Weekend Warrior: Hoot Owl Time

The Hoot Owl restrictions go into place today on the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot rivers restricting fishing to the hours of midnight to 2 p.m. Though this can put a damper on those weekend evening floats, the fishing is still good within the guidelines, and with the right handling of fish you can do your part to ensure that the resource stays strong and healthy. Remember, the restrictions do not prohibit being on the water in the afternoon and evening, you just have to put the rod away and enjoy the scenery which, after all, ain’t too bad considering we’re in Montana. If you’re bound and determined to get out and get some trout, then the old saying that “you don’t have to get up early to fish in Montana,” goes right out the window.

See the sun flashing off this fish? Yep, it’s an all day kind of thing.
Get them back in the water fast and let them go in the cold stuff. 

Dawn patrol will see more fish rising to the bugs, and the fishing tapers off as the heat hits. We’re meeting our clients at o’dark-hundred to get to the farther reaches of the rivers, and waking up with the river is feeling pretty great these days. System wide, the fish are slurping the low-floating bugs over the bushy offerings, so pick your patterns accordingly. When it’s hot out the fish are quick on the take, and wary of your presentation. Usually you’d think about sizing down the tippet, but fighting fish to exhaustion is not ideal so it’s worth using heavier tackle and missing a few fish to play the ones you do get a little faster to the net. Keep ’em wet, keep ’em in the net, and fish hard until 2 p.m. then kick back with a cold beverage. Flies to have this weekend are low-riding golden stone patterns, yellow sallies, and PMDs to find the fish in the hoot owl hours. If the dries aren’t working, a dropper hung off the back of your high-riding dry will find fish- try a pheasant tail or a prince, and flashy little nymphs have been doing damage in the sun. It feels hot enough to toss some terrestrials, and it’s not a bad choice if you find fish refusing your offerings. Remember, the restrictions are in place to keep our fishing strong and our fish healthy, so grin and bear it – and leave the grip and grins for another time.

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