Friday, August 2, 2013

Owyhee's Browns are Hopping for Hoppers

Brown on a hopper
If you fly fish and live in or around Boise, then I can safety bet you've made the "way earlier than I want to be up" morning dash to the Owyhee river in Oregon. I've done it. In fact, driving nearly asleep at the butt-crack-of-dawn in order to beat my fellow fisherman to the river seems to be the modus operandi.  Unfortunately, no matter how early I leave and arrive there is always some guy with a felt hat, smoking a cigar, standing in what I claim as my favorite fishing spot. Damn it...again, does this old timer ever rest? Tardiness is the mother of invention the saying goes for procrastinators like myself. On this day my late arrival meant fly fishing where I normally don't, not because I had a choice but because all the "good" spots had bipeds standing in them.  As luck would have it my late arrival would actually pay off and I finally got my perfect day of fishing on the "O". The fish were generous and active, the weather, drizzly and overcast with a slight breeze and my fishing compadre (my father-in-law) was great company. The water was clearer than I am used to seeing this time of year, not the pea green I am accustomed to. The clear water did not make the fish any more picky however but rather made it easier for me to spot them  basking in the shallows. Another bonus is that the clarity provided for some amazing pre-strike stalking action. What a thrill it was to see fish rising off the stream bed to attack our flies or merely give them a sniff then glide back down.   I found it difficult to time the slow, deliberate feeding the browns exhibited today and my jitters probably cost me 6-8 fish.

Big and Ugly on Big Ugly flies!
 What worked. Honestly, just about anything that normally works on the "O" worked today. We started with zebra midges (red and black) and skwala off the bottom. then two PMD (18-20) hatches in the late morning,  provided fast action on top with rust colored flies or emerger patterns.

My favorite moments of fishing today involved casting big ugly hoppers onto lazy pool like stretches of the river, even in places where I didn't see fish feeding on top. I'd plop the hopper down near the far bank and give it 20-30 ft of natural drift and before I knew it a set of rubbery yellow lips would emerge to suck down the fly like a sinkhole.  It was a great day and I was nodding off on the ride home like a tired puppy. Thanks for driving Dave!

I added a link to the USGS river flow webpage. The Owyhee is easy to wade in all but the deepest holes at 150 cfs.  Get out there and enjoy casting big terrestrials for big fish (late summer is best).

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