Spring fishing

Once temperatures begin to rise, opportunities to float the Bitterroot River could disappear for a few weeks during the annual spring runoff. 

Bob Jacklin was here this past week giving a great presentation on fly fishing in West Yellowstone and some other rivers in Montana and Idaho.

Most of the new fly fishermen don’t know about Bob Jacklin but for those of us who have been around a while it’s easy to recognize Bob and his gentle approach to fly fishing. I enjoy his style and approach to fly fishing because it matches a lot of my own beliefs about the sport.

I have not fished as much as Bob nor have I fished some of the rivers that he fishes but I have enjoyed the Bitterroot and some of the surrounding rivers in Western Montana.

Bob was born in 1945 in New Jersey and came to the West Yellowstone area in 1967. According to his biography he is a self-taught fly fisherman. When he became employed at Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop he guided, tied flies and fished throughout the West Yellowstone area.

He later opened his own fly shop and proudly called it Jacklin’s Fly Shop. He  began his own operation in 1974. Bob is very active in conservation and fly-fishing heritage in the Greater Yellowstone Region and in 2004 he was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. He is a member of Trout Unlimited and the International Federation of Fly Fishing and promotes both organizations and their work.

If you want to fish many of the rivers near West Yellowstone and those in Yellowstone Park stop by Bob’s fly shop and maybe you will see him there. You will get some good advice about fishing there and you will enjoy the friendliness in the shop atmosphere.

Fishing on the Bitterroot has come a long way during the past couple of weeks. Some describe it as a boat hatch since the river has opened up and the water is running clear and free of ice.

Water temperatures still are pretty low but the bottom of the river is warming up nicely during days when it is mostly sunny. A few skwala’s have been seen and fishing with dry fly patterns have produced some good fish.

Nymphing is still the way to go on the upper river but it is only going to take a few more sunny days to pop out the dries on the middle stretches of the Bitterroot.

Most fishermen are reporting taking between 5–9 fish each day so the fish aren’t really looking up for the dry flies.

Fishermen fishing the East and West Forks haven’t seen any dry skwala flies on the water so it will still be another week or two for the main hatch. As Painted Rocks fills with water the pressure at the bottom of the dam will push more water through the gate and the upper river will slowly begin to rise.

The water coming from the bottom of the dam is very cold and the temperatures on the West Fork will be the last to warm so the skwala’s will be appearing later there.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.