Weekend Warrior: Get Out The Small Bugs

This weekend in Missoula is sure to see some big fish on the line, and it better be yours. If you want to get into fish this weekend it’s time to embrace the 5X tippet, the small mayflies, and the drift you’ve perfected all summer long. From the Blackfoot to the Bitterroot, the fish are going to be sipping smaller dries in the soft stuff – if you can get it there and keep it from dragging over their heads. Now is the time for the downstream presentation, the reach cast, and a bit of stealth. The early fall sun is casting long shadows, so be aware of your position in the river and add a few feet to that leader. You’ll get them on the dry, if you stick with it.

Still life with frosted flies. The mornings are getting chilly, but the afternoons are seeing fish move on
everything from the hoppers to the purple haze. Wader up and get in there.

For the weekend warrior whose been basking in the wet wading bliss of summer, it’s time to take your medicine. Wader up son, whether you’re getting in there early or taking an evening float. The chill in the air is bearable until you get wet, and with water temps hovering in the fifties, I’m not dipping my biscuits in the tea this weekend. Shrinkage is a global epidemic, and I’m not falling victim to the scourge of soggy feet and frozen balls. Get the layers on and plan for cooler mornings and perfect afternoons.

If I were to choose a river for one float, it would be the lower Clark Fork, which has been producing consistently on the tricos in the morning, the hopper mid-day, and the mayflies in the afternoon. BWOs, mahoganies… Hecubas? Maybe. Either way, toss the Brindle Chute fly out there and hold on. The Bitterroot is fishing well, and wading fishing around Victor would be my go-to if I were to choose one place to wade fish. Take the hoppers, take the mayflies, and don’t forget the Brindle Chute there either. My killer combo for the weekend would be a larger mayfly pattern in brown, size 12, with a size 16 to 18 Brindle Chute trailing. Watch for hits on either, and give it time. The streamer game is obviously going to roll some fall fish, and don’t count out the hopper/dropper rig if you change flies and depths of the dropper until you find the right combo. Fall is an amazing time to fish, as long as you don’t get caught up with the fishing. Take a look around, tie your knots, and enjoy yourself. The fish will come.

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