River Reports and Photos

WHO you lookin' at?

I'm sure he spotted me long before I spotted him, but he was nice enough to pose for a drive-by on the way to the Beaverhead yesterday.  Apparently, this gigantic Grey Owl has been hanging out near Crystal Park for years and is quite friendly.

The Hatch is On!

The bugs are out from the bottom of the river all the way up to Dicky Bridge! Reports say fishing is great and fish are smacking dries.  Dad is on the river so i'll have a better report tonight.

Orvis' Friday Film Festival 6/15/12

The Best Fishing Footage on the web!

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Shoulda been here.....tomorrow!

Tommy woke up with a bad case of "I need to be ready for work Monday" after our Saturday on the Bitterroot, and he headed back to Great Falls.  Nick and I ventured out into the mid-40's weather and hoped the salmon flies would start on the Big Hole.

With the cold temps and heavy cloud cover, the bugs remained underwater, but were lined up on the banks awaiting a temperature rise.

Nick threw dries anyway and was able to get fish to eat goldens that he'd been tying diligently back in Brooklyn.

Wouldn't you know it....the day he flew back to NYC the sun came out and the hatch went off.  Get back here next year.....and take more time off!

One of these is alive....

One is Nick's salmon fly nymph, one is Tommy's girdle-bug, and one is about to crawl back into the water.  Tough for a fish to differentiate in the swift waters of the Bitterroot!

The Salmon Flies Have Hatched

On Tuesday, the salmon flies were in the grass and now they are basking in the sun and dodging tanagers and trout.

The boat hatch is on too with all of this great fishing, so claim your spot!

Sweetening up the Bitterroot

Nick Scuibba lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan (for Ralph), and fishes in PA whenever he can.  Six years ago he and his father fished the Bitterroot as novices.  Last year, he fished the Big Hole as an accomplished angler, using mostly flies he had tied himself.

He called me back in March and said he needed his Western fix.  As usual, Montana's late spring weather was completely unpredictable as his trip grew near.  However, last week set up to be prime Salmon Fly weather.  Then it snowed.  Then it warmed to 80. And then it snowed again.

Tom and I picked him up on the late flight in Butte and headed to Wise River to plan our weekend.  At one AM, the plan was, "Tomorrow, we float the Big Hole....60 MILES!"
The alarm at 7 am brought clarity, and at the sight of snow in the hills, we decided to go to the Bitterroot where it would hopefully be warmer.

It wasn't.  There was driving snow on the pass, and a plane down in the road.  Luckily, an hour later the clouds lifted and we were on the West Fork catching cutthroat.

At lunch, Tom rolled over a boulder just off the bank and found these guys awaiting the signal to crawl out and hatch into their adult Salmon Fly form.

He put on a heavy Salmon Fly nymph and sure enough:

Between tangled lines and side-arm casts, a reckless display of rowing, a runaway boat ending in a flying leap-and-catch, and a few beautiful cutties, there was no shortage of laughter on that trip.  Couldn't have had a better day if we'd tried.

Just before dark, we headed over the hill to soak in the Elkhorn Hot Springs and plan our next day on the Big Hole.

Matt Cain's Perfect Game

For those of you who were on the river late, last night Matt Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in the history of the MLB and the first in Giants franchise history.  Almost as amazing was that our chef, Lanette, called a no-hitter in the third inning.

Pull Over, I'm Coming Down!

On our way to the West Fork of the Bitterroot Saturday, we encountered this scene at the top of Lost Trail Pass:

The pilot  had just refueled at the Hamilton airport and was headed south. Near the top of Lost Trail, he encountered heavy weather. He told first responders that a sudden downdraft forced him into a canyon. As he attempted to bank out of the canyon, the plane came down and "skipped" across Highway 93. The pilot walked away.


Slinging (streamers) in the Rain

Long time Big Hole Lodge guide, Allen Baker, and I fished together the year before I started guiding in 2006 and it is still the best day of fishing I've ever had on the Big Hole.  We caught six fish over 18" and one 23", in addition to a load of average sized trout.  We haven't been able to fish together much since, and we jumped on the opportunity Tuesday.

It is a sin to leave a seat in the boat open, especially in a valley where log cabin has waders hanging on the porch and a fly rod behind the door.  So we invited Allen's neighbor and friend, Ward, for a day in the intermittent rain on the upper river.

We fished for two hours without a bump, prompting Ward to ask,  "How have we not seen a fish with two guides in the boat?"

There were caddis in the back-eddies and golden stones in the willow, air, and on the boat, but not a fish could be seen feeding on top.

We stuck to the naval assault with massive streamers and yuk-bugs, and when that proved ineffective we tried smaller streamers and trailer nymphs.  Suffice it to say, by evening we'd tried everything and had only caught a handful of small fish each.

Allen caught the fish of the day, about a 14" brownie on a streamer.

When we arrived home and opened the computer, the problem became clear.  The river had been swiftly rising and cooling all day.  Fish do not respond well to abrupt change, and with storm system after storm system bouncing the barometric pressure around, the fish were hunkered down waiting for stability.

At least that's as good of an excuse I as I can come up with!