There is much to celebrate as winter advances into spring, especially at high elevation. Here at St. Anthony, Idaho, the snow is now gone and I watch the budding of shrubbery that surrounds a greening lawn in my back yard.
As in past years, these official indicators of a new season represent more than just warmer temperatures and an increase in daylight hours.
While I have been fishing consistently for nearly a month, most of my time on the water has involved probing the lower Henry’s Fork with streamers and nymphs. There is no complaint with respect to these honorable methods and I enjoy them at any point of the year. But as the days become more comfortable and the variety of aquatic insects expand, so too do the choices that are available.
By April, my dependence upon midges and an occasional showing of Baetis mayflies for an excuse to break out the dry rod becomes somewhat more relaxed. Conditions that permit the emergence of plant life from winter dormancy have a similar effect on water born organisms that average larger than size twenty two. Additionally, receding snow at higher elevation increases the variety of opportunities to fish water different than what I have been dependent upon for the past several weeks.
Caddis and March Brown mayflies can approach size fourteen, and these are the hatches I anticipate as April progresses along the lower river. While considerably smaller, the reliability and intensity of spring Baetis also increase the likelihood that I will be fishing dry flies on any given day.
Although a drive to Island Park in early April will yield only Baetis action and the likely presence of snow, a return to Last Chance Run always brings additional excitement as the time to be there full time draws near.
Of course, nymphs and streamers will not be forsaken in favor of strictly fishing dry flies because most of the bigger trout will still be found beneath the surface, but in April it will usually be a matter of choice rather than necessity.