Sunday, August 11, 2019

Hopper plague of 2019

Every hopper season is a special snowflake, but this year's is going down as one to remember. From the North Platte to the Upper Madison, the reports are historically good.

A fishing-guide friend told me that the hopper fishing on the Upper Madison is the best he's seen in the nine years he's guided it. Which is exciting as the Upper Madison isn't typically one of the best hopper rivers, in my opinion. He showed me some pics - many 20- to 24-inch fish on dries. The Yellowstone River has been excellent as usual, and on the North Platte - even though it was anticipated since last year's was so good - has been epic. They don't even have time to put up new online fishing reports down there: 

But the real secret at this time of year is the small stream hopper and attractor-dry fishing. The fish-size-to-fishery-width ratio is much better on these waters - 20-inch trout are possible in some 10-foot-wide creeks. Some of my favorite hopper rivers are the Yellowstone River, [REDACTED] Creek and [REDACTED] Creek. Some things too look for are grassy banks, meadow sections and connectivity to big-fish mainstems.

Salmo trutta selfie, from a 20-foot-wide creek.
A wet winter, spring and summer is most often cited as the reason for the huge hopper numbers, but there might be other factors at play, such green fields stretching well into August and a wonky haying season (both of which are really just other effects of the wet year).

There is still time to take advantage - we should still have at least a month of good hopper fishing in the Northern Rockies. Go fish!