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September 16, 2020 Bitterroot River Update

As we slowly descend into the fall season, the river seems quieter as people are trading in their fly rods for bows and rifles. For the determined angler, this is a great time of year to have the river a little bit more to yourself. The perpetual gloom that hangs over us, courtesy of fires raging throughout the Western United States, lulls the trout into a false sense of security. The skies give the appearance of being overcast, and the bugs may decide to come out and play. A dream for any angler looking for some dry fly action.

We are seeing the typical hatches associated with the autumn season. Tricos are showing up in good numbers in the morning, and trout can be fooled with a properly presented small mayfly. Look for the noses, and make your first cast downstream your best when you see a pod working. Remember, dead flies don’t swim, so mend it. A good pattern would be any mayfly in size 12, 14, or 16. Patterns that will likely work are The Purple Haze, The Copper Haze, The Traditional Adams, and, of course, the ever popular Brindle Chute; which represents the Hecuba, a popular meal for hungry trout. When the mayfly bite slows down, don’t be afraid to throw a hopper. Pink and peach are always good producing colors, and often an olive hopper will get the job done. Then, there’s the streamer bite.

Fish are starting to look for a more hearty meal. So don’t be afraid to chuck some meat. Buggers, Zonkers, Muddler Minnows, and Sex Dungeons may just turn the head of that one fish you’ve been looking for. Especially on these cloudy (smoky) days. Throw the big bug in all the likely spots around structure, wood, and rocks. You may lose some flies, but you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit.

Nymphing has been very productive, especially if you know how to high stick, also known as euronymphing. Put a heavy point fly as your bottom bug, like a rubber leg or another heavy stone fly. Make your tag fly smaller and lighter, like a Frenchie, Jighead Pheasant Tail, or Hare’s Ear Nymph. Lead the flies through likely runs, and set the hook downstream when you feel it touch anything. You never know, it may just be the trout of your dreams. Or, of course, the feisty white fish.

Always remember to keep safety at the forefront of every excursion to the river. Air quality is really bad some days, check the air quality monitor station for hourly updates. Be safe while wading or boating, as the river is low and there are a lot of hazards lurking beneath the surface of the water.

Come to Total Outfitters FlyShop and speak to one of our expert staff. They will set you up for a memorable day on the water. Tight lines.

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