Suddenly it’s summer, and we’ve traded our rain gear for sandals and shorts, and our nymph rigs for single dries.
All of our area rivers have come into good (arguably perfect) shape, for chasing dry flies down the river.
Bitterroot at Darby: 1470 cfs
Clark Fork at St Regis: 11,500 cfs
Blackfoot at Bonner: 2,160 cfs
While still robust, these flows–coupled with strong hatches of green drakes (hatching at night but spinning mid-morning), PMDS, yellow sallies, and goldens–have put us in the wheelhouse for great dry fly fishing each day.
Depending on the river, stretch, and weather, we’ve been adding droppers to our dries, and even employing the occasional slop rig on the Blackfoot, on very bright days in the deep holes.
After a week of sunshine, the lower Clark Fork is set to bloom with PMDs on the next cloudy day. Golden stones and sallies are catching fish each day, and the evening caddis blitz is living up to its name–fast and furious. If you’re out late, keep a keen eye out for mayfly spinners late in the evening–a thrashing rise form is usually a caddis (even pupa) take, whereas a sip is likely from a trout eating a spent bug. Nocturnal stoneflies are right around the corner.
Of all our area rivers, the Bitterroot, particularly its upper reaches, has offered the best day-in, day-out dry fly fishing–however, we haven’t even really begun to see the hoards of Bitteroot stoneflies that are to come in the next week or so as the water continues to drop and warm. We’re trying not to be jinx it, but we can’t help thinking of two years ago when these stones came off until early August on the West Fork.
Overall, if the last time you went fishing was during the high water salmonfly hatch, it’s probably tempting to pound the banks. For the most part, though, our fish have moved off the banks, and the most successful anglers are keeping a fair amount of water under their dry flies.