Warm Water Yes…Tough Fishing No
Here we are again, at the end of July and water temps have started to rise. Over the past 5 years we’ve seen low water effect the rivers in our area greatly, by limiting the daytime fishing hours as well as placing added stress on the fish and fish populations. It’s not just the anglers who go through struggles, but the local business, the ag community, and the surrounding areas all take a little hit during drought years. However, just because the water is warm and some stretches are either closed or in hoot owl (no fishing past 2pm until midnight) does not mean the fishing is bad…it just means we have new opportunities as anglers.
Option 1: Go real early and real late: This may not be new to many of you as early morning fishing and late evening fishing have been done by anglers for years. However, we tend to get into a grove and fish the same water at the same time because we know we can catch fish. You’d be amazed at the amount of fishable water during the low light times of the day as trout move from deeper pools to shallow buckets. In all likelihood, your best bet of hooking the fish of the year will come during these hours, and in less than 18″ of water.
Option 2: Go Alpine: As I write this, I can look out my window toward the Pioneer Mountains and I can still see snow! I haven’t seen snow cling to peaks this late into July in quite some time. That snow equals cold water for alpine brook trout, cutthroat trout, arctic grayling, and rainbow trout to thrive. Southwest Montana is covered up in high mountain lakes and streams. Grab a map, stop in and talk to us at the Merc Fly Shop, grab some bugs, and head to the mountains. Chances are you’ll enjoy fantastic fishing, see some wildlife, and store new experience in your memory bank.
Option 3: Get Sneaky: If the two options above do not work, and you’re only able to go during the daylight hours, you may have to get sneaky. Chances are the fish that sit and feed in the main riffles have had quite a few pheasant tails, princes, and caddis pass their snout this year and are wise to that game. One of the best things about late season fishing are the hoppers/ants/craneflies. Look for sneaky side channels where a big browns know they’ll be safe and more apt to feed on hoppers that float free from boat traffic. Vary your casting techniques, stick that hopper into small pockets, and be ready for only 12 inches of drift. Temp them to come out. Also, don’t be afraid to fish water that looks like it has zero fish as sometimes a lunker will have that frog water locked down.
Option 4: Get Mobile: If you’re favorite hole isn’t producing like it has in the past, it’s time to move on. You may put more miles on your feet or pass more water under the boat, but the chances of your success will increase with your ability to see more water. This may mean starting early in the morning on the Beaverhead, then heading to alpine lake for they day, and finishing with some sneaky small dry shallow water fishing on the Big Hole at night.
Yes, the conditions are not what they were in June, but there is plenty of great fishing opportunity to be had by those who are willing and able to adapt.
Stop in and see us at the Merc Fly Shop (435 S Atlantic Street) for more info.