Blog Posts In snow

Montana Had a Great Winter, Who Didn't?

Montana Had a Great Winter, Who Didn't?

Areas of the US Old Man Winter neglected this year

2014 Preview: Your Own Room, Fresh Faces and a Fresh Look!

ImageWith another snowstorm bearing down on Southwest Montana, I thought it would bolster my mental fortitude to write about fly fishing.  I’ve been tying steelhead patterns to use on the Salmon River next month for the early spring run. This has helped abate the extreme cabin fever all of us in the Big Hole Valley seem to contract about this time each winter, although this winter has been different than most. I think that could be an understatement for just about anywhere in the country, but I make the motion with great enthusiasm that its time to start thinking about big brown trout and beautiful rivers like the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Bitterroot.

“I still don’t know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel.”
Roderick L. Haig-Brown
A River Never Sleeps (1946)

Tight Lines,
Craig Fellin

ImageSPRING FISHING
Our season starts with an early pre-runoff 4 night/3 day fly fishing package (see rates) from April 29-May 2nd. The water level on the Big Hole is usually ideal at this time and the trout are hungry after a long, cold winter. Expect to fish nymphs and streamers in the morning and skwala stonefly and blue winged olive dry fly patterns in the afternoon. Very few people are on the river at this time and the trout haven’t seen many flies yet. This is also a great time to be on the Missouri River, which is well known for its prolific blue winged olive hatches in April and May and superb dry fly fishing.

SPEY CASTING CLINIC
Big Hole Lodge will be hosting its 2nd annual Spey Casting Clinic with Larry Aiuppy on May 3-7. Larry is the only certified spey casting instructor in Montana and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. For me the spey cast is like watching a well-balanced and well-timed golf swing or even a ballet as some would compare. Granted the cast is meant for large salmon/steelhead rivers but there are also trout applications with the shorter spey or switch rods, fishing streamers or soft hackles in the surface film. This is a 4 night/3 day package for $2,630 per person based on double occupancy and guaranteed to jump-start your fly fishing season.

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YOUR OWN ROOM AND CELL SERVICE
We have changed our total capacity at the lodge from twelve down to eight guests. We still plan on accommodating larger intact groups of 10-12 by special request, but the norm will be eight guests per week. There are several reasons why we made the change, but primarily it will allow each guest to have their own bedroom.  We heard so many tales of guests not being able to sleep because their roommate kept them awake at night, so now your worries are over and you’ll be able to sleep to your heart’s content. We also feel that we can give more attention to the individual at our lodge with the lower capacity and be able to deliver a quality experience that exceeds all expectations. Your satisfaction has always been our utmost concern and now we’ll be able to give you even more attention than before.

We have also replaced a lot of the furniture around the lodge with plush leather armchairs and sofas that we think you’ll really enjoy. The outdoor furniture has also been replaced with cedar Adirondack chairs that will make your cocktail hour even more enjoyable as you gaze at the majestic Pioneer Mountains surrounding the lodge.  We now have Verizon cell phone service at the lodge limited to the dining room and the deck adjoining the dining room.

FRESH FACES ON THE OARS
We have a new guide in our line-up, Rudy Ketchum, whom I think will be a great addition to our team. Rudy grew up in Butte and has fly fished the Big Hole most of his life. He has an MBA and has installed healthcare software in hospitals for the past 22 years. Rudy has two sons and a daughter and looks forward to spending more time with his family and guiding our clients on the Big Hole. We also have a new guide for the Missouri River, Russ  Dobrzynski, who lives in Craig, MT and fishes and guides on the river year round.  Russ will be our Missouri River expert and loves to hunt those trophy brown trout that the river is known for. This is an overnight trip and requires advance reservations so please call us if you’re interested. The additional fee for the Missouri trip is $200 per person. My son Wade will finish law school and sit for his bar exam in late July. After what will be a much-needed vacation, he’ll return to our guide roster in late August and be with us each summer going forward.

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145% OF SNOWPACK
With all the snow we’ve been getting, the Big Hole should have great flows this summer and allow our guides to float their boats with relative ease through September. The snowpack going into March is 145% of normal which is fantastic! We still have some excellent weeks available in July, August and September that should offer some of the best fishing we’ve had in several years with the healthy flows that are predicted for the latter part of the season.

As an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge and being one of the premiere lodges offered by Frontiers Travel, we are proud to have hosted fly fishing trips for our guests for over 30 years.  Please give us a call soon and we can talk Montana trout fishing! This is shaping up to be a very special year and we don’t want you to miss it.

(406) 832-3252
info@bigholelodge.com
www.flyfishinglodge.com

Sweetening up the Bitterroot

Nick Scuibba lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan (for Ralph), and fishes in PA whenever he can.  Six years ago he and his father fished the Bitterroot as novices.  Last year, he fished the Big Hole as an accomplished angler, using mostly flies he had tied himself.

He called me back in March and said he needed his Western fix.  As usual, Montana's late spring weather was completely unpredictable as his trip grew near.  However, last week set up to be prime Salmon Fly weather.  Then it snowed.  Then it warmed to 80. And then it snowed again.

Tom and I picked him up on the late flight in Butte and headed to Wise River to plan our weekend.  At one AM, the plan was, "Tomorrow, we float the Big Hole....60 MILES!"
The alarm at 7 am brought clarity, and at the sight of snow in the hills, we decided to go to the Bitterroot where it would hopefully be warmer.

It wasn't.  There was driving snow on the pass, and a plane down in the road.  Luckily, an hour later the clouds lifted and we were on the West Fork catching cutthroat.

At lunch, Tom rolled over a boulder just off the bank and found these guys awaiting the signal to crawl out and hatch into their adult Salmon Fly form.

He put on a heavy Salmon Fly nymph and sure enough:

Between tangled lines and side-arm casts, a reckless display of rowing, a runaway boat ending in a flying leap-and-catch, and a few beautiful cutties, there was no shortage of laughter on that trip.  Couldn't have had a better day if we'd tried.

Just before dark, we headed over the hill to soak in the Elkhorn Hot Springs and plan our next day on the Big Hole.

Pull Over, I'm Coming Down!

On our way to the West Fork of the Bitterroot Saturday, we encountered this scene at the top of Lost Trail Pass:

The pilot  had just refueled at the Hamilton airport and was headed south. Near the top of Lost Trail, he encountered heavy weather. He told first responders that a sudden downdraft forced him into a canyon. As he attempted to bank out of the canyon, the plane came down and "skipped" across Highway 93. The pilot walked away.

 

Winter's Coming....and why not? it's almost June

Since I left for work this morning at 6:30, it has been snowing off and on with about 3 inches now on the ground.  According to NOAA, a lot more is on the way....up to two feet!

Hazardous Weather Outlook

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST
MONTANA.BEAVERHEAD(Big Hole Lodge)-MADISON-GALLATIN-

A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 6000
FEET.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT TONIGHT THROUGH NOON
SUNDAY ABOVE 4000 FEET.

SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 12 TO 24 INCHES
  CAN BE EXPECTED ABOVE 6000 FEET BY MID DAY SUNDAY...WITH
  ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS. FOR ELEVATIONS BELOW 6000 FEET...TOTAL
  SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED...WITH MOST OF
  THE ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL OCCURRING AT NIGHT.

Don't Pack Those Skis Away Yet

 Well the "blizzard" must have ended right after we went to sleep, because the "foot" of snow they were calling for above 6,000' proved to be just a thin blanket of heavy, wet snow.  But we'll take it!

Montana and the West had an unusually light winter and many fear a dry summer.  If we continue to get these spring refills we'll be in great shape for August and September.  The light snow pictured here at 6,300' could well be over a foot in the 8 and 9,000' mountains above the Big Hole.

The Wise River is pumping right now. The rock pictured above was underwater yesterday and most likely will be again by tomorrow. In the summer that rock stands 6 feet out of the water.

As you can see, we have a wet week in store.  The meteorologists are putting out winter storm warnings throughout the state today, and expect over a foot of snow accumulation in the Big Hole area.

LET IT SNOW!

Blizzard!

There is an absolute whiteout snowstorm at the lodge right now.  100% chance of snow through the weekend and they are calling for 14" of snow starting at 7,000 feet!  This translates into a LOT of snow in the high country.

I'll get up and take pics in the morning for you all.  It ought to be a winter wonderland

Midges on the Mo'

photo: Ian McDonald

The Missouri is HOT right now.  The sunshine was great this weekend, but it definitely brought some snow down.  Most of the rivers are blown out for a while, but the Missouri is in great shape and fishing extremely well on midges (pictured above) and blue winged olives when the clouds roll in.  The Midges are coming off the last 2 hours of the day, so sleep in!

Montana's 9th Month of Winter

I woke up to the sound of the Wise River raging outside my window yesterday.  I rubbed my eyes and sat up to see this scene...I rubbed them again thinking I might still be asleep, but a quick walk around the property confirmed the winter storm.

The snow continued until about 11 a.m. before turning to rain.  The river is rising big time, but this is the runoff we've been waiting for and i'm glad to see it happen sooner than later.

The weather forecast calls for temps in the low 60's and slight chances of rain throughout the week.  The fresh snow will come off the base snowpack, initially dirtying the river, but most likely clearing as the river drops by the end of the week.  Remember, we fished at these levels last year.  Don't be afraid of this big water -if it's clear it'll fish well.

The national news makes it sound like the entire state is underwater, but that is not the case at all.  The central and eastern parts of the state are indeed flooding, and will have a long road ahead of them before fishing is even a thought.  The Big Hole is forecast to peak today at a moderate flood stage (flooding in some pastureland) and will drop back within its banks over the next day or so.  As the river comes down it will clear up.  We are hoping for some good fishing by mid-week.

Big Hole River Fishing Report:

T.G.I.F. Big Hole River is clearing up

Friday Fishing Outlook: Big Hole River

  • Water Flow: 3,630 cfs
  • Water Temp: 49 degrees
  • Visibility: 18 inches
  • Weather: high 50's and chance of showers through the weekend
  • Fishing: Good
  • Flies:  streamers, march browns, caddis, stone fly nymphs

The Big Hole has been dropping steadily for the past three days and clearing as it falls.  The clouds and cool temps throughout the weekend will keep the river clear and fishing should be great.

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