Big Hole River Fishing Report – Salmonfly Hatch Update

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Big Hole River Fishing Report

The Salmonfly Hatch has started below Melrose. Our guides had some of the best fishing of their careers yesterday below Melrose. I’m sure everyone has heard the saying, “should have been here yesterday.” Don’t worry if you weren’t you haven’t missed the hatch above Melrose. We have spotted the Salmonflies below Melrose but stretches above Melrose have not had adult Salmonflies yet. With this cooler weather and increase in river flows the hatch will take a pause until our next warm up. Looks like mid to late week it will be game on! Salmonfly nymphs are staged up near the banks in the Maiden Rock canyon waiting to hatch. You will want to be here in the next 10 days to enjoy the Salmonfly hatch.

COVID-19 Phase 2 Social Distancing and Sanitization Shop Regulations

In accordance with the directives of both the State of Montana and Silver Bow County, below are the rules for entering the fly shop

  1. No customers with COVID-19 symptoms may enter the fly shop
  2. Only 3 customers may be in the fly shop at one time
  3. Mandatory to practice 6-foot social distancing guidelines while in the fly shop
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  10. Credit Card only Purchases.

We have a Pick-Up window for customers that would prefer doing take-out orders

Thank you for your cooperation. Together, we will make it through these difficult times


#Flutter Bug
#Rogue Salmonfly
#6 Chubby Norman
#4 Pat’s Stone (Orange/Brown)
#6 Yuk Bug
#8 Chubby Chernobyl (UV) (Gold) (Purple)
#4 Water Walker

#8 Chubby Peanut
#6 Henry’s Fork Stone

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9/13/2019 Big Hole River Fishing Report – Fall feels great!

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September 13th, 2019 – Big Hole River Fishing Report – Flows up, fish happy.

Apologies for the tardiness on a river update, we have been cranking away with lots of activity. After our first blast of fall weather last weekend, we are now back into a more comfortable flow on the Big Hole. Anglers on foot are still getting around easily, and the floaters, especially the raft community are happy as well. Hard boats are best suited Maiden Rock down at the moment.

Blue winged olives are beginning, and reports indicate that in the right spot, at the right time there are good trout looking up. Keep an eye on foamy areas below riffles and runs. Mahoghany duns have also started. The fall weather in the forecast will have those mayflies intensifying river wide. Dry fly anglers will want to check the river out upstream of the canyon for consistency, with sub-surface techniques proving themselves daily on the lower portions of the river.

We have seen fish spread out of the riffles, and into the runs and pools that dot the Big Hole up and down. A stripped streamer still continues to be the best technique for a big brown, and it also allows anglers to cover all the nooks and crannies they like to hide out in. Double dry fly rigs with a modest parachute upfront and little blue wing off the back is going to be a solid rig for the next week or too.

Our fall special offers folks 50% off lodging and $50 off your guide boat when paired together. Minimum two nights, one day guided fishing. October til the season is over. Book now!

Guides, shuttles, and reports. Anytime. 406-835-3474

-Dan Soltau


#4 Mini Boogie Man – Black
#4 Lil Kim Copper
#1 King Rat
#14 Flashy Frank Purple
#12 Gummy Worm Hot Bead
#12 Fish Finder Worm Burgundy
#12 Rocky Mountain Mint Adams

#18 Sparkle Dun BWO
#18 Psycho May BWO
#18 Missing Link
#14 Quigley Cripple

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We have kicked off the 2019 fishing season on the Big Hole ….

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We have kicked off the 2019 fishing season on the Big Hole with a stellar week of fishing and then the river blew out yesterday and is worse today due to an incredible valley floor snowpack that has been melting. This is by no means the “runoff” for the season but things are not good at the moment. The Maiden Rock gauge and lower river gauges on the Big Hole River are all rising and the river around Melrose has only about a foot of visibility. This is a great time to take a break on the freestone rivers and head to tailwater fisheries. We have trips this week heading up to the Missouri River. Here is a link to guide trips on The Land of The Giants. 

Book Your Spring Special Today! 

Sunrise Fly Shop Guide Chris “Romo” Getting after it between guide days


The Ice off Event

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Every winter the upper Big Hole River valley freezes over and gets covered by a thick blanket of snow. Some years the ice and snow stacks higher then others. This winter was a cold and snowy winter in the upper Big Hole Valley and we had several days below zero and a healthy above average snowpack at low and high elevations. We experienced the normal spring warm up and the Big Hole valley is in the process of thawing out. This is just the valley snow and ice that is releasing right now. The event every year is involved with ice jams and flooding fields. As you can see from the above hydro graph we have an incredible amount of valley snow and ice to melt off. Some massive ice jams are occurring above East Bank fishing access and Sportsman Fishing access on the upper Big Hole. Once the ice jams release we can start to see a decline in flows and the river will start to clear up. Right now the river is a muddy mess and un-fishable. This is not our peak runoff we experience in late May, this is just the thaw of the valley. We will be reporting soon as things improve. Here are some photos Eric took of the upper Big Hole Valley. Spring fishing on the Big Hole will return once the ice clears and the river drops and gains clarity. April is setting up to be a fantastic month. Here is a link to our Spring Special  

Ice Flows Above East Bank Fishing Access


Fishing has remained pretty good on the Big Hole.

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Fishing has remained pretty good on the Big Hole. The Big Hole just opened from Maiden Rock down to Notch Bottom. The river is moving into Fall mode and the brown trout are eating very well. We have been catching many large brown trout lately on the Big Hole River. You will find hatches of Blue Winged Olives, and Slate Drakes. Nymphing has been consistent with Pat’s Stone’s #10 olive/brown, or black. #18 Micro Mayflies, #18 silver lightning bugs, #18 green machines, and #16 pheasant tails. Streamer fishing has been fantastic. We have been catching them in the shallow riffles and deeper tail outs lately. It’s time to enjoy the Fall fishing on the Big Hole.

The Big Hole River is open without any restrictions from Dickey Bridge down to Notch BottomHere is a map to help you with the closures

Client Colleen with a Big Hole beauty this week

Recommended Flies: #16 Split Wing BWO : #16 BWO Cripple #14 Purple Craze; #14 Comparadun Yellow; #12 Bloom’s Caddis; #12 Purple Chubby; #14 Para Wolf; #14 Psycho Mayfly; #12 Prince Nymph; #10 Pat’s Stone; #14 Pearl Lightning Bug; #14 Red Copper John; #18 Silver Lightning Bug #16 Micro Mayfly;  4 Mini Loop Sculpin; #8 Trevors Sculpin


Big Hole River Update

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Now that the Salmon Flies are pretty well wrapped up, the fish had moved on to Golden Stones, PMDs, Drakes and Caddis.  You can expect to see fish up eating the Mayflies in the morning while the light is still low.  As the sunlight gets more intense, we have been seeing the fish become less interested in the dries, and more interested in nymphs such as Pat’s Rubber Legs, Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, and Pheasant Tails.  Then, in the last few hours of daylight, the caddis are coming off and the fish become interested in dries again.

Recommended Flies: #12 Purple Craze; #12 Comparadun Yellow; #12 Copper Cripple; #14 Bloom’s Caddis; #10 Chubby UV; #10 Pat’s Stone; #12 Pearl Lightning Bug; #12 Red Copper John; #14 Psycho May brown; #12 Pheasant Tail; McCunnes Sculpin; Mini Look Sculpin; #6 Sparkle Minnow


Earlier this week the ice broke off the entire upper Big Hole River.

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Earlier this week the ice broke off the entire upper Big Hole River. We are currently in the clearing process and the river is dropping from the ice flow. Water temperatures are starting the day around 37 degrees and warming to about 42 degrees. We currently have 2 feet of visibility in the Melrose area.  We fished yesterday and it was ok, not great.  We boated about a dozen fish in 5 hours.  We have a Big Hole River guide boat out today so we will let you know how the river improves.  All sub surface fishing right now on the Big Hole.  Our best bug yesterday was a red San Juan worm and a yellow yummy streamer dead drifted tight to the banks.

Check out our Spring Special Package Rates


There is a slight hint of fall in the air.

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There is a slight hint of fall in the air.  In fact I broke out the waders yesterday and you will need them today.  The overcast weather has produced some fantastic dry fly fishing.  We have Tricos, big PMD’s and some baetis out there right now.  We did well with a #12 mahogany cripple yesterday  and #10 Rocky Mountain Mint.  The streamer fishing has started to pick up just like it should with the cooler overcast weather.  Small flying ant’s have also been getting fish on the surface.  Great flows and good fishing right now on the Big Hole.  Our Big Hole River guides have been fishing the Divide sections and also down to Notch bottom.

Client Rob Ware with a nice Big Hole Brown

Flies:  #12 Chubby Chernobyl Yellow/Purple/Black; #10 Purple Haze; #16 PMD Cripple; #16 Rocky Mountain Mint, #18 Trico Spinner, #18 Trico Comparadun, #10 Pat’s Stone #12 Red Copper John #16 Bat Man Nymph orange/brown: #8 RL Stone; #6 J.J. Special #6 Coffey Bugger; #4 Bad Boy #  10 Copper/Pearl Zonker


The Big Hole is Getting Bigger

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Well, it looks like runoff is officially here.  At 9:00 on Memorial Day, the Big Hole in Melrose was at 7800 cfs. But even though the lower river is unfishable, the upper reaches of the river are still looking good.  We fished from Mudd Creek to East Bank yesterday and had a very respectable day.  The visibility at Mudd Creek was more than two feet and the flow was very manageable.  We caught several fish over 20 inches slow stripping a Coffee Bugger with a red San Juan worm trailer.

It is important to note that we do not recommend floating on the Big Hole River below the Wise River.  The river in Melrose is approaching flood stage, and floating the Big Hole at these flows can be very dangerous.  If you choose to fish the Big Hole, please float with caution.

Below are two of the nice Browns the Bob and his son Grahm caught yesterday on their float from Mudd Creek to East Bank


Big Hole River Montana Fishing Report

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The upper Big Hole River continues to drop and the fishing yesterday was stellar.  It should be another great day on the upper Big Hole. Clarity is around 2 feet up there and once you get above the Wise River and Deep Creek the volume of water decreases and your prospecting on the banks becomes very manageable at these high flows.  We have caddis hatching in the Melrose section but flows are rather high for any dry fly fishing. Streamers and San Juan worms has been producing the best fishing on the upper Big Hole River.  Flows at the Mudd Creek gauge continue to drop and the fishing will remain good up there until the next bump in flows.  Our Big Hole River guides continue to produce huge brown trout this spring.

Our Client Larry with a wonderful Big Hole Brown caught yesterday

Flies: #12 Elk Hair Caddis #12 CDC Caddis #10 Purple Haze #10 Rocky Mountain Mint #8 Mr. Beam; #10 Bullet Head Skwala; #8 Rogue River Skwala  #8 San Juan Worm; #10 Pat’s Stone Olive/Brown: #8 RL Stone; #6 J.J. Special #4 Coffey Bugger; #4 Bad Boy #4 Yellow Zonker