Just got off the Smith River on Wednesday and I’ll launch again Saturday. I’m not sure if my laundry is going to dry between trips. Not a problem, I love the smell of sweat and campfire smoke from a Smith River trip! I’ve been guiding for Mike Geary of Lewis & Clark Expeditions for the past several years and the trips just seem to get better and better. What a great group of Guides and Gearboaters! (Thank you to the inspirational Derek Hurt, the hardworking Ross Bolling, the great teacher and experienced guide John Howard, the “nothing gets me down” Matt Benson, and the fantastic pinch hitter Zack Unruh.) The river bumped up but all the staff and clients spirits were up as well -and the river fished pretty darn well for being over 800cfs. The clarity was not great the first two days but got better for the last 3 days -about 2′ or so.
We did a lot of shallow nymphing while we were floating with a good amount of success. Here’s that simple set up – medium or large Thingamabobber (stay away from white -or color it with a sharpie), drop 2′-3′ to a Rubber Leg Nymph on 1X and then drop another foot to a Worm (or Prince or smaller Rubber Leg) on 2X or 3X. No weight needed with this rig when we’re floating but we often add a split shot and lengthen our depth when we get out and wade fish the softer inside bends -which we did a good bit of. The other set up that worked well was a Chubby Chernobyl or PMX with a dropper nymph behind it (think at SJW, Prince, Hare’s Ear, Soft Hackles). We did get fish on the dries and on day 4 (Fraunhoffer to Givens) we did awesome on big dries! We cut off the dropper and went single dry for much of the afternoon. Our Jet Fuel Floatant is a key element to keeping your dries riding high through all the chop on the Smith. Don’t forget to pick some up for your trip. Don’t forget about streamers. Our 19 year old on the trip, Trevor, did great on Olive Woolly Buggers, including some 18″+ Browns. It was a lot of fun to get fish on my two favorite techniques at the same time -dries and streamers. Trevor got so excited about casting those bugger in the prime spots that he spun the rear seat of the raft around backwards and leaned a little too far on one cast that he just slipped right out and fell into the water! Pretty exciting to fall in 55 degree water.
Here’s the recap: Overall the fishing was OK to Good. Dry Fly Fishing is fair to good. Nymphing and streamer are good. Flow is easy floating but tougher for fishing. Visibility is about 1.5′ to 2′ but gets better down river. Hatches- PMD, Golden Stones, Baetis, Brown Drakes, Caddis. The heaviest hatches were PMDs and we saw only a few places where they were rising. Bottom line, you’re gonna have a GREAT trip if you are launching any time soon. If you have questions about the river, need to rent any equipment or want to book a fabulous guided trip down the spectacular Smith River in Montana, stop by, give us a call or check out our website at www.crosscurrents.com