The Bitterroot has emerged from it's icy stranglehold in recent weeks but has been on quite a rollercoaster ride of flows due to the rapid snowmelt and rain we've been getting. Things should settle down soon and I'm betting that the fishing will be picking up shortly.
In the meantime, a dedicated group of west-sider's descended this President's day weekend on the not so sleepy town of Craiglandia and the Missouri River. The fishing ranged from tough to great to about as good as one could ever hope for all within a three day span. Here's the skinny on what's kinda going on if you desire to venture over the hill for a day or two.
- This was our bread and butter as in most winter trips. The first day we floated from the dam down along with half the state of Montana. This proved to be a critical mistake as folks were anchored in, or wading in every good run. From the dam to Craig you might have 6-10 spots to get the job done in. Sure you can pick up an odd fish here or there but overall the fish are stacked into the extremely slow and deep insides and occasional mid-river slots. When its busy out there these spots are fewer to come by, keep that in mind. The drive by will get you a few fish but parking and really working the right water will sure get you a bunch more. On our second day we floated a much less busy section and put around 100 fish in the net between two boats. We stopped and worked 6-8 spots really hard and blew threw everything else. We also fished deep. Really deep. On some runs we were 8-12 feet down from indicator to point fly with lots of weight. The fish are stuck close to the bottom right now and will rarely move up in the column to eat a fly. If you aren't catching fish you are either in the wrong water or too shallow and/or too light with your rig. As far as flies go here's the story. I fished a size 14 rainbow czech for three days until it finally disintegrated. I don't think the pattern matters nearly as much as putting the fly in front of the fish. Pick something you have confidence in and fish it well.
- The streamer bite was poor to mediocre in brief spurts. We landed a few nice browns but none that were worth writing home about. One was hooked that could have been something special but we never got a good look at him. the back dredge or the slow swing was how we connected with all our fish. black and other drab colored flies worked better than the flashy ones. Water temps need to climb a few degrees before I would get too excited to throw the sink tip all day long.
- Well, one of us found the only pod in the river eating on top and caught half a dozen. Midges are coming soon but aren't here in force quite yet. The next few weeks may be a different story.