Fishing in the Flathead Valley is progressively getting better as the days go on. All three forks of the river are starting to see some nice clarity. The Middle and South fork are around 4-5 feet of clarity, while the North Fork is at 3 feet of clarity. With that, the rivers have changed color from brown to a much more appealing green/blue. With the water temperatures slowly rising, we are starting to see more and more fish feeding on the surface. Fishing a small caddis or mayfly imitation can be very fruitful. You might not catch the biggest fish in the river, but you will surely have fun. The most productive fishing is done subsurface. The majority of sizeable fish have been caught on a deep nymph rig fished under an indicator. Fish this rig on a long 8-9 foot leader. Fish flies that have weight incorporated within them, typically with a beadhead or lead. Pink San Juan worm and Girdle Bugs are great options for this technique; follow these with a smaller nymph such as a pheasant tail, lightning bug, or prince nymph. Do not be afraid to use plenty of split shot if you feel the need to get your flies deeper. Fish have been hunkered up close to the banks and in the softer pools. Look for water that has a foam line running through it. Foam is home!
In addition to nymphing, we have seen success with smaller streamers. For streamers, swinging small dark colored streamers has produced the most fish. Try a crystal bugger or sparkle minnow fished with a slow retrieve. As the river continues to warm, the fish will be increasingly active. Look for more and more dry fly activity as the summer continues.
Flows as of 6/20/18 are as follows.
North Fork: 5300 CFS
South Fork: 9200 CFS (below dam)
Middle Fork: 8700 CFS
If you are wade fishing be very careful and know your abilities. The river is moving swiftly no matter where you are and should not be overlooked. June is a great time to be fishing in Northwestern Montana. The fish are beautiful, spunky, and most importantly hungry. Make sure you bring your bear spray, stay alert, and have fun.