May 17th ’19 Big Hole River Fishing Report – Big brown trout.

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May 17th ’19 – Big Hole River Fishing Report – Big river, big trout. And some rain.

Flows on the Big Hole have been on a gradual climb for the past week, and we are seeing the big brown trout activity increase due to an abundance of worms, bugs, and other fish on the menu. Our guides have been consistently putting quality fish in the boat, with more each day. That includes a few really big brown trout! They, along with most other anglers, have been focusing their efforts on the portion of the river upstream of the Wise River confluence. The Wise is adding color to the water, however visibility is still half-decent even down here in Melrose. Now is great time to hire a guide on the Big Hole river, as it is typically the best shot at hooking a big brown trout and also a slightly more difficult time to fish the river without a guide. 

A big, bushy dry fly with a worm or girdle bug below has been a consistent fish catcher throughout the last week, with around 3’ between the bugs. Streamer fishing has been making an impact as well, with some very nice trout being fooled by sculpin and minnow imitations. Other anglers are using a small streamer to lead their nymph rig under a bobber and having great success. 

Dry fly anglers are being kept honest at the moment, and with that being said, we have had some of the finest trout of the day come up for the dry fly recently. There are a number of skwala stones still crawling around, with the march brown mayflies hatching intermittently. The blue winged olive mayflies will be kicking into gear soon, and with a slight drop in flows we will see fish up in the right spots soon enough.

Flows have passed 5k at Maiden Rock, and we strongly recommend not floating below Jerry Creek unless you have a qualified oarsmen and are looking for more of an experience. We have enough visibility to have solid fishing down on the lower river, however the bite has been tough to put a finger on. Focusing on slower seams and slough edges will be the best bet on the middle and lower portions of the Big Hole. We have rain in the forecast for the near future, and we are expecting the worm and minnow bite to be solid for quite a while throughout the river system.

Cooler nights are on the way, and we are genuinely excited about the next few weeks leading into salmonfly season. The flows are starting to stabilize, and we are hoping to see the middle and lower portions of the Big Hole come back into play during the week. For now, we are offering guides and shuttles on the upper river, so please give us a shout if you are interested in either at 406-835-3474!

-Dan Soltau, Shop Manager

Call 406-835-FISH for the latest word from the river!


#6 Mini Dungeon in Black, Olive, & White
#4 Sparkle Minnow
#4 Little Kim Copper
#6 Girdle Bug in Black & Coffee Variant
#4 Flash Minnow
#8 Chubby Chernobyl (UV) (Gold) (Purple)

#6 Zonker in White & Natural over Copper
#8 Jig Squirmy Wormy
#10 Ninch’s Fish Finder Worm Burgundy
#10 Heavy P Nymph
#6 Danny Boy Sculpin
#2 DWFCo Walter’s Weakness is Black & Olive & Silver & Tan

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Co-owner and outfitter Ryan Barba putting Lynn, a favorite client of ours on a true trophy brown trout from just a few days back near Jerry Creek on the Big Hole River.


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