Golden Stonefly Hatch is On!
The Golden Stonefly hatch on the Lower Wallowa and Upper Grande Ronde is absolutely fantastic right now. With our low snow pack the water level is predictably lower now than it has been at this time in previous years by about 4k cubic feet per second at the gauge station in Troy. The lower and clearer water coinciding with the stonefly hatch has made for some unforgettable dry fly fishing. The Golden Stonefly hatch on the Wallowa is one of my favorite times to fish here. In fact, during the winter, as local anglers talk fishing at the pub over beers, it is the golden stonefly hatch we talk about. Last night I floated with Mark Keffer and Jordan Manley, two Winding Waters River Expedition guides who have backgrounds with lots of fishing experience. During the float we passed the spot where a couple decades ago Jordan caught his first fish. Such are the foundations.
We started out fishing with nymphs, primarily the mottled brown Pat’s Rubber Leg stonefly nymph. I love this fly because fish love it and they are easy to tie. I cranked out half a dozen in the time it took me to cook a frozen pizza before the float. Mark boated a really nice fish almost immediately, while watching a cow elk casually swim across the river. He continued to catch fish until the fly fell apart, a good problem to have. The wind settled enough to switch to dry flies and then it was basically non-stop action for the rest of the evening. At one point I questioned aloud, “what happened? I haven’t caught a fish in minutes.” Aside from that agonizing dry spell, the evening was as perfect as it gets. We ended the trip with a beautiful wild rainbow that Mark hooked in the Wallowa and then the fish proceeded to lead us into the Minam before finally getting in the net at the takeout where we took this picture.
When Paul Arentsen, owner of WWRE, asked how the fishing was I honestly replied, “As good as it gets.” Like anything good, it won’t last forever, so if dry fly fishing for big wild rainbows on a beautiful stretch of river is your game, then come on out and let’s float down the river.