Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Missoula Fishing Report for the week of 8/11/2013

It was another solid week of fishing around Missoula.  The weather gave us a break with some cooler temps and cloudy skies.  It is still important to know where to be, and the colder water of the upper Bitterroot and Blackfoot has produced the best fishing.  Terrestrials like hoppers, ants, and beetles are the most effective dry flies at the moment and a hopper/dropper rig is keeping anglers busy during times when the fish aren't actively looking up.  We found good numbers of fish everyday last week and some surprisingly big fish too for mid-summer.  Our days are getting shorter and the nights longer and colder.  Fall fishing is just on the horizon and hatches of Tricos and Hecubas (big fall drakes) should be consistently on the menu soon

Jim hooked up on the upper Bitterroot

Brian's 21" bow on a hopper

Son Conner not far behind with a 19" stud

Sunrise on the Blackfoot

Another Montana memory

Joan's big Blackfoot cutthroat on a little dry fly
Can't wait to see what next week brings.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt
Montana Trout Outfitters

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fishing Report for the week of 7/28/2013

HOOT OWL fishing restrictions are now in effect on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers, and likely on the Blackfoot soon.  These restrictions mean no fishing from 
2pm til midnight.  This is meant to protect trout during the higher water temps during late afternoon, and is in-line with our current fishing program.  We have been meeting early, 5-6 a.m. and noticed a drop off in the fishing around 2 even before the restrictions were in place.  The early alarm clock isn't ideal, but the fishing has still been solid.

It was a busy week at MTO so this is one of the longer fishing reports....

Mon. was the first of three days with Pasadena Fly Fishing Club member Jim, and his friend from Texas, Dale.  Since this was Jim and Dale's first trip to Missoula I wanted to be able to show them the area and put them on some of the best fishing around.  I chose a stretch of the Bitterroot with a nasty diversion dam since I knew not many boats had been in there lately.  We started with a dry dropper rig and had a few strikes in the first couple runs before connecting with our first trout of the day.  It was a little guy and so was the next one, but then the trout started to get a little better and a nice log jam produced a big fish for Jim on the dropper.  After a good fight he had the big 18" hook-jawed cuttbow in the net.  While Jim was landing that fish I noticed another fish rise so we dropped Jim off to wade fish the run below and I set Dale up with a single hopper to go after the riser.  It took a few casts to get the fly into a tough spot but when it finally drifted through a nice cutthroat hammered the dry.  The next logjam produced an even bigger cuttbow around 17" on the hopper before we pulled over to wade fish a sidechannel.  It was nice to get out of the boat but we only moved a couple smaller fish on dries so it was time to head downstream.  We stuck with small hoppers for the rest of the morning and raised fish in the right spots.  The best fish of the day was a 19" bow that Dale nailed tight to another logjam.  The Root is low right now so you only get one shot at dry fly fish which is why we went back to the dry/dropper rig in the afternoon and the action picked up for us.  All the runs produced fish on the dropper in the afternoon, and the best one gave up 4 or 5.  It was a decent average size too with most of the fish in the 13-15" range and a few smaller and a few up to 16" in the afternoon.  Once I portaged the diversion dam the river lost a lot of it's depth and we switched back to a single hopper.  The guys landed a couple and hooked a few more on the way to the take out.  We didn't see another boat fishing on the water and it was a nice day to be out.
The Release

Jim wade fishing the Bitterroot

Tue. I met the guys really early for a run up to the canyon of the Blackfoot.  We were the first boat in the water and Jim didn't waste anytime hooking a great rainbow only a couple minutes into the float.  A 17" fish is always a great way to start the day and we were off to the races from there.  I kept the boat moving early on, but the guys hooked fish out of nearly every spot we stopped to fish until we got into the Munchmore hole.  In the run above that I had seen a few spruce moths bouncing around and I hoped there would be enough to get the fish looking up.  We anchored in the hole to change our flies and I saw enough rising fish to know it would be good.  Dale was first up and it only took a handful of casts before he connected with a nice cutthroat on the dry.  Jim was next and he came tight on a really big and brightly colored cutt in the 18-19" range.  The guys continued to take turns over the next 45 minutes or so and kept hooking nice fish on dries.  We stayed with double dry fly rigs after leaving that run and the fishing was nothing short of fantastic.  Every run produced a fish or two and most were quality sized trout on dry flies.  It was some of the best spruce moth fishing I've seen and the guys were in heaven.  The beauty of the canyon and nice dry fly eating trout is a hard combination to beat.  After lunch we floated out of the canyon and the spruce moth bite faded so we went back to the dry/dropper rig.  The fishing tapered off from the pace we set in the morning, but it was still solid and the good runs were producing fish, mostly smaller in the afternoon but a few bigger fish as well.  Near the end of the day Dale hooked up on a nice fish at a creek mouth and it turned out to be a 17" bull trout which gave him a slam for the day, a cutthroat, rainbow, brown, and bull trout all in one day.  Both Jim and Dale remarked toward the end of the float that this was the finest day floating a river they've ever had.  That's high praise for the Blackfoot and the spruce moth hatch.
Dry fly cutthroat

Wed. was my last day with Jim and Dale and we headed to the upper Bitterroot and cold water today.  We started with a dry/dropper rig again and there was plenty of action right out of the gate.  Fish were eating both the dry and the dropper, and Dale got of to a hot start with the first few fish including a bright 17-18" cuttbow.  Then Jim popped a jumping 15" brown out from behind a root ball and the action continued at a steady pace from there.  We did stop in a couple places in the morning and fished single dries to rising fish.  The first spot yielded 3 cutts for Dale and Jim turned a number of heads just downriver.  We toyed with some straight dry fly rigs in both the morning and afternoon but they weren't producing as consistently as the dry/dropper rig.  The guys had 3 or 4 doubles today and there was a good mix of trout.  We caught a few browns, the best a 17" beauty by Dale, a few rainbows, and lots of cutts and cuttbows.  There were some smaller trout, but it was a good average today with most of the fish in the 12-14" range and several in the 15-18" class.  By 1 o'clock the fishing tapered off in the heat.  We caught a few more on our way to the take out but our best action was definitely earlier in the day.  It was a good introduction to Missoula for Jim and Dale.  Despite the warm weather we had 2 great days of fishing and one day that was decent.  They're both terrific guys and I had a lot of fun.  And they're already talking about a return trip next year.
Trapper Peak in the full moon
Dale's Bitterroot Brown
Thur. I fished with returning anglers Paul and Ryan.  I couldn't resist the opportunity to get back up to the canyon of the Blackfoot and hit the spruce moth hatch again.  The day started off great with 3 fish in the first two runs.  It was all dropper fish early and we moved fast, just hitting the best runs and most of those gave us a trout.  When it seemed like the time was right, I switched the guys over to double spruce moths and on Paul's first cast he came tight to a nice cutthroat.  There weren't a lot of moths yet but fish were still rising to the fly in the right spots until we pulled in the Munchmore hole.  There were lots of fish eating in there and Ryan connected with two quick cutts in the 15-16" range.  They got a little harder to feed after that but we still got a few more strikes before moving on.  The rest of the morning was simply awesome dry fly fishing.  Early on there were lots of smaller trout attacking the fly with a few good ones mixed in, but as the morning continued the size of the fish just got better and better.  There were lots of fish from 14-18" through the canyon with some great visual eats.  Paul rested for a bit and Ryan absolutely beat on the trout through the bottom of the canyon. Then when Paul got back in on the action we had back to back  doubles in a good run and Paul hooked several big fish out of one fast canyon wall run.  Once we got out of the canyon we switched to hoppers and moved a couple fish before pulling into the shade for lunch.  The afternoon shift was decent, we caught some fish and a couple of nice ones but we definitely had to work harder compared to the easy morning fishing.  Eventually around 2 things shut off completely and since there were plenty of fish to boat today we headed for the ramp.  
Colers of Summer in Montana
Blackfoot double with Paul

Fri. it was groundhog day with Ryan and Paul.  After the fishing we witnessed yesterday we had to go straight back to the Blackfoot.  The early fishing was similar with dropper fish, although we did get a couple on the big dry fly including an awesome brown by Paul in the 17-18" range.  Just a little while later Ryan got a bull trout on the dropper so in the first hour we had all four main species to the boat.  We made the switch to spruce moths and started raising fish right on cue again.  There was a little more traffic on the river today which changed our game plan a bit, but not much.  Again, it was lots of smaller fish early with small to medium cutts and bows all over the dry flies and as we got lower in the canyon the fish got bigger.  The entrance run to the canyon gave up four cutts for Ryan and there were a couple of nice troughs that produced some big fish including a 20" cuttbow that Ryan tagged at the end of his drift.  Not long after that Ryan fished the spot where Paul tagged some good ones yesterday and he came tight on three nice fish including another fat cuttbow in the 18" range.  There were some big fish on the hunt today and the guys found some of them.  The early dry fly fishing was fairly similar to yesterday, but our afternoon fishing held up a little better with plenty of action on small hopper patterns.  There were lots of smaller fish after the fly, but enough bigger trout to keep things interesting.  Toward the end of the float we got beat up by boat traffic a little, but by then everyone was worn out and ready to head home.  Paul and Ryan are always a pleasure to fish with.  They love coming out to Montana and they are usually rewarded with some pretty good fishing.  I hope to see them again next year.

Big cuttbow on the dry fly
Bigger cuttbow on the dry!
Sun. was another father/son day on the river and today it was with first time fly anglers John and Slade.  John had some work to do in Seattle and on his way back through Montana he wanted to get his 10 year old son out for his first fly fishing experience.  I love taking kids fishing and I had a great time with Slade in the boat today.  They're the future of the sport and the more we get involved the better fly fishing will be.  We met early and headed up the Blackfoot.  I was a little concerned when I showed up at the boat ramp and there were 4 other boats already putting in.  I decided against fishing with everyone else and we kept driving further up river.  Once the boat was in the water I went over the basics with Slade, casting, mending, stripping line, and setting the hook and gave a little refresher to John too.  I started Slade with a single nymph and John with a dry/dropper rig.  In the first run Slade set the hook on a nice fish and was briefly connected.  The fish was headed north and Slade was pulling south and the trout won.  It all happened so fast, on Slade's third or fourth cast, that we needed a big dose of luck there because he was just getting used to everything and the fish got away.  The guys were kind of feeling things out and we had a few strikes before John connected with the first few fish of the day.  The first two were whitefish before a small rainbow  came boatside.  At that point I started to see some spruce moths bouncing around and I switched Slade over to a single dry and took him over to a rock wall.  Only a couple casts into the run a brown trout came up and ate the dry.  After a good fight Slade had his first fly rod fish landed.  I switched John up to a spruce moth and we fished single dries for the rest of the day.  There was lots of action from that point on.  A good number of smaller cutts and bows were looking for the fly and some better fish too.  Both John and Slade connected with a few cutts in the 13-14" range and near the end of the float Slade stuck a pretty 16" cutthroat on a dry fly.  It was a great day on the water.  We had the river to ourselves, trout were eating dry flies, and it was good enough that even Slade lost count of how many fish he actually caught.  I fished with a lot of kids over the years and I can't think of another 10 year old who stayed as focused over the course of the day and who caught on to fly fishing as quickly as Slade.  John did well too, he was the perfect father/angler.  He fished where he could, kept the emphasis on Slade, and managed to catch some nice fish in the process.  I think Christmas may involve some fly fishing gear under the tree for this family.
Slade with a great cutthroat...take a kid fishing, it's good for the soul!
We also had several other groups out this week fly fishing around Missoula.  Doug Jones, member of the Orange County fly fishing club, brought a group out including his brother, Chris, and Charles and John.  This was their first trip to the Missoula area and they got the grand tour of all three rivers, the Bitterroot, Blackfoot, and Clark Fork with guides Erik and Chris.  They had a good time and caught some nice fish.  Some of the boys did best on the Bitterroot while some caught more on the Blackfoot, and the Clark Fork produced some good ones as well.  I think this crew really enjoyed the town of Missoula and the diversity of the rivers, and I hope to see them out again.
Chris with a Bitterroot brownie
Doug's big cutthroat
Joel and Larry were also out from Florida with guide, Evan for three days in Missoula.  Both anglers were fairly new to fly fishing, but they had a great attitude and were just looking to enjoy Montana.  They fished the Clark Fork on day 1 and found some of those big, hard-fighting cuttbows and then spent two days on the Blackfoot taking in the great scenery and hooking up on some awesome trout.  These guys had a solid introduction to Missoula and a killer fishing trip.

Larry's big Clark Fork cuttbow
Holy Hog!!  Biggest fish of the week, Joel's 21" Blackfoot cuttbow
Anglers Ellie and Andrea were over from Seattle for the day with guide, John, up in the canyon of the Blackfoot.  These great ladies were sent to me by friend, Matt who requested John and the canyon to show them the best time possible.  The report from John was a solid day of fishing with spruce moths and hopper/dropper rigs including a couple big trout in the 18" range.  John had the gals in stitches all day with his famous one-liners but unfortunately he didn't take any pics so I'll see if I can track any down from Ellie or Andrea next week.

Another solid week of fly fishing around Missoula.  The game has changed to early meet times, but I guess I'll sleep in the winter.  The weatherman says we have some cooler weather on the horizon and that should help immensely.  Hoppers and ants are starting to make an appearance too and those terrestrials will keep fish looking up.  Looking forward to another week on the water.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt
Montana Trout Outfitters

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fishing Report for the week of 6/30/2013

Mon. I was back out with Brian and Bridger the trout dog, and we were also joined by Brian's friend Bruce.  The weather was a little dicey with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast so we chose to stay close to home on the Bitterroot around Hamilton.  That choice was fine with me after the fishing yesterday and I was looking for another all day dry fly affair.  We started with double dries and it didn't take long for Bruce to connect with the first fish of the day.  The action was fairly steady in the morning with mostly smaller and medium sized cutts and cuttbows coming to the dry.  There weren't many bugs around early so I was hoping a hatch would get the fish fired up.  We pulled up into a side channel to look for some fish and with no rises Bruce ended up sticking a few on a dropper.  We took a break for lunch there and while we were eating a few PMDs started coming off and some heads showed.  Brian set off on foot with the dry fly rod and fooled a few in short order including the biggest fish of the day.  It was a big cutt in the 18-20" range but it ended up foul hooked on the double dry rig and I forced the issue a little to get the trout in quickly and it broke off.  After getting back to the main river I still wasn't seeing the number of bugs I wanted so I switched the guys over to a dry/dropper rig.  That's one of the surest things to get the fish up and rising, and not five minutes after that a fish ate Bruce's dry and the Green Drakes started coming off.  It was back to the dry fly rig for us and the fellas started raising more fish.  It was busy in the afternoon and our average size got a little better too.  A couple of browns came to the net, but it was still mainly cutthroat and bows with most from 12-15" and a nice 17" cuttbow that Brian landed toward the end of the float.  We had a couple of storms around us mid-day, but nothing too terrible and for the most part it was pleasant weather.  Another great day on the Bitterroot with a couple of good guys and the best boat dog around,.

The Release

Tue. I fished with long-time anglers Bob and John on Rock Creek.  The creek is low right now and a pain to get down, but Bob and John love it and it has been fishing well.  Today was nothing short of spectacular.  These guys have been fishing the Creek in June for over 20 years and both said it was the finest day of fishing on Rock Creek they've ever had.  We fished single dries all day and the action was non-stop.  We started with golden stones in the morning for an hour or so and then switched to green drakes for the balance of the day.  Rock Creek is usually busy with fish and many days it can be a lot of small fish with a few nice ones mixed in.  What separated today was the size of the fish.  There were a lot of trout in the 12-15" range with a bunch to 16" and even a few 17" fish too.  A conservative guess would put the number of doubles at 20 and there were many runs where we landed 6 or 7 or more trout.  At one point we had three cutthroat in the net at the same time.  The guys had doubled and I netted both fish.  I got the hook out of Bob's and before I could unhook John's fish Bob had another one boatside.  I think they ended up with 5 fish out of that one spot.  It was the kind of fishing everyone dreams about.  If you put your fly in a spot that looked like it would hold a fish, then one would gobble it.  It's really quite hard to describe the fishing I witnessed today.  It was a blast out there with good friends.

Rock Creek Triple!!  Don't see that very often

Wed. was a day with Bitterroot valley locals Dick and Jim.  The weather was perfect, cloudy and warm, and I thought we would find great mayfly hatches on the Bitterroot around Hamilton.  The day started fairly normal with a couple fish eating the dry in the first few runs and I thought we were right on track.  I pulled up a side channel that had been very productive over the last week and it only produced one mid-sized cutthroat on a dropper.  There just weren't many bugs around and as the day continued we never really experienced a hatch.  There were a few PMDs and a few Green Drakes, and we did catch some fish today, but the action was nothing like the past week and it was mostly smaller cutthroat and browns.  Jim did manage to land a few really nice cutts and cuttbows up to 16" but it was hard work.  There was a short period in the afternoon when it looked like things might break loose.  Some bugs started to pop and we had a number of eats and a few fish to the boat in only a couple runs, but then the bugs faded and we went back to working for our fish.  We had a great time on the river today, and these guys have fished enough that they know sometimes it's tough.  It still doesn't make it any easier for me...I hate tough fishing and even though this was my first "off" day since high water I'm itching to get back out there and see a bunch of bent rods.

Jim throwing tight loops

Thur. Bob and I headed up to float the canyon on the Blackfoot.  Have you ever had one of those days when things just wouldn't go your way?  It happens in our personal lives, our business lives, and despite our best attempts it even happens in our fishing lives.  It happens to me when I'm fishing and I see it from the rowers seat every year.  I usually depict it through rose colored glasses in the fishing report, but Bob is such a great friend and good sport I thought I would write about it a little.  It was a tough day of fishing for Bob, one of those days.  It's important to know that Bob is one of the finest fly fisherman I've ever had in my boat, so I don't doubt his skill or ability.  We've had incredible fishing together and 'we've had our butts kicked too, but I'd never seen it quite like today.  Overall the fishing was decent today, not great but about what I expected for the first bright sunny day in over a week.  We started off with streamers and the fish weren't really on the chase.  Bob had 5 or 6 grabs, a couple follows, and finally connected with a rainbow.  It wasn't really happening on the streamer so we switched over to a dry/dropper rig.  It didn't take long to get some action and it was on a mix of the dries and droppers with most of the activity on the nymph.  The only problem was that just about every fish fell off the hook.  Near as I could tell it was just bad luck because I couldn't see any errors in technique.  What really hurt was that all the good trout came unbuttoned.  Despite all that we did manage to catch some fish.  It was mostly small and medium sized cutts and bows....and whitefish.  It didn't matter what dropper we fished, Mr.Whitey was on the hunt today.  Of course, they all stayed hooked up.  Toward the end of the day Bob found his groove again and connected with three nice fish in a row, including the biggest cutthroat at 17".  It is definitely frustrating when you are going through one of those days, but Bob never lost sight of the big picture and we did have a great day.  The weather was stunning, cobalt blue skies with white puffy clouds and bright green grass against the orange walls of the canyon.  Fish will come and go, but days spent on Montana streams are always priceless.    

Floating into the canyon

Fri. I was back out with Bob and today we were joined by Marcelo.  The guys were looking for dry fly fishing so we headed to the lower West Fork and I crossed my fingers that the second day of sunshine would bring more surface activity.  We started with double dries in the morning and the action was hit and miss.  We found some fish on the surface but after several fly changes I still didn't feel like we had it dialed.  Then we pulled back up in a run that had several rising fish and spent a good deal of time getting frustrated.  I don't know how many times we changed flies but the guys put a bunch of different patterns of those fish with no success.  I was ready to pull my hair out when Marcelo dug into his own fly box and pulled out a couple of bugs he tied.  After a couple of drifts he was tight to a nice cutthroat.  He tagged one more while I scrambled to borrow another bug from him and get it on Bob's line.  A few shots for Bob and he had a cuttie in the net.  Marcelo's bugs saved the morning for us and after that it was pretty steady action on his mayfly pattern.  Shortly before lunch I sent him up a side channel where he found some rising fish and connected with three nice cutts with the biggest a fat 17" fish.  While we were eating all of us started noticing the golden stones flying around.  The robins were picking them out of the air and I was hoping the trout would be on the too.  We changed to a golden after lunch and it was instant affirmation when Bob raised two fish in the first run.  The balance of the day was pretty awesome with healthy fish coming out of all the good looking spots.  The guys had a bunch of doubles and no shortage of pretty cutts in the 13-16" with several in the 17" class.  We found a few bows and browns too, but it was mainly a cutthroat day on bushy golden stone patterns.  I love goldens on the upper Bitterroot and it looks like now is finally the time.

West Fork dry fly fish

Sat. I fished with Stan and Jim who've been coming out to Missoula for over 10 years now to fly fish.  They were with fellow guide, John a couple days ago on the Bitterroot so I thought we should take a shot at the Blackfoot today.  We got an early start to avoid the weekend traffic and beat the heat.  The morning was tough duty.  I changed flies a lot, and we fished everything from dry/droppers, double dries, to full on nymph rigs and we only had a couple small trout and a few whitefish to the boat.  Those Blackfoot trout were grumpy and I had my fingers crossed that the afternoon would produce.  Some nice cloud cover rolled in for the afternoon and while the river didn't light up for us, the fish did get more active.  The guys found a bunch of smaller trout on dries and a couple of good ones including a cuttbow that was pushing 20" that Jim boated.  There was a good yellow sally hatch and I thought the bugs and clouds would get some big fish up on the surface but eventually I changed back to dropper rigs to try and find a better class of trout.  It wasn't fast paced action, more of a steady pace but we did find some nice 12-15" bows and cutts on the dropper and had a few bigger fish take a swing at the dry flies.  It was a beautiful day in the canyon, the clouds kept the temps reasonable and the fishing was fair.  I would've like to have seen a little more action, but the trout always have the final say on that one.  

Hard earned treasure on the Blackfoot

Sun. I was back out with Jim and Stan and we set off for some dry fly fishing on the upper Bitterroot.  We launched all by ourselves with single dry flies and raised a few fish early on.  There was decent action for the early morning, but things got interesting when we pulled into a great run to spend some time.  I rigged up a rod with double dries and the next hour or so was simply perfect.  The guys took turns with the rod and we were never more than a few minutes without a fish on.  They were all nice cutthroat and cuttbows including a 19" fish by Stan and a 19.5" cuttbow that Jim landed.  We must have landed at least 15 in that one run before it was finally time to move on.  After an early lunch we got ready for the golden stone hatch and the guys were not disappointed.  It was steady action the rest of the way with lots of fish coming to the single dry.  In the afternoon there were a bunch of smaller fish on the hunt from 10-13", but we also landed more than our share of nice trout in the 14-17" range.  It was a great way to end the trip with a couple of the nicest guys I know.  They're already making their reservations for next year so I look forward to seeing them then.

Stan was having so much fun he forgot to smile with this big cuttie

It's been an awesome June and the great fishing will continue into July.  Golden stones are coming out in force these days and it should be another good week of dry fly fishing in western Montana.  I love my job.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fishing Report for the week of 6/23/2013

Mon. was the first day out for the season with Brian and Bridger the trout dog.  We decided to float the Bitterroot around Hamilton and it was a good choice considering we hooked up on 3 trout in the first ten minutes of the day.  Brian was throwing a dry/dropper rig and all the action was on the dropper in the morning and it was steady.  Every spot that I thought was holding fish produced a solid strike.  Late in the morning we got out of the boat to wade fish a spot where a small stream enters the river.  There were PMDs and yellow sallies coming off and fish were rising at the confluence so I rigged up a double dry outfit.  We spent over an hour in that spot and stuck some nice rising fish.  Most were bows and cutts in the 12-16" range that came to the PMD but after the first few trout Brian came tight on a serious fish and the fight was on.  After a long battle, the best fish of the day came to the net.  It was a big, thick cuttbow and we were too far away from the boat to grab the tape measure, but it was a solid 20" fish that might've gone 21".  It was back to the dry/dropper after that spot and the nymph continued to dig up nice fish.  Late in the day we gave it a shot with straight dry flies and connected with a few smaller trout, but there just weren't enough bugs to get the bigger fish looking up so we went back to the dropper and poked a few more before hitting the takeout.  The weather was glorious and Brian started his season off with a bunch of nice fish and Bridger was there the whole time looking on, and licking the occasional trout before release.

Brian and Bridger hooked up

Big dryfly cuttbow

Tue. I was out with Bitterroot valley locals, Jim and Dick for a float on the upper Bitterroot.  Big thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon so we didn't want to stray too far from home.  It took a whole 45 seconds for Jim to hook the first fish of the day and we were off to the races from there.  Both guys started with dry/dropper rigs and while most of the action was definitely on the dropper, there were some really nice fish coming up on the dry as well.  Dick went with a single dry in the afternoon and raised a bunch of fish in the right water, and Jim stuck with the dry/dropper with about a 50/50 mix on top and underneath.  There were a bunch of cutthroat in 12-15" range with some bows and brownies,  and a number of bigger fish up to 17.5".  Late in the day the storms did move in but we were lucky to avoid a direct hit and fished through most of it.  Another great day on the Bitterroot.

Tight lines in the storm

Wed. was the first of three days with longtime anglers and friends, Penny and Dianne.  These ladies have a knack for catching big fish no matter the conditions and I always look forward to their trips.  Coming from sunny SoCal they weren't too excited about the cool, cloudy, and rainy weather but I knew those clouds could bring some great fishing.  We set off for the Blackfoot to see how many salmonflies were still kicking around in the canyon.  Dry/dropper rigs produced some nice fish for us in the North Fork and after hitting the main river Dianne tagged a great brown trout on the nymph.  There were some other nice fish in the morning before we pulled over out of the wind for lunch.  It was cool and wet with not many stoneflies on the move but we still made the switch to straight flies for the canyon.  I just have to fish dries through the canyon this time of year.  A giant trout can gobble your salmonfly at anytime and they live in water too shallow to fish a dropper.  It didn't take long for that decision to pay off when Penny stuck a wide 20" cuttbow on a big dry.  We caught fish at a modest pace through the canyon and I was thinking it was just a little to cold and wet for a good dry fly day when I noticed my first green drake on the water.  A half hour later the Blackfoot absolutely lit up with fish crushing dries all over the river.  The gals had a bunch of doubles and more big fat cutthroat than we could keep track of.  Big fish were on the prowl too with a number of slabs at 18" and over.  It was a long, cold day and the ladies were happy to see the warm truck,p  but it was well worth it with lots of bent rods and tight lines.

Salmonfly cuttbow

Thur. the Bitterroot seemed to be the best play so we headed up toward Hamilton under cloudy skies.  Dry/dropper rigs were the name of the game early, and the first run produced a nice cutthroat on the nymph.  It was good early, mainly on the dropper with mostly cutts and cuttbows until we pulled the boat up a side channel for some wade fishing.  Once we got out of the boat Penny was set up in a great  run and stuck a number of nice fish and Dianne went a little further up the channel and poked a couple of good cutts.  After lunch Penny set off for her new favorite spot again, and Dianne and I loaded up to wade fish further up the channel.  Dianne smoked 6 or 7 nice trout on foot with both the dry and dropper while Penny absolutely wailed on fish in her little hole including the biggest fish of the day.  It was a cuttbow at 20+" that no one else saw, but Penny's seen enough big trout that I trust her judgement.  After that Dianne poked a couple more on dry flies and I even stuck a fish before we got back in the boat and headed downstream.  The fishing continued on at a constant pace and then we started to notice some rising fish and switched to a double dry rig.  The dry flies didn't disappoint as we boated several more nice fish on the homestretch to the boat ramp.  There was no shortage of fish today with plenty in the 14'16" range and a few bigger and smaller.  The weather was just about perfect, mostly cloudy and warm, and the ladies had a great time.

Unbeatable colors

Fri. was the trout day that we all dream about.  From the rowers seat I get to experience  a few truly special days each season.  Have you ever wondered what it looks like to see over 100 trout eat a dry fly in a day?  Even though flows were a little low I decided to take the gals to upper Rock Creek since they had such a great time there last year.  We fished a single dry fly all day and the biggest gap between strikes might have been 5 minutes.  In the morning we set off with golden stones and the river fished at a good pace.  Most of the good water produced strikes although there were a lot of smaller fish early in the day.  As the day progressed we started to get a few more hatches and eventually we switched over to green drakes and that's when things started to get really exciting.   Fish started showing up all over the river and the average trout was much better than the typical average on Rock Creek.  The afternoon was filled with a lot of cutts and browns in the 13-16" range and Dianne even managed to land a brook trout for a grand slam with four species in one day.  Some of the runs in the afternoon were simply loaded with rising trout and I had to do little more than drop the anchor while the ladies picked off the heads.  For a while it was absolutely silly as I was releasing fish as fast as I could and another would appear boatside with a fly in it's mouth.  There were more doubles than I could count and more fish than I could imagine today.  I was so happy for Penny and Dianne.  They take fly fishing very seriously and it was good to see that their efforts were rewarded.  They floated into the take out with another double on the line for a perfect ending to a tremendous day.  We had an awesome three days together with a bunch of fish and some really nice trout.  I look forward to seeing them again in August.

Wading Rock Creek

Sat. was a day off from fishing, but it was also the much anticipated wedding of Marcelo and Constance.  I've known Marcelo for years and I'm quite certain that he's found the perfect match with Constance.  I'm just a little worried about how he'll handle it when she starts out fishing him.

Montana wedding done a barn, on a creek

Sun. I was out with fellow guide, Robert, for a two boat deal with Dick and Martha, and Mike and Nancy.  We had donated the trip to the Greater Ravalli Foundation and Dick was the winning bidder on a package that also included dinner at the Cote residence.We floated a great stretch of the Bitterroot and got off to a fast start when Mike found a fish on the first bank with a dry fly.  The fish were definitely looking up early, but it was mostly smaller trout so I rigged Nancy up with a dropper in a side channel and she was quickly tight to a thick 16" cutt.  It was a nice morning with a good number of fish to the boat and the dry fly fishing just continued to get better as the day progressed.  After lunch I had Dick and Martha in the boat and the action improved as a PMD hatch started coming off.  At one point I dropped Dick off to wade fish a long side channel while Martha and I jumped in the boat to fish and pick him up at the bottom of the channel.  Martha tagged a couple quality cutthroat on a PMD cripple and Dick had a ball wade fishing with a bunch of fish coming out of some gorgeous water.  Once we were all back together again I started noticing some Green Drakes coming off and when I saw fish exploding in the next good run I knew the fishing was about to get ridiculous.  The rest of the afternoon was simply amazing.  Just about every spot where you thought a fish should be, there was one and they were good trout in the 13-16" range.  Martha and Dick had a bunch of doubles in the afternoon and there were a couple spots where I just sat anchored and they tagged multiple rising fish.  It was another one of those special days on the water with a crew of wonderful folks.  Just to give you an idea of how good it was, at the end of the day Mike said it was his best Bitterroot day ever and he's been fishing the river for over 15 years!  To top it all off we had an amazing meal at the Cote's.  Jim and Becky are incredible hosts and it was the perfect end to an unbelievable day.

Bitterroot side channel

It was a stellar week of fishing with lots of bugs out there.  This is usually stonefly time, but the weather has had the mayflies coming off strong and PMDs and Green Drakes have produced some of the best angling of the year.  I can't wait to see what next week brings.
Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fishing Report for the week of 5/5/2013

Tue I fished with local angler Bobby and his friend Eric from Salt Lake.  The recent warm weather had Missoula area rivers high and off-color so we headed over the divide to fish the Missouri.  We were greeted by snow falling on the drive over and it was hard to believe I was sweating in my waders the last few days. Bobby had never floated before and while Eric had fished some other western rivers, neither angler had ever been on the Mo.  It was cold outside, but the fish didn't seem to mind and Eric hooked up on the first rainbow of the day before I even had Bobby's rod rigged up.  It took the guys a little while to get used to the light line, small flies, and big rainbows on the Missouri.  There were a couple break offs and a few fish that pulled the hook, but before long those big slabs were hitting my net.  There were at least 4 fish in the 20" inch class and Bobby had big fish honors with a huge bow that went 21" and was so fat it had to be over 5 pounds.  He also caught one of the prettiest rainbows I've ever seen.  The fish had giant, almost dime sized spots on it and they extended through its stomach and lower jaw which is very rare.  Unfortunately it was so cold that the fish slipped out of the net while I was fumbling for the camera.  There was a bitter wind for most of the day with frequent snow squalls and it was so frigid out there that the guys didn't even want to eat lunch.  There was plenty of shaking going on in the boat but we stuck with it and were rewarded  with a bunch of nice fish.  The smallest fish of the day was 15" and most were in the 17-18" range and red hot with lots of jumps and one fish that nearly ran Eric to his backing.  We had several near doubles during the day and a good run in the late afternoon finally produced the double hook-up we were looking for.  The fish were going crazy, the lines were crossed and I handed rods back and forth between the guys while the boat spun around in the end.  How we landed those fish I'm not sure but it was a great way to end the day.  The cold had finally taken its toll and we rowed off for the warmth of the truck and ate lunch on the way home.  It was an incredible wildlife day too, we saw several herds of elk, mule deer, and whitetails along with antelope, a golden eagle, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, a great horned owl, and an osprey grabbing a big rainbow just below the boat.  The weather was a challenge, but I had a great time with Bobby and Eric and hope to get on the water again with them soon.    
Bobby with a nice rainbow
Eric going for a little liquid warmth in the midst of a white-out
A good double to finish off the day....even I was cold at this point!

Thur. I was out with local angler Jim Cote and we set off for the Missouri.  Jim usually tries to spend a couple days on the Mo each spring but this was a one day affair so we hoped the fish were in a good mood.  There were a couple of other boats around at the put-in but I was still able to get on a run I really like and it paid off.  Jim hooked fish on every pass we made and they were all big bows in the 18-19" range with the exception of the first fish that was a spunky 16" female.  After 8 or 9 passes another boat moved in on us and it was time to make our way downstream.  Jim tagged a couple more on our way down to the "bull pen", a well known run that was surprisingly void of anglers.  We worked that run over hard producing another 8 or 9 fish before taking a break for lunch.  It was hard for me to believe that just two days ago I was in this spot with snow piling up in my boat and my anglers were so cold they didn't even want to eat lunch.  For Jim and I it was a little breezy, but sunny and close to 60 out.  After lunch we had the slightest hiccup.  I changed the bugs in anticipation of afternoon hatches and we floated through a run with no strike.  I quickly switched the flies back and Jim was right back on the fish.  It was as good a fishing as you could ask for.  We found fish in every single run the rest of the afternoon and most runs produced multiple trout.  What was truly amazing was the size of fish today.  If I had to peg the average it was a solid 18".  We caught that 16" bow first thing in the morning, had two other fish in the 17" range and then just about every fish the rest of the day was a true 18-19" with 3 or 4 coming in at 20", and the best fish of the day was a big 21.5" bow.  They were all healthy, fought really hard, and a few put on great aerial shows with a bunch of great jumps.  The Missouri right now is like the Disneyland of trout's where dreams come true.  I have a feeling Jim and I may be headed back there again before the month is out. 

Big bows putting holes in the river

21 inches of fun

Back to the Mo again on Sat. This time it was with Kent from Missoula and we met his son, Jim over in Craig.  Since it was the weekend I decided to dodge the traffic at the dam and put in down at Wolf Creek. The weather was cloudy and mild, and the day got off to a fast start.  Jim connected on a nice brown right away and the guys came tight on another 6 or 7 fish before we were even on off the flat at Wolf Creek.  There wasn't much boat traffic and we were able to fish every spot I was hoping for, and every run produced solid strikes.  It really doesn't get much better than we experienced today.  Not only did we find nice trout in every good spot, but there were fish coming out of places where I wasn't even expecting it.  We caught fish with the flies just swinging below the boat on anchor, while picking up to recast, and one fish even came on a back cast when Kent stopped his cast and let it drop on the other side of the boat.  Before he could get it over where I wanted it, he had another rainbow on.  Jim really racked up the numbers today in the back of the boat with a load of rainbows in the 14-19" range and Kent held big fish honors with a couple 20" bows,  a fat 21" bow, and a giant 22" rainbow.  There were doubles today and absolute non-stop action.  The only time that the guys weren't on fish was when I was moving the boat between spots.  Once those flies were in the water someone was getting bit within 60 seconds.  Jim and Kent had a great time out on the water, and I was simply blown away at how well the river fished.  

Kent with a big Missouri bow

Jim out wade fishing at lunch

Too many of these this week to count

Run-off is finally starting and with the 70-80 temps they are calling for it should be going full-tilt by mid week.  There won't be much for local options during May, but I'll be hitting a few area lakes and of course heading over to the Missouri every chance I get.  In 15 years I've never seen the fishing on the Mo as good as it is right now.  I have a few open days this month so if you're interested in tangling with a bunch of big rainbows just let me know.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Time Fishing in the Rockies

The spring skwala season has been going strong since mid-March.  It's been one of the most consistent hatches on record with cooler than average temps that have kept the rivers in shape and the trout looking up.

Bitterroot Cutthroat that fell for a dryfly
Picking off rising trout in a side channel
Double release
The weather has been challenging at times, with a couple of cold fronts that brought snow and lately some big winds.  The last two days have been perfect spring weather and we experienced the best skwala fishing of the season.  Nothing but a single dry fly from start to finish and more trout than we could count.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Play Time

Pheasant hunting on the Rocky Mountain Front

It's funny how fishing guides as a whole are largely committed to catch and release angling, and then as soon as the season is over most of them grab some type of weapon and head to the field.  For some it's a release, a change of pace after being in a boat from March through October.  Just like you don't go back to the office for your vacation, guides choose to play in the mountains and praires.  For me it's a truly special time of year.  I love both hunting and fishing and feel priveledged to live in a state where both seasons are long and opportunity is everywhere.

Nice 6x6 bull on public land
Hunting for me is not about trophy animals with big racks.  It's about filling the freezer with the best meat in the world.  Not only is it delicious but I know exactly what happened to it from the moment that critter died to the time it hits the dinner table.  There aren't many cellophane packages at the Reinhardt house from the grocery store.  In fact, we had to lie to my son Thomas when he was younger and tell him that chicken and beef was actually pheasant and elk just to get him to eat it. 

Sunset on the plains
The other great thing about hunting season is the opportunity to see gorgeous scenery all over our state.  I'm lucky to be in the outdoors almost every day and while I never tire of the sights on our rivers it is refreshing to be in the beauty of the mountains and the fields for a short while.  There's nothing quite like it.