Spring Warm Weather: A.K.A. Blown River

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Warm weather this time of year in Southwest Montana always comes with some sacrifices…  A.K.A – a blown out river.  We had a great weekend of fishing with Skwalla dries as well as good streamer fishing, but we are now paying the price for our first taste of true spring weather.  The river has taken a hefty jump in flows due to the two days of warm weather that we had.  The good news, if you can call it good news, is that it is snowing and cold again.  The upper river near Wisdom has already started to drop and we should see the rest of the river start to drop in the next 24 hours.  The river should start to fish again either tomorrow or Wednesday.  The clarity will come back as soon as it drops, and the fishing will get back to where it was. 

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Fishing on the Lower Big Hole River Winter on the Upper River

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Good Weather today.  Should be a nice Spring day to be on the Big Hole.  We are still sticking to the stretches below Melrose right now.  It is just to darn cold up the river.  I went for a drive last night to check it out up there and it seems like February on the upper Big hole.  With a Montana snowpack of 120% we are going to have excellent water this year on the Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers.  We are floating in our drift boats on every stretch below Melrose with good Skwala dry fly action and the nymphing and streamer fishing has been solid.  Look for the Skwala hatch heating up this week as water temperatures reach 45-47 degrees.  2 -3 feet of visability right now.

Remember our spring special ends May 15th.  $500.00 for 3nights lodging and 2 days of guided fishing!

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Spring Fishing Update

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Everything here on the Big Hole seems to be staying about the same.  The weather pattern seems to be holding steady with daily highs in the high 40’s and lows in the mid 20’s.  The mountains have been getting moisture almost every day, but the river valley has been staying relatively dry.

For fishing this means that we have been seeing, and will probably continue to see about the same conditions.  The river flows are getting a nightly bump, but dropping during the daytime hours and averaging around 1200 cfs.  The river temps are ranging between 37 degrees and 45 degrees.  We’ve still been getting fish to come up and eat Skwallas with good frequency, while the nymphing with Stone Fly Nymphs, San Juan Worms, and small Mayfly Nymphs has been very consistent.  We’ve also noticed that the fish have been chasing streamers a little more aggressively in the last few days.

Remember our spring special ends May 15th.  $500.00 for 3nights lodging and 2 days of guided fishing!

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Get out While it’s Warm

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First busy Saturday here at the Sunrise Fly Shop.  After another winter storm, the weather is warming up nicely here this morning.  The warmer weather has brought people out of the house.  Highs in the mid forties and warming up to 50 by monday will get the fishing back on track.  Look for Skwala dry fly fishing to be good in the afternoons on the Big Hole River.  The hatch has just started on the lower river.  We have been getting them on top on the lower river.  Skwalas have not been hatching above Melrose yet.  Nymphing will be solid in the tailouts of runs and on the soft banks.  Our Big Hole River guides are off the river today but Sam Wyke is here this weekend.  Sam is one of the owners of the Big R Fly Shop up in Great Falls, Montana.  This is a great fly shop and good guys in the industry.

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2011 Salmonfly Prediction

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Salmon Flies are maybe the most impressive of all the insects that we get on the Big Hole River.  These orange and black behemoths can grow to over two inches, and during early to mid June are crawling on every willow on the Big Hole.  These oversized flying bugs are such an amazing meal for the fish, that nearly every trout in the river is looking up just waiting for a Salmon Fly to hit the water.

There is nothing in the world like throwing a 2 inch dry fly along a cut-bank under an overhanging willow, making the perfect mend to keep the fly tucked tight to the bank, and then seeing the mouth of a twenty-plus inch brown trout come up and grab your foam imitation.  It is am exhilarating experience that every angler should experience at least once in his or her life.

With the amount of snow that we have in the mountains during this 2011 spring, and the temperatures that we have seen so far this spring, we are predicting that the Salmon Fly hatch will be arriving slightly later than usual.  Having said that, predicting the timing of the Salmon Fly hatch is nothing more than a blind guess, but our Big Hole River Guides think that June 13th to June 26th sounds like a probable prediction to me.  Contact us today to book your trip.

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Big Hole Report

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Even though it is still winterlike out there, we are having good solid spring fishing.  Today was our first guided trip on the Big Hole River and it went quite well.  Plenty of trout keeping our rods bent right now.  Mainly a nymphing game right now on the Big Hole.  Look  for some dry fly fishing when it warms up later this week.  We are staying below Melrose right now, The fishing is much better on the lower river due to warmer conditions. We have guided trips the rest of the week so we will keep you posted on the fishing.

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No April Foolin’

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Sunrise Fly Shop is opening it’s doors for the 2011 fishing season On Friday April 1st.  We are looking forward to a great season in Southwest Montana.  Snowpack in the Big Hole River and Beaverhead River drainage are well over 115% of normal.  Currently, Clark Canyon reservoir is over 90% full.  The season starts with the Skwala hatch on the Big Hole River.  We will keep you up to date throughout the spring to the progress of the hatch.  Look for an updated Big Hole River fishing report starting April 1st.

We have already had some good fishing on the Big Hole below Melrose, it has just been darn cold still.  The river is ice free below Melrose and once we get a few more day time highs in the upper 40’s to lower 50’s fishing will improve.  Get that gear ready, and start to think  about booking your trip with our Big Hole River guides and Southwest Montana River Guides at the Sunrise Fly Shop.

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Ice Jam Thaw

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Winter has been harsh in Southwest Montana this year.  Plenty of snow with bitterly cold temperatures.  The snowpack in looking great for this years fishing season.  The Big Hole / Beaverhead drainages are @ 109% snowpack for this date in time, and we still have another couple months to gain more snow in the high country.  The big story this winter has been the ice jams on the rivers.  The Big Hole River, Beaverhead River, Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin Rivers have all had major ice jamming events this winter.  This has created some low valley flooding at times, and scouring of the banks and rivers.  Last week a rancher on the Big Hole River lost several cows due to a break in the ice, the cattle fell through and were lost to the frozen river.

Day time temperatures are now getting above freezing which is starting to break up the ice on our rivers.  We will start to get some days of productive fishing later this month.  With the healthy snowpack we are looking ahead to another great late summer fishing season.  August will be filled with great terrestrial hopper fishing with good water flows.  August has been an overlooked month of Southwest Montana fishing in high water years.  Take advantage of this in 2011, our Big Hole River guides and Beaverhead River guides will make a memorable fishing trip for you!

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Montana Stream Access / HB309 Update

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House Bill 309 is an attempt to modify Stream Access Law in Montana  by modifying the term ‘ditch.’  Montana has one of the best Stream Access Laws in the Country, it is about to be stripped if we do not act now.

FOAM (Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana) has these strong opposition points to House Bill 309:

1) A live, flowing braid or channel can be defined as a ditch if there is any kind of control structure at the head of the live channel, including ‘natural features incorporated into the water conveyance system’;

     2) Recreational access is available only with landowner’s permission on water bodies created at least in part by waters diverted from a natural water body where the diverted water is the principal source of water in the water body – think about low flows in August and September and the many Montana rivers and streams with side channels and braids that have diversion structures on them where return flow could be considered the ‘principle source of water’ in the river or stream.

#2 above could potentially turn side-channels of rivers, streams, and possibly whole rivers into ditches where recreational use is allowed only with landowner permission.

This Bill if passed will be a huge detriment for recreational fishing on Southwest Montana’s Rivers and Streams.  The hearing for house Bill 309 is Tuesday, March 8 in room 303 (Old Supreme Court Chambers in Helena) starting at 3:00p.m. Be there to speak your voice!    

Stay up to date on Facebook. @ Montana Coalition for Stream Access.

 

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Chasing the Salmonfly Hatch: Big Hole River Part II

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Trout pack on the pounds during the Big Hole River Salmonfly hatch.  It is not uncommon to catch a trout and see Salmonflies crawling out of their gills.  There are three stages of the Salmonfly: egg, nymph, and adult.  These creatures of nature will live for 2 – 4 years as a nymph before they become an adult.   Several factors need to occur before these flies emerge as adults.  The Salmonfly needs a constant water temperature in the 55-degree range for a steady period before they hatch.   When conditions are just right these nymphs swim towards the bank to hatch.   Salmonflies like to crawl onto willows and down trees on the banks to then shed their shucks and become an adult.  You will find these flies most susceptible to trout as wind blows them off willows onto the water, or the females are flying over the water dropping their eggs into the water.  These flies struggling on the surface while the females drop eggs and trout are waiting to slurp them up.

The Sunrise Fly Shop has many hand-tied Salmonflies that are proven patterns that work on the Big Hole River, and Madison River.  For more information on this incredible hatch, fly patters and booking your next fly fishing vacation contact the Sunrise Fly Shop.

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