Weekend Warrior: October Surprise

The times they are a changing, and if you wrote that line they’ll give you the Nobel Peace Prize. But it definitely applies to these crazy pre-presidential election weeks when the best thing you can do is send in your absentee ballot and hit the river. Seriously, do that. Thankfully there is not one bit of election news out on the river, unless you count the fish not eating as being part of a global conspiracy against you. (Which they are. Tinfoil hats are the new waders. Drones are watching to steal your fly patterns. You’ve been warned.)

Got out this week for the annual Grizzly Hackle One Fly competition, and the flows are incredible for this time of year. Had too much fun with the one and only “Wildcat”, who can fish and guide like hell and might have even won the big fish portion of the contest if his first fish of the day hadn’t come off as fast as he’d gotten on. Fish are happy and you should be too. This weekend there are plenty of fish that are going to be mad as hell and ready to whack a streamer, and there are still great hatches of mahoganies and BWOs making them look up in the slow stuff. The spawning fish are starting to move into that kind of water, and the mouths of all of the sloughs and back eddies are ripe for finding the fish you’ve been looking for all season long. No need to get dirty and seek them out in the spawning grounds, you’ll find them staging behind riffles and in a lot more likely spots ready to rip.

This day started with rain and clouds, and broke into one of those beautiful fall days they make postcards out of. This weekend might be filled with rain, but in between the fishing is going to be excellent.

Where should you go? Well, there are some sneaky spots that might be on fire right now if you’re willing to make a bit of a drive, but the truth is all of your favorite water is probably fishing well. Watch the flows and for my money, I’d stay away from the Blackfoot unless you’re wanting to watch bull trout eat every fish you catch off the line. That can be fun, but its about time to leave that one alone for a bit and seek out some streamer eating browns. There’s not much better for getting a feel for how all of the river systems are doing than a guide competition, and there were a lot of smiles at the awards ceremony from those who hit the Bitterroot, and the lower Clark Fork. I think the upper Clark Fork is worth checking out, and if I had the time this weekend to make a drive that might be where you’d find me. But then again, when the Bitterroot fish are chasing streamers its hard not to be there. With hunting season underway, you’re going to be greeted with near empty rivers all across the map.

What should you throw?
Streamers. Get that elbow greased up and toss the meat. You tied all those things for a reason, right? Now is the time to get them in the water and see what happens. Try the good water, the ok water, and the downright “why the hell would you put it there?” water. My one piece of advice on the streamer bite is to fish them all the way to shallow water, give it a pause, give it a strip, and be ready all the way until the pickup for your next cast for a fish to eat. In these bigger flows with so much rain, the fish are happy to attack in the skinny stuff and we’ve seen a lot of fish do just that. Lots of missed fish right when you’re about to recast.
Dry flies if the time is right: mayflies are popping, and the slow stuff is holding sippers. Hoppers? Yeah, try them! Seriously if its sunny and mild, why the hell not? They’re eating them here and there.
Nymphs… If you love bobber watching, you know what to do. Mayflies, the pink worm, and egg patterns are all viable this time of year.
If you’re looking for some solitude and are ready for a little rain, this weekend could be a great one. Get out and give it a shot.
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