Avid anglers don’t have to mark the date on their calendars — they know fly fishing on Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge opens every year on Aug. 1.
Starting then, fishermen put aside their worries to challenge themselves against the educated cutthroat that make a living in a few miles of wending waters just north of Jackson.
“The magic of Flat Creek is the opportunity to hunt, stalk and try to catch a large Snake River cutthroat on a small dry fly,” said Scott Sanchez, manager at JD High Country Outfitters and author of “The Never-Ending Stream.”
He’s caught lunkers and has heard credible reports of experts landing 27-inch fish.
A spring creek, it has a constant temperature, reliable hatches and more biomass than freestone rivers whose flows depend on runoff. A Wyoming fishing license and conservation stamp are required and regulations limit tackle to artificial flies only.
“It’s not for the novice,” Sanchez said. “You also have to be able to handle rejection. Some days there’s no love.
“Nothing happens early,” he said. The best bug hatches are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. when one can also take advantage of trout feeding on wind-blown terrestrial insects. Keep an eye out for parachuting spiders.
“Sit down, walk slowly before you cast,” Sanchez said. Cutbanks go “way under … an arm’s length back.
“Anybody who says cutthroat trout are stupid and don’t fight hasn’t fished Flat Creek,” Sanchez continued. “It may be one of the best public spring creeks in the West.”