Written by: Phoebe Bean
The craze at Silver Creek surrounding the famous brown-drake hatch has begun. Although there are many fantastic aquatic insect hatches in the West, the brown drake is hard to beat, and there are only a few days each year to experience it. Yesterday at the Picabo Angler (where I work/guide), the phone was ringing off the hook with folks wanting to reserve beats on private water, inquiring about different fly patterns, and lots of anglers wandered into the shop to “shoot the sh*t,” have a cold beer, and wait for dusk.
After grabbing a quick dinner at home last night, Dusty and Nathan (two of my fabulous coworkers) and I grabbed our gear and tied on our flies with the beautiful Picabo hills in the backdrop.
A few fish were rising for a small Baetis hatch, but the drakes hadn’t made an appearance yet. Just as I was about to tie on a Baetis Film Critic, an enormous drake popped up, and we all held our breaths as it drifted closer and closer to the sippers in front of us. BAM! That fish hit it so hard we yelled with excitement, and the rest of the evening was a mad (and hilarious) scramble to convince the fish that our flies were better than the natural stuff.
The first brownie I landed was a small guy, but don’t let his size fool you! I have never, ever seen a fish this size fight as hard as this one did; when the drakes are up, the trout are amped up on protein and turn into feisty little buggers.
As always, the sunset on the creek was breathtaking. Spectacular views and great fishing coupled with good friends and lots of laughter resulted in a perfect evening. There were no complaints to be had by anyone, except maybe from the fish we hooked. Once the light had mostly vanished, the drakes swarmed the air and water in droves. With little light to speak of and hundreds of rising fish, it was difficult to know whether our flies had been taken or not, so there were lots of premature strikes and expletives to go around!
Once the clock hit 10:30, the hatch had died down and the carnage was tremendous: millions of dead and crippled bugs littered the water. Once boiling and violent with hungry, hell-bent trout, a hushed tranquility enveloped the creek. An owl softly hooted from the willows, a loon’s tremolo floated upstream, and the moon timidly peaked out from behind the clouds. The three of us spent the rest of the night sitting on the tailgate of a truck by the creek, swapping stories and enjoying each other’s company. What an unforgettable evening.