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Slinging (streamers) in the Rain

Long time Big Hole Lodge guide, Allen Baker, and I fished together the year before I started guiding in 2006 and it is still the best day of fishing I've ever had on the Big Hole.  We caught six fish over 18" and one 23", in addition to a load of average sized trout.  We haven't been able to fish together much since, and we jumped on the opportunity Tuesday.

It is a sin to leave a seat in the boat open, especially in a valley where log cabin has waders hanging on the porch and a fly rod behind the door.  So we invited Allen's neighbor and friend, Ward, for a day in the intermittent rain on the upper river.

We fished for two hours without a bump, prompting Ward to ask,  "How have we not seen a fish with two guides in the boat?"

There were caddis in the back-eddies and golden stones in the willow, air, and on the boat, but not a fish could be seen feeding on top.

We stuck to the naval assault with massive streamers and yuk-bugs, and when that proved ineffective we tried smaller streamers and trailer nymphs.  Suffice it to say, by evening we'd tried everything and had only caught a handful of small fish each.

Allen caught the fish of the day, about a 14" brownie on a streamer.

When we arrived home and opened the computer, the problem became clear.  The river had been swiftly rising and cooling all day.  Fish do not respond well to abrupt change, and with storm system after storm system bouncing the barometric pressure around, the fish were hunkered down waiting for stability.

At least that's as good of an excuse I as I can come up with!

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!

Late May Showers Bring July Flowers

Edit: (5/25/11)

  • water flow: 7,000 cfs!
  • water temp: 48 degrees
  • visibility: very muddy

Big Hole River Fishing Report 5/23/11:

The Big Hole fished well this weekend with dry fly action on Friday and streamer fishing through the weekend.  The weather was typical for spring in Montana with cold temps and frequent showers. It rained hard last night on the Wise River and I assume it did in the Big Hole Valley as well because the river jumped up overnight.
The rain throughout the week will continue to bring the water up, but the cool temperatures ought to keep the snow in the mountains and streamer fishing should be good.
The national weather service is issuing a flood watch for the Melrose area, and predicts that the river will rise by 2,000 cfs over the next few days.  Be careful getting in and out of the boat, and if you do find places to wade, tighten that wading belt!!

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.

Time to buy a Kayak, the Wise River is rockin' and rollin'

Big Hole Fishing Report 5/16/11

  • Water Flow: 4,540 cfs
  • Water Temp: 47 degrees
  • Visibility: muddy
  • Fishing: Streamer fishing has been cumbersome, but successful until today.  The water came up a lot last night and the Big Hole is very turbid today.
The spring weather that we have been missing out on will start this week and hopefully the weather will warm up enough to bring the mid-level snow out, essentially blowing out, and cleaning out, the watershed.  The weather predictions for the next two months indicate cooler days and cold nights which will bring the high snow out slowly and steadily throughout July and into August.    The Big Hole is going to be substantially bigger going into summer this year, but when the water clears fishing will be very good and fish will have more river to work with.

Big Hole Runoff, by the numbers

Big Hole River Fishing Report

  • Water Flow: 2,580 cfs
  • Water Temp: 53 degrees mid-day
  • visibility: 6 inches
  •  fishing: big shiny streamers

When I woke up this morning, NOAA was preaching doom and gloom and predicting an 8ft flood stage at Melrose by Saturday.  This would be a disaster for our Kid's Day on the Big Hole, but luckily the weather patterns have changed and so has the flood prediction.
Big Hole River Flood Prediction

Big Hole River weather report through the weekend

The weather will warm up, but not quite enough to bring the snow down with any consequence.  It looks like we are going to have high water for quite some time this year.  As I have been saying though, as long as it peaks and clears by mid June, fishing is going to be great regardless of the water level.

Big Hole River flow chart, cfs

Winter Weather Advisory: 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains

Better get the skis back out. Alex Ralston, former BHL guide, on Lost Trail Pass

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/10/11

  • Water Flow: 2,830 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 42 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/9/11

  • Water Flow: 2,330 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 45 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days
  • Weather:

And So It Begins: Runoff 2011

Big Hole River Fishing Report:

  • Water Flow: 2,160 cfs (up 1,000 since last week)
  • Water Temp: 50 degrees mid-day
  • Visibility: very poor
  • Fishing:  not going to be great until things clear up a bit.  Smaller creeks will clear faster.

There must have been a small landslide into the Wise River last night because we have never seen the Wise so chocolate colored.  As a result, the Big Hole River below the confluence with the Wise River is very muddy.  Rainy weather is predicted for the next few days, warming into the high 60's by Thursday.

Unfortunately, the famed Mothers Day Caddis Hatch will most likely occur in water too dirty for the fish to see them this year.

We have entered the spring runoff and it's going to be pretty big water for a while.  The newspapers around the state are warning about rising water levels and probable flooding in several drainage systems.    The E. Gallatin near Bozeman is out of it's banks today and the snow in the Bridgers has not yet melted on the western slope.  According to the National Weather Service, "the Big Hole River near Melrose could crest between 9.6 and 10.3 feet, well above its flood stage of 6 feet.

I will keep you updated as the week goes on, but I recommend dusting off the golf clubs and leaving the rod in the garage for the next few days.

A couple of links you ought to check out:

Big Hole River:

  • Water Flow: 1,210 cfs
  • Water temp: 40 degrees
  • Visibility: 2 feet
  • Fishing: Good!  The temps are supposed to reach the mid-sixties today which may bring down some meadow snow in the upper valley, the water may discolor over the weekend, but I wouldn't be afraid of fishing big stone fly nymphs.

And now a couple of links you might enjoy:

A man catches a fish of a lifetime on the Missouri River yesterday:  Monster Rainbow

Orvisnews.com interviewed me for Trout Bum of the Week:  Orvis Trout Bum

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