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Gone Fishing

Life on and off the waters of the Wood River Valley

Catching Silver Creek’s Brown Drake Hatch

Jun 24, 2013 - 01:00 PM
Catching Silver Creek’s Brown Drake Hatch

Silver Creek, Idaho, June 2013

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 River or 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).

Folks of all ages flock to check out the annual brown drake hatch on Silver Creek.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.

A feisty brown trout that couldn't resist one last brown drake before the hatch ended for another year.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.

Sun sets upon another gorgeous spring day on Silver Creek.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.

Anglers line the water as the day ends and the brown drake hatch begins at Point of Rocks.


Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Old to new | New to old
Jun 26, 2013 11:20 am
 Posted by  libralady

An enchanting and humble description of fly fishing on Silver Creek!

Makes even a non-angler want to cast away.

Jun 27, 2013 09:33 am
 Posted by  Mac

Thanks for the nice comments and for reading. Silver Creek is certainly an enchanting place, even for non-fly fishers.

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About This Blog

Whether he’s being out-fished by his trash talking mother-in-law, guiding one of his young sons through the perils of manhood or finding inspiration from the people of the Wood River Valley, Mike McKenna’s award-winning writing is always sure to entertain. Order a copy of Mike's highly-acclaimed book, "Angling Around Sun Valley: A year-round fly fishing guide to South Central Idaho" from Silver Creek Outfitters.

Gone Fishing's awards include: "Best Blog" 2010 & 2011 by the Idaho Press Club, "Best Web-only Article" of 2011 by the Outdoor Writers Association of California and "Best Fishing" & "Best Humor" blogs of 2012 by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.


"Angling Around Sun Valley" was selected as the "Best Book" of 2013 by Northwest Outdoor Writers Association!

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