Early Aug and It’s Hot

Mostly the air temperatures are hot,  they have been that way for awhile now and we’re told that situation will continue into the foreseeable future.  And as you may have guessed, the water temperatures are getting mighty warm as well.  Yesterday the Stillwater hit 72 degrees.  Not good for Mr. and Mrs. Trout.  So use your heads out there and when the water hits 68, it’s time to give the fish a break.

Fishing continues to be very inconsistent.  Some days there are dry flies in the mornings.  Either a #16 Purple Haze or Elk Hair Caddis have been taking fish here and there. Nothing really steady and certainly nothing very large.  The other day, I was amazed at the number of cookie cutter fish we were catching, not amazed at the numbers but rather the sameness of the fishes.  Sort of a trout version of the movie Ground Hog Day.  In addition to the fish looking for small bugs, more and more fish are beginning to show interest in grasshoppers, of which there are many.  I’m not really sure that the hoppers are making into the rivers in great numbers thus far, so maybe that explains the lack of all out hopper gobbling.  Time shall tell.

When low light conditions have prevailed, typically mornings or during periods of storm clouds, the streamer stripp’n has not been too bad.  Girdle bugs, buggers, and the fuzzy-wuzzy rabbit fur flies have been working their wonders and certainly producing larger fish.  Low and slow and off the banks in the deeper mid-river troughs have been where the big daddy’s have been found.  Today we stuck and landed a real dandy about 19″ and broke off one much, much larger one.  So they’re out there.

And now for our public service announcement.   Today the river is at about 1,000 cfs.  No rain is forecast for the next week or so.  It’s dropping fast and there are cross river gravel bars that are really starting to be a PITA.  Oh, and the White Bird take out has been cut off while Swinging Bridge has recently been “improved” by someone with a piece of equipment.  Helpful hint:  Take the irrigation channel to the take out.

Ride the donkey when you can, it all might change tomorrow.



Let’s take care of our spotted buddies


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Mid-Summer, 2020 and All is Still Funky

Yes, I know, It’s been awhile.  So here’s the down and dirty.  The fishing is ok, but not off the carts.  There is a blizzard of caddis in the bushes and the fish don’t seem to care.  I’m seeing increasing numbers of golden stones, so things should be looking up, literally and figuratively.  The PMD’s have been spotty and infrequent.  So it’s been a game of try this bug for awhile and then try something different.  And the truth be told, I/we have not been exploring the depths with nymphs and split-shot, my folks have simply not wished to do that and that’s ok with me.

As we enter into the dog days of summer, all area streams are dropping into safe and wade-able conditions.  When you’re walking about out there, you will soon notice that the grass is loaded with grasshoppers.  Lots of itty bitty’s right now, but they are growing by the day.  The weather for the near future (90’s and wind) suggest that smart fisher folks will be packing a diversity of hopper imitations, small ones now, big ‘ens later.  It’s not often I get on the hopper band wagon since most folks in the trade use the storied hopper fishing as a marketing tool more so than a reality check, but this year’s gonna be different.  Last years was good, but this year is gonna be real good.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your tying!

One last fishing observation.  I’ve not been seeing the volume of river traffic that one might consider normal.  I’ve not seen the throngs of out of area outfitters.  To be sure, some locals are still out there and you will not be by yourself, but the elbow space has been lovely.  As I suggested earlier in one of these bloggy things, the Summer of 2020 has felt somewhat like a 1990’s throwback year.  And I’m ok with that as well.

And one final thought:  The virus ain’t a hoax folks.  Montana Gov. Bullock has mandated a masking order when folks are within confined spaces or when social distancing can’t be achieved.  The science is pretty damn clear, mask aren’t bullet proof protection, but they significantly reduce conveyance. As I’m chatting with perspective clients, those who suggest this is all BS find that their desired dates are suddenly unavailable.  Thus I’m screening folks.  Maybe that sounds harsh, but I think not.  Taking simple steps to decrease the chances of conveyance is respectful of myself, my family, my friends and just as importantly, you the next guy or gal in my boat or truck or in my face.  You don’t know who I’ve been cavorting with and I know not with whom you have done the same.  So let’s make a deal.  You keep your droplets and I’ll keep mine.  And that’s what mask do, problem solved.  The good news is that once we enter into mother nature, off come the mask and everyone can see your pretty face….. maybe not.

So, if you call for a trip, please be advised of the above information and don’t be surprised when I whip out a forehead thermometer and check your “normal” before we even get going.  Can’t be too careful and can’t be too respectful of others ….. and that’s the way we roll.


Spotted Fattie

Spotted Fattie

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So here’s the New Deal

Good news folks!  Yesterday, Governor Bullock announced the State of Montana will be moving into Phase II of our Reopening Plan.  Embarking on Phase II of the reopening plan includes lifting the 14-day out-of-state travel quarantine on June 1st. Truth be told, the original Phase II provision included continuation of the 14 day quarantine, but the Gov modified that and eliminated the requirement under the revised Plan.  Thus we are open for business to non-resident fisher folks as long as we implement CDC recommended social distancing practices.  This year will be a little funky and we’ll adjust as we go depending on any new data, information, or Governor’s directives.  I’ll likely be taking personnel temperatures, offering use of mask, using lots of sanitizer, and asking you to complete a risk acknowledgement form before we hit the stream.  All responsible outfitters have been asked to do the same by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) of which I am a member.  As draconian as that sounds, I will not be asking you to shoot up with either Lysol or Chlorox.  (Just kidd’n folks, during these times, humor helps, even if it’s bad humor.)

Helpful Hint:  Since the beginning of the viral experience, many previously scheduled trips have been cancelled for obvious reasons.  I’m not sure how many, but it’s been a bunch.  In that respect, RFO is no different that other fly fishing outfitter in the Treasure State.  Which means that those who do continue with their vacation and fishing plans will likely experience much less river traffic than usual during the height of the upcoming summer season.  Might just feel like a throwback to the Eighties out there this summer.  I’m ok with that!

And now for the fishy talk.  Going, going, gone …….  Due to the high temperatures we have been experiencing, area creeks and rivers are up and ripp’n.  If you look at the USGS hydro-graphs, they all look like we’re building a stairway to heaven.  And thus we are now into the run-off season.  There are still a few options for fishing but they are limited.  Last week the fishing was good with a plethora of bugs.  (Should have been here last week).  But the good news is that I do not anticipate a long or unusually high runoff this year, at least that is what my crystal ball is telling me now.  As in all things, that might change.  However, I think we’ll be floating and fishing the rivers come the last of June or the first-ish of July.


I call him Spot.  He’s one of my local friends.

And now for the non fishing news.


It’s time for these.  Cottonwood and Aspen stands are where they’re at.  Much like toilet paper, they don’t last long …..


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