Runoff is here to stay, so it looks. I believe we have seen the peak of the high water barring some serious rainfall, so a couple boats worth of us gave her a shot Monday. Big and cold as we figured, the Bitterroot looked pretty good as we set out from Veteran’s bridge on the north end of Hamilton. Headed for Tucker crossing, we planned to fish streamers and nymphs as no dry fly activity is anticipated for a while on this river. With beautiful blue skies and bright warm sunshine, the streamer bite was slow if not non existent for my boat for much of the day.
Nymphing it up a bit after some time with no swipes on the big bug, I was able to ding a handful of fish from some obvious runs. With the water big right now, casts are long and weight is heavy to get that thing down to where the fish are holding. One may have to cast a good twenty feet above your spot and mend the hell out of it to reach the goods. Once I found the drifts, though, there were good bows and a few whiteys packed in to those runs. I pretty much ran the same drifts over and over once I found a fish, and continued to hook up in the exact lie every time.
As our day wore on and the Ranier ran low, we finally found some fish willing to participate with the streamer gig. Eating it slow and deliberate and sometimes on a back dredge, a few good browns and even a small bull trout took advantange of our bugs. We had success on a whole series of patterns, from dull black to flashy white, but not enough to nail down one particular pattern as their favorite that day.