A float trip down the Stillwater River last Saturday was a cool respite from the hot weather we’ve been suffering through out here in south-central Montana. The river wasn’t too crowded, either, considering a float is a great way to beat the heat.
We stopped along the way to soak a fly. We were fishing hoppers with a beadhead dropper and catching trout early in the day. Things pretty well shut down after noon. Checking out the hyrdrograph on the USGS website shows the river has dropped almost a foot since my float trip on Saturday and the water temps are consistently pushing up into the 70s by late in the day. Those higher temps are harmful to trout. That’s the reason “hoot owl” restrictions have been enacted on rivers like the lower Madison, lower Big Hole, Jefferson, Sun and Smith rivers. So anglers hitting those streams have to fish early or not at all. Of course, if you’re keeping what you catch, there’s no worry about stressing the fish since they won’t be released.
The Yellowstone River has supposedly cleared back up after rainstorms muddied it up. It was still dirty when I was on it Saturday. It can also be fished with a hopper and a dropper.
On the reservoirs, smallmouth bass fishing is good on the Tongue and anglers are taking walleye on the Bighorn. Fishing deep will be the key as the water temperatures climb.
On another matter, did you know that there are companies that mine skeet and trap clubs to recover the lead shot that falls to the ground. One such miner is up at the Billings Rod and Gun Club throughout this month picking up shot. They have a special machine that sifts out the shot from the topsoil they scrape off the club grounds. One 50-gallon drum holds about 3,000 pounds of shot that is either sold to a recycler or back to the club. One of those dirty jobs you never really hear about.
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor for the Billings Gazette; Photo: Brett French)