Weekend Warrior: Cooler Temps and Early Floats

It might be a bit early to claim this, but the cooler temps and upcoming weather this week could see a way out of the Hoot Owl restrictions. Though it depends on FWP’s opinion and temperatures keeping cool for a bit longer to lift the restrictions, it certainly will help keep those trout happy and that’s a good thing overall. As for the fishing, the weather has added another twist to the trout-hunting puzzle,  and this weekend should provide some interesting fishing no matter where you fish in western Montana. We’re seeing loads of nocturnal stonefly shucks on the banks on the lower Clark Fork and some stretches of the Blackfoot, and early on the fish are looking up for the big bugs tight to structure like banks, rocks and downed trees. The consistent fishing we experienced for a hot minute between the heat wave and the recent rains is a thing of the past though, and it feels like the fish have switched their focus on all the rivers off of the yellow sallies and golden stoneflies and are on to the terrestrial offerings in the afternoons. PMDs are in the usual places, and inside seams of diamond water is a great place to stick your fly no matter what bug you’ve got on. Spruce moths are everywhere on the Blackfoot, and fish are taking them when the hatch is on. The Blackfoot has been consistent, though the bigger fish are getting selective. Playing your terrestrial tight to the banks, shade lines and rocks has been your best bet to stirring up a fatty. Dry/dropper rigs are working well, and it’s that time of the year when the most consistent fly sometimes is the old red san juan worm so don’t rule it out as your dropper if things get frustrating.

Early morning midges at Kona Bridge are an everyday meal for the picky trout. 

The Clark Fork above town is fishing great! (If you’re fishing for moss on your fly.) Skip it and had to the lower river where the fishing has been strong on buggy stonefly patterns and frustrating mayfly fish are taking 16-18 mayfly patterns, and a double dry system can keep things interesting. 

The Bitterroot has been consistent through these unpredictable weather patterns, and the traffic might be a bit thicker down there but the fishing has been good with longer leaders and smaller tippet. Remember those Bitterroot fish love the choppy runs, and seams along those kind of stuff are sometimes the best way to find the fish. Take your mayfly box and your small terrestrials, and stick with it. If I had only one chance to fish this weekend and I were wade fishing, I’d head to Rock Creek where the Hoot Owl restrictions aren’t in place and the fishing has been consistent for this time of year. If you’ve got a boat, get away from the crowds and head to the far reaches of the Bitterroot for some beautiful scenery and some big trout. Get in the game and get after it!

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