The big flush from the mountains in and around Glacier National Park has finally arrived. Mother Nature took it’s sweet time this year. As a result, we enjoyed some great fishing later into the spring. The snow pack from in and around Glacier National Park is making its way through the forks. Down into the main stem and flowing into Flathead Lake. It might be a while until the big river is fishable again but luckily for us there is great fishing to be had elsewhere. It’s small water and Stillwater season in the Flathead Valley!
She gone. Don’t worry, we will let you know when it’s fishable again. In the meantime tie up some of your favorite big river bugs and get ready for her majestic return. It could be sooner than we think.
If you prefer your water moving, small water is where you should be spending your time. On certain drainages, the bugs have been incredible. Others not so much. We have seen mayflies of all varieties. From drakes to small PMDs (pale morning duns). Stoneflies are also starting to make their appearance more robust by the day. There have been some other invertebrates moving throughout the water column and flying along the banks. But stoneflies and mayflies have been the “golden ticket” for trout.
What water are we finding trout? We have found trout in slow inside corners, under foam lines, as well as fast riffles. They could be anywhere. We have noticed that the higher the bug activity the shallower we have been catching trout. In other words, if bugs are hatching there is a high likelihood that trout will be moving into shoals to take advantage of the food.
Small waters are changing in flow and temperature daily. It’s piscatorial inhabitants are changing their habits daily too. Get out and explore you never know where you might find them on a particular day this time of year. Case in point, the picture below.
If you would like more info on how to fish smaller water, check out this link from a previous article on Wild Montana Angler’s blog.
Will this be the week that we get the trout to look up on our small water? We have seen the sporatic risers but have not observed any consistency in the top water bite. We have been throwing quite a few dry dropper rigs in hopes of getting a trout to commit to the dry. Results have been poor. That will change and when it does you just might be hearing us singing the dry fly waltz from the mountain tops. Flies to consider are parachute mayflies in sizes ranging from 10-18. Foam stonefly patterns such as Jake’s trigger bellies, Ross’s repeat offender, Smaller chubby Chernobyl’s and Terk’s tarantulas.
Stoneflies, mayflies, emergers, cripples, and worms have all been productive lately. We have either fished them under the bobber or as a dropper on a dry-dropper rig. We have been dropping the nymphs as deep as the water we are fishing. For example, if you know that the run you are fishing is approximately 3 feet deep then you should be running your dropper 2.5-3ft below the dry or bobber. This insures you are covering the lower part of the water column. If you notice trout are eating higher in the water column, you should adjust your nymph to that depth. For more information on this techniques check out this dry-dropper link.
We all like to catch fish, but we also need to protect them. Spring is spawning season for cutthroat. If you see trout making redds (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 good to damn good. It’s that time of year. Water temperatures are stating to climb on these lakes and reservoirs. That equals an increase in food production and the fish appear to be happy and on the feed. We have seen cutthroat trout, graying, bass, and large pike eat the fly this week. Balance leeches, chironomids, scuds, and smaller streamers have been productive under the bobber for trout and grayling. Stripping larger streamers on sink tips along weed beds have produced some really nice pike. Pike numbers have not been high but the quality has been exceptional. Bass fishing has been hit or miss but we have heard rumors of them getting pretty shallow and its only a matter of time until the angler can spot bass in the shallows and sight cast to them Bring it on!
Enjoy it out there folks! Be well and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.