Where’s the hatch? That is the only question being asked of Doug Persico from Rock Creek Fishermans Mercantile these days.
Even Persico’s wife Carolyn says that out at Rock Creek, 20 miles east of Missoula, it really is the only thing anglers want to know about.
Why is this time of the year any different then any other on one of Montana’s most renowned blue ribbon trout streams? Two words…..Salmon Fly!
The annual madness is in full swing according to Persico, an 18-year veteran of the world famous hatch.
The hatch started last week and by this time the big brown and orange bugs should be flying along most the creek.
The hatch is a truly remarkable event in that it seems to rob usually shy and selective trout of most of their inhibitions. Big healthy trout of all species slash at dry flies with the abandon of fingerlings.
How do you tell if the hatch is on? Easy says Persico, “Like other stone flies, the huge, orange Salmon fly crawls up on dry land to split its nymphal shuck and crawl as an adult onto the bushes near the stream bank to dry its wings and look for a mate. So all you do is look on the bankside bushes. If you see insects, the hatch is on and fishing will probably be good”.
It is a great feeding time for the trout and a real busy time for anglers who are going after the trout.
“Anglers not only have to worry about the water conditions and fish but they have to be concerned about each other,” says Persico. “Nowhere else in Montana do float anglers get so close to their wading counterparts. In addition there are hordes of boat toting trucks and trailers being shuttled down Rock Creek road from the spots where floaters put in to spots where they will take out.”
With all this closeness, the anglers sometimes get a little short-tempered. The best rule of thumb is excercise a little patience. The last thing you want to do is to ruin one of Montanas best trout fishing opportunities.
There are a couple more things to understand about fishing the Salmon Fly hatch, according to Persico.
First, remember that the great majority of the bugs will be on the bushes by the bank. The trout remember this too, so the smart thing is to fish next to the bank, the closer the better.
Second, if action is slow, try a dry fly that has not been treated with flotant. You might be surprised how many strikes you get from a “drowned” fly.
Oh, and one more thing, adds Persico, “ Lets try to treat each other courteously so we all can have a good hatch”.
So the next time you call “The Merc” (406-825-6440) and Doug or Carolyn answer the phone, remember there will be no need for any normal phone pleasantries. Just simply blurt out, “Where is the hatch?” And then go fishing!