Preparing for the Season
June is a month of preparation in anticipation of the amazing fly fishing season which, for anglers who prefer fast water, kicks off when the world renowned Elk River and its many tributaries reopen on June 15, having been closed since April 1 for the Cutthroat Trout spawning season. The Elk is one of the last frontiers in North America for pure strain wild Cutthroat Trout which provide unparalleled fishing for the dry fly enthusiast.
Of course the real keen anglers who can't wait for the rivers to open have an abundance of opportunities to take good numbers of big healthy Rainbow Trout from any of the many lakes within an hours drive of Fernie. Edwards Lake, in the South Country, was first to ice off producing some great fly fishing from late March this year. Then there's Loon, Susan and Summit, to name just a few of the better known lakes to follow. By June all the lakes are producing heaps of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Still water fishing is a nice easy way to start learning the basic art of fly fishing.
Advanced anglers will be busy tying flies for the season ahead, adding their own personal variations to popular patterns, which they firmly believe will give them an edge over commercially produced patterns. The real edge is the confidence they have in that particular fly, as in most sports, confidence is a catalyst for producing positive results.
Of course everybody likes to have some idea of what basic patterns they should carry around this area for the season, so here is a good basic outline:
Talking dry flies, June/July is big Stonefly month. There is an abundance of good patterns, and after winter, spawning and closed season, the fish are hungry and eager to gulp down big flies (size 6 - 8). Also with a big run off the water may not be crystal clear, so precise patterns may not be as critical as for late season flies, however observation is the key to choosing the best pattern. If in doubt, and there's no fly activity to observe, stick on a Willies Ant, it never ceases to amaze me just how consistently productive this big, ugly, basic old fly can be.
Talking of Stoneflies, at the other end of the scale, the little Yellow Sally (size 16) is an all season constant producer of good results when nothing else is happening.
Early season Mayflies are usually of the bigger variety as well, size 8-12 Brown and Green Drakes when observed work well, and general patterns like the Royal Wulff and Patriot around size 10-14 can be good when nothing is seen. Throughout the season the Mayflies tend to get smaller working through size 12-14 Mahogany Dunns and Flavs, Carlsons Olive Hayse a must have pattern, as too are size 14-16 PMD's, down to size 18-22 BWO's in September/October. H&L Varient size 16-18 is another great late season pattern to always have in the box, skittered they can be amazing.
And of course Caddis patterns are great most of the season from late afternoon into the evening, size 14-16 PMX in yellow I find is a great standard pattern.
Late season fly fishing with tiny flies and ultra light tippet is a great challenge for the expert angler, but thankfully for the novice, terrestrials - ants, beetles and hoppers, are readily taken by Cutthroats as well, so there's sensational fishing for everybody all season.
Now, with a full season ahead, is the time to prepare or even learn.