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Big Hole Fishing Report: Northern Lights, New Regs, 5/13/24

This spring has been nothing short of a weather roller coaster. Not suprising if you have lived in Montana long enough but still... Shortly after tapping our first keg of the year at the fly shop (yes, it is Rainier) mother nature gave us a full frontal. I have seen the northern lights several times in Montana but these were exceptional, and with these fancy phones with fancier cameras, it was easy to capture.

The weather here in the valley has been changing dramatically over the last 2 weeks. From blizzards to 70 and sunny, we have seen it all. The leaves are budding on the trees and the hill sides have turned bright green, kickstarting the bug life along the river. The streamer fishing and nymph fishing is still holding strong with bright, shiny streamers being the most effective. The mothers day caddis hatch has just begun and we are still waiting for the fish to start keying into the top water bugs. Until that happens we will continue to throw caddis and may fly nymphs under stone flies.

Looking forward we expect to see the water continue to rise and the caddis hatch to get heavier. As much as I like to see fish eating the caddis, in my experience the streamer fishing has always producing better fish, but for those dry fly folks out there fish will begin to pick bugs off in the slower water and large foam pockets. For the boaters out there, keep an eye on the flows. If the flows continue to rise on the trajectory we may start seeing floating debris in the river. If you have concerns regarding floating, give us a call at the fly shop and we will help you make the right choice.

I did want to mention a few changes to the regulations that most people are un aware of. First, the fish and game has lifted treble hook restrictions for the entire river. Secondly, the FWP has allowed baitfishing below Browns bridge, but note that you are not allowed to keep any fish below dickie bridge. I am unclear how catch and release bait fishing can be done when the fish are swallowing the hooks, but apparently that is the expectation. For a river with a struggling trout population these regulations are wildly irresponsible and will perpetuate the problems we have been trying to solve.


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