Usually about the 15th of March we start swinging the Bitterroot, both the Blackfoot and Clark Fork follow as temps warm, but the Bitterroot is the river of choice until April. Swinging deep with Skagit lines and sinking tips as our line combinations is the norm with bugs that replicate sculpins, leaches, minnows, forage fish, and Skwala nymphs.
We’ve been enduring a rare period where winter conditions ice the Bitterroot over and make it nearly unfishable, the type of extended period that starts fermenting a serious case of the shack nasties. That’s what legendary fly-fishing sage and author, John Gierach, called the fly-fisherman’s cabin fever in the masterpiece, Trout Bum. Shack nasties.
To borrow a phrase from Tom Petty, The Waiting is the hardest Part…..I find myself in the middle of January 2021 with a general state of turbulence ongoing in the country….which only makes the waiting for fishing even more difficult.
Like most other things I was looking forward to this year, my first at college was upended by COVID-19. That upheaval has caused a myriad of stresses and the lack of a stable location from which to continue my online education from. As I have moved around the great American West, I have been privileged enough to fish countless rivers, streams, and lakes.
Float fisherman with outsized bobbers floating roe and sand shrimp through likely holes. Spoon fisherman making incredibly long casts across the river and the rare fly fisherman with a strike indicator and pegged eggs.