The recent cold snap and snow was just in time for the Big Game opener. Meaning the fisherman largely had the river to themselves if you’re willing to brave the elements. Recently we have had success on the lower Bitterroot near Poker Joe swinging soft hackle flies and small streamers. The Mini Montana Intruder is picking up a few fish and so is a swung October Caddis. Mornings on the Bitterroot will require you to fish nymphs. I like to tight line nymph leading the nymphs through likely runs. A weighted Pats stone fly or even a small Wooly Bugger with a tag fly like a Perdigon or Frenchie will produce a strike for sure. The same principle applies if you’re fishing under a strike indicator. You are going to pick up a lot of whitefish and some may turn their nose up at these fish but they pull hard and are fun to catch. If you’re catching a lot of Whitefish realize that their presence is an indication of a healthy fishery.
The Browns are certainly aggressive and will take a streamer. Wooly buggers and Zonkers in olive, yellow and white are working for us. If you want to take them on top wait till it warms up and throw your bugs to rising fish with a long leader and downstream approach. The October caddis is around as are regular caddis. Mahoganies and Hecuba’s and midges will certainly turn the fish on.
If you’re into steelhead then you need to head over the mountains to the Clearwater River. The numbers are up compared to recent years. Swinging a dry fly designed to skate across the top of the water is an exciting way to catch these Unicorns. This river is ideal for swinging surface flies for these extraordinary fish. It won’t happen very often but when it does boy is it a treat. Use a Scandi line with a floating tip and about 10 feet of 12lb tippet. Examples of flies that will work are Bombers, Ska-oppers, Gurglers and the Steelhead Beetle. Being consistent and patient is the key. There is nothing quite like the take of a Steelhead on a tight line and watching the boil as the fish attacks your waking fly on the surface.
We at Total Outfitters have what you need from rods and reels to lines and bugs for those interested in chasing Steelhead with a spey rod. We are also avid Steelhead junkies and will gladly share what we know.