Tag Archives: west fork bitterroot

Bitterroot River 3Day

bitterroot river guidesA phone call this previous winter set this trip in motion: six guys from Texas coming to fish Montana with us, staying up the West Fork in a secluded vacation rental.  Chad, Chris and myself picked up the gang early the first morning to see what we’d gotten ourselves into.  Right from the start, these guys were a hell of a group to fish with: good humored, good friends, easy learners, and awed with our pristine mountain environs.  Sometimes us guides can take for granted the sheer beauty of our workplace, and groups like this remind us to look around and appreciate the scenes we’re floating.

bitterroot river guidesWith three days scheduled to fish the Bitterroot, we decided one day upstream on the West Fork, one day on the mainstem, and the third an audible depending on the previous two.  Day one took us deep down the upper canyons throwing mayflies and caddis bugs amongst the boulder gardens.  With fast water pockets and rapids throughout, the cool waters fished very well throughout the day. Our group learned how to adapt to the quick mountain water these trout live in, dialing in casts and mending like mad to draw fish to their dry flies.

bitterroot river guidesNext day we toured our group down to the main river.  After a day of ripping down the canyons, the main Bitterroot was a welcome sight with long smooth glides and easy fishing scenarios.  Put a good cast and mend out there and let ‘er go!  Long drifts equal big fish in the right spots.  With afternoon temps soaring over one hundred, we swam as much as we fished later in the day.  As Redfish fishermen, these Texans are accustomed to high temps and cooling off in the flats, so hourly dunks were the norm.

bitterroot river guidesAfter our third day up the West Fork again, our now dialed in fly fishermen took advantage of many opportunities they missed the first day.  With a couple days of guide beatings under their belts, many spots inaccessible became easy casts and a slam dunk fish on.  This is one of the huge advantages to multi-day trips, and a joy for us guides to witness, as our customers get better and better day after day, making for great fishing and easing our jobs each day.  So thanks to this group from Texas, you were a blast to guide and spend time with on the Bitterroot River, and we hope to see you in Montana once again someday.

Summer Wrap Up

It’s been a great fishing season with everyone who came to experience this slice of Western Montana.  Starting back in March chasing the Skwala hatch, to sniping big bows and browns on the Fall Baetis on the Missouri, starting anytime now, we’ve enjoyed the many friends and faces throwing a line from our rafts.  We hope to see you all again out there on the river, whether it is in a monsoon on the Big Hole in May, or on on of those perfect July bluebirds on the Bitterroot.  Enjoy the photos and see you next year.

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Kansas comes to Montana

bitterroot cutthroatJust as September is rolling around and the fishing should really start picking up for Fall, a crew of great friends of mine from the flatlands of Kansas showed up here in the Bitterroot for a three day adventure.  With five fishermen in the group and three guides, we set out to give it our best on the main stem of the river for the first two days, then one final shot at the West Fork the last day.

bitterroot cutthroatFishing was tough on the main Bitterroot with high daytime temperatures and bright sun; great for a vacation, but weather like this takes a toll on the bite.  As evening approached, fish began actively rising, saving the day for us guides and giving us some targets to throw at as the day turned to dusk.  Pulling out at Otto’s Cabin where our group is staying right on the river, we anchor up for the night and leave the boats for an early start there in the morning.  For all of you looking for a perfectly situated, peaceful, and simple getaway look no farther than this little gem resting on the banks of the Bitterroot river.

bitterroot cutthroatOur final day of fish camp led us up the West Fork of the Bitterroot, looking for big cutthroats in the cold canyon waters coming off the mountain peaks.  This time of year water levels are down to a trickle, but there was still plenty to get the boats through and plenty of fish for our anglers.  Between stripped buggers and well fished grasshoppers, everybody found big trout to take the fly, making for the best fishing we saw over the three day span.  The West Fork can be like that, especially after a couple days of plugging away at the main stem and getting little returns.  Bring your A game and this river will reward you mucho.  Thanks to the Kansas boys for a great time with old pals on a Montana trout stream.

Team Meadowburke

Meadowburke fishing tripAfter many years of fishing Montana streams together, my main man Jan brought his crew of executives from his concrete accessories company to fish the Bitterroot River with us.  Team Meadowburke, as we’ll refer to them, was a four person group with lots of fishing experience, just not much in the way of fly fishing.  So, Chris and I had our work cut out for us assembling our troops and teaching as much fly fishing knowledge as we could cram in there in our short two day trip. Meadowburke fishing trip

Starting with casting instruction in the lawn for a couple hours, then shifting right onto the river, our guys quickly picked up the basics of fly fishing and proceeded to lay into quite a few nice trout out there.  What our anglers lacked in fly fishing experience, was made up by their general fishing abilities: once they were hooked into a trout, a lifetime of fighting fish on the salt helped them to bring em’ to the net quickly and efficiently.  Casting and drifting a fly can be a whole new experience to most folks, but good ol’ fish savvy comes from spending time on the water with a rod in hand, fly rod or otherwise. west fork bitterroot cutthroat

Montana weather, always on the sketchy side, didn’t let us down in the least.  Our days would start warm and sunny, but would quickly deteriorate into overcast skies and falling temps: trust your weatherman when he says thunderstorms are predicted.  Soon enough the rain jackets would come out as we prepared for whatever was coming down the pipe from the West, dark storm clouds and lightning flashes.  We took shelter wherever available, sometimes under the immense canopies of ponderosa pine trees, sometimes anchored under the nearest bridge until the deluge passed us. Chris Rockhold west fork bitterroot cutthroat

With all the weather ups and downs, the river fished downright awesome.  Drys and streamers played very well with fish chasing the bugs hard from rocky banks and inside seams.  Just after we’d get clobbered by one of the many storms rolling down the valley, the fishing would light up, helping us forget about the drip off our hats and our soggy jackets.

bitterroot cutthroatA big thanks to the Meadowburke crew for fishing with Bitterroot River Guides, we enjoyed a true Montana fishing experience out there.  Many big trout came to the nets, we suffered with the mountain weather, floated and fished over twenty miles of scenic river, and enjoyed good camaraderie and great times in the mountains.  See you next time.

Musty and the Rangers

bitterroot river fishing guidesI’ve never been to the Rangers AC in Milltown, New Jersey, but if they have remotely as much fun at their club as they have on the river, sign me up.  These fine gents have fished with Bitterroot River Guides for many years now, bringing different faces and personalities but one remains the same, Musty.  And Ernie, can’t forget him.  Big Musty anchors these guys into some semblance of order; arranging the guiding, hotels, and travel plans.  I think some of them would still be sitting in the Sawmill bar in Darby without him.

bitterroot river fishing guidesFishing-wise this was a banner year with the Rangers.  We spent three days on the Bitterroot searching out the finest water our river has to offer right now, as well as teaching these guys some new techniques for sticking big fish.  Versatile fishermen, our NJ crew got the job done every day of the trip, whether we were way up the West Fork or down on the lower main river.  Water levels are still up and cruising along, making for tricky casts and quick mending, but the big flows also keep the big trout moving around the system and feeding heavily.

bitterroot river fishing guidesTaking time to enjoy the finer points of a Montana summer on the river, our crew grilled out every day for lunch to slow the pace of things and sip a few cold ones.  Cocktail hour starts early with these guys, and their fishing actually improves considerably throughout the day: we’re dealing with professionals here!  But alas, three days go by too quickly, and we’ve already said our goodbyes.  Musty and the gang have moved on to the Madison river, and then on to the mecca of Craig on the big Missouri for a few more days.  I hope they stick some great fish on the rest of their journey, and until next time Chris and I will miss the onslaught of the Rangers AC in Montana.

bitterroot river fishing guides

Solid Bitterroot Fishing

west fork bitterroot cuttThe river is on the fluctuations of a big spring, up one day and then dropping after a few cold nights.  We’ve been at it through snow and rain, wind and shine, finding pretty good fishing through it all.  Adversity is definitely the name of the game; lots of rigs, lots of poking around checking all the holds.  Every type of fly rig has its time to play throughout the day: streamers for a few runs, then fish a dry through the riffles and slough mouths.

west fork bitterrootAny spotted fish is catchable right now, and right about two o’clock the March Brown mayflies have been peeling off, bringing quite a few fish out to feed.  Throughout the upper Bitterroot, we’ve found many sneaky little spots that have steady rising fish, but you have to search closely and fish a ton of water to find them.  Once you do, bingo.  We have plenty of equally sneaky hand tied patterns in Skwala and mayfly that work excellent, with fish moving hard to the fly and eating them fool hearty.