Friday, October 18, 2013

NAME THIS FLY,WIN A NEW LINE Fishing Reports, too.

Bitterroot River 10/17
   Bitterroot River- Streamer fishing has been pretty darned good. Mornings have been best and by about 5 the bite is very, very over.  The dry fly fishing is still good in the afternoons, too.  Purp. Haze #14,16  CDC Baetis #18.
Droppers before the hatch: #14/16 BH P.T.
Throw a shotgun in the boat and pop a mallard or two.
   Missouri River-Baetis! Pods are up for hours and they are difficult to put down. Para-baetis in 18 will do it.  Try dropping an emerger off the back, but keep the dropper short. Streamer fishing continues to be good for those willing to work. Olive anything, white some days,maybe black. Just switch it up until you find the one they want most.  It kind of changes day to day.
We haven't tied a nymph rig on in months so I can't really tell you what bugs are best. There is no reason to nymph right now anyway. This is the time to become a better dry fly angler.

Clark Fork River- The local news reported that there is a consumption advisory for trout and pike from Kelly Island all the way to the confluence with the Flathead at Paradise. Duh! Dioxin and a bunch of other user-friendly crap seems to be accumulating in the fish. For anyone with a brain this shouldn't be big news. The CF has faced environmental challenges for decades and it has always been known that the fish are inedible.
   The fishing on the lower has been good.  Small white streamers in the a.m. Fish them on the edge of visibility, and slowly.  There will be some mahoganies out in the afternoons. Baeits in 18 should show up on the cloudier days. Don't hesitate to fish a small P.T. or prince 30" under your favorite foamie. It has been good down there and will stay that way, weather permitting. I have had great fishing well into November on the lower.

We need a name for this bug. Please submit via email.  The person who chooses the winning name will receive a brand spankin' new 6 wt fly line. We will decide the winner by November 17.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fly Fishing Report for Missoula 9/11

Missouri River, September 8
It's been a while since we have put out a post.  There's a bunch to report.
 The Blackfoot River is totally closed, including all of the tribs. There are several words that one might use but the first one that comes to mind (and is family friendly) is NONSENSE. FWP didn't do it when the river was 700 cfs, or 600 cfs, or when the water was actually warm and the fish were actually stressed.  They didn't do it when there were literally hundreds of people floating the river, littering and clogging the water with inner tubes and stupidity. I'm still scratching my head on that one.
 Here's another real gem- FWP is shocking the upper Bitterroot. A few days ago there was a mudslide on the upper West Fork. The water has since been very muddy with visibility to about one foot max. Now I'm no expert, but one might think that between historically low water and very limited visibility there might be  a better time to perform this fish count. Talk about stressed fish!  Accuracy of the tally must not be that big of a deal.
 Clark Fork- Currently absorbing all of the pressure. Try purple hopperry type stuff.  The haze will do it too. There is a bit of color in the lower river so a dropper might help you out.  We nailed a bunch yesterday on a purple hopper with a 12 Czech droped about 30".  The work and P.T. will work too. Upper-wise, look to the same stuff.  We have had good afternooons with a 12/14 ant, tan/purp. hoppers. The usual droppers too.   There is a touch of moss up above town.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Missoula Montana Area Fly Fishing Report

Our interpretation of a trico
Fly Fishing around Missoula has been pretty darned good. Water temps should improve dramatically with this cool down. Tricos have been thick in certain areas and hoppers are really kicking into high gear. Maybe we'll have a good hopper season after all.

   I was really hoping that the latest "tuber rant" would spark a conversation. Guess not.  The issue still remains at large. When you get good and sick and tired of the unaccountable pounding your resources, let me know. I'll still be stewing in my convictions.

BLACKFOOT RIVER- The dry fly bite is still going strong. There have been a few spruce moths around (nothing like  the last 2 years) and the nocturnal stones are still kicking around.  The water temps have been good. The bite is still croaking around 1. Hoot-owl is in effect so bear that in mind as you plan your day. Elk-hair 14, Bug-meister-10

BITTERROOT RIVER-I think the upper river has an enlarged prostate as the lower river is just a trickle. The fish are jumpy so plan to present well. P.T. will work if you cant get them up on a Purp.Haze 14 or a #10 10 hopper. Hopper patterns should be subtle and slight. Don't tie on a size 6 Dave's and expect great things.

CLARK FORK- The big bug is still great. They are starting to kick at the hopper a bit too.  Think pink.
Look to the choppy h2o for the best fishing. Caddis in the evenings.

GEORGETOWN LAKE-  Damsels are about over. The bugs are still coming off every day but the fishing has slowed a bit. The big sedges are out here and there so try skating a huge goddards. Smallish parachute will work as the callibaetis begin to show up more frequently.  Olive leeches, buggers for you stripper types. The water has been incredibly warm so plan to revive every fish.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing and Tubing Report

Fly Fishing in the Missoula, Montana area is still good if you know where to go and when to be there.
BLACKFOOT-The fishing is good early but plan for it to end about 1 p.m. Terrestrials are getting the job done in the heavy water. There is some talk about closures on the river coming up soon. Stressing the fish out, eh? I'll tell you what stresses the fish out: Tubers. Plain and simple. I  just can't understand why FWP doesn't place any resource responsibility on the tubing public. All of the fishermen will be off of the river by 2 p.m., but the tubers will be kicking trout in their heads, dropping beer cans all over the place and spooking trout from one side of the river to the other. And it's o.k. Nonsense. Also, aren't all water craft required to have a pfd/life jacket aboard? Seems like the tubers have forgotten about that. Seems like the wardens have too. Nice.
But wait. There's more... I think all of the tube rental joints in town should have to obtain a commercial use permit from FWP (just like rafting and fishing outfitters) for the Blackfoot, as they are essentially "outfitting" people to use the resource. They make a buck but share none of the       responsibility. The next time you hear someone complain about the impact of commercial use on our river resources, remind them that commercial use makes up a small percentage of use overall. The majority of use is by the public. Take a look at the Clark Fork at Madison Street bridge at 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The assorted stew of tubers, paddle borders, rafters, water-wing wearin' hippies, dogs in life jackets and Cub Scouts on milk carton rafts are not being guided by an outfitter.

Deep down you all know I'm right.

In other fishing news, there are a few other places to fish besides the tuber-infested, warm rivers. Grab you Gazetteteer and hit the high country.  The weather is cooler and the water is cold and there aren't any other people around. The small stream trout will eat just about any dry you want to tie on. And just about any creek you find will hold trout.  Pretty neat, eh? So think outdside of the box and go in search of.

BITTERROOT- Not so much. The trout are all stressed out, what with the bills and overwhelming workload. Plus, wifey is bitchy and the smolts are all hooked on smack.

CLARK FORK- Bring your salad dressing. The upper is low, weedy, warm  and not so good. The lower is warm but there is some fishing early in the day. Soon enough the hoppers will be out and about and we can get back to some consistent fishing.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing Report July 11th

Bob with a nice fish
CLARK FORK- Fly Fishing on the Clark Fork River has been good but plan to have a late lunch at the take-out.  The bite has been purely on dries. If you can't get 'em to eat your favorite foamie try a small-ish parachute. There are some PMDs around and the fish can get on them.
ATTENTION: The fish need to be revived! The H20 is bloody warm and the fish need a little extra love when being released.
BITTERROOT RIVER- The upper river is boaty but the fishing is good. Rogue Golden #10 should do the trick from about 1-3:30.  Before that, a P.T. dropper will bet them in the trenches. After that, go swimming! The water is colder on the 'Root but take care when releasing them thar fish.
   The middle river is fishing well for better fish. Try a #14 para adams or para PMD. It looks like a mayfly. Trout eat mayflies. Do the math.  A big bug will work if you put it in the right places. P.T. dropper in 14 will take fish early in the day. Look to the wood. You can dig them out of the fallen trees when the sun gets high.
BLACKFOOT RIVER- The water is prime. There are a few sallies and goldens left. Hell, I even saw a salmonfly splat on the water yesterday.  Big foam, prince dropper, smaller yellow stimi("Stimis, yeah that's the ticket. Stimis!), PMD spinners if you want to catch minnows. I saw a couple of boats with nymph rigs on. I think you all know how we feel about that. If you are coming to Missoula in July to fly fish with a "fly fishing" guide and he ties a nymph rig on your line, you need to be asking yourself some serious questions.
GEORGETOWN LAKE- Damsels. What more do you need to know. Tie one on the end of your line, cast it into the lake and catch a fish. I'm sure there will be a few boats up there with nymph rigs on.
MISSOURI- O.K. You can safely nymph here. We won't make fun of you. Try 16 and 18 czechs (beadless can be good) dropped off something a little bigger. The flow is LOW so 5x is required. Puple Crush 18 can be a good bet too. The lower river is weedy and the water is warm. It's probably best to stay in the first ten miles. PMDs and caddis offer the best bets for dry fly fishing. Drop a sparkle pupa off the back of any caddis dry. You know, it's the Missouri. "...easy like sunday morning."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rock Creek Traffic Jam ( and a fishing report )

Things are much better when you take the Montana back roads. These guys were obviously on a union break and couldn't be convinced to move out of the way. Nice to see a batch of rams, though.

Rock Creek-Low and clear and buggy. I think the main bulk of the floaters may be gone. Green Drakes are out in full force! We have had several EPIC days this week on the upper creek with big dries. The goldens and salmonflies are gone but the GD bite is superb. Still though, I have witnessed some knuckle heads with nymph rigs. Hey guys, try a dry and a mend and become a better angler. Stop with the bobber.

Clark Fork- Great golden fishing can be had on the cloudy days. GDrakes are out too. If it's sunny try a pat's under a big dry. If it's cloudy just try the dry. The water looks good and the fishing is fine.

Blackfoot- Salmonflies, goldens and Gdrakes are out. We have had some really good trips this week with anglers putting some very nice fish in the boat. The canyon is boaty but if you make it in early you can have it. The mid-river is fishing well too. A price dropper #10 or 12 will work well early and late, but the dries are where it's at.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Missoula Area Fly Fishing Report

Rock Creek- Absolutely on fire!  The salmonflies have ascended the creek and you can watch 'em fly around all day. The fish are fully tuned in and an orange stimi will get the job done.  Green drakes are out and a cripple in the right spots will take nice fish. Today I saw good numbers of goldens, which means that things are progressing and a smallish rogue's should do it. In other words, the dry fly fishing is GREAT!  Get on it now as the crick is dropping fast. It's really not too boaty but this weekend should be a real zoo. By the way, if you fish a nymph rig right now on Rock reek you should receive a game violation for something. Not too sure what for, but freakin' something. In the last few days I have seen a few clowns with thingamacrappers and two beads tied to their leaders. Come on.

Blackfoot- Word is that the wormin is good. Some big fish are being taken on the good insides but no fluttery-type bugs yet. It should be soon, but if you want to fish a dry this ain't the place. Streamers have been fair, but it has been sunny and the only critters that like the sun are lizards. Not trout. So keep on keepin' on, for at least another week.

Bitterroot- Good bite yesterday on the upper river. Try the stimi in yellow in an 8. Also, caddis, a few salmonflies, and a few sallies.  Dropper wise it's hard to beat the prince, p.t. and maybe even a peach-ish worm. For all of your purists the dry fly bite is good enough. The water looks great, but it all depends on where and when. The fishing has been a C+ but it should be a B+ by next week.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rock Creek Fly Fishing Report

Rock Creek fishing has been very good.  Salmonflies are out to about mile 20 and the river has dropped to low levels. If you are going to float Rock Creek you better get after it. Levels are dropping FAST!
Try rogue's salmonfly, orange stimi, yellow stimi, bugmeister, bulletheads, an old boot, chicken livers and anything else you might have sitting around. Point is, the fishing is easy and good.

Check Trout Bums or Da Merc' for info
Trout Bums   406-825-6146
DA Merc'      406 825 6440

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing Report 5/29

Still thinking about that monster caught on the creek last week?

Georgetown Lake- We went up yesterday and had reasonably good fishing.  Try an olive bugger, czech about 4 feet down, or a fuzzy navel p.t., which is one of G. Pace's specialties. He tried a nightcrawler, but we beat him with a bat until he tied on a fly.
These are mooses-not salmonflies

Rock Creek-Slamonflies are out!  There were bugs spotted yesterday on the upper end. A few days ago Debbie Peltier at Trout Bums gave us the word that they were out on the lower, too. Give her a call or stop in their shop if you're headed up da crick. The water looks perfect so get 'er goin!

Blackfoot River-Streamer bite has been fair. I think it's probably still a matter of a few degrees before it gets cranking. Try big and olive.  Stay away from the north fork, as the h20 is COLD. Mid river flows are big but the water looks primo. Remember, you cannot intentionally fish for bull trout.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing Report- No big ones in Rock Creek? Well, just one.

The Missouri river is fishing very well.  Duh.
Try fishing streamers on the cloudy days.  Baetis continue to pop and caddis are sort of around. Worst case scebnarion-try a big dry and a short dropper. Don't nymph. Seriously, just don't do it.
Georgetown lake is iceless and over-run with dingbats of all shapes, colors and sizes. Try red lightening bugs in 14, czechs in 14, olive buggers and even a parachute adams.  They will eat a dry if you can put it in front of them. Try to pull yourself away from the spawning fish, and find bright fish out deeper. Piney is a good place to start.
Rock Creek- Clear and low. Salmonflies should make an appearance very soon. For now try a worm, prince or bugger.  You can crush 'em with a streamer now too.   It is looking like the "perfect storm" is approaching, as flows continue to drop and the weather gets right.  Check with Deb at Trout Bums for dry fly info. Remember that she has a great little shop about 8 miles up.  Hot coffee and accurate info can be had there. or you can hit up the Rock Creek Mercantile-406-825-6440.  They have up to the minute reports about logjams, shuttles and bugs. 
Clark Fork-Upper is low and mossy.  Whattup run-off?  Lower-Looks a bit like mocha, but I'm betting it's gonna be in soon.  Really I think the best early June fishing in years is nearly upon us. 
As an aside:
Ben Hahn, fishing with RFO guide Zack Lazzarri nailed this measured 29" brown on Rock Creek on sunday. This fish was released somewhere in the creek and might get caught again. What a freaking MONSTER!  My question: How many 9" browns has this old boy eaten? Not enough. Keep those little fellas for the BBQ! Btw, Ben;s a pretty darned fun guy to fish with, if you're in the Livingston, Montana area. Contact us and we'll get you in touch with him.  He's a good cat.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Missoula Fly Fishing Reports

Fly fishing in the Missoula area is on hold until the Clark Fork River, Bitterroot River and Blackfoot River settle down.  Rock Creek is still O.K. and there should be some fishing to be had. Check with Trout Bums for up to date conditions and fly choices. Deb, the owner, is available at  406-825-6146
   The Missouri has been awesome with baetis, march browns and a few caddis around.  Streamer fishing has been excellent on the cloudier days. Try slender and white. Dry/dropper has been equally good in the bright sun. Czech nymphs will get it done when other stuff won't. Bear in mind that it's BOATY over there. We just came off of several days on the Mo' and there were plenty of boats around. Skip the weekend, if you can.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Montana=Trout? Maybe.

Montana is known for fly fishing for trout. But there are some other fly fishing options that don't include dry flies and delicate presentations.
   I washed all of the mouse poop out of the duck boat this morning and took off for my version of fly fishing paradise. I took the Ewok along, as he needed some new memories. I guess we found 'em.
   Let's get this straight before it gets out of hand; I love watching my clients nail big trout. Trout represent all that is wild and free in the spirit of rivers. And, from time to time, I love catching them myself. But when it all comes down to it, I love chasing northerns in the spring. I really love it.
I won't bore you with where and when, or on what. We found quite few and they attacked like only a pike can. But for all of you that think pike eat with reckless abandon, you are wrong.  Simply put, you are wrong. They can be fickle and are as sensitive to water temps and fluctuating flows as the next fish. I can imagine how many anglers spent their day hoping for the big pay-off on the Bitterroot. Well, we found it.

Try white/red, yellow/red, olive/white/red, black/gold, red/orange. If you haven't figured it out by now, this ain't a "kiss and tell" blog. As far as we're concerned, disinformation might very well be the best information.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Montana Spring Fly Fishing Report-Rock Creek Salmonflies Forecast

"Just eat it!"
Skwala fishing was very good this spring. We saw plenty of action despite the almost daily snow storms.  The weather was tough but there were some very large trout taken on dries, beginning as early as March 10th. While there are still some great hatches on the Bitterroot, high water has interrupted the fishing. Think caddis and big mays if you go. The local rivers might come back in for a few days but it won't last long. 
   Rock Creek looks just about right for June.  Snow-pack levels are average which means that flows should come in about the 10th of the month. If you head out to the creek this week try a worm, price rr special.  I also think that there might be some good dry fly fishing in the afternoons. Check with Carolyn and John at the RC merc for accurate daily info.   406-825-6440

Mike O. from Cheese-land with RFO guide G.Pace.  These guys hit some of the coldest weather of the month but had pretty dang good fishing. We had several fish over the 20" mark over the four days that they fished. 

Typical weather this spring. The fishing didn't really suffer, though. We are already booking for next skwala season so keep it in mind. We had full schedules this spring and I expect the same for '14.  If you want to guarantee getting the best guides, book early.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Clark Fork River/Missouri River reports

   Clark Fork River -It fished very well last week as the water continued to fall. We had several great days of fly fishing using primarily big dries. There really aren't any skwalas left but the fish are still looking for them. Try a slightly bigger pattern, as those big fluttering stones should make an appearance after another week of warm nights. Pigs and skwalas don't fly. Those big willow stones do.
    The march browns have been out in force and the fish have been on them. Try a prince or sjw before the dry fly bite kicks in. An olive bugger has been a kick early in the day if you feel the need to pull something.
   Missouri River-Baetis! You can nymph like 90% of the dingbats on the river, or you can tie on a dry and cast to risers.  Oh, and you can catch them! They have been agreeable to a small adams with any emerger behind it. The #20 purple lightening bug has been a great dropper too. The lower river has been a bit slower, but if you stay above the Dearborn you should be in business.

   Hmmmm? A big orange plastic ball or a dry fly? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report-Montana=New Siberia

Monday Morning

I drove to the Missouri River sunday evening to guide some great folks from Calgary Alberta.  The Bow River is an awesome river but the fly fishing in Montana cannot be beaten. The snow began around Lincoln, Montana, and by the time I made it to Wolf Creek, Montana it was a full blown blizzard. I awoke in Cascade to 20 degrees (I don't know what the hell Celsius that is, for all of you Canadians) but it was cold.  My entire boat was covered in ice and the prospect of fishing looked tough. Canucks are tough folks and most of them have a good sense of humor.  So we went fishing. We were all rather skeptical but the Mo' rarely disappoints.  Oh, and we were the only boat in that section. Go figure.

This was our first fish of the day and it ate a dry fly. We caught a bunch more and several were as large as this, but one of our mates was nearly dead from hypothermia and we skated through the afternoon. But anyway, they will eat a dry right now on the Missouri. Try an 18 zebra midge dropper if the dry fly bite is spotty.
   No need to put a pink ball on your leader and chase it down the river.

Late last week we hit a spot of lake fishing. Try the olive bugger on a short strip. They'll eat it. If you start to get follows but no take, vary your retrieve until you find what get's 'em going.  A hare's ear under a tiny indicator will work too. Remember that they have a lot of time to check things out and 4x fluoro can help.

   If you don't like fly fishing in lakes, that's good. More for us.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blackfoot River Fly Fishing Report

The last few days on the Bitterroot river have been very good.  There is a little bump in the flows which should make the fly fishing even better. We had some very happy fly fishing clients last week and this coming week should be every bit as good.  There are a few march browns
out, BWOs and quite few skwalas.  If you can't get some of those picky risers to eat a skwala try a 16 parachute.  Adams, haze... Whatever    They'll eat it if you can present it right.
   We fished the Blackfoot River today for fun and it really wasn't that fun. I just couldn't bring myself to go to the Bitterroot on a sunny Saturday.  The h20 was pretty cold and the fish were pretty lethargic. I ripped a big streamer around for a few hours and had only a few grabs by smaller fish. One of us(who shall remain nameless) tied on a Le Juanita ( which is Spanish for the worm) and nailed a few small fish.  All in all it was not good.  Today is the first sunny day in a while and the river is on a slight rise. Never good.
   I heard some reports from the Clark Fork from this week.      Predator

Monday, March 25, 2013

Missoula Fly Fishing Report-Suckah!!!

                                              This could be your guide!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bitterroot River Fly Fishing Report, and how to freeze your ass off in Montana for fun and profit!

Fly Fishing in Montana is supposed to be fun. Today was just flat-out cold. Yeah, the fishing was fun and we caught a bunch of fish and some ate the big dry and there were mayflies and the fishing was good and... But it was really freakin' cold.   But the report goes like this: The river is in good shape, albeit a bit low. Every skwala that hatched last week is now frozen stiff. Tonight is supposed to be colder than last, so I would think that there will be even fewer skwalas than today. Which is like -1.  But the BWOs came off and there was some fishing to be had on top.  We got 'em on a skwala foamie and the good ol' Fromunda. A few ate a # 16 prince and a
            #16 p.t.   No funny flashy stuff, just a regular old p.t.

   I ran into the Hackle boys this morning and they were off to the Missouri. It was about 12 degress there when I checked the weather.  Best of luck to them and their pilgrims. I'm sure they had good fishin'.  Also, to the dude who gave me the sweet free hat today- Much respect.  Thanks.   Bald guys love hats.      Predator     

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Missoula Fly Fishing Report-Clark Fork and Bitterroot

   We finally fished the Clark Fork River yesterday. The fly fishing was good enough but the trout could have cared less about the dry fly. It just isn't ready for great dry fly fishing. Best flies: s.j. Worm and an olive bugger jig-twitched below an indicator. Yep, an indicator. We caught a few on the dry but it was like pulling teeth.   Blue-wings were out and there were a few fish on 'em.

   I guided the bitterroot river today. After the last day of insano weather I didn't think it would be as good as it was. We had a few dozen to the boat all on dries. We had to find the right h20 but when we did it worked.  It is unusual for the fishing to be this good  post cold snap. Yeehaw. If you fish the Bitterroot plan to put on late and just stick with the dry. Don't be a loser and nymph. Seriously, it's skwala time.   I can't believe how many pilgrims I see with pink balls tied on their leaders. There is a time and a place.  Late March on the bitterroot ain't it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Montana Fly FIshing Report and Rip-Rap

   Here's latest fly fishing report from here in Missoula, Montana.
Bitterroot River: Yeah, there are a few skwalas out. You will see more boats than bugs. The water is very low (buy your gel coat stuff in bulk)  and most of the fish are still lurking around their winter lies. They will eat a dry but it's spotty and you better make sure you present it right. No sloppy=more fishy! Since most of the fishermen out right now are guides waiting to work, that shouldn't be too tough. Should it?
  To say the fishing is good would be inaccurate. It ain't bad. Let's leave it at that.
                           CONTACT US

                                                       STEVENSVILLE PROJECT

Ever wonder why the Bitterroot seems to be getting filled in with gravel more and more? Is getting a 3-10 permit as simple as it seems? In the Bitterroot Valley, I would say YES! The project below Stevensville is only the latest in a long list of recent "stabilization" projects. If a guy builds a structure in the floodplain/floodway, he should assume responsibility for his actions!  Have a look at this if you want to know a little more about what's happening. Maybe it's time to question this practice in the Bitterroot Valley.

Read the whole thing here:

Learning to Go with the Flow
Streams and Bank Stabilization Spring 2002
One of the key ways that people impact Montana’s rivers and streams is by stabilizing their banks—more and more weirs, riprap, barbs, and other structures are lining our riverbanks. This publication is a quick guide to the most common bank stabilization structures being used in Montana. It describes what the structures look like, how they work, and lists their possible impacts on natural stream processes. Finally, it offers a series of practical actions that can help to preserve and, in some cases, improve the health of Montana’s precious waterways.
Streams and Rivers Need Room to Move
In order to understand how bank stabilization structures impact our rivers and streams, it is important to know the basics about how streams function. They are dynamic systems that are meant to flood—and they must have room to move. Stream corridors are a com- plex network of water, land, plants, and animals.
Many rivers and streams found in Montana’s val- leys and plains meander, sweeping and snaking across the landscape. If given space, the bends in meandering streams naturally and slowly migrate. This meandering tends to create a pattern in which outside bends are dominated by cut banks (caused by erosion), and inside bends are dominated by gravel bars (where sediment is deposited). This process, in combination with the moist, often wet soils and high water table found next to streams, creates a corridor called a riparian area.
A river’s floodplain is often defined by riparian veg- etation, which is adapted to growing in this dynamic system. Plants associated with riparian areas include cottonwoods, willows, dogwood, alder, sedges, forbs, and cattails. Healthy, functioning floodplains, with their full complex of riparian vegetation, serve many useful purposes, including:
• Reducing flood heights by soaking up, storing, and slowly releasing floodwaters; • Decreasing stream velocities and soil erosion; • Improving water quality by filtering and reduc- ing nutrients, pesticides, salts, sediments, organic wastes, and other pollutants running into our streams and, ultimately, our drinking water; and
• Providing the most diverse fish and wildlife habi- tat found in Montana.
Riprap, Rootwads, Revetments, and More
When someone buys a piece of land, they usually expect their property line to stay in the same place it was
Streams and Bank Stabilization 1on the day the land was purchased. If the piece of land is located on a stream or river, this principle does not work—because streams and rivers are dynamic: banks erode and material is deposited elsewhere, new chan- nels are cut, and old channels dry up. Although erosion is natural, erosion levels can be accelerated above natural rates because of human-caused activities, such as removal of riparian vegetation, bank stabilization, or upstream manipulation of stream channels. Increasingly, land- owners are turning to bank stabilization in an attempt to control streams to protect their property from both natural and human-caused erosion. Measures used to sta- bilize banks are generally classified into three categories: armor, channel structures, and vegetative methods.
Armor comes in two forms: bank armor and levees. Bank armor is a blanket of resistant material that is placed along the streambank, extending into the stream. Riprap is a common form of bank armor. When water hits the hard surface of riprap, the water cannot scour the riverbank, thus erosion is reduced. Levees are structures composed of rock or fill material constructed within the floodplain. They constrict and concentrate the erosive force of flood flows.
Channel structures are walls built into the active channel of a stream. Their purpose is to steer the fast- est portion of a stream’s current away from the eroding bank. Barbs, jetties, vanes, and weirs are in this category. These structures are sometimes favored over bank armor because they use less rock, can be less disruptive to natu- ral stream functions and riparian habitat, and can allow a stream to use more of its floodplain. Though channel structures can be less damaging than bank armor, they can contribute to a more serious problem because of the cumulative effects of channelization, discussed below.
Vegetative methods generally involve tree trunks fixed into banks at angles so that they redirect the swift- est portion of a stream’s current away from the bank. They also stabilize banks. Rootwads, tree revetments, and live vegetation are included in this category. Although rootwads and tree revetments are “softer” than riprap or channel structures, they fundamentally do the same thing: disrupt natural stream functions to reduce ero- sion of banks. Planting native riparian vegetation is the measure most in harmony with the natural functions of a stream.
The number, location, spacing, angle, size, and height of all of these structures vary, depending on the stream type and conditions, the landowner, and the consultant/engineer involved. The most common mate- rial used for bank armor and channel structures is large rock. In addition, gabions (defined below), concrete, logs, and (rarely) sand bags are used. Broken concrete is discouraged because it often contains toxic paint, petro- leum products, rebar, and similar contaminants that are illegal to place in Montana’s streams and rivers. In the past, car bodies and tires were used.
One Thing Leads to Another
Landowners use barbs, riprap, and other struc- tures to prevent rivers and streams from using their floodplains and changing their courses. While this may sound reasonable and harmless, the consequences for our rivers can be serious. While a few barbs or a short stretch of riprap will not significantly impact a stream, ten barbs in a row can turn a river to hit the opposite bank, a long stretch of riprap can cause serious erosion downstream, and the combination of many projects can cause channelization.
Currently there is increasing public attention focused on the way government agencies are allowing more and more bank structures to armor our river- banks. In 2000, a study done in Billings on the Yellow- stone River concluded that bank stabilization structures now cover 41% of the 30-mile research area, double the amount found in 1957. A similar study performed in 1998 on the Yellowstone River in Park County (Liv- ingston area), found that 21% or 22.2 miles of this portion of the river was lined by bank stabilization structures.
As more bank stabilization structures are built, both short-term and long-term consequences arise. In the short-term, stabilization measures tend to physi- cally stabilize one local stretch of riverbank or divert flows away from one bank to another. This can trigger increases in river flow velocities, exacerbate down- stream bank erosion, and lead to further instabilities downstream. In other words, preventing natural ero- sion at one location can significantly increase erosion downstream of the project. Therefore the “problem” is neither controlled nor solved, but merely relocated from one spot to another, negatively impacting down- stream landowners. Increased downstream erosion often causes affected landowners to put in structures to protect their property—and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
Over the long-term, bank stabilization can cause the channelization of our rivers and streams as flood- plains narrow or disappear, natural stream migration is prevented, and, ultimately, riparian vegetation does not regenerate. Channelization also impacts the health of rivers and streams by: exacerbating the severity, duration, and frequency of local flooding events and erosion downstream; preventing the maintenance and formation of sandbars and backwater areas; and degrading critical fish and other habitat required in aquatic systems. At a time when government agencies and the private sector are spending billions of dollars each year to address these issues, it seems “a penny wise and a pound foolish” to eliminate the natural features that provide these same services at practically no cost.

Sounds great.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bitterroot River Fly Fishing Report-Missoula, Montana

   Three of our guides fished the Bitterroot River yesterday. They called me mid-morning to tell me that the fly fishing was good and to share that they had just put the net on an honest 20" 'bow. It sounds like the day was spotty but they continued to land good fish all day. 
Best Fly: #12 Fromunda, which is one of RFO's creations.  It's basically a stone nymph. The fish seemed to be spread out a bit more than they were a week ago, and were looking to eat some bigger offerings.  A couple of nice fish ate a smaller gray streamer fish deep. It sounds like there really weren't too many bugs and certainly no skwala adults.
   I'd imagine that the Bitterroot will get pounded this weekend given the quality weather that is predicted.  I don't get why guys will launch a boat behind 5 others when the river is this low. It makes no freakin' sense. Best of luck to all of the #3, #4 and #5 boats. You're gonna need it. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Missoula Fly Fishing, Cold hands and too many cigars!

We fished the Bitterroot River yesterday. I think we all need to remember that it is way early in the skwala season. So here's the straight poop:
   We did catch a number of very nice trout. Were there Skwalas? Nope. We saw some smaller stones and the midge hatch was strong. The fish were up midging in the right spots, but they were tricky. There was a reasonable streamer bite but which was surprising considering that the h2o was really cold. This dingbat broke off a dandy on the hookset, but I eventually settled in and nailed some nice ones.
   We took plenty of trout on larger stone nymphs. The whities seem to have thinned out.  I think that fish have begun to spread out a little bit. We took fish in spots that were barren a week ago.  TJ was behind us somewhere, trapped in that amazing rainstorm. I hope he made it through.

When the sun popped out it was downright pleasant. This shot was taken just before all hell broke loose. Fly fishing in Montana is always dicey in the spring, but the pay-offs are worth it.

To my fishing partners from yesterday: Don't let me smoke that many cigars again. I awoke to a stuffy nose and a sore throat.

A nice Bitterroot River rainbow.  Missoula is the place to be.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Skwalas on the Bitterroot River. (just kidding)

First Montana Fly Fishing Experience!
    J.M.'s first cast ever yielded this 20" brown trout on the Bitterroot river on Mar. 2nd. Unbelievable.  Same story as earlier this week; some capnia, midges and no skwalas.  There have been a handful of the big bugs spotted, but hardly enough to make a trout get goofy for them. Our best fly yesterday was a #10 skwala nymph that I tie.  It was a great way to kick off the 2013 guiding season.

   I heard tell of a two-footer that was caught on the Bitterroot River yesterday.  NO CAMERA=NO PROOF!  It came from a very reputable source so I believe it.  The weather was perfect for those big browns to be out and about.
But the river is REALLY low . As soon as we get a bump in flows it should
                                      really get cranking.  We have a few spots left for March. I think the fishing will solid beginning by about the 12th.            

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bitterroot River Fly Fishing (sort of)

Bitterroot River today!
The Bitterroot River fished fairly well today. The dry fly fishing was non-existent and we had to get  a little dirty to get 'em.  So it goes...
   Bug life was surprisingly abundant, with capnia, midges and even a traveling sedge making an appearance. Our best fly was three feet below all of these insects. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?  I would say that any sort of real dry fly fishing is about 10 days out. I would be very skeptical of any stories to the contrary.
   After catching 10,000 whitefish, we managed to dig out at least a half dozen nice trout. It may have been more. It's hard to tell when you are nearly hypothermic, but really the point is that we went fishing.
   The weather is supposed very mild this weekend with temps in the low 60's on saturday. With weather like that the adult skwalas will be out very soon.    Predator

Monday, February 25, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing - Filming with Joe Rossi and Jana Waller

Filming and episode of Joe's Wildside Adventures in western Montana

The fly fishing was awesome and we really had a ball with Joe.  Our thanks to Jana Waller and Jim Kinsey from SkullboundTV. You can find Wildside Adventures and Skullbound on the Sportsman's Channel.    Enjoy!       Oh yeah, we're gonna hit the Bitterroot on wednesday. Stay tuned fer da report.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Montana Fly FIshing in February. #8 Dries!!! 2/20

 The Missouri River was great again from the dam down to Craig, Montana.   Even I managed to get a day on the water with one of our guides and the fishing was epic.  Taking turns on the oars, we landed about three dozen trout in the 6 hours that we fish.  We nymphed for about 15 minutes and then switch to a dry/dropper. A few fish came to a smaller streamer as well.  One brown trout absolutely crushed a foam skwala dry. This has got to be the first trout caught on a skwala this year! I think he was a bit dim. To top it all off, we were the ONLY boat on that stretch. Rare.  But the wind kept most of the other clowns home watching daytime soaps. Guided trips start in a week and I can't wait to get in the boat again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Montana Dry Fly Fishing is NOW!

Montana is not necessarily know for its February fly fishing. Missoula tends to be milder than much of the rest of the state and that means rising trout! One of our guides was wade-fishing the Clark Fork yesterday and caught several prime rainbows on top. What a treat to be catching fish on dry flies this early. What most folks don't know is that this happens right about now, every year. It's awesome to see the Clark Fork River getting back to the insane fly fishing river that it was prior to the removal of Milltown Dam. Rainbow and Cutthroat trout recruitment seems to be very good, resulting in an improving fishery. It's still my favorite. So what's next on the CF? Skwalas are about 5-6 weeks out, the midging should continue through Feb. and March and a little bugger action should begin any day. As for me, I'm off to the Missouri on friday for a little itch-scratchin'. I can't wait to start throwing the big dries around in March. Predator

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fishing on the Bitterroot River was SWEET today!

Fly Fishing in February can be a tricky proposition. Dry fly fishing in the Missoula area seems a long way off. Often one is left to fly fish the ugly way; with a nymph. Today was different. The sun was out this morning and you could tell that it was going to be a great day to fish in Montana. The clouds rolled in after the weather had warmed and the trout were very responsive. We took several healthy rainbow underwater (the ugly way) and took a few more on the surface. The risers were sporadic to say the least, but they rose to our offerings quite nicely. The Bitterroot is a great river when one is one foot. Guides forget that the best way to fish a river is on foot. Things go by so nice and slow when you're just "hangin' out" on the bank, waiting on a fish. We flipped a few rocks and found but one skwala nymph. He looked really cold. Predator

Friday, February 15, 2013

Welcome to the New RFO Site

Missoula fly fishing has begun! We will begin our guided trips in the next couple of weeks and the excitement is palpable. In the meantime, we will be putting the finishing touches on the new website. I must give huge credit to Blue Mountain Web Design for another outstanding job. Thank you! The Missouri was very good this week with the mild temps. Loads of risers up on midges and the sub-surface fishing was great on the good old rainbow czech, purple zebra and a smaller amex. The Bitterroot has been coming to life too. P.T.s, SJ worm and some smaller midge stuff has been effective. The water has come up just a bit so it shouldn't be long before the skwala nymphs begin moving to the shallows. IT'S ALMOST TIME! So have a peek at the new site. We think it's pretty cool. Stay tuned to this blog for the straight poop on fishing conditions , as well as hilarious stories about our days on the Montana waterways. Never a dull moment. Predator