Montana Fly Fishing

Well, you’ve been waiting all week for it and the time is now. If you’ve stopped in to a fly shop this week there’s a good chance you’ve heard some big numbers and big talk about this being the best spring in recent memory. That may be true, but you’ve got to remember a fly guide’s memory is only as long as his… tippet.
And while I hate to go completely optimistic coming into May, a month that can change it’s mind in a hurry around here, there’s no way around it. This spring has been a great one and it looks like it could be the May to remember. This weekend in western Montana you’ll still see skwalas hanging around, though in some places that hatch is all but a memory. But the fish will eat it, they’ve been eating it since March. Afternoons the bite has really switched to the mayflies, with my old friend Amaletus leading the pack. A size 12 parachute adams will get you into fish when the gray drake is around, and those hatches have been like clockwork even with rising waters. Look to the wide, slow stuff this time of year and you’ll see them around. But they’re eating them everywhere.
Consider this: this time of the year is all about where you choose to fish as much as what pattern you’re tossing. The waters are high everywhere, but the slight drops have been great fishing, and if the river you’re looking at has leveled out, it’s a go. Check the charts but don’t get too hung up on the numbers. With these warm temperatures and mild nights, the rivers are mostly on the rise- but the waters have been in good shape. The Bitterroot, the lower Clark Fork and some sections of the upper Clark Fork should do it for you dry fly guys  – if you get out right. Mornings can be slow, with the best fishing probably making you a little late coming home to the wife. Don’t worry, Mother’s Day is coming soon enough. (And more caddis.) My suggestion for the weekend working stiffs: knock out some of that Honey-Do list and knock off early. Getting out in the afternoon will be just fine.
There are some big, dirty fish coming up for dry flies as the day goes on. Find the pattern that is working, and be on the lookout for the funky secondary skwalas and stragglers that inevitably produce a huge gulp from that trout you’ve been hunting for all day. BWOs, some caddis, March Browns fast and furious and then gone, and fairly predictable gray drake hatch are making the top water a fun place to be. Presentation matters, and if we have high sun this weekend it will be the same. Drop the tippet down a size, and stretch it out to a 12 foot leader to find more picky eaters.
For you buff jockey streamer fiends with too much time on your hands and no girlfriends, why aren’t you at a pinch point on the Blackfoot right now tossing meat to murderous browns? Just saying, college can wait. That fish might have places to go. Streamer fishing has been, well… Streamer fishing. Sometimes slow, sometimes consistent, but always moving some sizable fish. Will it work for you? Yep. Better add some flash to it in the dirty stuff.
Oh, and nymphing is doing damage. The usual suspects are getting it done, with a bug rubberlegs and a worm staying tight most often. A better idea might be to tie a short dropper behind your big skwala or drake dry. It might not see as many fish on it, but I’m just not doing nymphing. It’s been a long winter behind the bobber, and it’s time to see some eats. May is here, and it’s going to be a good one. I suggest you act accordingly.