The country is covered with famous fly fishing hatches, especially here in “God’s Country” (or at least “God’s Fly Fishing Country”), the rugged and beloved Northwest.
Massive aquatic insect hatches are scattered across the region, from the green drakes and salmonflies on the legendary Henry’s Fork of the Snake to the stoneflies of Oregon’s Deschutes Riveror the monstrous salmonflies that alight each June across the waters of Southwest Montana.
And while these all draw anglers from far and wide, it’s tough to argue that any hatch is as unique and special as the brown drake on Silver Creek (check out SIlver Creek Outfitter's short, very cool video about the brown drake hatch).
Each spring (this year it ran roughly through the first week of June), anglers and even non-anglers flock to Silver Creek like moths to a flame. The parking lots and campgrounds at Silver Creek West and Point of Rocks are packed as full as old tackle boxes.
Despite the crowds and the crowded banks in places usually only lightly sprinkled with people, the charged atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. When another spectacular dusk descends and evening begins in this magical spot of Idaho’s high desert, the air around the Creek is filled with large Mayflies in swarms as thick as fog. It’s also filled with the energy of people—whether they fish or just watch—in awe and inspired by the power of nature.
The brown drake hatch on Silver Creek not only draws lots of anglers, it also allows the carloads of non-fishers who swing by to check out the hatch to get a glimpse of the magic appeal of trout (and the cool stuff they eat and spectacular places they call home). Allowing those who don’t fly fish to get a peak at what appeals to those of us who are addicted to it—or at least, we hope, it helps us seem a little less crazy to them.
I was lucky to catch the brown drake hatch a couple times towards its tail end this year. Once as a spectator, rooting on anglers with my two young sons and a couple of non-fly fishing adults—who each used the adjective “amazing” to describe the event. The second evening I was lucky enough to catch the end of the hatch with a rod in one hand and a beer in the other (luck does seem to favor the well prepared).
Luck was indeed with us both evenings. On the first, which was the last big night of this year’s brown drake hatch, the fisherman the boys chose to root for was the only person we saw actually hook and land a nice one. The angler was even friendly enough to thank my two-year-old son, Sam-I-Am, for letting everyone else know about his success after Sammy pointed and yelled out “He caught one!” when the guy walked past us a little while later.
On the second night, which turned out to basically be the end of the hatch, I was fortunate enough to hook into one. Since the fishing was pretty slow that evening, when the healthy brown trout splashed out of the water trying to throw the hook, the other anglers around me, and even the few folks watching from the bank, cheered and offered up some “Attaboys!” It was a somewhat surreal experience. It was the first time I’ve had anyone but my boys or my buddies hoot and holler when I was the one who hooked a fish. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
It also helps to be surrounded by people pulling for you, swept up in the glory of Mother Nature doing some of her most impressive work in one of the most spectacular setting the Gem State (or fly fishing world) has to offer.
The brown drake hatch on Silver Creek is something special indeed. It feels a lot more like a festival than it does a fly fishing phenomenon.