It’s been a snowy cold start to spring in Southwest Montana. Even though the birds are churping and the days are getting longer, the guides on the rods are frozen some days and you still see the flakes of snow falling from the sky at times. We are not finding Skwallas hatching yet on the lower Big Hole. We have been throwing streamers and nymphs with some success lately. The floats we have been doing have all been on the stretches below Melrose. It is a little warmer on the stretches of river below Melrose. Water temperatures have been in the 30’s and some days creep into the 40’s, which turns on the fishing. A few ice shelves are still around but the lower Big Hole is shaping up and the fishing will be improving as things warm up to spring conditions. A bit of ice around the boat launches but we have been using Salmonfly, Brownes Bridge access and Glen lately.
The Beaverhead River is one of the tailwaters in the state that remains ice free this time of year. The river is a bit off color today around Dillon. Clark canyon is 88% full right now and we haven’t even had any snowmelt entering the reservoir. This is all good news for the fishing season on the Beaverhead. Winter releases from clark canyon have also been better this year, which keeps the fish healthy. Remember if you are going to fish the Beaverhead that you must remain from Pipe Organ Bridge downstream until the 3rd Saturday of May. The upper river is closed to protect the rainbows while they spawn. It is mainly nymphing right now on the Beaverhead with midge patters, worms, and slow moving deep streamers.
Even though is is officially still winter the days are getting longer and spring will be here soon. It has been a good winter in the Big Hole valley as far as snow is concerned. Many of the drainages are sitting around 130% of snowpack for this date in time. We will know more how our summer flows will be based on how the snowmelt occurs and spring rain/snow events. The current conditions on the Big Hole are rather winter like. Around Melrose we still have shelf ice and ice jams. The weather looks like it is gradually warming later this week. As soon as the ice melts around Melrose and south of Melrose we will start fishing. Check back for fishing reports. As soon as we hit the water we will let you know. We are all itching for some Skwala hatch fishing next month.