09 July 2010

Big Hole River Flyfishing: Trout are "Looking Up"

Today begins the National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana--three days of music, beer, and dancing. With company in town and a crowd of more than 100,000 people predicted (Butte never had a population higher than about 60,000), I thought it well to grab a few hours of flyfishing on the Big Hole River a half-hour south of town. Though still a little high for wade fishing, the river has dropped considerably now that our record June rainfall is behind us.

It was a grand few hours. It was a busy morning so I skipped lunch and still did not leave town until after twelve, not expecting much--mid-day fishing can be "iffy" with a clear sky and high sun. But rigging up on the bank, I was pleased to see the usual Big Hole smorgasbord of large golden stoneflies, an unusually red form of "gingerquill" mayfly, and caddis flies of all sizes. I never even tied on a nymph, and so long as the float was drag-free, dry fly fishing was very good for trout of all sizes. I use a longish leader and tippet to control drag--it doesn't make for elegant casting on a windy day, but it brings up lots of fish.

The larger brown trout seemed keyed on the mayflies and medium sized caddis:

The smaller browns and rainbow trout were in shallow pockets near the banks feeding on anything that came their way:

And the larger 'bows were in the deeper seams taking goldens (interestingly, nearly all of the rainbows had orange slashmarks under their gills, indicating they were rainbow-cutthroat hybrids):

 I don't wear a watch but the fishing seemed to get better and better until I left the river with a tired arm and a hungry belly. I was surprised that it wasn't even 5 p.m. when I stepped into the house. A good day.


Janie said...

That does sound like a perfect day. Nice catches!

Should Fish More said...

Downstream a few miles from you, I had similar luck, only saw a couple golden stones though. Nice picture of the brown.

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful, and the fish look great. You must have photographed them just out of the water.

Thanks for answering my questions. I should have figured sage brush. It is pretty, isn't it?

The Crow said...

...and when the ancient stars fell from the skies, the Grandmother Trout leapt for joy and was blessed with stardust on her skin. She passed her blessing on to her children, and they to theirs, and so on down the line.

You have passed her blessing on to us through your photos; thank you, ER.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a great day. A few of those a year keep me thinking of fishing.
On a side topic. I know the census counts only say 60K, but as an immigrant mining town at the early part of the century my understanding is that the census was waaaayyyy off.

tsduff said...

Your fish look fabulous. I enjoyed some smoked rainbow trout this weekend fresh caught by our neighbor campers. yum.

BraCom (Bram) said...

Beutiful SkyWatch photo