Its been a hot one out there this week. We are loosing our snow pack quick but with this warm weather bugs are hatching, cutthroat are spawning, and people are getting out and enjoying our public waterways. What a great time to be in Montana.
The color of our big river is somewhere between chocolate milk and a medium roasted cup of coffee with a little half and half added. With our warmer than normal temperatures from last week, the flows are high but we might be past the runoff peak for the season. It is gonna be a few weeks until we are fishing again on the big water.
A lot of our drainages around the valley are still gorged with water. However, there are some smaller rivers and creeks that are experiencing declining water flows and are becoming more fishable by the day. During this time of year, we get quite a few questions on how to fish smaller streams that are running high. Our standard reply is “high water tactics”. High water tactics involve fishing heavier nymphs or streamers and targeting specific water where the trout are congregating. Trout reside in specific types of water this time of year. They are as lazy as we are and want to hold in places where they have access to food and don’t have to expend a lot of energy. Look for inside corners, eddies, slower water along the banks, or anywhere that the current is being slowed down. Click on the link to learn more about fishing these types of water.
Water temps are climbing daily and the warmer water is encouraging bug activity. This week, several species of stoneflies, mayflies, and midges have been observed in good numbers. The trout seem to be keyed in on the larger stoneflies and mayfly nymphs. Your best bet is to dangle these nymphs under a bobber or if you are feeling spicy, drop them under a large dry and you might get the pleasant surprise of a dry fly eat.
Some people cannot help but want to throw the dry fly. I am one of them. But, if you are gong to do so this time of year, I would highly recommend attaching a nymph off the back, A.K.A., the dry-dropper. Some dry flies to consider are chubby chernobyls, Jake’s trigger belly, stimulators, and drake patterns. All these patterns are great for using the dry-dropper technique.
Under the bobber:
Flies to have in your box are worm patterns, frenchies, micro mayflies, pheasant tails, drake nymph, quasi-moto pheasant tail, hares ears, Kaufmann stoneflies, Pat’s rubber legs, twenty-inchers, and batman princes.
It’s a great time of year to throw the streamer. You can fish them actively or under the bobber. Try small and medium sized streamers with colors that contrast the color of water you are fishing. Olive, black, yellow, and white have moved trout this week but don’t be afraid to experiment with your color selection. If the water you are fishing is really moving, attach a sink tip to get down to the depth of water that you think the trout are residing.
Look out for reds and spawning fish:
We all like to catch fish, but we also need to protect them. Spring is spawning season for cutthroat. If you see trout making reds (spawning beds) or a large amount of trout grouped together in small water, don’t fish to them. We need those fish to be viable and reproduce the next generation. If you do come across this, enjoy the beauty of it and move on.
Stillwater fishing has been hit or miss this past week but overall its still good out there. Bug activity is strong. A lot of the stillwaters we have been fishing are starting to get water temperatures reaching the 60 degree mark which has created strong hatches. Certain stillwaters are starting to see flying carpenter ants as well as other terrestrial bugs which are making the dry fly fishing increasingly better. If an angler is willing to commit to the dry, this a great time of year to find quality trout eating the dry. That is just plain fun. Go-to flies for stillwater this week are small balanced leeches (size 10-16) in olives, browns, purple, black, and orange. Other flies to consider are sow bugs, scuds, damsel fly nymphs, olive hares ears, prince nymphs, and chironomids. Fishing those flies under the bobber is probably going to be the most productive method but we had a guide trip this week that had success in stripping smaller nymphs in and around weed beds. Experiment with different techniques to dial in the specific water you are fishing.
Bass fishing is getting darn good. Some bass are still on their beds and others are back in open water and cruising for their post spawn meal. If you are fishing shallow, a floating line with a 7 foot leader attached to a weighted streamer is an effective method. If you are targeting bass in open water consider throwing a intermediate to heavy sink tip to get your streamer in front of the cruising fish. Don’t be afraid to throw the popper. There have been more follows then eats on the popper but it is only a matter of time until the popper bite is full on mayhem!
Enjoy it out there folks! Be well and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at email@example.com.