Game On

Despite our generally high water, the fishing and catching on the Stillwater has been very good.  Today the river is rolling at about 3,400 cfs.  It has actually come up the last couple of days with the 95 to 100 degree temperatures we have been receiving.  But as long as the bugs continue to hatch, the fish will continue to look up and feed.


It has been my observation that mornings are pretty much a nymphing game until the water temps rise to the 60 degree mark.  And then it’s Katie bar the door, the PMD’s get right with it as do the fish.  In addition to the PMD’s, there is an abundance of Yellow Sally’s and about three different species of caddis flies on the water or more accurately, in the bushes adjacent to the water.  And just for the record, I have not seen a golden stone yet.  No adults, no shucks, no nothing.  However, the fish are eating golden stone nymphs right on the edge of the water, so they must be about ready to hatch and do their thing.


If you are thinking about heading out there…….  As I said, water volumes are very high for this time of year.  If you’re not great on the sticks, don’t go.  If you are trying to wade the rivers right now, pls re-think that strategy.  Safety first and don’t be stupid.

One of Many for Clark

One of Many

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Late June Water World Update

Well folks, today is a special day. Fifteen and one half hours of full sunlight here in the northern tier of the USA and the beginning of official summer. The equinox is upon us, so it seems a good time to update folks on the local water conditions. Settle back and grab a cold one.

I not sure where to begin spinning this yarn, so I just cut to the chase. We’ve got a Schmidt load of water in the area streams and cricks. But wait, there’s more! If you really look into the data, there are some very interesting facts and outcomes, so buckle up and here we go.

The Ups and Downs

The volume of water in all the area streams, from the Clarks Fork on the eastern front to the Stillwater and Boulder drainages to the west, are running at approximately 150-200+ percent of normal discharge. Given that typically, this third week of June is the peak of the run off, the fact that we have this much water in the streams gives credence to the fact that we had a record or near record snow pack this winter. How-some-ever, if you really do a little data mining, it quickly becomes obvious that the peak run off due to snow melt actually occurred about 2 weeks ago. So the logical questions becomes, why are the rivers and creeks so high? And the appropriate response is …… at this point in the year, (we’re about 6 months in) the Billings NOAA weather station is showing that we have received .33 inches less moisture than we typically average for the entire year. Or to put it another way, we are .34 inches of moisture away from exceeding our average moisture amount. Nornally, Billings receives nearly 14 inches of precipitation annually. If the trend that we have experienced continues over the next six months, we will be setting an all time precipitation record …. wow-sers! Even the really old timers have never seen anything like that….. historic man!

Thus the undeniable conclusion is that the 150 – 200% of typical stream volumes are being driven by rainfall over the last two or three weeks. The good folks at NOAA indicate that this pattern will continue until the end of June and then, the weather gods will likely turn off the facet.

So What Does That Mean to My Planned Fishing Trip

The truth is …. Hell if I know, but my gut tells me the following. The magic number for the Stillwater is 3000 CFS. At that volume of discharge, we can …..1) float under the low hanging bridges and 2) the fish start looking for chow. Thus, if we consult the Hydro-Outlook NOAA site, mix in a little common sense, add a dash of hope and good cheer, and then rub our belly buttons and forget the numbers and algorithms ….. I believe that we’ll be in floating/fishing conditions at or just after the July 4 Holidays. And truth be told, I certainly hope that is the case because I have folks booked. So this is one po- child with crossed fingers.

Have You Been Sitting on Your Butt and Watching the World Go By?

Silly question. In the places I know, stream fishing has been ongoing over the last month or more. Some days it’s good, some days it’s great and some days, it’s dirty and high and time for a brew and once again cut the grass.

And the Upcoming Menu Items Would Be?

Once we hit the magic number, the focus will be on nymphs with all the usual suspects in play. Rubber legs stoneflies, pink nuclear worms, hare’s ear, princes, copper johns and all that jazz. Bottomline is that at 3000 CFS, the fish can’t afford to be picky. Things go by fast and it’s been a long while since their last meal. So the placement of the bugs and how you fish them is a hell of a lot more important than what you chuck. Good drag free drifts with well timed and executed mends are very important, or as I have been accused of saying on numerous occasions …..”Mend the Hell out of it!”

In the world of the dry fly fisherperson, menu items soon to be featured include Golden Stones and Pale Morning Duns. So have a pile of those in your boxes. Additionally, we’re moving into the caddis time of year so you’ll want some of those as well. And the good news for the soon to be dry fly addicts is at a volume of 2500 to 2000 CFS, the fish are not picky and will hammer flies dead drifted, but they really get turned on by flies that jump and flutter 2 or 3 inches up stream and then float and then jump another 2 or 3 inches. Twitch ain’t just the dude on Ellen. Twitch them up kids.

And A Word of Caution, Maybe Two

Don’t be stupid. Attempted wading within the next month could be hazardous to your health. And please look around before you step on the little fawns which their mothers have stashed in the high grass, I’ve been seeing a bunch of these guys lately.

Mr. Brown made a mistake

Don’t step on the fawn

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Memorial Day Check In


A rather sobering day if we think about it.  Although America has adopted Memorial Day as the official start of summer, it’s much more than that.  The little berg of Bob has not lost track of today’s message and importance.  For a itty bitty berg, with neither a mayor or city council, it’s the rugged individuals that make this spot special.  Here’s to those who serve and served and those who continue to remember.

State of the State of the Water

I’ve been fielding a number of questions pertaining to anticipated water and fishing conditions for the upcoming month of June, so I think now is a good time to discuss what are and what are not real possibilities.  All our rivers and creeks are high and getting more so by the moment.  Do yourselves and your friends a big favor and stay the hell away from them.  Rock Creek is running at 200% (minimum) of normal and the Clark’s Fork is running at roughly 400% of normal.  All other local and regional flowing waters are within that range of volume discharge.  I understand we lost a kayak and it’s paddler up the Main Canyon this weekend.  Rather reminiscent of last year.  So please don’t be stupid.

From the looks of things at this point, it’s gonna be awhile before the floating and fishing resumes.  Although the amount of snow on the high elevation plateaus has substantially been reduced over the last week, there is still a boat load remaining in the canyons and cirques above 8,500 feet.   It’s raining now and it’s been raining nearly every day and temps are predicted for the 70’s and 80’s.  It is going to take awhile to milk all that high elevation white stuff out of the nooks and crevasses.  Hang in there and don’t be stupid.

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom 

There still are those rare opportunities.  Small Streams and foothill ponds do provide some degree of hope if you know where they are and know the right folk.  As you might guess from the accompanying photos, I know a couple of the right folk.  The garden hackle hatch has been intense over the last week or so.  Those all night rains entice the little buggers to the earths surface where they frolic in the midnight moisture.  A number of them frolic to the point that they end up in the drink and serve Mr and Mrs Trout a lovely meal.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the fish on my local crick so fat and feisty.  They pretty much wore out my hand the other day.  Woo is me?

The rain and the warmth have also brought forth other bounty from the earth.  The wild asparagus and morels are happening right now in the hood.  I’m not necessarily an advocate of killing trout, but ….. that combo does sound pretty darn good.

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