A bit nervous about my guide day tomorrow, I decided to jump in the boat with my two head oar monkeys, Chris and Alex. These guys were on about a fifteen mile excursion on the Bitterroot and were kind enough to let me partake in about five of those miles in the time that I had. They even had cold beer waiting for me, bless their hearts.
Slow but steady, we found fish holding in the rears and insides of the runs where softer water is found. Not too many came off the hard banks, but when they did they charged hard and impulsive, making for tricky timing on the hook sets. In other words, I missed most of those bastards or lost them after the surprise of the strike. The boys dinged a few good ones, though, and gave me confidence in the stretch I plan to guide tomorrow.
Dropping me off at my get out point, I bid farewell as the boys drift off into the cottonwoods and log jams awaiting for the final few miles of their drift. Evening clouds are finally coming so their fishing should only get better as things are cooling off and darkening up. I pack up and start to get my head in the game for tomorrow; it should be a good day out there.
Runoff is here to stay, so it looks. I believe we have seen the peak of the high water barring some serious rainfall, so a couple boats worth of us gave her a shot Monday. Big and cold as we figured, the Bitterroot looked pretty good as we set out from Veteran’s bridge on the north end of Hamilton. Headed for Tucker crossing, we planned to fish streamers and nymphs as no dry fly activity is anticipated for a while on this river. With beautiful blue skies and bright warm sunshine, the streamer bite was slow if not non existent for my boat for much of the day.
Nymphing it up a bit after some time with no swipes on the big bug, I was able to ding a handful of fish from some obvious runs. With the water big right now, casts are long and weight is heavy to get that thing down to where the fish are holding. One may have to cast a good twenty feet above your spot and mend the hell out of it to reach the goods. Once I found the drifts, though, there were good bows and a few whiteys packed in to those runs. I pretty much ran the same drifts over and over once I found a fish, and continued to hook up in the exact lie every time.
As our day wore on and the Ranier ran low, we finally found some fish willing to participate with the streamer gig. Eating it slow and deliberate and sometimes on a back dredge, a few good browns and even a small bull trout took advantange of our bugs. We had success on a whole series of patterns, from dull black to flashy white, but not enough to nail down one particular pattern as their favorite that day.
Well, the river is making some bumps and the fishing is getting less predictable as we move away from the early conditions of this spring. The March Browns and Skwalas are giving way to caddisflies as May gets started, and finding rising fish is getting trickier as water levels fluctuate. To look back at the early season, it was definitely one to remember. Starting in mid March one could find Skwala risers pretty frequently, and by the end of that month it was on fire on stones and mayflies. We never got slammed by the early bumps of the river, which provided perfect conditions for both aforementioned critters to hatch profusely and bring up the fish en masse. This river definitely produces world class hatches and blue ribbon fishing all the way.
Montana Fly Fishing Guide Service and Float Trips Hamilton, Montana