Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 4/20

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

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot river is benefitting from the cooler weather, dropping and clearing with each day. The cooler weather is going to be with us for a bit which will keep the river fishing well. The Skwalas are moving fish on the surface, with the Plan B Gray/Olive and the Mill Creek Skwala working very well along the length of the river. Sub-surface, the 20 Incher and TJ Hooker are moving fish.
It feels like the Bitterroot is about 2-3 weeks late, and the Western March Browns have yet to truly establish. More are being seen every day, and pods of risers are starting to be found. The Parachute Hare’s Ear, Purple Haze and the Split Flag Adams have been taking the fish showing on the surface. The nymphing has been really good, with a PT Jig, Hare’s Ear Jig and the Caramel Jig working all day long. Don’t forget the Worm.
The streamer fishing has been good in the morning, with Tan and Olive bugs working better than others. Smaller streamers have been working better than the big dogs, with the Overcoat taking more than it’s share of fish. The dedicated streamer anglers have been taking fish all day long, but it’s tough passing up the risers.

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Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot river is a tale of two rivers right now. Below Monture Creek, the water is very off color, with almost no visibility. Above Monture, the river isn’t gin clear, but it’s definitely fishable. Bring your indicators and streamers- the dry fly fishing up here is almost non-existent. Pick your big and little nymphs, and get them deep. The Blackfoot is still very cold, so the fish are in their Winter holding lies. Low and slow with nymphs and streamers is the way to go. Not our first choice for fishing, buty if you’re willing to do the work, you can take some fish.
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Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork river is off color, pretty much along the length. It’s still fishable, especially above the Blackfoot confluence. The middle section has very limited visibility due to the Blackfoot, but by the time you get to the lower section, the visibility gets decent enough to fish.
Dry fly fishing has been spotty at best, but with the cooler temps forecast for the next 10 days, we should see the river clear a bit, and the dry fly fishing will improve. If you take a dry to the Clark Fork, expect to work for your rises.
The streamer fishing has been fairly good on the upper and lower stretches, taking advantage of the limited visibility. The Baby Gonga and the Boogie Man have been taking fish. The common denominator is a bulky head, allowing the fish to find the streamer in off color water. If you’ve got the dedicated streamer rod with sink tips, now is a good time to put it to work.
The nymphers have been working the edges with bigger nymphs like the TJ Hooker, Pat’s Rubber Legs or a Double Bead Stone. Keep the nymph as deep as possible, and put a tiny bit of action on the indicator to help the fish locate the fly. It’s a visibility issue on the Clark Fork, so be ready with high water tactics.

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Rock Creek

Another tale of two rivers, Rock Creek. Rock Creek Road is still not in good shape from mile 12 to the upper section. The upper section is fishing well, with March Browns and Skwalas bringing fish to the surface. The Rasta Skwala is working really well, followed by the Mill Creek Skwala. For the WMB’s, the Parachute Adams has been very consistent. Don’t sleep on the nymphing. The San Juan Worm is getting it done with regularity- not really a surprise. A Double Bead Stone Peacock or the 20 Incher are working for Skwala nymphs, or use a Duracell and Pheasant Tail Jig for the WMB nymph.
The lower river is a little off color, but not enough to slow down the fishing. Streamers have been producing very well on the lower section. The deeper holes are a perfect streamer green- take advantage. There’s a lot of water in the lower section, making dry fly fishing a bit of a challenge. High floating Skwalas like the Plan B or the True Wing Skwala worked along the edges have taken fish, but not at pace. The WMB’s also need to be close to the bank. Look for slower water along the edge, and expect to work for your rises.
The nymphing on the lower section has been excellent. It’s almost a pick’em situation. Take your favorites and make sure to get them deep. The Euro nymphers have been cleaning up, and we’re hearing about anglers drop shotting to get the depth. It’s about the depth- get your flies to the bottom and the fish are eating well.
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Spring Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.