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. … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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. … Continue reading

“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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Fishing On The Jefferson

Big Hole River 213 cfs
Beaverhead 210 cfs
Jefferson 507 cfs

First fish of the day on the Jeff. was a fat, thick, hot, 21 inch rainbow taken on a streamer in a very nondescript place. That was also the biggest fish of the day. For the most part it was a bit tough fishing. This morning it was bright and cold as the temp. got down to 28 last night. We picked up several more fish through out the day but we had to go nymphs. After the sun got higher the fish refused to chase streamers. Art hit one hot spot and got five out of one riffle on a Delekta mega prince and a p.t.

The flow on the Big Hole is right on track to have it reopened by this weekend.

Forecast for tomorrow is mostly cloudy with some showers. That should … Continue reading


Big Hole River 150 cfs
Beaverhead River 266 cfs
Jefferson River 356 cfs

Today’s edition of the Montana Standard carried a front page article about the investigations concerning those diversion dams. They confirmed with the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks that they are under official investigation. The article stated that Dick Oswald who is the local biologist for the DFWP would not comment on the out come as it is still under investigation. In a phone converstion with Dick just a short while ago, he assured me those barriers on the two dams I filed the official complaint on would be removed soon. He did not give me a definite date but just said soon. Of course in the article my name popped up as the official complainer. According to the polls my popularity with fisherman all over the country has grown by leaps and … Continue reading

Slo Mo

Big Hole River 154 cfs
Beaverhead River 281 cfs
Missouri River 3730 cfs

The past few days on the Mo. was relatively slow fishing as far as numbers were concerned. Monday and Tuesday were bright blue bird days with no wind which is a rarity up there. Mid mornings there was some trico action so we tried a #16 purple haze with a trico emerger and they wouldn’t touch the emerger. All the fish we got on top water was on the haze. We tried several hopper patterns all three days and didn’t get a look. Today the wind was blowing at mach 2 and we saw several hoppers get blown into the river and still no takers. What we lacked in numbers we made up for in size as the yuk bug produced some really big fish. There were a lot of dead spots but with … Continue reading