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A pair of fishermen take advantage of a nice winter day to do a little fly casting just upstream from Hamilton's west-side bridge over the Bitterroot River.

It seems like just yesterday when I was fishing on the Bitterroot and was completely disturbed by what happened to a fishing friend and me.

I had just moved to Hamilton and had spent a pleasant spring and early summer fishing on the Bitterroot.

I was new to the area and had found a few favorite spots that had regularly produced some great fishing. About 6 p.m. one evening, I was fishing just below where the Corvallis ditch begins. I had caught a couple of larger than average brown trout when I heard a terrible roar from downriver.

I was surprised when a couple of people on jet skis came upriver and into the pool that lies just below the take off. I had to get out of the water because the two were racing around the pool and eventually went up stream through the rocks and took off.

I knew the fishing wouldn’t be any good for at least 30 minutes so I sat along the bank and wondered if this happened very often. I had just entered the water again and made a few casts when the jet ski people came back downriver, through the rocks, and made a couple more loops around the pool before they headed downriver.

When restrictions were put on the Bitterroot so that watercraft with motors would not be allowed, things returned to what I would call normal and the quietness of the river was back.

Now we are faced again with the possibility of another type of watercraft being allowed on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork. I don’t know if the fishing will again be affected but I am disappointed that people want to disturb the quietness and possible fishing here. I don’t know what will happen with the decision that FWP will have to make but I know that I am against any type of watercraft with motors be allowed back on the river.

Warmer weather has brought out the fly fishermen again.

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The river is ice-free and those of us who wade can get in the river and work a stonefly nymph or other wet fly to try to catch a fish. Fish have schooled up so if you would plan on fishing the larger holes, you can take some good whitefish especially in the early afternoons.

During the winter fish move very little to take a fly or nymph that comes their way. They like to conserve energy. They also find the slowest water possible so they will lay at the bottom of a pool or behind large rocks that will slow the river current.

It is also wise to use long and very fine tippets so the fish aren’t able to see them when the water is so low. In the summer I typically fish 5X most of the time but in the winter 6X and 7X is necessary. You will have to be careful not to snap the tippet on large fish but it is best to release them as soon as possible to prevent stress.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.