With spring in the air and folks anxious to get outside and explore, the Ravalli Republic is bringing back its weekly Bitterroot Outdoors report. If you have something that you would like to have included next week, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Bitterroot River report
It’s been an odd spring on the Bitterroot to say the least.
Record cold and snow in February and March delayed the Skwala hatch by 3 weeks. Fly fishers had been getting some fish on nymphs and the Skwalas finally began to hatch producing decent dry fly action last week.
Unfortunately, we received over an inch of rain starting Sunday and the river tripled in volume shutting down any fishing opportunities. The river is currently on the drop thanks to cold nights and a break in the rain. The Bitterroot always fishes well on the drop with improving clarity.
While the river flow is still above average, there should be some fishing options over the next few days. Focus your attention on the softer inside flows and side channels with best action in the afternoon.
If you decide to float please use caution and consider wearing a life jacket as the river is high, fast, and very cold. Before the rains the river was open with no blockages. There are a lot of trees on the Darby to Wally stretch and some tight spots 1/2 mile above Tucker X-ing. When in doubt scout so you catch the open channel and be aware trees may have moved around with the recent high flows.
Hatches: skwala, #8 - #10; nemoura, #14-#16; capnia, #18; midges, #18-#20; March brown, #12-#14; gray drake, #10-#12; BWO, #16-#20
Bitterroot river flows: Darby - 1460 CFS; Bell Crossing - 4160 CFS
— Eddie Olwell, Fishs Eddy O
Bitterroot National Forest
Snowmobile use prohibited at ski area
The Bitterroot National Forest would like to remind people that snowmobiling is not allowed within the Lost Trail Powder Mountain permitted ski area, even after the ski area is closed. The Over Snow Vehicle Use Map (OSVUM) and the 2007 Forest Special Order prohibits snowmobile use in the ski area.
The reasons for the closure are due to safety concerns associated with ski area personnel still actively working in the area conducting facility maintenance and the parking lot is not plowed and can be impassible.
Snowmobilers can access the Saddle Mountain area via the 8112 road to the north and snowmobilers can also use the 1260 road at the snowmobile parking area east of Highway 93.
The OSVUM and other forest maps can be viewed at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/bitterroot/maps-pubs. Paper copies of the map are also available for free at all Bitterroot National Forest offices. For more information, please contact the Darby/Sula Ranger District at 406-821-3913.
Current Trail Conditions
Here are the sites that are currently accessible:
• Mill Creek Trailhead
• Bass Creek Recreation Area
• Kootenai Trailhead
• Willoughby 40
• Lake Como Recreation Area boat launch
Even though you can access these sites, there’s still snow and ice on the ground and trails.
All campgrounds are currently inaccessible and closed due to snow and early spring conditions.
Wood’s Cabin and East Fork Guard Station are open for the public to rent. The other facilities are available to make reservations for the summer. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov.
Women of Wilderness hike report
Nancy Brown, teacher of Women in the Wilderness 1 through Corvallis Heart of the Valley Adult Education, reported a beautiful hiking day on Wednesday.
The first trail hike for the 20-member class was up at Soft Rock, just east of Corvallis, with some interesting landscape and a bit of up and down terrain. The 2.25 miles hike had an 319.1 feet elevation gain at the end, from 3862.2 up to 4183.6.
“No rain, no snow and no ticks, but they are definitely out,” Brown said.
To access the trail take the fork to the right after second parking spot on state land.
The trail was a bit muddy but having trekking or hiking poles and shoes with a tread made all the difference.
“Spring flowers and plants are starting to come up, the lichen and moss are out and the group did see some animal scat,” Brown said. “It was a great hike. People really enjoyed it. There were rolling hills to go up, a canyon, then an outcropping for a wonderful view of the valley as the clouds lifted a bit.”