Holy smokes it has been a good spring for fishing in the Flathead Valley. Fish started moving into the river system in mid to late March and we saw some studs! Lakes started to ice off in mid to late April and they too have produced quite well for us. Fast forward to the present and the fishing is still good!
The River is on the rise and will likely continue into the run off season. At last look the mainstream is running at 15,000 CFS through the town of Columbia Falls. Don’t let that deter you because it is fishing great! For now. Mayflies ranging from smallish size 16-18 as well as some pretty good size drakes have been emerging in the early afternoon. The fish are looking up but they are also eating dropper rigs like soft hackle pheasant tails, shop vacs, Micro Mays, and other mayfly nymphs. Don’t be afraid to throw the bigger nymphs if the dry fly bite is slow or if you are just jonesing to stare at that bobber. Flies like “the worm,” weighted stonefly nymphs, and mop flies should get a few fish to hand.
Swinging the trout spey is also a great way to get into some good fishing along the Main stem of the Flathead. The few people brave enough to do it are probably out-fishing us all. Well, that might not be entirely true but there have been plenty of fish caught by the swing and some of the biggest we have seen yet this year. Streamers in olive, black, and green have all been smashed as they make their way to the dangle.
Stillwater fishing is a great way to get a bend in that rod as well. Most lakes are starting to see water temperatures reach into the 50s, and all sorts of bugs are being seen. Scuds, freshwater shrimp, and chironomids can all be a productive species to imitate under a bobber. Adding a balanced leech pattern below the previously mentioned flies and you got a winner for most stillwaters in the valley. Fish are still relatively shallow so long leader setups are not needed. A few Grayling are up and feeding on top in the lake that has them and your best opportunity to get into one on the dry fly seems to be mid to late afternoon. Get out there and fish!