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Beating the heat on the Big Hole

Hoot owl restrictions have been placed on most of Western Montana’s rivers as of July 3. The majority of the Big Hole is under hoot owl restrictions (closed to fishing from 2 pm until midnight). Dickie Bridge to Maiden Rock FAS is still open, under normal regulations. We are starting to see dead fish on the bottom of the river, no doubt from being caught during a high stress time for the river.  Fisherman need to understand that when the fish are stressed we need to be especially careful when fighting, and handling the trout.  The quicker we can get the fish off the hook, the better chance they have to survive.  Remember to wet your hands before handling the fish and revive them when necessary.


Connor with a healthy rainbow

Last week was quite the whirlwind.  Despite the hot water, wind, and FWP regulations, our Sam Adams trip went well.  From a guides stand point, fishing was tough.  We had to find water to fish off of the beaten track, hit the rivers at 5 am, and plan our sleeping hours accordingly.  With 3 kids on the trip, GDO had to come up with activities and other things to do in the afternoon.  The first day we decided to hit the Big Hole at 5 am.  The plan was to get to the fish before the water heated up and be off the river by 12 noon.  The fishing was great, and we had all the water to ourselves.  The side channels produced the best fish, and the main stem fished well enough.  The second day we decided to head to the Beaverhead River and use the same timing.  We started off with shallow water nymph rigs and fished the smaller side channels before the other boats were on the water.  Conner, a 16 year old from Florida, fished very well despite myself and fellow guide Ben Hahn breathing down his neck every cast.  We landed several beautiful rainbows, but the bulk of the catch was brown trout.  The fly’s of the day were an olive wooly bugger #8, and a sparkle midge nymph #20.  Later in the day the storms began to roll in, and we decided that it was time to go dry fly fishing.  The black chubby trailed by a #16 caddis cripple produced several eats and a few nice fish until the rain blew us off the river around 3:45 pm.


Sunset over the Pioneers, from the Blodge

The bulk of the group showed up on Tuesday night.  We needed to make a plan for 8 anglers, including 3 kids.  I decided to utilize our private water so that our guides would have a chance to do some casting and fish fighting lessons before we hit the rivers and streams.  Everyone caught a fish, and missed a few chances, which is all you can ask for in 100 degree heat, especially with first time beginners.  The next day everyone was getting a bit tired of 430 am breakfasts.  Our guides pulled together and decided to use our knowledge of the smaller creeks around Dillon, believing that our best chances would be in the coldest water we could find.  This proved to be correct.  The smaller streams and still water fishing was quite good.  We planned several activities for the afternoons, including horseback riding lessons with Lia, horseshoe tournaments, smore eating competitions, and last but not least, a shooting class conducted by our very own Juice Box (thanks buddy!).

Overall the trip was a success despite the river being low, and the water temps hitting record highs.  Special thanks to all of our guides and friends who stayed flexible, and showed everyone a great time.

Today I am going to be fishing the Big Hole, above Divide. I am planning on using dry flies until I reach the canyon, then switching to a bugger to see if we can entice some fish out of the deeper holes.


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