What is more fun than paying taxes? Well, that list is quite long. But if one was wanting to find an activity to get away from the” tax season blues”, there is no better place to be than the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park. Folks have seen fishing in the Flathead valley range from really good (think getting a tax refund) to “No Bueno” (think getting audited by the IRS). Don’t let that deter you though, it’s still very much worth your time to get outside and enjoy what this valley has to offer. Here is a run down of what we have observed recently on our local waters.
The big river is slowly starting to fill it’s stream bed with this winters snow melt. With consistently sunny and warm days recently in the valley we are likely to continue to see the trend of increased water levels.With the inevitability of snow melt, it’s only a matter of time until the big river is too gorged and off colored to have productive fishing. Don’t fret, we aren’t there yet. On warm and sunny days the river has been fishing quite well. We have been delighted to see consistent hatches of midges and small mayflies throughout the river. This natural phenomenon has led to trout feeding regularly and people with bent rods and smiles on their faces. Is that you?
Another indicator that we are leaving the winter fishing behind and moving into spring/summer fishing season is where we are locating trout. The trout are starting to disperse out of winter holding areas and into shallower faster water. The only caveat is there needs to be the presence of bugs hatching. We have caught trout with long nymph leaders. We have caught trout in ankle deep water on dries and dry-dropper rigs. The trout can be anywhere.
Pick your poison. We have seen trout eat a variety of dry flies lately. Flies to consider are Griffith’s knats, Goober midges, purple haze, Klinkhammers, Amy’s ants, chubby chernobyl’s, Jake’s trigger belly, and Terk’s tarantulas.
This might be the first week all season that we have seen the dry fly out fish the bobber on the big river. I’m not one to put down the bobber rig but time might be up for “bobber season” 2021. Keep your nymphs big and bright. Worms with tungsten beads in all sorts of colors have been consistent. Other flies to consider are Pat’s rubber legs, frenchies, hot beaded jig nymphs, more worms.
The streamer game is starting to pick up in the big river. Rising water level, turbid water, and dispersal of trout into all sorts of water make the streamer a great option. You might just find yourself with a bent rod and a pretty nice trout if you are willing to commit to the streamer. Sink tips are pretty important this time of year. At minimum one needs a 250 grain sink tip. Don’t be afraid to get more aggressive with your sink tips. I wouldn’t shy away from 250-400 grain sink tips. Have faith, keep chucking the streamer, retrieve, repeat.
Small water fishing has been hit and miss, strikes and gutters. We are seeing an influx in water volume in some of the smaller drainages causing the water to be too turbid for productive fishing. On the other hand, other drainages haven’t seen as much run off and are fishing quite well. Heres a HOT TIP. A good way to know if a drainage that you are planning to fish is going to be too big or off color is to check the USGS Montana hydrograph page (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/. With this data, one can select the drainage of choice and see in real time what the water velocities are in that specific stream.
Midges, mayflies, and stoneflies have all been showing themselves on our smaller waters. Not in numbers. It’s only a matter of time until the trout start to look up for the dry. It’s gonna happen! Consider throwing on a dry-dropper rig in more shallow water. You just might prove me wrong and get trout to come and eat your dry. If you do, please feel free to berate me. My only request is that if you are gonna tell me how wrong I was about the dry fishing I want to know what you were able to get them to eat.
In the last fishing report, I made a joke about the bobber being the golden ticket these days on our smaller water. That joke is just as relevant this week. Fish are still hanging relatively low in the water column from our observations. Adjust your bobbers accordingly to the depth of the water that you are trying to target. Flies to consider are as follows. Frenchies, pheasant tails, micro mayflies, worms of all colors, golden stoneflies, pat’s rubber legs, copper johns, twenty inches, hares ears, and Kauffman Stoneflies. Throw those bobbers proudly!
This past week marks the first guide trips on our local stillwaters. We had mixed results. Leeches, chironomids, and scuds were the most successful patterns. With that being said, depths that flies were suspended depended on the waterbody and the type of fish targeted. Most fish were found between 4-10ft of water. Fishing seems to get better as we get into mid day and stays that way until the sun starts to dip in the west. We have also found that a little bit of chop on the water has produced more strikes than a flat, placid surface. We are just in the beginning of our Stillwater season. Get out there and enjoy all the Stillwater opportunities that we have in and around Glacier National Park.
Enjoy it out there folks! Be well and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.