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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Every angler waits, and waits, and waits for hatches to occur. The most famed hatch in Southwest Montana that is worth the wait is the Big Hole River Salmonfly hatch. It is every anglers dream to throw#4 dry flies to the bank and watch 5 pound browns rise with a vengeance to eat your fly. This is truly an exciting time to be on the Big Hole River. Typically as the river is coming down from runoff you have your best dry fly fishing. Anglers have to be on their game as your boat is rolling down the river and you are trying to get your dry flies as close to the banks and willows as possible to get an eat from a trout.
The Big Hole River Salmonfly hatch typically occurs from June 15th-July1st. What makes this hatch unique to the Big Hole River is the length of the river it takes place on and the abundance of flies hatching. You can find this hatch first on the lower river near Glen, then it works it’s way up the river to East bank. This is about 80 miles of floatable river that this hatch is occurring on. A lot of people refer to “Chasing the hatch” when they talk about Salmonflies. You will find guides in the early mornings and late evenings looking for shucks on the willows and bridges to see if Salmonflies hatched during the night.
Sunrise Fly Shop is happy to announce the new website for Sheerwater Guide Service. Owner and operator Karl Jones is an exceptional guide and wooden drift boat builder. Sheerwater Guide Service operates in Western Montana on the Clark Fork River, Bitterroot River, and Blackfoot River. Karl also guides for the Sunrise Fly Shop on the Big Hole River and Beaverhead River. If any of you are looking for an early Spring dry fly fishing fix, contact us for some March Skwala fishing on the Bitterrroot River. The Bitterroot River starts to fish earlier than our rivers in Southwest Montana due to the valley floor being lower in elevation. If you are looking to fish in Western Montana, Sheerwater Guide Servicewill take care of all your Western Montana angling needs and your wooden boat building needs at Bitterroot Boat Works.
It is late January and the Montana snowpack is looking good. Right now the Big Hole River snowpack and Beaverhead River snowpack is sitting at 116% of normal for this date in time. We have had three years in a row of excellent water conditions throughout the summer. It is looking like we are going to have another great water year on Southwest Montana Rivers. Right now the Clark Canyon Reservoir is sitting at 91% full. Winter flows on the Beaverhead River have remained above average which helps keep the fishery healthy. Last year we saw a great age class of 17-19 inch rainbows in the Beaverhead that were about 3 to 4 pounds. Look for this age class of trout to be in the 18-20 inch range and up to 5 pounds. It is going to be a banner year on the Beaverhead and high flows will make for a great late summer hopper season in the Big Hole River.
I am off to the Western Canadian Fly Fishing Exposition in Calgary, Alberta. We will have a booth at the show. If you are attending the show stop by to check us out. The Event is January 28th-30th.
Everyone knows the feeling, the itch to experience the first dry fly fishing of the year on Southwest Montana freestone rivers. The first spring hatch, a.k.a. some of the best dry fly fishing of the year is the Big Hole River Skwala hatch.
The Skwala stonefly makes it’s appearance as spring and the end of winter collide. On the Big Hole River this is around mid-April. As the ice breaks free from the freestone rivers and water warms between 45-48 degrees for a consistent period of time, skwalas start to migrate to the banks of the Big Hole River to hatch. The Skwala is a size #8-#10 stonefly with an olive colored body. Like most stoneflies, Skwalas crawl onto rocky and brushy banks to hatch. Unlike most stoneflies though Skwalas rarely fly in the air. These stoneflies tend to crawl across the water when they lay their eggs. Skwalas are hard to see in the water as they skitter with there wings closed on the surface. Trout in the 16 – 22 inch range are taken on the dry fly during this hatch.
Since this is the first hatch of the year with a sizable meal, trout tend to key into Skwalas pretty quickly. These stoneflies are not in the same abundance on the Big Hole as Golden Stones or Salmonflies on the Big Hole, but there are enough of them to make for some great dry fly fishing. This is a great time to experience trout feeding with fury, as they eat their first stoneflies of the season.
The new R.L. Winston BIIIX is a rod that every angler must have in their arsenal. The BIIIX has replaced the number 1 best selling rod from Winston the BIIX. After fishing the BIIIX I must say it has the feel of the BIIX but has a little more power in the mid section. I have been able to fish this rod on the Big Hole River in the 9ft. 5weight and found it to have excellent accuracy for long casting situations with large chernobyl’s and also the ability to throw small dries in technical short distance situations. We have just received our first order of the BIIIX. These rods have the classic Winston Boron design, with a little more power, which makes it a well rounded fast action rod. You can check them out on the R.L. Winston website.