I needed to do a little "research" for my blog, TalkingTrout.com, so I headed up the Bitterroot on my day off Tuesday for my first river fishing in May in ... well, quite some time.
The recent cold snap has the rivers in good fishing shape for Saturday's general season opener, but that might soon change with some downright steamy weather in the forecast. I went back to a side channel that I haven't fished in years because it's been so dewatered that it didn't seem worth the effort. A friend recently told me he had a good day there, so I gave it a shot.
The wind was blowing at about 20 mph, making my decision to stay in the side channel necessary so that I could use shorter casts. Fishing was still pretty tough and the water was still very skinny, but I managed a half-dozen fish. That's a slow day by Bitterroot standards, but the fact that it came in May made it seem like gravy. It was also good to see the old channel again, although it's a shadow of its former self.
It looks as if the rivers might hold up at least through the weekend, although it would be wise for wading anglers to check the U.S. Geological Survey streamflow website (waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/
nwis/current?type=flow) and check for any spikes in the flow. As of Friday afternoon, the upper Bitterroot was inching up slowly.
The Kingfisher fly shop is reporting that western Montana's rivers are as close to a sure thing as they've seen them. The hot hatches are the Mother's Day caddis, March browns and skwalas. All of my fish on Tuesday came on March brown patterns, a gray sparkle dun and a gray Wulff. The guys at Kingfisher also say that the week before runoff begins usually marks the best skwala fishing of the year on the Clark Fork.
The Missoulian Angler reports outstanding fishing on Rock Creek with caddis, March browns and other assorted patterns. They're also reporting some sightings of golden stones on the Clark Fork. March browns and caddis are getting it done on the Blackfoot.
George Kesel at Kesel's Four Rivers fly shop suggests trying some salmonfly nymphs, as the big bugs are getting restless and moving about.
Bob Meseroll is the Missoulian's sports editor and blogger at TalkingTrout.com. Watch his blog throughout the week for news and notes on fly-fishing and fisherfolks.