Grashopperville U.S.A. – 82840

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A typical Wyoming "Hopper"

Grasshopper infestations have taken on mythic tones here on the arid prairie of northern Wyoming — they blanket highways, eat T-shirts off clotheslines and devour nearly every scrap of vegetation on area ranch land.  The myth may come closer to reality this summer than at any time in decades.

Not great news for the ranching community, but it’s hard not to get excited as trout anglers.

According to the USDA and a  federal survey of farm areas taken last fall found high numbers of adult grasshoppers in all parts of Wyoming. (See Image Below)

“They’re grass eaters,” said Chuck Evitt, a rancher near Buffalo.  “They’ll eat the leaves and leave the stem.  But if they’re thick enough, they’ll eat the stem too, you see.”

“When they’re really thick, people say they’ll eat T-shirts on a line,” he said as he recalled a time in the mid-1980s when the grasshoppers were so thick that you couldn’t put your hand on the shady side of a fence post without squashing one.

“In Wyoming and Montana, we may see some of the most severe grasshopper outbreaks that we’ve seen in nearly 30 years,” said Charles Brown, the national grasshopper suppression program manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

It seems a safe assumption that  swarming insects will flutter en masse into rivers like the Bighorn, Piney Creek and the Powder.  In other words, the trout don’t know it yet, but a veritable smorgasbord of protein is about to rain from the sky.  In fact, we’re already seeing hoppers popping along some Colorado rivers right now, months earlier than normal.

A Nice looking hopper fly - in the wrong spot

A nice looking hopper fly - in the wrong spot

There is nothing better than watching the slow, deliberate rise of a trout eating a grasshopper fly.  If that’s something that floats your boat too, and you were thinking about a western fishing jaunt, Plan for July, August and September 2010.  It’s going to go off, maybe in epic proportions.

A large 2009 Summer Brown fooled by a Hopper

Early Season Tips

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While most anglers spend time on the water when the weather is nice, all trout feed year-round.  If you choose to go fishing early in the season, remember these tips:

– The water is still cold so the fish will tend to reside in slower deeper water.

– The water is lower and clearer than usual, be sure to fish with smaller flies and lighter tippets.

Fish have time to study your fly in slow, clear water

–  We preach this all of the time but most fly anglers laugh at us: use a small pair of binoculars to scan the water.  You will be amazed at what you are missing without the glasses.  You will see things on the surface of the stream that will change the way you fish.

– As always, try and be sneaky – bright colors and lot’s of movement can be the difference between a great day and a frustrating one.

Sneaky Rock Creek Angler

– Trout have a protective coating that covers their entire body.  Contacting trout with gloves, dry hands or clothes can be detrimental to the health of the fish.  The protective “slime” on all species of fish is their immune system – it protects them from pathogens in the water.  When handling any fish, first be sure to get your hands wet.  When your hands small “fishy” it is usually because you have some of the fish’s “slime” on your hands.  Again, handling fish with wet hands will eliminate the smells and ensure that your quarry is swimming away healthy.

Keeping the fish near the water ensures your hands will be wet

Spring in the Bighorns

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Spring has sprung in the Rocky Mountains and it’s the time of year that we all start thinking about fishing.  The fish don’t seem to remember last season and they don’t seem to mind that the weather isn’t quite perfect… yet.  Spring fishing can offer some of the best angling opportunities of the season.  This is the time of year that Rock Creek Angler’s guides start honing their skills and getting ready for the summer season.  It’s the time of year when the red wing blackbirds start making their nests on the riverbanks while they chat at one another with the all so familiar sound, a sound that is reminiscent of fishing.  It’s also the time of year when both rainbow and cutthroat trout are building their nests (also called redds).  Recognizing where trout spawn and ensuring those fish are unmolested and their redds are left alone is crucial to the sustainability of these fish.

A Rock Creek Redd

This photo illustrates what a redd may look like.  Note the oval shaped lighter gravel on the river bottom.  This area is where a female (or hen) trout meticulously kicked away a layer of gravel and laid her eggs to be fertilized.  She then re-covered the area with a light layer of small gravel to protect her brood.  Obviously small rocks cannot harm trout eggs, but be assured an angler tromping around a stream can be devastating.  Always be aware of your surroundings when fishing, particularly in the Spring when one could unknowingly disturb and subsequently destroy future generations of trout.

It’s never too early to book a trip with a Rock Creek Angler’s guide.  The summer season is filling up quickly and we are expecting another banner year.  Last season’s ‘hopper hatch’ was spectacular and we’re anticipating more of the same in 2010.  Rock Creek Anglers has access to dozens of miles of rivers and streams that are not very well known – and we like it that way.  Many of these hidden treasures are managed so that they receive very little pressure and therefore, offer fantastic fishing.  You can be sure to get away from the crowds and cast to a multitude of native trout while experiencing breathtaking 
scenery and abundant wildlife.  Many of our private water destinations regularly produce trout in the 20 inch plus category.  Wyoming ranks tenth in total area in the U.S. with 97,818 square miles, it ranks fiftieth in population with 493,782 residents.  That is only 5.09 people per square mile of land – which to most Wyoming trout anglers is too crowded, so… We offer ultra-private fishing vacations for all ability levels and will steer you to some of the best trout fishing in the country while ensuring that you won’t encounter another angler unless you want them there.

A nice Wyoming spring rainbow