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This past week has become the beginning of the high water season for the Bitterroot.

If you are going to do a vacation this spring now is the time to do it when the Bitterroot is almost unfishable.

Painted Rocks Reservoir began spilling Tuesday and is increasing the water flows in the West Fork considerably. DNRC will continue to open the lower gates of the dam to prevent the reservoir levels of increasing too much and pushing large volumes of water over the spillway. Too much water could cause some deterioration of the spillway and the surrounding dam.

If you were lucky enough to get in some fishing before Tuesday you probably experience some good fishing with dry flies because the Skwala’s continued to hatch and there were rather large mayflies that may have been a brown drake of some type.

The March brown mayflies are not this large and are around size 14 rather than the larger drake in a size 10.

At the FFB meeting Tuesday evening there were some good fish stories from the past month. The most interesting story came from one of our fishermen members who traveled down the Rock Creek road last weekend.

Upon seeing some fishermen wading Rock Creek he stopped and asked them about the fishing. They had been catching some rather large brown trout and were having a phenomenal day fishing.

I would like to share where they were on Rock Creek but I think I will keep this one to myself so I can get to this spot as soon as the water drops here. It will be sometime before the Bitterroot comes into shape so I think I can duplicate their success if I am extremely lucky.

Brown’s Lake is now ice free and could be a great place for you to go if you like fishing lakes. Chronomids should be coming to the surface on the warmer days and the big fish will be feeding heavily to make up for the cold and icy winter.

Kelsey Helfrich of Helfrich River Outfitters gave a great presentation Tuesday evening at the local Fly Fishers of the Bitterroot general meeting. Kelsey is a fourth generation outfitter and made me want to book a trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon for one of their multi-day fishing trips. They also guide on the Salmon River, The Owyhee River, The Rogue River and the McKenzie River.

There are plenty of places to go if you want to fly fish during the high water here. In Montana we have to be more flexible about fishing lakes during this time of year. I have not experienced much fly fishing on lakes because of my preferences of fishing rivers but the few experiences that I have had were been good ones.

Two rivers that you could consider traveling to and fishing are the Big Horn or the Missouri. Dams control both rivers water flows and your chances of catching some good fish are high.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.

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