is actually great. In Wyoming, we go from stone cold winter to a kinda spring in March, then a teasing spring in April. When spring hits full force in May, the rivers soon blow out with runoff so our pre-runoff fishing is fleeting, often spectacular, sometimes frustrating, but always wonderful!


On the days when the water gets a bit off color, streamers can be very good and often take the biggest fish in whatever system you are fishing. I fished five hours yesterday and had two takes on a nymph, one on a dry fly fished to a sporadic riser in an eddie and then caught two monsters on a black wooly bugger on two consecutive casts. Such is spring fishing in Wyoming! 

22" female followed by...
22" male!