While over on the Missouri River last week, I saw several pods of rising trout. Even now, the weather forecast on the Mo' looks to be warmer than average and the fishing should be pretty good.
In the Missoula area, cold air has settled in the valleys rendering fly fishing impractical and futile.
I just took a look at snowpack numbers from around Montana; just out of curiosity, time-wasting and boredom. There's definitely some snow in the high country, but there isn't much at lower elevations. Yeah, yeah, it's way too early to make any real predictions but I was bored, and my computer was on. Most guides would have been searching something more more deviant and perverse. But not me.
There is some good fishing to be had around the state of Montana. Yes, there are some major fires burning and there are some hoot-owl restrictions in place, but the fishing is good and the crowds are gone. Also, the weather has been cool enough that the hoards of inner-tubers have dissipated. It is likely that they are home patching their tubes in preparation for next summer. I still contend that the daily inner-tuber is among the lowest life-forms on the planet. So there.
Its been good up there! We're still playing around with terrestrials in the afternoons. Tricos have been getting stronger each day and the moths are all but gone. Look to bigger dries (nocturnal stones are out) in the morning, and then move on to hoppers/ants/beetles. The size 12 and 14 p.t. is a good bet for a dropper. The water is low, but cold.
CLARK FORK RIVER-
We've been running boats on the lower river. The Superior area is brutally smoky, so go elsewhere. Foam in purple and pink has been good. The 12 prince will help out in the afternoons. The water is warm so plan to revive a few fish. Ants and hoppers, along with the purple haze, are good bets. Play the outer foam lines.
We've been down on the lower river a bit this month. Slender black buggers fished deep will get fish in the a.m. and the hopper will get it done in the afternoons. There are plenty of stone shucks at the water line so bring your foam stones. We found that the twitch has been key to getting fish up. Look to the heavy insides and the messy outer seams. There hasn't been a reason to tie on a nymph!
Its a bit weedy. Thats nothing new. If your a nymph dork, then the dam is the place to go. Lower on the river you can toss smaller hoppers and ants, after you mess around with the morning tricos. The hopper bite has been spotty, but it will continue to improve over the next four weeks. Fishing a dropper isn't futile, but it will prove frustrating with the weeds.
The fly fishing rivers of Montana should be in good shape this year, as there is ample snow in the high country and more falling each day. Yes, we're all sick and tired of gray and drizzle and cold. Yes, we're all ready to jump back in the boats and poke around on the Bitterroot, looking for a few risers willing to smash a dry. But for now, we'll hang tight and watch the final death throes of what has been a LONG winter.
"Forecast confidence is moderate for eastern Oregon and western Montana.
Long-term drought continues across the high Plains of eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. A slight tilt the odds for above-median precipitation is forecast for this region from March through May. 30 to 40 percent of annual precipitation typically occurs during this three month period. Based on these factors, drought removal is forecast."
So it all looks fairly good for the upcoming season. So there. Now go nymph.
DON"T YOU EAT THAT YELLOW SNOW! CLARK FORK RIVER FLY FISHING REPORT It's still a bit dirty from the rain this weekend. The upper Clark is looking better as far as water quality, but as the ice walls melt they will sling tons of COLD water into the system. It’s still winter in much of the western half of Montana. Go nymph in front of the Double Tree- it's the best "locals only" spot in the valley. Try San Juans, Eggs, Double Bead Stones, Rubberlegs and Princes. I heard from several local anglers that the #12 Pillow-Biter was far and away the best bet. Fish aren’t moving far to chase a streamer at this point.
MISSOURI RIVER FLY FISHING REPORT
The fishing is good on the Missouri River right now. You should be able to get it done throughout the entire system, so don't feel like you have to go row around in circles at the dam. Work the slow stuff with the good old amex, pillow-biters, rainbow czechs, clown-pounders, black zebras and maybe even some hot-beads. You can always fish the margins with a dry/dropper and pick off some nice fish. You can pull smaller streamers slow and low and get a few whacks. Think small and brown/olive/black. ROCK CREEK FLY FISHING REPORT Do you want to build a snowman? The Creek is fishing well at this time, but it’s definitely still winter. There will be some nice rainbows beginning to head up for the spring spawn. Double nymph rigs are still the way to go with San Juans, Double Bead Stones, PT’s, Russin River stones,and Princes all getting eaten. Deep swinging streamers below the riffles will get you into a few nice fish. Black or Brown buggers are great colors this time of year for streamers. Just watch out for ice shelves giving way when you're walking around. BITTERROOT RIVER FLY FISHING REPORT It’s still winter in western Montana. Skwalas aren't out. As long as you see flat-brims with bandaged knuckles, you can rest assured that the snowboarding is better than the fishing. We’ve seen a few nymph’s under the rocks, but you won't see an adult until things warm up. It’s all about nymphing right now and getting your bugs down and into the right water. S.J.Ws and Rubberlegs will make you feel like a real angler, whilst remembering that the best Thingamabobber color is pink. Always use pink! Keep your bugs slow and low. We also really like a black zebra and a red Larva-lace midge, as you will likely see oodles of midges on the nice days. Capnia and Nemoura will probably begin to show up soon. It can't hurt to have a few bugs in your bugs that imitate these early stones. BLACKFOOT RIVER FLY FISHING REPORT It's the same story on the Blackfoot River- cold, and wintery. Look to the winter water to find the bulk of the fish. It's the same recipe as the other rivers. www.flyfishmissoula.com
Typically we have good dry fly fishing by March 15 on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork. Great fishing is happening now on the Missouri. Give us a call to talk about last minute options for your spring fishing.
Here are some links about what the conditions look like for 2017