Monday, March 6, 2017

Missoula, Montana Fly Fishing Report 3/6/17


   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.

   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.

   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. 

   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. 

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. 

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.

So here it is:
Current Montana snowpack:

Current Montana stream flows:

Precipitation outlook 2017 (from NOAA)

"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.

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