Spruce Moths and new River restrictions

Kevin Warren


Spruce moth activity has been hot in the canyon, with the best fishing from Jerry Creek to Maiden Rock. We have been catching rising fish on a variety of patterns, the best being a #12 CDC Underwing Spruce Moth. Elk hair caddis and the 2Pac patterns have worked as well, #12-14. We expect to only see the moths our for a few more days, but there is really no way of knowing. The trico hatch has still been steady on most of the river. Stop in the shop to stock up on moths and grab a shuttle before you head out.

FWP announced yesterday that restrictions have been put back in place. Currently the river is under hoot-owl restrictions from Maiden Rock to the confluence with the Beaverhead. Additional restrictions are in place from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows  Road to North Fork Big Hole River. This has placed a lot of angling traffic from Jerry Creek down to Maiden Rock as people try to fish the Spruce Moth hatch through the canyon. The river has been on a steady drop since last Friday, dropping about 200 cfs. Water temperatures have been peaking at about 69 degrees during the heat of the day, but hopefully a few days of cooler weather will help to keep the temps low.

We finished up with our Kohler fishing trip last Saturday. Eight guys enjoyed both the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers, with 5 days of fishing and 6 nights in the Blodge. Everyone got to catch trout, and a friendly contest ensued of who caught the most and the biggest. We still haven’t heard the result of that contest; forgetfulness most likely due to the cases of Rainier beer waiting at the Blodge for them every evening! I’ve never seen a recycling run quite like that at the conclusion of a trip. Thanks to Kevin Warren for bringing the Kohler boys again this year; we are looking forward to next year!

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Restrictions lifted on Big Hole

We are happy to report that the Hoot Owl restrictions have been lifted on the Big Hole River. The entire stretch of the Big Hole is now open under normal regulations. The restrictions on the Jefferson and Beaverhead rivers have also been removed. Enjoy it while you can, we are forecasted for some hot weather the next few days, which could raise the river temperatures again.

The tricos are still hatching heavily, with the best part of the hatch from 10:30 to about 12:30. We’ve heard a few people say they have started to see a few spruce moths in the canyon; if they begin to really come out, the dry fly fishing should be excellent. We like to throw elk hair caddis and tan sparkle bugs for fish feeding on the spruce moths.

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Big Hole and Mo fishing fun.

Al has been out the last few days with Jim and Mariah Douglas catching some trout and enjoying the Big Hole.  The weather has been so pleasant these last few days they chose a good time for some fun.  Jim and Mariah were on the Mo before they came here and these are some of the fish they caught there.                                               Jim

I have yet to hear back about today’s trip, but I’ll be sure to update this page then.  Don’t forget about the Big Hole River Day in Melrose, on Saturday July 18th,  put on by the Big Hole River Foundation.  I hope you bought your raffle tickets for the boat, because we are no longer selling them.  However; we have been selling some real nice Scott fly rods, thank you rod purchasers of the week!  Happy fishing out there.

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Smith River


Last week I jumped at an opportunity to float down the Smith River with a few of my Dillon friends. This was my 6th time on this river, which is one of my favorites. One of our local guides, Bernard Kailey, who had never been before, came along as well. It was really fun showing this beautiful river to a native-Montanan for the first time. We had great fishing, great weather and tons of fun. He wrote up a quick report of his experience:

Dreams do come true. I found this out last week when I was invited last minute on a Smith river trip with Lia Jones and some other good friends.

My first trip down the wild freestone river called Smith. As we pulled into Camp Baker, the clouds were low and the air was cold and crisp. The ground was damp, and filled with boats and gear. The sky still grey with just a small patch of blue down river. This led to me imagining what was to come the next 4 days.

The Smith River did not disappoint. It gave us more than I imagined. Shortly into our trip Big Browns started eating streamers being twitched off the bank. It tried to snow for a minute but than that small piece of blue sky took over and beautiful sun rays blessed our smiles. The weather tried to keep us guessing, but in the end it was really kind. The scenery is unsurpassed, with Eagles soaring high above the canyon walls, Marmots coming down to the river to drink and Mule dear bouncing across the hills. We woke up every morning with the Sun fighting its way over the cliffs and into the canyon, while freshly hatched skwala’s crawled on our tents. Big fish continued to eat our streamers, while a handful of rising fish splashed in the backeddys. We did put a few fish in the boat on nymphs as well. What a fantastic start to the 2015 float season. What a wonderful place to take an adventure with good friends. As with all Montana free stone rivers, the Smith will have a special place in my heart. The memories of this trip will warm my soul for years to come.

“There is no better place to be than on a Montana river with good friends.”
Bernard Kailey

Bernard_Smith P1050247

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Jefferson River

Big Hole River 469 cfs—Maidenrock

We floated the Jefferson river a couple days ago and all in all it was a bit of a let down. Streamer fishing was difficult as there was a lot of moss and about every third cast we would be mossed up. It was a bright day also which is not the best for streamers. There was some top water action on mahogany duns. At one point I tied on a big hopper just for the hell of it. Second cast I had a big fish hit and miss the fly. A couple casts later I had another good size fish hit and I stuck that one. We thought wow, this is going to be great hopper fishing here on out. We got two more hits on hopper patterns and that was it.
I’m not giving up on it yet. As soon as we get some cooler weather that moss will be gone and on a cloudy day it should be good fishing.

Speaking of cloudy days, the Big Hole has been great with streamer action on such days. There is still top water action mostly mid afternoon.

I have had several inquiries as to when the pump station section will reopen. It will be closed for pretty much all the rest of this season but definitely open next spring.

I like Korea Marc’s comment on streamer fishing and how it affects his manlihood. Perhaps we could get Marc to give us a report as to what type of trout fishing is going on over there.

Good repots have also been coming from the Beaverhead and on a cloudy day like today it should be good chuckin and duckin action.

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Jefferson River

Big Hole 332 cfs
Beaverhead 460 cfs
Jefferson 554 cfs

Just for a change of scenery if for no other reason we floated the Jeff yesterday. I knew the fishing would be tough with the bright sun and temps in the upper 80’s. It felt more like July than mid September. Conditions were not good for streamers but being a streamer junkie I had to try it anyway. About the third cast I had a huge brown boil on the fly, I wish this would have never happened because it only got me tired arm and a groove wore through my finger with that sharkskin line (forgot the tape) That was the only action on a streamer and believe me it was not for a lack of trying. Bob and Andy were doing the hopper-dropper deal. There was very little action on the hopper but they were picking up fish here and there on the dropper. Late in the afternon we came on a couple pods of feeding bows and that was fun as they could not resist the purple haze.

The Jeff is actually in pretty good shape. There is a good flow and a little grass and moss floating down but easy to deal with.

A little trick I found out from one of Lefty’s articles when streamer fishing especially with sharkskin line. Stick the rod tip under water when you start the strip. This will lubricate the line and be much easier on your finger.

Forecast for tomorrow is much cooler and showers in the morning.

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Frosty Morning

Big Hole River 514 cfs–Maidenrock, 410 cfs–Melrose
Madison River 3640 cfs

The upper Madison was closed briefly due to high flows connected to problems with Hebgen Dam. PPL stated that the dam is stable but they are having problems with outlet control structure. The river and access points are open again but not to camping. FWP stated that there is a slight chance the river may rise as much 3000 cfs so don’t park your rig next to the river.

We were in no hurry to get started this morning as it was just a bit chilly. I was hoping for some clouds for streamer action but it was a bright morning. A.P. was in the boat this morning and he loves to throw streamers so I said let’s try them regardless of the bright sun. We were pleasantly surprised as the browns and bows were whacking it. He hooked one huge fish that we never saw as it went right to the bottom and he could barely move it and the hook simply pulled out.
I was also very surprised at how well the top water action was this afternoon. Especially since the river came up over 200 cfs yesterday with all the rain and snow.
When we started out this morning I warned Allan and Sue it might be a slow day. It turned out to be a great day.

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“The Van”

Big Hole 2360 cfs
Beaverhead 506 cfs
Madison 720 cfs (near Varney Bridge)

I spoke with Dan Delekta from Bear Tooth Lodge over on the Madison this evening. He said the Madison is the lowest he has ever seen it and the wade fishing is great. According to Dan it has been low and clear for about a week now. Obviously they are filling Hebgen dam.

Since things are pretty slow here at the shop for the rest of the week I suggested to Art that he grab “The Van” and play the trout bum for a few days. He didn’t say much but after a few minutes I walked to the back of the shop and he already had the van half loaded and was getting ready to be on his way. I have described this van before but will do it again. It’s a 1986 Chevy Tahoe in super condition. It comes equipped with a comfortable bed, chest of drawers, places to hang rods, waders, etc. great stereo system, captains chairs and more. Bottom line is that its a trout bum’s dream and it doesn’t take up much room. You load up your gear, get behind the wheel and go where ever you please. Hard telling when he will be back as he basically emptied his fridge in a big cooler. He even took several bottles of his coveted Hitchin Post wine?????

The Big Hole is fishing very well with the flow dropping. Extended forecast is for some quite warm days and I expect the river to take a little jump then but nothing drastic.

Our precipitation for the month of May was way beyond average. The surrounding hills leading to the high country are about as green as you will ever see them. Up river the Blue Lupine and Indian Paint Brush are just starting to bloom and no mosquitos yet. That will soon change with the warmer temps.
When the mosquitos come out so will the salmon fly’s.

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Baetis and Buggers

Big Hole 217 cfs
Beaverhead 174 cfs
Jefferson 546 cfs

Fishing on the Jefferson yesterday was spotty with little action on streamers. In the afternoon a brief light shower came down and if like magic just after, the baetis came out big time. There were duns all over the place and we found a few pods of fish who feasting on them. I tdidn’t last very long but it was fun while it did with lots of top water action.

Today didn’t start out very good as when we got to the river my client discovered he had forgot his waders. He was really upset with himself and asked about wet wading. With the temp. in the 40’s that was not an option. We headed back to Dillon to get him a new pair which he needed anyway. To lighten up the situation I told him about the time I went to this far away river and discovered I had forgot not only my wading shoes but all my fly’s as well. The only ones I had were the dead soldiers I stick on the back seat of my jeep when we get off the river. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a couple dozen beat up fly’s. The day started out poorly but when we got on the river things turned on. Baetis were coming off and we immediately starting sticking some nice fish on top water. Mary was elated with some of the fish she caught. When that action slowed up we went to streamers. Jim had never caught a fish on a streamer but after today I believe I have created another monster.

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