With all that is going on in the world this week, there are plenty of things that can bum you out. Fishing in the Flathead valley is not one of them.
The big water is starting to get bigger. With a string of nice weather and a substantial increase in flows from the Hungry Horse Dam located on the South Fork of the Flathead, we have seen the Flathead River jump from approximately 3800 CFS to 7910 CFS in the span of a week. The middle and north forks of the Flathead are also on the rise. Water clarity is decreasing daily but it’s still plenty good with at least 4 ft of visibility on the mainstem. According to some old, crusty guides, the river generally doesn’t fish well when it’s on the rise. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now. The entire drainage has had several moments of glory this week with some nice trout being landed for several anglers. Bug activity has been solid with an assortment of midges, mayflies, and the occasional stonefly adult emerging. Dry fly fishing is hit and miss but when the trout are up, it’s pretty good.
Forget about fishing winter water and start thinking shallow and fast. Trout can still be found in the deep, slow pools and inside corners but they can also be found shallow, real shallow. Earlier this week, I was witness to trout eating March brown dries and cripples on a shoal above a deep pool. I could see trout backs slowly rising in about 10-12 inches of water only to fall back below the surface. The trout’s feeding was rhythmic and predictable, allowing us to cast to particular trout and time the drift. Fun stuff. We have also found good fishing in water as deep as 4-6 feet so be sure to work a variety of water.
Pick your poison. You can throw big, small, foam, or natural. The trout don’t seem to care when they are up and feeding. Jake’s trigger bellies, Repeat Offenders, foam black stones, parachute Adams, March browns, and goober midges have all been consumed by trout this week. Keep em high and dry and don’t be afraid to dangle a nymph below if your in to that sort of thing.
Under the bobber:
All the standards apply when it comes to nymphing this time of year. Stonefly, Mayfly, caddis nymphs, and worms are all an angler needs when it come to nymphing. Flies to consider are Pat’s rubber legs, frenchies, copper Johns, soft hackle pheasant tails, squirmy worms, or any size #6-#16 nymph with a bright collar or bead.
The streamer game might be getting better. Stripping streamers from the boat has produced some solid trout. A good set up for throwing streamers from a boat is a 9-10 ft, 6 or 7 weight rod with a 250-350 grain sink tip. This set up allows you to throw bigger streamers and get it down through some of the deeper runs. Darker and lighter colors have moved fish so go with whatever “floats your boat” in the color department.
Trout fishing has been hit or miss this week. Whitefish anglin’ however, that’s a totally different story. The whitefish are on the feed hard this week! Some solid trout have been produced but you have to catch your window of opportunity to get a shot at the good ones. Bug life has been consistent. I’ve observed a couple of different species of Mayflies flying around. I have noticed other bugs but the mayfly has been the most abundant. Trout have been caught in a myriad of water types. Riffles drops can be productive with a dry-dropper rig. The transitions from the shallow riffles into the pool is the money zone. Deeper bouldery runs have produced the best fish. Fish this type of water under a bobber or “high stick” A.K.A. Euro nymph these runs deep. High water is just around the corner for our smaller water. Get it while it last!
You can throw dries as big as drakes (#10-#14) and as small as size 18 cripples. It depends on what is hatching and what you are seeing the trout eat. Some dry fly fishing is available but I think the best is still yet to come in this department.
Under the bobber:
Mayfly nymphs (#12-16), stonefly nymphs (#6-14) and squirmy worms have generated the best success. Experiment. There are a lot of different types of bugs moving around our small waters. As the water line rises in next couple of days and weeks the nymphing game will get better and better.
Find the deeper runs and outside bends to fish streamers.
Enjoy the beautiful weather, be well, and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at email@example.com.