I have been chasing Brown Drake emergences for almost 30 years. For years on Silver Creek, a bit on the Henry’s Fork, and since I saw one on the Missouri, which was 15 years ago. They’ve been seen lately. I don’t think they’re has been an epic evening yet. But I don’t know for sure, because sitting on the tailgate at the Cascade boat ramp drinking a Coors Light and watching isn’t the same as going. Here’s what I know:

  1. They hatch on the Missouri River.
  2. 50 people a day ask me if it’s happening, then tell me not to tell anyone else. It’s a secret.
  3. Brown Drakes hatch in the evening, though daytime emergences can and do occur in the right weather. Think low-light.
  4. Spinner falls typically precede the hatch, often right before or at sunset.
  5. The weather needs to be hot and calm for the big night.
  6. Brown Drakes are burrowing nymphs (need a soft bottom) and because of that, hatches on the Missouri can be localized where suitable habitat occurs. This is especially true in the Canyon and around Craig.
  7. I’ve seen the fish key on shucks. Especially during the daytime. Because in the day I can actually see if they’re keying on shucks.
  8. I’ve had success with glow-in-the-dark parachute posts.
  9. If you have poor hearing, bring your hearing-aids.
  10. It’s best to positions yourself looking west if possible. Into that late evening glare.
  11. There is no secret dry fly, they all seem to work to some extent. There are some secret nymphs.
  12. If you get on the water too early – and bring beer – it’s pretty easy to get a buzz that will affect your fishing.
  13. If you get on the water too early – and bring beer – and the hatch doesn’t happen, you may need a designated driver.
  14. Consecutive low-water years see the hatch intensify. Flood years knock it back (Spring creeks like Silver Creek don’t have this problem and have very consistent hatches).
  15. Once the lights go out, check your tippet/leader often for tangles.
  16. Dry Shake and Amadou patches are absolutely mandatory.
  17. Fish feel way bigger in the dark when you can’t see them.
  18. Browns are still smart at night.
  19. You’re always late on the hook-set in the dark, so hit it hard and don’t bring your grandpa’s Bamboo rod.
  20. Carp eat Brown Drakes too!
  21. I have seen Brown Drakes on every tributary of the Missouri I have fished. You should have a few in your box no matter where you’re going in late June/early July.
  22. If you go, it will probably suck.
  23. When you finally take a night off because it always sucks, you’ll miss the big one. 

So there’s a few tips to help you catch a trout on a Brown Drake. You’d think in all that time I would have learned more than 23 things. Guess not.

In all honesty it’s been a few years since we had long, consistent good hatches ( in the early 2000’s the hatch would go for 3 weeks or more!). The big water years a while back really knocked them down, but they’ll be back. And there are enough hatching to make it worth the effort if you hit the right night.

If you want to give it a try, pry yourself off the barstool at Joe’s and ask anyone in the shop for the right bugs and a point in the right direction.

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