The fishing continues to be pretty darn good on the Flathead River. With current flows at 6,230 CFS, water levels are great throughout the entire river system. However, water temperatures have gotten a little warmer than average for this time of year. The river temperature through town reached as high as 62 degrees but has since dropped into the mid to high 50’s with the recent cloudy and rainy weather. Mayflies are still the most consistent hatch with duns being seen late mornings and throughout the afternoon. Trout are looking up and are eager to move on a well presented dry fly. The consistent hatches of mayflies have allowed for some really fun sight fishing opportunities to target some of the larger cutthroat trout in the river system. Get it while it last! Other productive dry flies are caddis, yellow sallys, ants, beetles, and golden stones. If you feel like it, fishing dropper flies such as a pheasant tails, soft hackles, or caddis pupa can get the more stubborn trout to commit. Try putting your dropper below a foam dry fly such as a chubby chernobyl or Jake’s trigger belly to ensure it rides well through all types of water. Our guides are finding nice fish in shallow riffles, foam lines, and dry fly slicks when the mayfly emergences is strong. Other water to look for are inside bends, outside bend pocket water, and foam lines.
Water levels are starting to drop significantly in some of our creeks and smaller rivers. Water temperatures appears to be holding pretty well and bug activity has been consistent. With the low water, locating fish has not been too difficult. Look for obvious pools and depth changes in the stream bed. Outside cut banks will also hold fish this time of year, so don’t be afraid to try any water that looks like it might hold a trout. Stimulators, bushy attractor patterns, and terrestrials such as moths and ants are great options for a dry fly set up. We have started to see a few spruce moths flying around and it won’t be long until the trout are dialed in and looking specifically for these yellowish/orange/white moths. Berry season is just around the corner, and a lot of these creek and small river corridors are home to some prime berry patches. Be vigilant in looking out for bears, always make plenty of noise, and carry bear spray.
According to Josh Gesler, who targets bass on the regular, and has spent the past few evenings fishing for “bucket mouths” (largemouth bass). “Bass fishing has been inconsistent the past couple of days due to our wet and stormy weather.” Fishing for large and smallmouth bass should resume to normal once we get a few days of warmer, sunnier weather. Try targeting areas with depth changes. Steep shelves located in smaller coves provide a good ambush opportunities for bass looking for an easy meal. Also, don’t ignore structure. Fallen trees, large rock outcroppings, and docks all provide good ambush points for these predators. Flies that have been productive lately are small, light colored poppers, woggs, and smaller streamer patterns. For your subsurface flies try using an intermediate to full sink line to get down to suspended bass. No matter what, get out there and try your luck. You might find yourself running into al sorts of cool fish on your search for the elusive “bucket mouth” or smallmouth bass.
It has been quite busy in the Flathead Valley lately. Please be courteous, pick up after yourself, and if you see some trash in or around the river, please pick it up and dispose of it properly. Don’t be that person who looses their cooler of refreshments and just shrugs it off. Nobody likes that person. As always, stop in Lary’s Fly and Supply at 604 Nucleus Ave in wonderful Columbia Falls, Montana or call (406 897-3740) for the most up to date fishing reports and productive fly patterns and techniques. Be safe and have fun out there folks! – Mark