Summer on the Flathead River is flying by, days are long and weeks are short. July came and went, with it goes another great month of fishing, friends, and stories. The Flathead River is fishing extremely well with the majority of fish being caught on dry flies.
Water levels are dropping, wade fisherman be ready. New holes are appearing each and every day. The river has taken a new shape with the loss of more water. Wade fishermen will see more and more access opportunities as water levels continue to drop.
In the last week we have found fishing in the middle of the day to be increasingly hard. Try getting on the water either earlier or later. The mid-day bite has slowly faded. Morning hatches include small mayflies and spruce moths. These morning times have proven to be the best for fishing. Water temps are cool and trout are spunky. Beat the heat by getting to the water early. Patterns like the purple haze and parachute adams are staples for us and have proven to fish well throughout the summer.
As August takes hold we begin to see less and less hatches and more terrestrial bugs near the water. Terrestrials range from grasshoppers, ants and beetles to nocturnal stoneflies. When mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis fishing slows down, the terrestrial bite picks up. These terrestrial trout snacks can turn some big fish in the late stretches of summer. Our favorite ants patterns are the black para-ant, and Arrick’s parachute ant black/cinnamon. For hoppers try fishing a large tan or yellow bug such as Trina’s carnage hopper or a yellow donkey kong.
Last but not least there is the spruce moth. For those of you who don’t know what a spruce moth is, do not feel left out. The spruce moth is often the most forgotten about bug in our system. Montana, known for salmon flies, mother’s day caddis, and blanket pmd hatches, often overlooks our sprucey friend. Don’t let the trout be the only ones to take advantage of this great hatch.
If there was ever a time to fish the north or middle fork, this would be it. Plenty of spruce moth’s have been spotted up the forks. This hatch typically gets started earlier in the day and weens off around lunch. Then, it’ll pick back up again in the late afternoon for another period of frenzied feeding.
Trout have no problem slurping these delicate treats down. To them it must be like a cupcake is floating down the seam. Cutties have a ferocious appetite for spruce moths. For these, we have a few patterns that work best. Try a size 14 parachute spruce moth, tan elk hair caddis, or a snowshoe spruce moth.
Enjoy your time on the water, it won’t be this good for long. As always be safe, fish with friends, and have fun.
Wild Montana Anglers