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FISHING REPORT: Water set to drop, but fishing is good on the Bitterroot River

FISHING REPORT: Water set to drop, but fishing is good on the Bitterroot River

Fall fishing in full swing

Fishing the next week might be a little tricky because the fish are moving around looking for the place to hide for the winter. Don’t be too discouraged because the fish are hungry and can see the decline of food supplies in the water.

I decided that this week I would clean off my fly-tying bench, go through my fly-tying material and eliminate what I would not be using in the next five or ten years.

I found some items that have been missing for a couple of years including my favorite feather pliers and a couple of thread holding bobbins that I thought I had misplaced or given to away. When I closed the Fishaus I gave away flies, fly-tying material and a couple of really great fly rods.

Fortunately my sons took the bulk of these things and I held on to too much stuff that has just been sitting around for the past eight years. I boxed up the fly-tying materials, hooks, and thread and decided that I would donate these to a great organization in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that teaches veterans to tie flies and build fly rods. I still have a lot of stuff left so if you have a suggestion where to have it go let me know.

According to DNRC and the dam tender, Painted Rocks water delivered to FWP and PRWUA will end about Sept. 20. Starting last Thursday, Sept. 10, the water will decrease about 50 cfs every five days until the water outflow from the dam will be about 60 cfs for a few days during the last week of the month. There will be some scheduled work below the dam and when that is accomplished the outflow will be adjusted to equal in the inflows.

We will then be in the winter mode for water flows. Some adjustments may be made in the future but they should be quite small and will not be noticed downstream from the West Fork.

The West fork is running about 275 cfs so the water levels will drop dramatically until the work is finished at the dam. Most of the larger fish will move out of the West Fork and into the main river below Conner to find deeper water and more food sources. Several of the larger bull trout that live in the West Fork will remain in the deeper pools and will harvest a lot of the smaller fish that remain upstream.

This is not an alarming phenomenon because some of the non-native fish will not survive the voracious bull trout and it may help the resource more than we know.

Fishing this weekend should be very good. River water temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the fish are very active. Fall fly-patterns will continue to work best and most of the grasshoppers have survived the cold snaps that are happening in the evening. A little frost doesn’t kill the hoppers and the fish are looking for anything to eat before winter and cold water sets in.

If you are fishing with a grasshopper pattern be sure to use a dropper about 14 inches below the top fly. I have found this to be a very successful way to fish in the fall.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean


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