Missoula Fly Fishing Report 8/30

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot  is a great option this time of year as the night time temperatures cool down the water. It appears that we have one more week of warm weather and hopefully it will cool down to average September temps after this week. The dry fly fishing has been pretty consistent as of late with Tricos in the morning and hoppers in the afternoon. We have been seeing Hecubas and BWO’s on the cloudy days and fish are taking notice. If you are lucky enough to get out on an overcast day then focus on flies like the Olive Parachute Hare’s Ear, Hecuba Cripple, Brindle Chute, Hi-Vis BWO Spinner, BWO Dun or Mayfly attractor patterns such as Parachute Adams and Purple Haze. Hopper dropper mid day for the sunny days and Trico Spinners.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot water temps have cooled down a bit and the fishing is improving as the temps cool off. Still mostly a terrestrial game right now. Focus on Hoppers, Ants and Beetles. The streamer fishing is also starting to pick up. For fly patterns try the Morrish Hopper, Plan B, Water Walker and Chubby Chernobyl. If you run into a mid day lull then tie on a dropper like G-Kes, Pheasant Tail Hot Spot Jig, P-Tail Flashback Jig, Perds and Jig Hare’s Ear.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork has been fishing good from the top to the bottom and should continue to get better and better as night time temps start to cool for the remainder of the season. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMD’s, Tricos, Hecubas, and some decent hopper action is on the menu right now. Some of the best fishing in Missoula can be found on the Clark Fork this time of year. For flies most of your PMD and more so tricos as of late will work along with bigger bugs like the Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater. Droppers include G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading. The hopper fishing is producing some great fishing. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game right now. The creek will get better and better as the temps drop.

MISSOULA FLY FISHING REPORT 8/20

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot is a great option right now and the dry fly fishing has been good. The water temperature is still fairly warm so focus on the first half of the day. We have been seeing plenty of PMD’s, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Tricos and the hopper fishing is in full swing too. If you come across a mid day lull then the dry dropper rig will keep you busy. Our go to droppers right now are the G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s. For Dries we have been running Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot water temps have cooled down after the last cold front and is a solid option right now. The spruce moths have been tapering off lately with the cold fronts that have moved through. It’s terrestrial time on the Blackfoot so focus on Hoppers, ants,beetles and your go to attractor pattenrs. Flies to try include the Ant-Acid, Water Walkers, Plan B’s, Water Walkers, Flush Floaters, Mill Creek, Super G for dries and for droppers try Perd’s, Ptail Soft Spots, G-Kes, Jiggin Stones and Jig Pheasant Tails.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork has been fishing good from the top to the bottom and should continue to get better and better as night time temps start to cool for the remainder of the season. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMD’s, Tricos, and some decent hopper action is on the menu right now. Some of the best fishing in Missoula can be found on the Clark Fork this time of year. For flies most of your PMD and more so tricos as of late will work along with bigger bugs like the Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater.Droppers include G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading. Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies have been our go to and the hopper fishing is producing some great fish too. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game right now.

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 8/5

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot is a great option right now and the dry fly fishing has been good. We have been seeing plenty of PMD’s, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Tricos and the hopper fishing is in full swing too. If you come across a mid day lull then the dry dropper rig will keep you busy. Our go to droppers right now are the G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s. For Dries we have been running Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is warming up but still fishing good throughout the morning and early afternoon. The spruce moths have been around for the last week or so but not in any numbers until this week. We have been seeing lots of moths which will keep the fish busy for the next few weeks. It’s terrestrial time on the Blackfoot so focus on Hoppers, Moths, ants and beetles. Flies to try include the Mangler Moth, Fathead Moth, Ant-Acid, Water Walkers, Plan B’s, Flush Floaters, Mill Creek, Super G for dries and for droppers try Perd’s, Ptail Soft Spots, G-Kes, Jiggin Stones and Jig Pheasant Tails.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork has been fishing good from the top to the bottom. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMD’s, Tricos, Spruce Moths and some decent hopper action is on the menu right now. Some of the best fishing in Missoula can be found on the Clark Fork this time of year. For flies most of your PMD patterns will work along with bigger bugs like the Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater, Mangler Moth, Fathead Moth. Droppers include G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading. Spruce Moths, Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies have been our go to and the hopper fishing is producing some great fish too. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game right now.

Here is a few tips for protecting our fish with the warmer water temps that we have seen lately:

Limit the amount of handling time. Take the hook out and put the fish back in the water asap.

Use heavier tippet so you are not fighting the fish for a prolonged period of time.  3x and 4x is just fine this time of year.

Be diligent later in the day when water warms up.

Explore the high mountain creeks and springs where the water is much cooler and fish are much happier.

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 7/29

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot is a great option right now and the dry fly fishing has been good. We have been seeing plenty of PMD’s, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and the hopper fishing is in full swing too. If you come across a mid day lull then the dry dropper rig will keep you busy. Our go to droppers right now are the G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s. For Dries we have been running Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is warming up but still fishing good throughout the morning and early afternoon. The spruce moths have been around for the last week or so but not in any numbers until this week. We have been seeing lots of moths the last few days and this should keep the fish busy for the next few weeks. It’s terrestrial time on the Blackfoot so focus on Hoppers, Moths, ants and beetles. Flies to try include the Mangler Moth, Fathead Moth, Ant-Acid, Water Walkers, Plan B’s, Flush Floaters, Mill Creek, Super G for dries and for droppers try Perd’s, Ptail Soft Spots, G-Kes, Jiggin Stones and Jig Pheasant Tails.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork has been fishing good from the top to the bottom. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMD’s, Spruce Moths and some decent hopper action is on the menu right now. Some of the best fishing in Missoula can be found on the Clark Fork this time of year. For flies most of your PMD patterns will work along with bigger bugs like the Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater, Mangler Moth, Fathead Moth. Droppers include G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading. Spruce Moths, Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies have been our go to and the hopper fishing is producing some great fish too. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game right now

Come join us Saturday 8/3 for our 4th annual Crawdad Boil. Crawdads, Pike, Beer, Burgers and Hot Dogs are all on the menu.

Pale Morning Duns and Pale Evening Duns

Why are we grouping these two together, when they’re so taxonomically different? Because the same fly that works in the morning will work in the evening, so with the same imitation, we lump them together. The PMD’s and PED’s are the first hatches post run-off that can be wader friendly for fly fishing, and the PMD’s are a classic mayfly hatch. PMD’s have been known to darn near blanket the waters on the Clark Fork River and Bitterroot River, and they’re also very prevalent on Rock Creek and the Blackfoot River. This is a very important insect for Missoula rivers and it’s fisherman.

When we say classic mayfly hatch, it comes from the view many anglers take, declaring matching the hatch as the premiere challenge in fly fishing. During a blanket hatch, the fish definitely key in on certain stages of emergence and adulthood. Because of the feeding complexity, the PMD is a hatch where you buy flies wide and shallow. That means if you buy 6 PMD’s, get two parachutes, two cripples and two emergers. That way, you’re better able to match the insect stage being focused on, instead of having six adults when the trout want cripples. It’s not a bad way to buy flies at any time, but especially important with an abundance of insects. The PED’s aren’t always as abundant, but since you’ll already have a wide array of flies, you’ll be ready!

The PMD nymphs are crawlers, and very poor swimmers. After bottom release, their ascent to the surface is quite feeble. The long, slow rise to the surface gives trout time to gorge, and during emergence trout may be found higher in the water column, following nymphs to the surface. The PMD emergence is one time you may not want your nymph on the bottom, but suspended a little higher up. It’s an exciting way to nymph, sight fishing to suspended fish. A jig Pheasant Tail or a Racing Gold Perdigon is effective at this time. After ascent, PMD’s emerge from their shucks a couple of inches from the surface and finish floating to the meniscus to emerge as adults.

Trout can very specifically target PMD’s after emergence from their shuck but not yet to the surface. Pay close attention to the rise form. If there are no bubbles trailing the rise, chances are very good the fish didn’t break the surface with its mouth, but with its back. Floating a dry fly over a fish that’s not coming to the surface is exceptionally frustrating! If there are no bubbles, attach an emerger or a nymph on a dropper about 4 inches long. This will allow the fly to sink just under the surface film, but not too deeply. You’ll take a lot of “risers” this way.

With the PMD, it’s a good time to talk about the difference between a cripple and an emerger. Our best answer is about 1 second. Mother Nature is not always kind, and when the emergence process is interrupted, the insect quickly goes from emerger to cripple. It’s not as complicated as some people make it out to be. Both cripples and emergers are found in the surface film, and often imitated by the same fly, like a Film Critic. The PMD, with its slow emergence, provides multiple opportunities to use a fly in the film. A rise form to a fly in the film may or may not leave bubbles. Just adds to the puzzle!

Once a PMD has broken through the meniscus and emerged, it must wait for its wings to dry before flying. Depending on weather conditions, an adult can ride on the surface for quite a long distance, again providing the trout with quality feeding opportunities. A Tiltwing Dun or simple parachutes are excellent imitations for the adult.

So let’s make things complicated. PMD’s and PED’s also fall as brown spinners, which is imitated by the Hi-Vis Rusty Spinner. A spinner is a spent adult, returning to the water to finish its life cycle. These spinner falls can occur early in the morning, late at night, or, our favorite, during the hatch. So quite often, you will have the option of Rusty Spinners during the emergence, which adds complexity to matching the hatch. Again, we return to the classic concept of a mayfly hatch. You can find a group of rising fish, and while one may be taking emergers, the fish next to it may be taking adults, cripples or spinners. Which can make matching the hatch an interesting proposition. But isn’t that why we choose to pursue a fish with a measured IQ of 4, to keep things interesting!

Fisherman and guides are pretty spoiled in Missoula, MT having so many great hatches for fly fishing and the PMD is one hatch that last longer then most. This makes it a very important insect and there should be plenty of different stages of imitations in your fly box.

Additional PMD and PED Resources

MISSOULA FLY FISHING REPORT 7/15

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot is a great option right now and the dry fly fishing has been good. We have been seeing plenty of PMD’s, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and the hopper fishing is starting to pick up as well. If you come across a mid day lull then the dry dropper rig will keep you busy. Our go to droppers right now are the G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s. For Dries we have been running Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is producing some great fish lately and should continue to fish well throughout the month. There are still a few Salmon Flies up top but the fish are more keyed in on the Golden Stones and hoppers then anything. Streamer fishing has continued to produce well if you like chucking the big bugs. Flies to try include Water Walkers, Plan B’s, Flush Floaters, Mill Creek, Super G for dries and for droppers try Perd’s, Ptail Soft Spots, G-Kes, Jiggin Stones and Jig Pheasant Tails.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork has been fishing great from top to bottom. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMD’s and some decent hopper action is on the menu right now. Some of the best fishing in Missoula can be found on the Clark Fork this time of year. For flies most of your PMD patterns will work along with bigger bugs like the Water Walkers, Plan B’s and Flush Floater. Droppers include G-Kes Ptail Hot Spot, Jiggin Stones and just about any color Perd’s.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading. Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies have been our go to and the fish are starting to look up for hoppers too. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game right now.