Blog Posts In golden stones

There and Back Again, and Loving it.

Contributing Writer: Laurie KirkImageMy 13th Montana Vacation started in full swing last Saturday with a float of the Big Hole the day after my arrival in southwest Montana.  The weather was unsettled, but the day was spectacularly beautiful. ImageWestern tanagers worked the bank eating golden stones while PMD's, Caddis and Green Drakes hatched intermittently throughout the day.  We worked the water and brought up some very healthy trout who eagerly took the fly on the surface.  What a perfect way to start my time here!Image

Salmon Flies, Mayflies, and Caddis!


Fishing is great right now.  The river is absolutely gorgeous, with clear water and perfect flows.  The salmon flies are out, along with the goldens, but the most numerous of the stoneflies are currently the yellow sallies.


        All six boats reported good fishing today from the top of the Big Hole down to Jerry Creek.  From what I hear the fishing from Divide down through the lower river has been good as well.  Get out there!

Goldens and Sallies

High above the 4th of July boat hatch on the Big Hole, was a healthy Yellow Sally hatch and several big Golden Stones yesterday.  My sisters fished a big golden most of the day and brought several fish to the fly, despite the steady boat traffic.

Today is cloudy and cool, which should bring on the drakes and blue winged olives.

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!

Training a Guide Dog

Lanette and I rarely get to fish once the season gets going so we figured it was a good idea to train a new guide to row when we did get the opportunity.

Unfortunately, Kali quickly decided she's way more into fishing, and mainly catching (we're still working on teaching the 'release').

The river was on the rise, and we happened to be floating as it peaked.  Fishing is always tough with a rising river because the fish are trying to figure out why their holding water is rapidly changing around them.

We threw salmon flies and golden stones into the channels and back eddies.

We didn't catch anything of any size, but we didn't get skunked either. It was good to be in the sun and on the water.

More Rumors than Bugs are Flying

This year's prediction of 'when the big bugs will pop' is paying out more in Vegas than 'Tim Tebow's virginity loss date'.


Last week there were whispers that the salmon flies had started on the lower Big  Hole Hole, but that may have been a crafty ploy to clear boats out of the upper river.  I do know this cold weather (snow through last weekend and below freezing in the Beaverhead Valley last night) will set the hatch back.   The goldens were out the end of last week and the river looked ready to pop until this storm system rolled through.
All it will take now are a few warm days and we ought to be in business.  The water is clear and at a great level.