Spring is going along like gangbusters, and despite high flows in our rivers the fishing has been as good as you make it. Meaning, if you’re willing to work for it and get that great drift you’re likely to find some great fish. Its been a spring of big fish for a lot of locals, and the tricky part is keeping your fly where you want it in these fast waters. Row well, cast well, and make it happen. The fish are in funky spots and nowhere near as predictable as we’d like, but if you keep working for them it’s been a heck of an April. Get out there this weekend and see what happens.
It’s tying night at the Hackle again, wrapping up the winter with another free pizza and beer bash with Big Sky Brewing, Zimorinos Pizzza and KYSS FM all on hand. The gang down at the Hackle has been putting on these great events all winter, and if you have any tying questions these are the guys to ask. Patient teachers and enthusiastic fly guys all. Head down to the shop at 6:30 to start working on those skwala patterns before they’re here!
This week Charlene from KYSS has a great idea up her sleeve, and you won’t want to miss it. IRON FLY! Three divisions: beginner, intermediate and advanced, set materials for each group, and the best flies in each division get some awesome prizes. Get your creative fly tying on and get set for the best night of the week. This contest sounds like a whole lot of fun, and if you haven’t stopped by to a tying night yet, this one might be just the one for you- beginners will have a chance to tie before the event starts, and we’ll “warm up” for a few hours before we challenge the contestants. Looking forward to it!
In four out or five past years, Lolo Creek has run dry. Historically, Lolo Creek has been a robust little stream filled with cutthroat trout and rushing water, but something lately has changed, and it isn’t an obvious answer. Are upstream irrigators using more than their share? Has development drained water from the area in drought years? Peter Friesen has a great article on the concern of locals and state officials alike about Lolo Creek, read it in The Missoulian.
I know, its a terrible attempt to rhyme. But then, pre-runoff fishing can sometimes be a terrible attempt to scratch the fishing bug with little success. Not so for local anglers that found some good water last weekend. Though the main stems of most local rivers were chugging fast, slow side channels and backwaters were holding fish that were happy to play. With the mid temps, lots of boats headed over the pass to the Missouri, though the weather this week could change things for the moment. We need more cold, heavy snow for a good season. I know everyone is sick of the weather, but I’m smiling every time I see it snow these days. The ice is off the rivers and I’d like it back, thank you very much. The name of the game is still subsurface, though I did see some midges coming off the slow stuff very late in the afternoon on Sunday. Fish were eating the little bugs for me, though buggers and worms and slow stripped junk was working in a lot of the situations. Either way, the pre runoff fishing can be fun as the fish are as anxious to get this shit over with as we are. I’m hoping for much more snow, but if it goes the other way we’ll do what we have to.
We’ve had some crazy weather in the past month. Lots of snow, then lots of sun, then lots of rain, with flooding of highways and little creeks and all that kind of stuff that has people wondering: will there be any water this summer? How are our rivers doing? This is always the talk this time of year amongst anglers, and in recent years the worries have been warranted. Two seasons of low water have us all on the edge for this year. Will this year finally be the one that leaves the chines intact on the drift boat? Probably not. But right now, it’s a little early to tell. According to the numbers, things are looking decent. But it’s all up to these last months of winter, and how spring treats us. It’s a glass half-empty/half-full scenario. Positive outlooks say we’ll make it, Realists say we won’t. Keep an eye on the snow numbers for the remainder of February, and lets keep our fingers crossed.
Here we go! The 2017 Fly Fishing Film Tour is headed back to Missoula for two showings on January 28th. This annual event is a great time to break the cabin fever and get some fish porn in. Second to none, the Missoula show’s crowd is always as entertaining as the films themselves. Loud and lubricated by one too many beers, you’re likely to hear more fish story bullshit in one night than the rest of the year combined. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Get your tickets at the local shops, or directly from the source here. I’ll bet you a beer you’ll see more buffs, nano puffs, and scruffs than ever in the Wilma on this night! Get your tickets soon, they tend to sell out quick.
George Ochenski writes a beautiful elegy to fly fishing and conservation legend Bud Lilly, Read it in the Missoulian.