I have some good news...and some even better news...
Firstly, the road up the Greys is in the process of being graded. It was horrific yesterday am when I drove up, but on the return the guys were out moving dirt and rolling it smooth.
Secondly, and more importantly, the Greys is running clear from about 20 miles up and continues to get crystal clear all the way o it's origin. I'd actually consider the river fishable from the confluence of the Little Greys and up, although the river is still running high and fast so you'd have to find the right kind of water to fish.
Thirdly, and this is a pretty awesome bit of good news...wait for it...the salmon flies are just beginning to emerge (at least where I always find them, somewhere between the confluence with the Little Greys and Murphy Creek) and more importantly the river is fishable, at least in sections. I've been living here since 2004 and every year that the salmon flies show up on the Greys the river is too muddy to fish. I have caught the salmon fly hatch on the Greys only twice and it was very short lived, but epic! We are about 2-3 weeks ahead of where we normally are for fishing the Greys. The combination of rain and some unseasonably warm weather a few weeks ago sped up the run-off process and if I had to guess, I'd say that we've already hit our peak and if I am correct that means that the river will be dropping by the day and getting clearer by the day as well.
So if you'd like to try and get in on some salmon fly action the first thing you need to do is figure out where they are. I always inspect the willows next to the river after I've seen the first salmon flies of the season. I usually find them sunning themselves or having some "happy time" with a partner. If you find these you are in the right place. The second thing you want to do is look around and see if there are any fish rising or better yet huge bugs flying around in the air. A dead giveaway I find is when you see lots of swallows flying around, this is also true for many hatches, lots of birds swooping around is a very good indicator of bugs in the air. By the way, if you come into the shop I'll give you some clues as to where to begin your quest.
Anyway, you might be asking yourselves what flies to be using right now, well my advice would be to stick with rubber legs in brown or black or golden stones, yes I said it, stick with nymphing, unless you see fish rising and salmon flies buzzing around. Either use an indicator or if you are like me and don't like using bobbers, be sure to add a little bit of weight and get them bumping along the bottom. You can let them swing too, but you are going to have a lot more luck the slower you can get them to drift. The same thing goes for streamers right now, in fact I often cast upstream and dead drift buggers or streamers and then let them go into a full swing before I recast.
Now if I see any fish rise, the above advice gets tossed out. You could always start out with a dry (preferably a large foam pattern) but I know for a fact that I will be getting bites with a stonefly nymph right now and unless I see salmon flies flying around and fish rising it tends to be a lesson in futility chucking a dry (I've tried this many times before). You know, I almost forgot...I know it might sound cruel, but usually the first thing I do is grab a salmon fly, shake it up in my hand and then chuck it out into the moving water (I did this yesterday) and then I follow it downstream to see if it gets gobbled up and if it does, I switch to either a Circus Peanut, large indicators in orange or olive or even a golden stone foamie. You don't necessarily have to use an excessively large salmon fly pattern to catch fish during a salmon fly hatch, in fact, I find that the smaller stonefly patterns tend to work better. The best foamies tend to have either copper or orange dubbing or in the case of golden stones, olive or yellow dubbing. Yesterday I lost sight of the bug after a good 50 yards...no takers. Anyway, try whatever you want but if you'd like to get into some salmon fly action go find 'em first! Oh...and remember to "slap and twitch" those flies. Make them look like they are terrified of being on the water and want to get the hell back to land ;)
If you don't really care or have that much interest in salmon flies, you're probably still going to have better luck fishing nymphs and streamers right now. Like I said, the water is still running pretty high and it is very fast. Focus on slow water, whether it is a pool, bend or even the slack line not more than a foot off of the banks, there are definitely fish in those spots and the bigger the pool the more fish. I caught 8 out of one pool-y bend yesterday and had a lot less luck further up where the water was even clearer.
Good luck and have fun!
FALL-If there is one difference in fly fishing at this time of the year on the Greys, Little Greys and most other smaller streams, it's that you need to be a bit more stealthy than you'd have to be a month ago. Excellent water clarity means that the trout can see you that much easier and once you spook a trout (especially the bigger ones) you may as well move on to the next hole. My advice is to lower your profile as much as possible. I am usually in the water anyway, but at this time of the year you might see me waist deep in the stream and slowly making my way up as I fish. Another tip I might give is to add a couple of feet to your normal leader/tippet set-up. This will allow you to add a little more distance between you and the fish. A 3rd tip is to make longer casts if possible, especially if you are trying to hit a specific pocket or target. It is no doubt more difficult, but it's good practice and can really pay off.
Fly selection at this time of the year will be fairly consistent with my normal summer reports with a couple of exceptions. ..Firstly, streamer and sculpin fishing should definitely be a part of your repertoire from now well into October and if the dry fly action slows down, which it may, start fishing the big flies. Another note...night time temperatures have dropped significantly. The morning lows are in the 30's now as opposed to the 50's for most of July, this makes a big difference for fishing, especially for dry fly fishing. The best dry fly action now is going to be between the hours of 10am-5pm (depending on where you are fishing), at least in my experience. Once the sun starts to set down behind the mountains, dry fly action will slow down considerably if not entirely.
As of this am the Greys is flowing at 404CFS which is pretty much in line with yearly water flows for this time of the year. Pocket water fishing is key. If you think that there might be a fish hiding behind a boulder, I can almost guarantee that you are correct. Any place you think looks good is most likely holding a trout and typically the better looking the hole, the bigger the fish. If fish stop rising, go with a sculpin being sure to let it bump along the bottom of the stream or try a streamer, varying your retrieve from dead-slow to a fast retrieve.
The Little Greys River, is fishing very well right now as well, although as is always the case you'll be catching lots of little fish. But there are definitely some sizeable fish in this stream as well, just not the numbers that you'll find on the Greys. Faster moving water tends to fish better during the heat of the day. Emergers in green are a good fly to carry as well as smaller stimulators in orange and olive. The bigger stonefly dries work very well up here as well, just not as good during the middle of the day. The nice thing about the Little Greys is that it has so much good structure, so take your time, think like a fish and target any good spot you think that a fish would be hiding and chances are that they are in those pockets.
If you've never fished in this part of the country you might be a little surprised at the suggestions we give for fly fishing. I must make mention that I sell hundreds of different flies in my store that will catch fish on the Greys, Little Greys, Snake, Salt, etc......but....personally I only fish bigger flies the majority of the time in the summer.
I am not going to bore you with a long list of different flies, terrestrials, ants, beetles and other critters that cutthroat are willing to ingest. Two insects in particular is what I tend to key-in on around here, namely hoppers and stoneflies. We have plenty of beetles, ants, caddis and mayflies around here, just to name a few, but unless fishing is just horrendous I stick with the large foam patterns. There are many reasons that I prefer fishing these foamies, but just a few would be; they float easily, they are easy to see and tie-on and most importantly they catch fish...and usually the fish are a little larger than the ones you'll catch fishing a size 20 Adams.
I'm sure that plenty of my customers will tell you about the "slap and twitch" method of fishing these flies that I always mention. It's pretty simple...slap 'em on the water and give them some life, unless you are fishing in faster moving water, in which case just let the river do the work..
If you prefer fishing smaller dry flies, I'd suggest PMD's. Adams, Sparkle Caddis (be sure to give this fly little strips back in after the full swing) and emergers, espcially olive ones, Mahogany Duns, Royal Wolfs and Royal Coachman's and Renegades. I rarely fish nymphs in the summer, but if I were to suggest fishing a dropper I'd say to go with a Flashback Pheasant Tail or Purple Prince Nymph. If you want a better idea of what specific fly to use, well you'll just have to drop by the store.
.I also always fish sculpin and/or streamer patterns after I've gone up a section fishing dries. I tend to catch the bigger, pickier fish this way. I fish sculpins on the bottom. I'll sometimes cast almost directly upstream and give the fly a chance to drop to the bottom and then I mend just enough line to keep the sculpin bouncing along the bottom. 9 times out of 10 I get my hits when the fly goes into the swing and occasionally. I'll get one when I'm stripping the fly back in, although I rarely strip a sculpin.
I fish streamers with a stripping method, how fast I retrieve is based on what works. Sometimes a slow retrieve works better, although this is usually truer earlier in the summer. Later in the summer I find that a faster retrieve tends top work better. Color, size and style of streamer can change depending on the day so you are better off coming into the store for a better idea of what streamer is working.
I am often asked what section of the Greys fishes the best and my response is always the same. It depends on what type of water you want to fish and what sized cutties you are targeting. Again, feel free to drop by the store for more info. I can talk fishing all day long and I have no problem turning you onto some of my favorite spots as long as you don't go posting it all over the internet.
Gear guys should stick with smaller Rapalas and whatever spinner floats your boat. Color and size does matter from time to time..
Good luck folks! And stop by the store if you need any advice or have any questions.