Temps on Sunday night had not dropped below freezing, and as the water ran off my roof top I hit the road. By 10 AM under sunny skies on Monday,  I was on the river attempting to get ahead of the snow melt that will eventually cause the rivers to swell into un-fishability. Checking the USGS flows was of no help since the monitor is still reading “ice” and not reporting current flow conditions. All was good and water was clear and cold(38 degrees) upon my arrival. Snow pack is definitely breaking down and a wet slushy layer sits on top of frozen ground as I broke through the knee high drifts slogging along the river.  Foot travel is still very difficult and walking in the river, likely means spooking the trout you are trying to catch under these clear, low water conditions. Hopefully we will slow the melt in the next few days with some cooler evening temps. The last thing we want is for this snow/water to all run into the system at once. The best scenario would be for the ground to slowly unfreeze and accept winters blanket into the soil. The Rush River appeared particularly low yesterday.


-Ice shelves were talking all day yesterday. They croaked, cracked and gurgled as portions broke off and slid down stream in the current. WATCH OUT, I was hit numerous times by ice chunks as I focused on fishing.

-By noon it was 50 degrees and midges and small stones were in the air, on the snow, and on the water. Trout fed happily on or just below the surface. Getting presentation correct was the most important factor to catching. These fish were in shallow clear water and bad casts and dragging patterns resulted in no takes. I fished a soft hackle P. tail just below the surface. Nymphing deeper water also produced some trout.

-Robin red breast and a host of other birds were out in force. The bugs on the banks were easy pickins for them. In a number of locations I counted over 50 robins in a group ravaging the midges. I had never seen groups of robins this large before and I am suspecting they are just migrating back into the area. The chirp and chatter was a great sign of  life returning to the river.

– At one point I was startled by a trumpeter swan that had snuck in down stream of my location. Apparently he did not appreciate my presence in the slower water I had chosen to fish. About 20 yards down stream he decided to explode off the water and fly through the narrow corridor of river I was fishing.  It started with a noisy bugle call and as I turned my head I was able to catch the whole take off effort. With a burst of his giant wings slapping the water and his feet dog paddling the surface, he flew straight at me. When the giant white bird reached my location it appeared the tip of his right wing would touch my rod tip. The fly rod slightly pushed back in my hand and I felt the air from his flight on my face.  As he passed, his head was at my eye level and I stared in wonder at the size and beauty of the swan. His eye was fixed on mine and we connected for a fleeting moment. As he cocked his head and looked me in the eye, he let out one more loud honk. It was awesome.

The future weather and water conditions are uncertain. No telling when changes to water and fishing conditions will occur.