It is cold in the Yellowstone area. How cold is it, cold enough for snow, ice, and all the trappings of winter. Our weather took a serious turn towards a winter like state this past week, and many local fishers discovered they had a seasonal case of Baetisitis. How do you know that you have this affliction? A couple of signs to look for: First, you have little to no feeling in your hands, possibly your feet, and you might be questioning whether you have ears. Second, your shaking and it is not from the extreme cold, but rather from the sheer number of small insects that are floating down the river in front of you. Third, that said river your standing in (freezing your you know what’s off) is the Madison, Firehole, or Henry’s Fork. Fourth, you have a silly smile on your face, because despite the suffering, you are actually having more fun than really should be legal. Baetisitis. I have it bad! The winter weather has brought out this diminutive drab olive colored mayfly in droves, and the fish staring at a long cold winter diet of the occasional midge or nymph, are gorging in spades. All the local rivers will see hatches of this mayfly for the next couple of weeks. Don’t be in too much of a rush to hit the water, usually 11:00am is the earliest you need to be there to capitalize on this awesome fishing. The Baetis at this time of the year are small, 22’s or even 24’s, so visibility becomes a huge issue. When snow is pelting you in the face, and your imitation is lost in a sea of naturals, you know you have the disease too! I love black winged cripples this time of year. If the water has that oily gray colored slickness to it, try the black wing, and I think you will be amazed at how easy a size 22 can be to see. If the sun is shining, and yes Baetis do emerge on sunny days, try a gray winged Epix Sparkle Dun or Cripple. I also usually go right to long and fine, meaning, 12 foot leaders down to 6x tippet. Small flies in micro currents get a more natural like drift on lighter tippet and leaders. I also like to cut the distance that I am casting down to as a short as possible (this is actually always true), so taking the time to carefully approach your rising target can be essential for good drifts, being able to see your fly, and setting the hook properly with such a small offering. Anyway I can feel the need to freeze, so my case of baetisitis is still going on strong. I think the Firehole is calling my name.
See you on the river.