July 7, 2019 Harriman Ranch Fishing Report: 78°/Partly cloudy/South wind blowing upriverPosted by Nate & Geoff at 3:38 PM on Sunday, Jul 7th, 2019
Geoff and I finally give up on Hebgen and for the first time, we focused our attention solely on the Ranch. Over the past several evenings we’d noticed most of the larger fish were feeding on the opposite side of the river. The river is too deep to wade so the only option was to hike in from the Osborn Bridge. At a little before 8 AM we’re on the trail headed downriver. After a mile and a half walk we’re standing on the shoreline viewing a lifeless river. There are no bugs, zero rising fish, and we have no history of what is happening in the morning.
Around 9:30 a burst of PMDs appear and the center channel of the river lights up with rising fish. Geoff and I wade out to the risers to survey the field. I wade to center river and the risers are almost all smaller fish. I don’t cast to them but fortunately Geoff did. The fish liked our #16 Flav Searcher. Geoff quickly hooks five fish on that pattern. Only problem—they were small fish with the largest at 14 inches.
I’m standing at center river and glance behind me against the shoreline. There are several large fish taking up feeding lanes and they’re spread for 80 feet along the bank. I slowly turn around and slowly wade to casting range of the lead fish. My tie-on bug is a #16 Flav Searcher, thanks to Geoff’s groundbreaking discovery. The big fish in the lead is feeding repeatedly and moving side to side. I settle in a cast with the Flav landing 4 feet in front of target. The fly settles and slowly drifts toward the strike zone. The bug is floating in a field of PMDs and it’s sticking out like a sore thumb. The big rainbow targets the Flav and eats it on a half-body out take coming straight at me. I set the hook and 14 minutes later a 21-inch ‘bow is resting in the net. I still-photo the fish while Geoff gets the video camera ready.
After releasing the fish we move back out to a post-up slightly above the pod. There are no small fish in the group and I’ve got at least 10 targets lined up along the shore. I target the lead fish and instantly hook him with the Searcher. He bolts out to deep water on a lightning run and plows directly into a moss bed. My line abruptly stops and the fish shakes the hook. It didn’t break off the fly but there was a large chunk of moss hanging from it.
We reengage but the fish suddenly won’t eat the Flav. About then we recognize a few green drakes in the air and I change flies to a Hatching Green Drake. It was exactly what the fish were hunting and back to back I hook three big fish. I land two of them and lose one in the fight.
By 1 PM the hatch flat shuts down with no bugs and only an occasional one-and-done rise. We hike out of the canyon and head back to camp. It was a pretty good morning hooking five big fish in an abbreviated hatch.
Night Shift: Around 5:30 PM Geoff and I hike back to where we fished in the morning. It was a bit of a lackluster evening as the brown drakes didn’t muster as the previous evening. I picked up one 19-inch rainbow but the targets just didn’t materialize.
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