Tag Archives: salmonfly hatch

Bitterroot Salmon Fly Time

Well the bugs have popped pretty early this year, even though the water is ripping along pretty good.  I was kinda hoping they’d hold out a bit longer until water levels dropped, but smoke em when you got em, eh?  I just came from Rock Creek and not much is happening over there except for high speed hang on for your life runoff, so the Bitterroot is a welcome sight with the upper portion dam controlled.  The boat traffic can get a bit hectic during the salmon fly hatch, but what river doesn’t get busy when the bugs are in?

Running different stretches of the Bitterroot, we can find solitude even in the busiest of times.  Good guides instructing our anglers in proper techniques gets the job done on any water, any river.  Knowing entomology and how it relates to different parts of a river system can greatly improve your success rate behind the fly rod.  When salmon bugs are popping way upstream, other insects are starting to crank up downstream, long away from the rolling whitewater and canyons that house the famous stonefly.  Drakes and goldens can fill the void of salmonflies and provide just as good fishing, and on a water type slower and easier going.  Catch them where you find them, don’t be afraid to search around in places you wouldn’t first guess.

Montana Salmonfly Hatch: Rock Creek

salmon bugAh, yes!  The time is here, time for the big bug on the big water: stoneflies.  More specifically pteronarcys californica, the giant stonefly, or commonly known as the Salmon fly.  This almighty of bugs shows itself around mid May on main rivers throughout Montana and Idaho, but really goes nutso early June on the upper ends of pristine river systems such as Rock Creek, the Big Hole, Blackfoot, Madison, and many other clean rocky bottomed streams.

rock creek salmonfly hatchThis adventure led us to the world famous Rock Creek.  Though there are a multitude of Rock Creeks throughout the west, even a modest handful right here in the Bitterroot, there is only one Rock Creek to serious fly fishermen.  The Rock Creek flows from the north Pintlars and eastern Sapphires and flows due north till its confluence with the Clark’s Fork some 50 speedy miles later near Clinton, Montana.  We guide the upper sixteen miles only, as permits only held by a few outfitters control the lower forty.  So be it, the upper 16 is sweet.

rock creek salmonfly hatchThe Crick as we call it, has one of the earliest and most prolific Salmonfly hatches in Montana.  By early June we’re chomping at the bit for Skalkaho pass to open up so we can make the annual rumble over.  Chris and I hauled a long time client over recently to roll the crick with big bugs and fast action: hang on as the gradient of Rock Creek is unlike any other river we guide.  Left, right, back to the left, mend that sonofabitch, all in about fifteen seconds, and so the entire day goes.  When times are good, which they pretty much always are, fish are flying at your bug or at least snarfing up your favorite dropper off the dry fly.

rock creek salmonfly hatchSalmon fly is definitely here in Montana, the buzz is on, you can feel it in the conversations from Craig on the Mo, where I just came from, to the brewery in Hamilton, where I just came from.  My crew will be on the Big Hole, Bitterroot, and the occasional Rock Creek tour for the next few weeks.  Get in touch quick to get a spot fishing the hatch with us, before shes all over and its back to the little bugs of summer.