Tag Archives: big hole

Big Hole Salmon Fly Time

big hole brownThe time is a’coming around again: Salmonflies on the rivers and the fish are looking up!  We’ve been dragging nymphs and buggers for an eternity it seems; Skwala season is long behind us along with the gentle stream flows that occur that time of year.  The rivers are ripping along at a good spring clip and the water is perfect for the almighty giant of the summer’s bugs.  Get ready folks, this could be one hell of a year out there for the Salmonfly!

big hole brownThis weekend found me on the Big Hole running a guided float with long time brethren: many years we’ve spent chasing brown trout together on that river.  My troops fished very well, a bit out of control at times chucking one last shot in the willows, but hey, it’s that time of year and one must pay to play.  Good casts and drifts brought up solid fish to the fly, not all day, but enough to keep us interested while the action ebbed and flowed throughout the float.  Eventually the fishing got downright smoking hot, with big browns chomping hard in all the right spots.  Make your cast and mend equals fish on!

big hole brownOur second day of fishing took us intentionally far far away from the Salmon fly madness on the popular water.  Day one was too good to try and replicate, so our group toured seldom fished haunts deep in the lower river valley.  Always beautiful scenery but a roll of the dice on the fishing, we threw the book at ‘em while taking in the solitude and challenge of the lower river.  We found the right setup eventually, and continued to lay into a great day of fishing with the river all to ourselves.  So here’s a big thanks to this group from Seattle: seven years now I’ve had the pleasure of guiding them through the Complete Fly Fisher in Wise River.  See you next time fellas!

Big Hole Rising

While the Bitterroot River is up and pretty much unfishable, we took a drive over Lost Trail Pass to search out some fishy water on the upper Big Hole.  Unlike many freestone rivers, when the Big Hole is up it remains quite fishable on its upper reaches.  With meadows and rolling pine hills surrounding the river for the upper forty miles or so, the runoff comes peacefully down the drainage until the eventual canyons at Wise River and Divide.

bitterroot river guides big hole montana-4Pulling up early in the morning after a dawn departure from the flooded Bitterroot, we were pretty stoked to see the river meandering along just like always.  The tea colored waters had risen a foot in the last few days, but we only knew from looking at the USGS hydrograph as the change was almost imperceptible to the eye.

bitterroot river guides big hole montana-2Buggers, streamers, and nymph rigs were the choice of the day; little dry fly activity was expected though March Browns hatched well in the afternoon, bringing up a few little risers.  We found good consistent fishing from noon onward, almost entirely on nymphs.  The streamer game just never played for us even though we gave it our best for the sixteen miles we floated.  Some recent photos have us jonesing for a big brown, and I mean a big boy like the one our Hamilton High School principle just caught.  Fish like this one will keep you coming back to the Big Hole.

Meet me at the Club

Copy of DSCF1228“8:00 am, Wise River Club, definitely bring waders.  When you get into Wise, I’ll be in the blue Dodge diesel with a blue NRS parked at the bar.  There’s two bars but only one surviving at the present so I shouldn’t be hard to find.”  These meeting instructions have been muttered from my lips countless times in the past ten years and nobody has ever screwed them up.  And when I’m telling this to two ex Army Rangers I know they will be precisely where I’ve determined and not a second late.  They actually beat me there, ten minutes early, which is to be expected from guys of this caliber.

DSCF1227Throwing in the upper Big Hole as the first boat on a rainy morning got my blood pumping fast.  These guys can fish and handle weather, and probably most anything myself or mother nature can throw at them, so I’ve got myself some good sticks for this one.  And sure enough, bam!, big browns right out of the gate to get these guys pumped to fish hard for me today.  Busting ass through rain, wind, cold, and altogether rotten weather conditions, my fishermen held in there to fish a long hard day with me barking casting and mending orders on every bank and slip stream.

DSCF1234Sometimes buggers, sometimes drys, never really nymphing, we put together one hell of a day on our fourteen mile journey down the Big Hole.  Fishing slowed considerably during the afternoon, but just when I’d get desperate some PMDs or drakes came to save me from the slump and bring a few trout up to the surface.  Nothing like a heavy overcast and some bad weather to get the bugs and fish going for the weary fisherman out there toughing it out.  When those clouds dip low and dark and cold drizzle fills the skies, line up the six weight and wader up cause this might just be that day when things are gonna bust loose.