Summer time is rolling toward western MT fisheries faster by the day. Rivers are still pretty full but my oh my this is when I want to be out on it. Don't wait until the tap is nearly dry and every weekend party floater thinks its time to hit your area river : GET OUT ON IT NOW.
The Bitterroot and Big Hole are both holding at or below the 25th percentile historically which means they are about as prime as you will ever see. Juicy mid-summer flows right now, fish are not quite moved to the hard sides but they will be holding there soon. How long will our snow hold out this year? Hard to say. Our snowpack is low but overall precipitation is right on average: We have been getting our moisture in rain instead of snow this year and we are hoping it holds up. It is pouring outside the farmhouse as I write this and the rest of the week looks to be the same conditions. (Green Drakes ??? ) Optimism reigns supreme for me based on our cool spring so far, way wetter and lower temps then we had same time last season. Keeping the faith that the clouds will come and the fish will bite is good medicine for any fish junkie.
Fishing on the Bitterroot has been good to quite good the last week on the surface. Big dryflies have been effective from first cast to last, or until the fish give up eating because they are just too damm stuffed with stoneflies to eat another bite. This time of year minimal mending is necessary : Takes are so aggressive that as soon as the fly hits some pockets its is assaulted by a ravenous Rainbow. Or Cutthroat. Or even a giant Brownie here are there. This time of year (Disclaimer : Guide Rambling To Follow!) I feel I see more big Browns on the upper river than any other time of year. Big low-river fish pushing upstream to pack themselves full of giant Salmonbugs before sulking out a summer being little finicky buggers. Just some campfire talk to throw around at the next backyard BBQ.
As for the Salmonflies . Salmonflies, Salmonflies, Salmonflies.
They are still here despite what some recent rumors would suggest. Although this hatch does move upstream like wildfire, peaking in just a matter of days and then subsiding, there are still enough of the bright orange critters in the bushes to be a prime trout snack. Hitting a Salmonfly hatch right is a hard proposition, one which takes many folks a few trips out to western Montana to finally see in all its glory. Or you just back right into the best hatch in years thanks to lower-tha-average-runoff flows and you're ruined forever. I have had some of the best dry fly days I can remember within the last week. That hot-as-bacon-sizzling-castiron doesn't last forever on the big bug but there are options. Like throwing a Salmonfly a size smaller than all the rest of the trout-hunters are throwing. There are baby Slamonflies out there and the trout eat them just as readily. Instead of the whopper #4's dial it back to an #8 Rouge and sling it bank side. There's plenty more fish to fall on the Salmon before the rest of summers hatches hit us. Hit it this week hard and hold on.