Great, Amazing, Awesome, Dries all Day, Wonderful. These are words We've been hearing at the takeouts a lot this week. The dry fly season is in full swing here on the Bitterroot River and we couldn't be happier.
PMD's, Drakes, Bitterroot Stones, Sallies, Caddis, and even terrestrials have all been big players this week depending on the stretch you have been on. Here's a rundown of what to expect on the river in the coming week.
Expect PMD's almost every morning around 10:00-1:00. Somedays these hatches are thicker than others but when you see fish up before lunch, a well place size 14-16 mayfly pattern will usually get the job done. Afternoons are a little trickier. Somedays the fish have been on the drake, others, the Bitterroot Stone, and others, the Yellow Sallie. Keep changing if you're not getting eats (cripples are always a solid play). The fish will eat the dry fly (well, almost always) and the only way to solve the puzzle is to keep changing things up until you find the answer. If you want to throw on a dropper, go right ahead. It'll work, no doubt, but there'll be plenty of time for that later.
Mid/Lower River: This in my opinion is Angler's Roost on down. PMD's are making daily appearances around mid-morning and the fish are eating them. This is the place for that special little cripple pattern you've been saving all this time. In the right places you can target some truly large fish sipping mayflies. While these fish ain't easy, catching a 20+ inch brown on a small mayfly is as about as good as it gets. If you want to escape most of the boat traffic on the upper stretches of the 'Root then this is the place to be. Only the sneakiest guides will be found down here! The golden stones have been hit or miss depending on the section but when you find them the fishing can be off the charts. On a cloudy day the mid river is the place to be as the drakes can be out in force. Anybody who has hit a good day on the lower river will tell you, it can be as good as it gets. Granted, it's not as easy as hopping on the "cutty train" up on the upper river. The lower Bitterroot can be a fickle and moody river and much more challenging to read. The rewards however can be worth rolling the dice a little! Just keep an eye on stream temps., especially if we get a string of hot days.
Upper Main: This part of the system has been fishing well. Most days... You could find a ton of bugs and fish up one day and float the same section and see very few the next. That's how it goes sometimes. The upper river has definitely been seeing a lot of traffic so getting out early or late can have it's advantages. PMD's, Bitterroots, Drakes, Sallies, and even the occasional caddis can play well here at times. Don't get locked into fishing big foamy flies like a lot of folks do. The trout will tend to eat the small mayfly more times than not! Expect some days to be filled with mostly dinks,while others will produce decent fish. Not sure why this is, it's just the way it is.
Westfork: Certainly the most consistent, forgiving, and dare I say "easy" option. One word of caution. It's busy out there! Again, getting out early can have it's advantages if you play your cards right. You will find all the same bugs up here as on the main and the trout will eat them. Lots of dinks up here this time of year, be warned! Solid fish will still be found however, especially on cloudy days.