Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 8/7

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

Hoot Owl restrictions are in place along the entire Bitterroot, from the confluence of the East and West Forks to the confluence at the Clark Fork. Hoot Owl hours do not allow fishing from 2:00 PM to midnight, so get out early if you’re heading to the Bitterroot.
The tricos have definitely established along the Bitterroot, and there are still some straggling PMD’s that will move fish, so have them with you. A CDC Thorax Trico or a Don King Trico have been working on the Bitterroot, as has the Gould’s Sunken Trico. If you use a Sunken Trico, drop it off a size 18 Royal Wulff (you’ll be surprised how many risers take the Royal Wulff) so you can locate the dropper. Use anywhere from 3-6 inches of dropper to control the depth.
The golden stones are almost gone, but are being replaced by the Hopper. A tan hopper, like the Morrish or the Tan Henneberry will work as both a Golden or a hopper. The Pink Thunder Thighs and the Juicy Hopper are also moving fish, and those two will also float a decent sized dropper. Don’t focus exclusively on Hoppers- other terrestrials are also working very well. The Micro Chubby in Tan and Gold are working well as a beetle, and the Ant Acid in Purple is taking fish as well.
When you go subsurface, try a Copper Top Duracell, a G Kes or a Tungsten Jig Pheasant Tail, all in a 14-16. Make sure your dropper is long enough to get the fly to the bottom, because wit the warmer water, the fish are hugging the bottom. When you hook a fish on a nymph, play it hard and fast, to get it back to the bottom quickly. If you’re wading, move out of the warmer water along the edges and release the trout in the cooler water away from the bank. Work the riffles hard with a nymph- lots more fish there than you think due to oxygenation.
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Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is fishing well along its length, having benefitted from the extended run-off, though getting a bit low for hard boats. Remember it’s inner tube season, so if you’re thinking of fishing the lower sections, get on at dawn and be ready to be off by 11:00, when the inner tube hatch begins.
Tricos are hatching on the Blackfoot, the trick is to find a place where bigger fish are rising. If you do, the Female Trico Spinner or the Hi-Viz are very effective. Sporadic Spruce Moths are being seen, so have those with you. If you don’t have any, a simple Tan Caddis will do the trick. The Goldens are still working, but they’re waning, so use what you have. Make sure to have a few Hoppers as well, including the Morrish Hopper in Purple, as well as the Tan Thunder Thighs and the Juicy Hopper.
Don’t sleep on the Attractor Fly fishing up here as well. It’s a great time to run the Hippie Stomper, Stubby Chubbies and the good old Royal Wulff. The fish are hungry and food is scarce, so a well placed dry will definitely spur on the interest.
If you plan to run a smaller dropper, it’s just as important to lengthen the dropper length as it is to get the right fly. A simple Tungsten Jig Pheasant Tail, Caramel Jig or a Hare’s Ear Jig are working well. Truthfully, since most of the nymphs have hatched out, almost any well drifted nymph at the correct depth will work. If you want to throw a bigger nymph, like a Tungsten Zirdle or a TJ Hooker, you’re going to want to use an indicator. 6 feet is not too deep to set the indicator- the fish are belly hugging the bottom in the deeper pools. Fight the fish hard, and fight them fast to get them back to their homes quickly.
We’ve also had some decent action on streamers in the last week. A White Sculpzilla and the White Mini Dungeon have been moving fish, as has the Skiddish Smolt and the Tungsten Found Ya Bugger.
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Clark Fork River

There are Hoot Owl restrictions on the Clark Fork River, specifically from the confluence of the Bitterroot to the confluence of the Flathead, and from Warm Springs to the confluence of Flint Creek. When Hoot Owl hours are in effect, there is no fishing from 2:00 PM to midnight, to avoid stressing the fish in the heat of the day.
With that said, the Clark Fork has been fishing well in the middle and lower sections. The tricos are now consistent in the morning, and there are still a few pods of fish taking the last of the PMD’s. The Hi-Viz Trico spinner is always a good choice for finding your fly, and drop a Female Trico Spinner or a CDC Thorax Trico behind it. Clark Fork fish can get a bit fussy about the Hi-Viz, especially the big ones, but you can use it to sight in the floating dropper.
Hoppers are starting to be eaten as well, and they are blending in with the almost done Golden Stones. The fish are still looking up for a big floater, so have a Morrish Hopper Tan or a Henneberry Tan to do double duty. The Tan Parachute Hopper has stayed hot from last year, as has the Sweetwater Hopper. Don’t forget the other terrestrials! The Ant Acid in Brown and Purple are working well, as is the Stubby Chubby in Cinnamon and Purple. It’s terrestrial time, so take advantage.
Subsurface, a smaller jig nymph like the Yellow Spot Jig, the G Kes or the Bullet Quill is working. Since most of the nymphs have just hatched out, there’s not a lot of food available to the trout. Just as important as the fly selection is the length of your dropper. That 2’ dropper that’s so easy to cast should be lengthened to about 3.5-4 feet. The fly needs to get the fish that are hugging the bottom. The annoyance of casting the long dropper will be balanced by more fish. Fluorocarbon leader is preferred at this point, since the water is so clear.
On the lower Clark Fork, a Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs or a TJ Hooker will work very well as the point on a double nymph rig. Those flies work best deep, so set your indicator about 7 feet from the fly. Drop a smaller fly off the bottom of the Pat’s to double your chances.
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Rock Creek

Rock Creek is fishing very well along the length, mostly due to the high gradient and good oxygenation. You should still fight the fish quickly to minimize stress in the heat, but that’s a strategy that should be employed at all times, not just in the heat of the summer.
There are still a few straggling PMD’s, and the Tricos are also appearing. As always, the trick on Rock creek is to find a place where the fish are eating Tricos. If you know of a place (and don’t tell anyone!) a simple Hi-Viz Spinner or CDC Thorax will get the fish moving. Nothing fancy in flies- it’s finding them that takes the time.
Still a few straggling Golden Stones, and those will meld into hopper fishing. A Tan Morrish Hopper or Sweetwater Hopper have been working up here, doing a bit of double duty in the imitation department. If you’re looking for a more specific hopper pattern, the Tan Parachute or Tan Henneberry have been producing. Don’t forget the other terrestrials as well. The Black or Purple Ant Acid have been great along the edges, and the Stubby Chubby is proving to be an excellent beetle imitation under the trees. A few random Spruce Moths are being seen, so have your Tan Caddis. Have them anyways, because the caddis are still coming out at dusk.
It’s also fun to run Attractor dries at this time of year. A big Royal Wulff, Yellow Stimulator or a big foamie will pull fish up to eat. If you run a big foamie, drop a smaller Hare’s Ear jig or a Yellow Spot Jig underneath for more action. Make sure your dropper is a bit longer than you want it to make sure you’re getting where the fish are. If you deciode to run a bigger nymph, like a Pat’s Rubberlegs or a Black Double Bead Stone, use an indicator to make sure the fly gets deep enough.
A well placed streamer is also producing in the deeper pools. A Gold/Silver Kreelix has been quite successful, and of course the Sparkle Minnow is still money on Rock Creek. And if big flies are on your mind, step out after dark with a mouse and see what some of the bigger fish are doing. This is the time for mousing, and Rock Creek has a lot of fish that are active at night.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!