It’s no secret that the Bitterroot River is at flood stage and will continue to rise for a few more days.
The river should peak around 9,000 cfs and stay relatively level for about a week. Once the peak is over we will begin the slow decline of water levels until we reach the summer flows around the first week in July.
Every year we ask the same questions regarding when the river will come into shape to fish and every year mother nature decides when this will happen and we have no idea how soon or late it will be in the summer season. In the next couple of weeks the salmon fly hatch will begin on the Clark Fork and move quickly up river on the Bitterroot and Rock Creek. The adult salmon flies will appear around Clinton and fishermen will not observe the beginning of the hatch because we are not on the river fishing. Those who venture out to look for the adult shucks and live critters will be the first to observe the hatch and before the day is out most of us will hear that some adults have been spotted and we will begin to get excited to fish the upper river including the West Fork where the hatch will be about the time the Bitterroot water recedes enough for us to fish.
In the mean time what do we do to keep ourselves busy during the next six to eight weeks? Here are some suggestions. If you didn’t get enough flies tied for the summer season now is the perfect time to tie some dry fly patterns including green drake, yellow sallie, caddis and purple haze. When the dry fly season starts fishermen usually don’t have enough flies in their fly boxes to match the hatch and are constantly returning to their fly tying bench or fly shop to fill the box for the next day. As I approach the season I am as guilty as most fishermen about trying to have the best pattern for the current hatch. Every year a new pattern comes along that I think is better than the one I have in my fly box so I end up at the fly tying bench at night tying the new pattern in a couple of different sizes for the next days fishing.
If you fished the skwala hatch and found your dry fly line sinking now is the time to replace that line. It is also a good time to pick up some new leaders and browse the fly bins at your local fly shop to see what is new this year and pick up a few. It is also a good time to see what products are new on the market and will make our fishing experiences a little more enjoyable this year.
Most of us turn to fishing lakes during high water. Reports from those who have fished Browns and Harper Lake are disappointing. A lot of time has been spent fishing these two lakes and few fish caught.