Flows below Holter Dam: 3880 c.f.s
It’s definitely spring here in central Montana. Rain, snow, wind, sleet, sunshine, the whole gamut of weather is upon us as we push further into the season. With the weather as unpredictable as it can be this time of year it’s time to be prepared when you hit the water. I’m not just talking about foul weather gear, sunscreen, toddies and cold beer I’m talking flies and fishing technique. More than one way to
skin a cat land a fish on the MO this time of year. Let’s break it down….
Dries: Stupid amount of bugs on the surface from Holter through the canyon and the fish are taking notice. Midges are still dominating the hatch for the time being but the baetis aren’t being shy at all. Also seeing a good number of SKWALA on the banks in the canyon. It’s no rumor, they are here and fish are eating some big dries on the surface. Wait for the gusts to subside, (notice I didn’t say stop) with a little cloud cover and do some prospecting with the bigger bugs or keep an eye out for fish podding up along the harder seams and in the calm water created by riffles.
Nymphs: The stupid amount of bugs on the surface have to come from somewhere! Nymphing is still bringing loads of fish to nets and hands all over the river. Kick over a few rocks, keep on eye on the sky and check out whats crawling around the banks, find something similar and check out the softer water along with riffles and harder seams. Yeah that’s a lot of water to look into but its worth it. Fish are moving around and feeding greedily, however you might not have to leave fish to find fish. Depth and drift have been crucial lately, you can be pretty lax with fly choice but make sure your drift game is in check!
Streamers: I’m an ardent proponent of hucking big junk this time of year. Fish are on the move feeding all over the river and expelling lots of energy for a good meal. Not uncommon to be getting chases off the bank all the way tothe boat. Remember these fish are predators, nothing is off-limits. Check out the slower water tucked behind the riffles for a start and let it swing through into the faster water and be prepared. Big hits on the streamer with a little cloud cover or if you can coax them out from the rocks with a meal they can’t pass up. It might not be as productive as the double nymph but it beats watching a bobber all day (in my opinion).
Humble fly suggestions for the 3rd week of April:
Dries: Cluster Midge, CDC Hanging Midge, Baetis Sprout Emerger, BWO Hackle Stacker, CDC Baetis Dun, Buzzballs, Olive Chubby, Carnage Skwalla.
Nymphs: TB Zebra, Military Mayfly, Green Machines, TB Rainbow Czech, Split Case BWO, Tailwater Sowbug, Lightning Bugs.
Streamers: Black & Grizzly Buggers, Kreelex, Mini-Loop Sculpin, Sculpzilla, MO River Minnows, Kiwi Muddlers & Sparkle Minnows.