An Outdoors Agenda for August

The summer season keeps racing along. It seems like it was just last week when we were covering the garden against late spring frosts, and now it’s August and it won’t be long before we’re covering our gardens against early fall frosts. Flathead cherries are now available, and it’s an addiction, I must confess. As a matter of fact, if you were to do a soil analysis in my backyard, you’d likely find that, within spitting distance of the back door, cherry pits are the primary component in the soil.

Going a little farther afield, or further up the mountain, to be specific, huckleberries, those wonderful berries that define the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, are ripe and ready for picking.

Closer to home, in buggy riparian areas along many of our rivers and streams, gooseberries and currants are ripe. If you can stand the mosquitoes and the thorns, you have the makings for good jams and jellies.

Chokecherries, our most abundant wild fruit in Montana, won’t be ripe in this area until the end of August or early September, so just be patient.

Something I eagerly anticipate in August fishing is the trico (for Trichorythodes) hatch. Tricos are tiny, little mayflies (they’re so small, they need two adjectives) that make their appearance on our rivers about this time of year. They’re so small it’s easy to ignore them, but the important thing is, the fish don’t. In fact, fish dote on tricos and feed actively on them.

When tricos are at their peak during mid to late August, you can often see clouds of these little bugs flying over the river as they get ready for their egg-laying flights to the water. When the bugs do hit the water trout and whitefish pull up to the table and start eating.

I often fish some slow-moving pools on the Big Hole during the trico hatch and it often seems whitefish are going crazy over tricos. And they are, but sometimes it’s browns and rainbows that are sipping in the tiny treats.

The trico hatch keeps happening well into September, so there will be lots of opportunities to get in on some of that great dry fly fishing. Just remember to think tiny and delicate. I usually use #18 or #20 hooks for tying imitations, and some go as small as a #24 hook. You may also want to put on a size 7X tippet at the end of your leader. Like I say, think tiny and delicate.

The trico hatch, or spinner fall, if you want to be technical, seems to happen around mid to late morning hours. It’s definitely not something you can set your watch by; all you can do is get out on the stream in the morning and hope to be there when it happens and the fish start feeding. If you don’t get out on the stream until afternoon, chances are you’ll miss the whole thing and you’ll be wondering why the fish aren’t’ biting.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico now seems, finally, to be capped though it’s going to take a long time to clean up the environmental damage created by the catastrophe.

For better or worse, the oil spill mess has brought renewed attention to the endangered wetlands of the Gulf Coast.

In a partial response, the Department of Interior, in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited and sporting goods retailer Bass Pro Shops, is releasing a special Duck Stamp envelope, or cachet, to be sold to waterfowl hunters, birders, collectors and others to raise money to purchase Gulf Coast wetlands to be included in federal wildlife refuges.

The envelope, or cachet, as it’s called by stamp collectors, bears a silk rendering of a photograph of Florida’s St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge and the 2010 Duck Stamp, a painting of an American widgeon by Robert Beadle of Maryland.

The cachet and stamp sells for $25, or just $10 more than the Duck Stamp alone. It can be purchased at post offices, at Bass Pro Shops stores, on-line at, or by phone at 1-800-852-4897.