Fishing the Creek
DePuy’s is the largest and longest of the three spring creeks in Paradise Valley and is perhaps one of the finest wild trout streams found in the lower 48 states. As a natural fly fishing classroom, it offers something for every angler, regardless of skill level:
- The upper water offers a challenge to those who wish to stalk wary and selective trout.
- Some of the lower water offers riffles and pools where beginners may observe their mistakes, correct them, and take a few trout.
The creek contains Brown, Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout along with a few hybrid Cut-Bows, and these are all natural wild trout, but with a difference: They are used to people. A bad cast or clumsy approach may not spook them – they just ignore you and continue to feed, rather than hiding. Admittedly, their casual comfort with anglers can be very frustrating in itself, but it’s common on the creek and something the angler needs to get used to.
The constant water flow and water temperature creates ideal conditions for both the trout and the organisms on which they feed. The trout on the creek tend to feed on the insect forms which are most available and the easiest to capture. These insect forms will vary throughout the different seasons of the year. Samples obtained by using a stomach pump have shown that most of what the trout eats is food that is taken beneath the surface of the water. Now this is not to say that there is no dry fly fishing, for there is. During certain times and under certain conditions, the dry fly will be the only way to go. Also, remember that trout are feeders of opportunity and many times a Royal Wulff, Parachute Adams, or Yellow Humpy fished through a riffle will bring a rise.
Spawning Trout on Depuy’s
A note on spawning trout:
Please take care not to wade on the redds (nests) during the spawning season, as you may injure or destroy the eggs. The redds are cleaned gravel mounds just below dished out ovals in the gravel. We also insist that you use barbless hooks and that you use as strong a tippet as possible, so you can fight the trout faster. I then land and release them quickly. Try not to lift the fish out of the water if possible.
Starting in February, the rainbows begin to spawn on the creek. During this time period egg patterns, Red Beadhead Midge Worms or a Red San Juan Worm can be very effective. From February to March the spawning intensifies as the rainbows from the Yellowstone River begin to run up the creek to spawn. The peak will be reached by late March; however the angler will continue to encounter spawning trout clear into mid-April. The next trout to spawn on the creek is the cutthroat. Though there are few resident cutts in the creek, the bulk of the spawning run comes from the Yellowstone River. The cutts start moving in around mid-May and the spawning will continue until early July. Once again the rainbows will follow them and eat the eggs. As the cutts complete their spawning, they continue to hang around through the summer, feeding to regain their size and strength before working their way back to the Yellowstone during the fall.
During the fall anglers will start to encounter spawning brown trout in the creek. This will normally occur during October. Some of these trout are residents while others migrate up from the Yellowstone River. During this time period the rainbows will often follow the browns to feed on the eggs. Also, during the spawning cycle, trout can be very aggressive and territorial and will often strike a small streamer, nymph or just about anything that drifts or swims into their area. Small Woolly Buggers, Flash-A-Buggers or Muddler Minnows can be very effective on browns.
It is interesting to note that browns are not nearly as prone to taking egg patterns during their spawning as the rainbows are. Rainbows, simply put, are suckers for egg imitations. Now, don’t think that because the trout are spawning that you can get away with a poor presentation, because you can’t. The best fishing will be on overcast days. On the bright days they tend to be a little shyer.
The angler who likes to fish late in the day can often close out the day using a Woolly Bugger, Flash-A-Bugger or Muddler Minnow in sizes 8 to 12. The method employed to fish these flies is as follows: First, cut back your leader to 4X or even 3X, as it gets darker. Tie on the fly of choice. Get in the middle of the creek and proceed to cast down and across to the bank, following the progress of the swing with the rod tip and all the while stripping back the fly in short, jerky strips about two inches in length. This method will bring some thunder strikes and could possibly account for the biggest fish of the day. Other times when this technique will work are on days when there are strong south to southwest winds, which hinder other types of effective fishing. This method may produce during any time of the day when nothing else seems to be working and there are no hatches in progress. Some of my favorite streamer patterns are the Dark Olive Woolly Bugger or Flash-A-Bugger, both beadhead and standard. An Olive Damsel Nymph is also effective, and don’t discount a dry Mouse pattern.
Should I Hire a Guide?
There is no doubt that a good spring creek guide can help the angler have a better day on the creek. The trick is getting a good teaching guide. There are many guides who can help you catch more fish, but at the end of day you don’t understand why you have caught the fish. What have you gained?? Make sure the guide that you choose actually guides on the creek on a regular basis and is, in fact, a teaching guide. There is nothing more frustrating than being out with a guide and not taking fish, while everyone else is enjoying success. A good guide can help you understand the nuances of the creek on a seasonal basis. The guide can also help you learn when and where to fish the creek.