Fly Fishing the Nocturnal Stonefly Hatch on the Big Hole River

Many people come to Southwest Montana to fish the famed Salmonfly hatch in June on the Big Hole River and the Madison River.    Besides the Salmon Fly hatch, the rivers of Southwest Montana have other great Stonefly hatches.  One in particular that is worth the trip to Montana is the Nocturnal Stonefly hatch.

Nocturnal Stoneflies are found on most freestone river is Southwest Montana.  In mid July after most of the Golden Stoneflies are gone the Big Hole River has a fabulous nocturnal Stonefly hatch.  As with most stoneflies, the males are much smaller than the females, and in this case the male Nocturnal Stone does not have the ability to fly.  This is part of the reason why you rarely see these flies buzzing around during the day like you will with a Golden Stone or Salmon Fly.  Similar to other stoneflies the nocturnal stonefly crawls onto dry rocks to sheds their exoskeleton and become an adult fly.  The best way to know if these flies are hatching is to look at dry rocks along the banks of the river to see if there are any stonefly shucks stuck to the rocks.

The Best Time to Fish The Nocturnal Stoneyfly Hatch on the Big Hole River

The best time to fish the nocturnal stonefly hatch is in the early morning hours, or in the late evenings.  I believe the best dry fly fishing is in the early morning hours before the sun hits the water.  One section of river in Southwest Montana that has a wonderful nocturnal stonefly hatch is the Dewey canyon of the Big Hole River.  Mid July is the time period that the hatch seems to be the best.

How to Fish the Nocturnal Stonefly Hatch on the Big Hole River

Fly placement and selection is important during this hatch.  The best patterns I have found for the Big Hole River has been a chubby Chernobyl.  I like the fly to be in a size #8 or #10 with either a black dubbed body or a tan dubbed body.  You will need to fish these flies right up to the banks, preferably in the softer water near fast water.  The edge of the banks that have slow water against fast water is ideal for fly placement.  The tail-outs of runs seem to be good areas for productive dry fly fishing.  I prefer to be on the water before the direct sunlight hits the water.  Getting on the water around 6:00 a.m. is when I like to start hitting the hatch.  The Dewey Canyon of the Big Hole River is productive for a long time in the morning since it takes a long time for the sun to hit the water directly due to the canyon walls that give the water nice shade.  This is a great hatch to find solitude and the chance to catch a truly fantastic 5 pound Big Hole Brown Trout.

Contact the Sunrise Fly Shop at [email protected] for more information on the Nocturnal Stonefly Hatch in Southwest Montana and fly fishing the Big Hole River.