Searching for Grayling and Salmonflies

Last Sunday, I rode up the Poudre Canyon for the third week in a row to check on Joe Wright reservoir, looking to hit the grayling spawning run. Three years ago I lucked into it on June 26, and it was some of the craziest fly fishing action I’ve ever experienced… a fish on every cast until your arm got tired (which took a long time, because the grayling were all exactly the same size, not very big).

On the first weekend this year, the lake was almost entirely iced over, and I caught a few little grayling.

The next weekend, the ice was entirely gone, but for a strip remaining at the dam, and I caught a couple bigger grayling.

Last weekend, the water level was almost topped out and the creek inlet, where the fish stack up to head to their spawning runs upstream, looked perfect. But the fish weren’t there. I caught one full sized fish.

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Tomorrow I’ll go again and see what the fish think of the Summer Solstice.

The other goal for the weekly run up the canyon is to look for signs of the giant salmonfly hatch. Pteronarcys californica are the biggest bugs in any river, and when the nymphs begin crawling towards the bank to hatch into their flying form, the fish lose all inhibition. I lucked into the salmonfly hatch two years ago on the Madison in Montana, and it was a highlight of that entire summer.

The Poudre salmonfly hatch is supposed to be happening any minute, but I have yet to find any empty husks on the river stones, and I’ve seen no adult bugs in the willows by the bank. The river is finally calming down from runoff high water, and I caught my first Poudre trout of 2020 last Sunday evening. A couple of them did eat a big salmonfly pattern, the improved sofa pillow. I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be great.

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A nice Poudre Canyon brown.

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