Trip Report Lonely Morning on the Awa Ihu-nui-a-Ahi

BZN11191.JPG As we are in the full swing of Fall, I didn’t have to leave the house until 6AM to get on the river at dawn. South to the NW corner of Wyoming, which by all standards is still in SW Montana. My destination was the Awa Ihu-nui-a-Ahi, a classic high elevation meadow stream with a decent population of brown and rainbow trout. This was low water season, so floating line, buggers and soft hackle trailers was the ticket to pull 12-14” browns out of hiding along bank side undercuts. Crystal clear water kept the best fish tight to the security of shaded banks, downed trees and undercuts.

It was an overcast morning, calm with temps in the high 30s. No ice in the guides today at 7000 ft. Had my trusty Scott G2 884 rigged with some SA Creek Trout and 9’ 3X to handle long casts to the far bank. The goal was to drop the bugger soft hackle combo just inches away from the bank to suck the browns out of their hides. It was fun to see fish torpedo out of the undercuts to slam the fly. Straightened a few #16 soft hackles in the process.
Fished for about five hours over two different sections and never saw another angler on the river. Around noon, some invisible bug started bringing fish to the top which made for easy targets with the swinging soft hackle. But at the same time the wind started acting up which made long accurate casts a bit more challenging. I called it quits around 1PM and made my way home after bagging several dozen fish.
I use Firehole Stick barbless hooks for most of my trout flies and securely attaching trailer tippet to the hook bend of the lead bugger with clinch knots has always proved problematic. Too often I’d find the trailer tippet had slipped off the smooth barbless hook. Additionally, with the tippet at the apex of the hook bend, marabou tails had a tendency to foul around the trailer tippet. The duel problems were solved when I started building the trailer tippet into bugger when I tied them. The tippet is secured through the hook eye and along the hook shank before the rest of the fly is constructed. This leaves the tippet at the top of the hook bend which significantly reduces the marabou fouling. Saves time on the water as well as it eliminates one knot you have to tie with cold hands and windy conditions.
The Awa Ihu-nui-a-Ahi will fish well into November as long as weather conditions don't deteriorate much. I might make it south a few more times before deep winter sets in.

Hillbilly Redneck

wishin i was fishin
Looks like a great place to spend some time. I solved my two fly issues a long time ago. I wonder how less productive the fishing would be with one fly at a time?


Bozeman, Montana
Looks like a great place to spend some time. I solved my two fly issues a long time ago. I wonder how less productive the fishing would be with one fly at a time?
The bugger/soft hackle trailer setup is a classic for this river. Although a fair number of fish are caught on the bugger, it really serves as a casting indicator and to give the soft hackle a bit of depth. On long casts, you can see the bugger hit the water whereas the tiny soft hackle is essentially invisible. Bead head buggers will generally get about 6” of depth on the swing. This drags the weightless soft hackle below the surface. Any pause in the swing and the soft hackle tends to rise in the water column simulating an emerging larva or pupa. I’ve fished weighted soft hackles before but they don’t perform as well as the simple, traditional north country style soft hackles.

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