I still remember my earliest fishing days as an awkward pre-teen out for the summer to visit Grandma in the Colorado High Country. She'd turn me loose for the day in the willow thickets of the Rockies; fly rod in hand, an old wicker creel and a full belly of pancakes from the Hahn's Peak Café. I'd meander along with the little meadow streams and fill the basket with little brookies which she'd later bread in cornmeal, fry and dish up for me with a slice of her famous peach pie. One of the things I remember most about catching those brookies in the dog days of summer was cleaning them and finding wads of ants and beetles all balled up in their stomachs like little hunks of obsidian.
Through the years, as the big hatches wane or here in the western Cascades where they tend to be pretty sparse to begin with, I've always done well on ant patterns in the mountain creeks and alpine lakes to the point where they've earned a permanent slot in the fly box. On dry windy days ants can be seen all over the place and inevitably end up in the drink only to be slurped up by an eager trout.
The problem with ant patterns is that they're often very difficult to track on the water and see. Parachute patterns are certainly a little easier to eyeball on the water, especially with a fluorescent post. I fish a lot with the traditional white posts too, especially on stillwater, but in the bubbling, tumbling broken water of a high gradient mountain creek, the orange post is considerably more visible.
Hi-Viz Para Ant Recipe:
Hook: Daiichi 1180 #14-16
Thread: 8/0 Black Uni or 12/0 Veevus
Body: Black Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing
Parachute Post: Fl. Orange McFlylon
Confluence Beer Pairing: We're going to go with Kulshan's Slow Dance Hazy IPA as our August beer. The citrusy, fruity hazys are a perfect match for a warm summer evening and this collab with Bale Breaker (another fantastic Washington brewery) is one of the better ones out there. Tie some ants, grab a growler and go cool off in the hills.