Brown Drakes on Silver Creek

18 June 2007 By Dan Bachman • Fishing-Spots • Comments (2)

Silver Creek Moonrise during Brown Drake Hatch.  Few hatches in Idaho match the excitement and madness that is the Brown Drake Hatch on Silver Creek. Anticipated by fly anglers for miles around, large browns and rainbows rise recklessly to the surface just after sunset during the first weeks of June each year.

Even though there wasn’t a single report yet that drakes had come off, I found myself making the long drive to Silver Creek two weeks ago hoping to catch the famed hatch and the fish it inspires. Several anglers were gearing up when I arrived with a few more standing along the bank laying claim to their piece of the creek.

With my rod strung and waders pulled on, I make the quarter mile hike to a nice bend in the creek where I can stand in the shallows and fish the long arc of the deep bank along the opposite side. Given that I would soon be fishing the darkness after sunset the location could not be more perfect. One cast directly upstream to my left allows a long 30 second drift with only the occasional mend until my line ends on my far right. With the fly staying nearly the same distance off the far bank for the entire trip. I mark the spot on my line with simple slip knot. When the knot is in my non-casting hand, I know I have the perfect distance where I hope many fish would soon rise.

As the evening sun dives to the horizon at my back a full moon lifts above the willows in perfect choreography. A muted buzz fills my right ear and ends with a landing on my neck. I pull off a slender body brown drake and look toward the sun upstream. The shapes of a couple dozen graceful bugs come into view. Up and down, back in forth in slow motion when compared to smaller mayflies. The large sailwing profile of the brown drakes begin to drift along the current.

Browns and rainbows don’t respond to the large bugs until the last rays of sun begin to fade from the sky. The occasional ‘bloop’ soon becomes regular and less timid. Bold takes by hungry fish create rings reflected from the moonfilled water. With the knot in my left hand I cast confidently upstream. The large CDC Biot Dun Brown Drake on the end of my line disappears into the darkness. Five or six fish rise nearby before I hear one that comes from where my fly should be. I hookset painfully late and the brief and sharp tug on my line ends quickly. The disturbance from the encounter does little to quell the rising and before I can cast again I hear another fish feed in nearly the same place.

My second cast fails as well. This time however I sorely miscalculate where my fly is in the drift and not until I attempt to mend do I realize that I have a fish on my line. Again my fly comes free.

As I cast again, a trout maybe 10 feet in front of me, comes well out of the water and startles me in the dark. From what moonlight there is I could see that it was a good sized fish. Quickly, I shorten up my line and lay the fly down where I hope it lands just feet upstream of where the fish had come up. My wait is short. The take is just as vigorous and I set the hook solid. I quick run upstream is followed by two leaps from the water. I must have a rainbow on the end of the line. Not until landing the fish minutes later do I find out different. I turn my back to the water and flip on my tiny cap light and see a beautifully colored brown, maybe 18 inches long.

Quickly extinguishing the light so that I don’t put down the other fish I release the brown and turn my attention to the fly. After chamoising out the fly to dry it well, I dust it with a bit of desiccant and throw it back. Over the next 20 minutes I land another six or seven fish. A combination of rainbows and browns. And then, almost as if someone had flipped a switch the rising fish stop.

The small moonlit reflective dimples of light on the water that let you know a drake was drifting, are gone. The dark shapes of other anglers move along the trail as I scout along the stream looking for any signs of feeding fish. But it is done and as the moon rises higher in the sky, it is my escort home.



  1. 20 June 2007 Vail Fishing

    There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a big hatch. We’re expecting the caddis hatch any day now here in Vail.

    Ed Grimes VailPM Events

  2. 24 June 2007 BSUCraig

    Dan as usual your photography is amazing. You ability to so completely express your experiances is really a gift. Thank you!

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