Mat Squilante Reports:
I was up around Junction the last two days and so were what seemed like a
large swarm of extremely eager guides and others dashing to the river. I
went below Helena to avoid the crowd and saw one fish in a deep pool
but got caught up on a rock and spooked him. It was a big 32-36" fish. I
got skunked all day Saturday.
I did notice some odd rises which seemed like sizable fish but there
were no adults on the water and nothing discernible coming off.
Sunday, I went upriver of Junction to avoid the crowds in a different direction. As a first timer on the river I know nothing but again I noticed there were fish randomly but regularly rising. No October Caddis on or in the water and no adults in the bushes that I saw. I did see strong spotted caddis activity. Toward late afternoon fish were still rising and I still had a big zero after fishing stones, copper johns, wolly buggers, caddis pupa, wets, october caddis pupa, new patterns with no name, eggs and even a san juan worm for kicks. After a fish flew out of the water 10 feet downstream I took the indicator off and started Chezch nyphming. 2nd cast a 23" fish went airborne. First Trinity steelhead on 4X and a simple size #16 emerger I developed years ago. I caught another fish but then the hatch was over and I still had a 5 hour drive.
Point is, nothing that I read online or was told about regarding patterns interested the fish at all. I watched 6 guides with 2 guys each fish over the run - nothing. I watched two other guys swing through it - nothing. When I cleaned the fish, hatchery fish, she literally had rocks in her stomach, not a few, it was full of rocks and 2 cased caddis cases - nothing else. The fish are on the bottom or at least they were this weekend. Indicators weren’t putting the flies right on their noses and with all the pressure 2-3x must look like mooring line going through the water. They rejected everything no matter how well presented if it wasn’t small and on light tippet. With another day and the puzzle solved I’m confident I could have picked up at least 3-4 steelhead in one day in this particular 200 yard section because I’m sure there were a lot of fish in there with all the rising I’d watched from 8 a.m. until 6:00 pm