Weekend Warriors: You Love May

It’s basically May, right? You want it to be May. Or more like you want it to be June when the salmonflies show up. Or maybe you didn’t get enough skwala action earlier this spring and you want it to be March. Well, its May. And you might not believe me, but you want it to be May. Sure, runoff usually kicks into high gear in May, and the weather this year looks spring-like in a way that makes guys with Gore Tex giddy, but May is your month to get it done. Get after it while the river traffic is low, and find some fish with a big streamer in between hunting for morels along the riverbanks. Those river-bottom blonde morels… Too good.

Or do what really makes May pop: head over the hill to the Missouri, where the fishing is really heating up. Blue Wing Olives have been on the river in big numbers for a couple of weeks now, and the fish are starting to move for those dry flies just like we want. When I say big numbers, I mean the bugs are like tiny fluttering blankets of protein. So much bug. March Browns are also around, and though their numbers aren’t as prolific on the Mo as BWOs, thats’ still a significant biomass of yum for trouts, and the short window they are around on the Missouri means its a great time to try that double dry rig to get it done. The word from those who have been hitting it hard is that the dry game over there takes commitment. Make the choice and stick with it. It’s all too easy to grab the nymph rod and go for it, especially when the fishing is hot on the droppers. The nymphing game has been great over there as well. Is it time to take a drive and try your hand at the tiny dry game? Yes it is. May is your month.

The Mo has lots of fish this size. And it doesn’t take a fishy-as-hell angler like Matt Bethke to catch ’em.
Although it certainly can’t hurt to have a big stick like him along for the ride.
If you’re into morel hunting, now is a great time to give the local river bottoms a try. A fun way to spend a day and take the focus off the fishing is to pick a long float, rig up a bottom-dredging nymph rod and a streamer stick and just hit the good holes. Big fish like to move around in this off color stuff, when lots of big food items get dislodged and smaller fish get beat up in surprise currents. You might hook into a beast this time of year, and in between stop and do some morel hunting. They’re everywhere, not just in the burn sites, and once you’ve figured out the likely spots you’ll be into enough for a hell of a great meal when you get off the water. I’d give you some spot tips but mushroom hunters are as territorial as it comes. Just remember to carry your ‘shrooms in a mesh bag so the spores spread as you meander around, and when you find the goods keep it to yourself. Sure, there’s plenty of morels to be bought at the farmer’s markets, but those burn site morels the local Hmong mushroom masters cultivate in droves don’t compete with the fun of finding a couple of handfuls on your own.
Where you find one, you find more.
Harvesting morels is a great way to not fish this time of year.
Now, this is supposed to be a fishing report, so I’ll hit the highlights but you should know the drill by now: This is high water fishing. That said, the Bitterroot has been dropping all week long and has anglers staying happy. Big nymph rigs are the go-to, though you might find moments of greatness with the streamer as well. I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep saying it until you give it a shot: try some smaller streamers and work those well placed casts and presentations. Lots of takes on the slow stripped buggers. Tie a worm on the back and get dirty. The Blackfoot? Big, dirty…but dropping! Go high for some streamer work. The Clark Fork is rolling like that river in Willy Wonka, but if you want to try that stop and go mushroom/fish combo, I’d give it a shot. It’s worked for me every season, and you likely won’t see another boat all day in most sections. Tie on your favorite streamer and tug it through, fish still gotta eat. May is your month, you just have to embrace it. Get out there and be ready for the weather and you won’t regret it. One last word on safety: Do it. Be safe. Know before you go, ask the experts, and keep that boat right side up. If you’re just fiending for the fish, the Bitterroot is a go as far as I’m concerned, but why not add a little time to your drive and bang up them Mo fish? You can do it…

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