Weekend Warrior: Smokin’ Hot Cutties

The weekend is wide open, now that the hoot owl restrictions have come off the Missoula rivers. Evening rise? Get after it. Morning trico hatch? You’re on it. Just be sure to be ready for the smoke, because there’s lots of it. Do the fish mind? Not in the least. The bugs are there, and the eats are on. Afternoon mayfly hatches and fish that haven’t seen a fly in the evenings for six weeks makes for some hot fishing in the regular work hours, but if you’re like me you might have settled into a early morning routine that can be hard to shake. This weekend, I’ll be looking for morning tricos, afternoon mayflies, evening caddis, and wondering what I’m doing up at 4 a.m. loading the boat when my trip ain’t for hours.

Smoke on the water, bug fish on the munch, and a little cooler weather. Weekend should be a good one.

What’s on the menu for the fish?

Hatches have been big in the smoke, with tricos all over the place and some larger mayflies popping in the afternoons. The caddis bite has been easy from morning to night, and the terrestrials are falling in the water like the dummies they are. Tossing dries is the name of the game in late summer, and smaller flies work for those picky fish. Hopper fishing? Yep. Set up a solid rig, a great drift, and hang on past the point you think a fish should eat. The big boys will sometimes follow things a ways this time of year.  Streamer bite is beginning to turn some fish, and if you truly hate yourself, go ahead and nymph. You’ll catch fish, but who wants to look at an indicator in August?
When should I fish?
Your choice on this one, though the crowd will definitely be hitting the river later with the hoot owl gone. That doesn’t mean it will be crowded, the smoke will keep a lot of people off the water, and the fun floaters will most likely be following suit. With the cooler mornings, you can sleep in a bit these days and still get out there and after the fish, but prepare to meet the fish with long leaders and strong casts. You’ve been fishing all summer right? End of summer sippers are calling. 
Where should I go?
Trust your instincts and go get ’em. Look for good chop runs, inside bends, deep pools and skinny side channels… You know, that good stuff. If you’re floating, things are a bit more challenging with low water conditions still everywhere across the board. The fish are there, even if the water isn’t easy to navigate.


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