Idaho Rivers


What to Expect in June

Note: This What-To-Expect is from Westfly's Legacy pages and may not accurately reflect the current fishing at this venue

June is a hard month to predict. If the winter snowpack was low or spring was unusually warm, we could have good fishing from the get-go. On the other hand, a heavy snowpack or cold spring could delay or prolong runoff and fishing might not be good until late in the month--or even until July.,

That said, even during runoff season a stretch of cool weather can stem the snowmelt for a few days, during which anglers may find decent nymphing on streams that previously looked like a chocolate milkshake spilling from the world's largest soda fountain. If water temperatures stay cool, hatches will be delayed and nymphing may be your best bet for most of the month.

So anglers will need to pay careful attention to river levels and weather conditions, both of which can be monitored via Westfly. Also, pay attention to levels in tributary streams; sometimes rives are in good shape above the confluence with a major trib, but are not fishable below the confluence.

As usual for this time of year, the best fishing will be on spring creeks and tailwater fisheries that are not as affected by runoff or irrigation needs. If the regulations allow it, fishing in tributary streams can be more productive because they clear soonest. If you find yourself on a river with high, turbid water, work the backeddies and the edges near the bank. Boaters should use extra caution on rivers that are just dropping into shape because there may be hazards in unexpected places.

Nymphs presented near the bottom usually work best under high water conditions, but sometimes a large attractor dry fly can bring a trout to the surface if the water's moving slowly.

The primary hatches this month are salmonflies, golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, a few remnant blue-winged olives, green drakes, and maybe some pale morning duns near the end of the month. Caddis are also a big factor in June, and midges can still be important.

If you find yourself on a fishable river that hosts a strong population of salmonflies that haven't completed their hatch cycle, you need to know the state of the hatch. If it's early in the hatch cycle, the nymphs will work best. Salmonfly nymphs are most active at dawn and dusk, so that's when they are most likely to get knocked loose and drift in the current--and when trout will be waiting for them. But that doesn't mean you can't catch fish all day, either. It just tells you when you'll probably do best. Fish below riffles, among boulder fields, and through drop-offs. Kaufmanns Stoneflies, Rocky Nymphs, Rubber Legs, Bitch Creeks--they all work.

When salmonflies are ready to hatch they crawl out of the water and the adult emerges from the nymph, dries its wings, and flies to bankside vegetation where it seeks a mate. Often, these adults fall out the tree and onto the water--where hungry trout await them.

So if you cast a MacSalmon, Clarks Stonefly, Low Ball Stonefly, or Stimulator near shore and just downstream or downwind from overhanging vegetation--especially in the afternoon when the bugs and the wind are at their most active--you may catch a fish.

Evenings and afternoons are usually the best times for fishing adult patterns. Egg-laying females are the real prize for trout, and egg-laying flights are usually strongest in the evening hours, sometimes right at sunset.

Note that just because the adult salmonflies are out, it doesn't mean trout are taking them yet. Trout are creatures of habit and they can be slow to make the switch from nymphs to adults.

Everything that's been said for salmonflies applies to golden stoneflies, except they follow the salmonflies by about two weeks.

Another stonefly that makes an appearance at this time of year is the yellow sally. Some size 16 patterns should be carried.

Green drakes may be important on some streams in early June. Before the hatch, a Poxyback Green Drake can catch fish when drifted through a run with a slow to moderate current. This fly has a shiny back, based on the fact that the top of the thorax of most mayflies gets shiny just as it is ready to emerge. Use this fly before the hatch. During the hatch, use the Green Drake Paradrake or Green Drake Cripple. Wait until a trout rises to a natural insect so you know where it's lying, then cast to that fish. Blind casting will only put the trout down.

Pale morning duns hatch in profusion on some rivers, and while trout get very selective on them, it's not a difficult hatch to match. Often, trout will switch from nymphs to emergers to duns, lingering longer on each stage than most anglers expect. A size18 Parachute PMD or Sparkle Dun works just dandy when trout are on the rise. On very clear, slow streams you should switch to a CDC Cripple, PMD Cripple, or No Hackle with a pale yellow body. In this latter case you'll probably need to use a 6X or 7X tippet and a downstream presentation so the fly reaches the trout before the leader. No Hackles don't hold up very long; two or three fish, and the fly is too shredded to use any more.

You can still find occasional blue-winged olives. These late bloomers tend to be big (for a blue-winged olive). A few size16 and 18 Parachute Baetis, olive Sparkle Duns, or Baetis Cripples should be in your fly box. If they hatch at all, it will probably be on a cloudy day.

Caddis continue to be important. Most June hatches are matched by size14-16 patterns.


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