The big water is quite large and getting bigger by the day. Its “High Water” season in the Flathead Valley.
Small water is no longer a good descriptions of our creeks and small rivers. Everything flowing is big right now. It might look a little daunting to fish these waters but if you know where to look, you can be successful at fishing for trout. The key is to find slower water. Trout are like us. They can be lazy. They don’t want to have to work any harder than they have to. Look for any sort of current breaks or slow downs. This can be logs jams, eddies, inside corners or inside bends. Getting down and dirty with a nymph rig is probably your best option. Streamers will get trout to move as well but you might be limited on the amount of water you can target.
Mouths of creeks are a good place to explore this time of year as well. Look for areas where creeks enter lakes or reservoirs. You can find slower water, cover, and good food sources at these locations. Be careful when you are out walk and wade fishing these smaller waters this time of year. They are “rocking and rolling” right now and if you aren’t careful you could find yourself cold and wet.
If you are gonna throw them, keep em big. It might suit you well to throw a nymph dropper underneath to be able to fish both the topwater as well as subsurface.
Under the bobber:
A common thing to hear this time of year when a bunch of fishing guides are together is “the worm, bro”. This pattern flat out works this time of year. You can go squirmy worm if you are a new age hipster or anyone that wears a flat brim hat. You can go wire worm if you are the no frills, “get er done” kind of angler. Or the chenille worm if you’re that old school angler that wants to catch fish but not feel like you’re lowering yourself to fishing a worm pattern but instead, trying to imitate a large blood midge. Whatever you have to tell yourself, you are probably best to tie on some sort of version of a worm onto the end of your leader. Other patterns to consider are Pat’s rubber legs, hotheaded nymphs, drake nymphs, flashy pheasant tails, and leech patterns. Get them down fast and keep em deep.
Target the same water you would fish nymphs this time of year. Add split shot or sink tip to get your streamers down. Try a variety of colors. The trick is to stand out. Water can be off color in some areas and you want to get the trout’s attention. Also, don’t be afraid to slap the streamer down on the water. Delicate presentations are not needed this time of year.
While our streams and rivers are inundated with last season’s snow, our local stillwaters (lakes) are heating up. Home to some of our biggest fish, stillwaters in the Flathead Valley and surrounding areas offer great opportunities to get into cold and warm water species of fish. Most if not all stillwaters have lost their ice caps and access to some of the more remote stillwaters is getting easier by the day.
The trout bite has been quite good. The trout are actively feeding throughout the day on a variety of food sources. Balanced leeches, midges, or scuds dangled below a bobber at the depth that the trout are cruising has been a productive method. Not into staring at a bobber? I get it. Try stripping leeches, small streamers, or damsel fly nymphs on an midge tip or a sink tip. Match your sink tips to the depth of water that you want to target. Alternate stripping techniques till you find one that is most productive and stick with it.
A few trout have been seen feeding on the surface. However, consistent is not a word I would use to describe the dry fly bite this week. It’s only gonna get better in the near future so be sure to observe what insects are flying around or being washed up on the edge of the water to get first hand beta on what the trout are looking up for.
It’s still a little early in the season to have a consistent bass bite on the fly but as our water heats up here in the following weeks that will change. Once that happens, you can find a full bass report here.
Enjoy what this week brings, be well, and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.