In search of the Bitterroot's best "flywater"

In search of the Bitterroot's best "flywater"

Stevensville fishing access

“Flywater is the playing field of the fly fisherman — that water which can be successfully and enjoyably fished with a fly rod. And, although fly fishermen cast over the most improbable sorts of water, true fly water is but a small fraction of the whole — a restriction which fly fishermen not only accept but actually embrace as a defining element of the sport.” (McClintock and Crockett}

Every once in a while I run across something or a saying that makes a lot of sense and has become meaningful to me. This saying has a lot to say in a short paragraph.

Fly fishermen spend a lot of time analyzing and re-analyzing the fishing water that they fish over. I have done this myself and continue doing it as late as last week.

My two sons were in Hamilton to fish and in exploring the Bitterroot and the tributaries we looked over a lot of water and simply passed it up because we believed that it was not good fly fishing water. We spent a lot of time on the West and East forks and passed up a lot of water that some fishermen were fishing during those couple of days.

I believe that you have to think like a fish when approaching the river. Finding water that is suitable to hold fish takes some time learning and the only way that you can do that is your experience. Every fisherman needs to learn how to read water on their own and once you learn where the most likely fishing holes are you pursue them over and over again.

Fishermen who wade and fishermen who float approach the day and the water differently.

The advantage the floating fishermen have is that they can cover a lot of water in a five or six hour float. Not all of the water is great or even good fishing and as you float from bad water to good you always hope that your fly is attractable to the fish, you have it in the right position and have a good float through the better water.

The wade fishermen has the advantage of being able to work the water from the bottom of the run to the top and if a mistake is made or the wrong fly is presented the errors can be corrected and the fisherman has another chance or two to make the best of the situation.

Being primarily a wade fisherman I can really enjoy the peace and quiet of the fishing day and can stand back and give the fish a chance to recover before fishing the same run two or three times during the same day. We have all caught fish in a variety of water and the fun of catching a fish in the not so good water can be a learning experience once again.

Fishing the Bitterroot has been pretty good some days and poor on others. A mixed bag of reports have come from the fishermen but we all will go out again soon despite the reports.

Good Fishing,

Bill Bean.


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