Weekend Warrior: Stop, Drop, and Roll

Stand in the sun too long these days and you might just feel like you’re on fire. The good thing is, the fishing in western Montana is on fire as well if you hit it right. Its big bug time on the rivers, which can mean big eats or big strikeouts, and you never know exactly why you’re getting either. Ain’t fishing fun? Salmonflies and golden stones are on the menu on the upper sections of the Bitterroot, Rock Creek, and the Blackfoot. The biomass of these bugs is enormous, and chances are you’ll find some willing takers on the single dry. But just as often the bugs are full of big stonefly nymphs and want nothing to do with your giant dry, so stop in to your favorite local shop and pick up some hot patterns to make a difference during these heavy hatches. There is no better resource for finding fish!

Cutthroat trout eat a lot of salmonflies this time of year. 
If the fish aren’t taking the big orange cheetos, try some smaller golden patterns and always be ready to drop it down subsurface, where the fish could be munching on nymphs all day while you’re swearing at refusals and fish nosing your fly. If you’re headed toward Rock Creek or the Bitterroot, these salmonfly hatches are tapering off and the golden stone is definitely a better option now that the fish have seen every angler’s fly in 500 miles. Green drakes might get some looks as well, and if you’re headed up the West Fork of the Bitterroot, they might be your best option. Don’t get stuck in a rut, and keep the options open. The Clark Fork has been dropping consistently all week, but it is still carrying a lot of color and might not be your best option out there, but you never know. The weather has kick-started the bugs into action, and any day the Clark Fork could come into play in a big way. If you only have a few hours to get out and fish this weekend, you’ve got plenty of great choices. But one choice you shouldn’t forget is the trusty san juan worm. Whenever the banks are busted, this is a great choice and sometimes the only one they’ll take when there are so many bugs subsurface to chomp on. It may be as greasy, but it’ll get ’em. Head out there and have a great weekend, the fish are waiting.
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