Bitterroot flows can still be tricky
Here is the weekly Bitterroot River fishing report from Bill Bean, Fishaus Fly Fishing:
The Bitterroot River continues to have higher than normal water levels and a trickle of water is coming over the spillway at Painted Rocks Dam.
Floating fishermen continue to have some problems with the high water and some crafts have been either overturned or lost some passengers during the past week. Some of these events happen without most people becoming aware of them, but the river is still dangerous at the current flows in some of the stretches. Safety should be the No. 1 priority when fishing any river. After all, fishing is a hobby and while we all live in some of the best fishing country in the world, we can still wait for tomorrow for a safer time to fish.
Fishing during the past week has been great. The main river water levels are returning to somewhat normal conditions and the fishermen who float and fish still have the advantage from Hannon Memorial access to Missoula. The fishing pressure from rafts and boats continues to be high with other rivers in our area high and not fishing very well. Wade fishermen are now beginning to access the upper stretches with some of the best fishing on the East Fork and below. The West Fork remains pretty good fishing, but some of the larger fish have moved down river because of the declining water levels.
It is apparent that DNRC will begin to release water soon from Painted Rocks as the owned water released must be finished by Oct. 1. This does not include the Lake Como water, which is usually released after the Painted Rocks water is finished, but will only affect the main river below Rock Creek, which flows from the lake.
The hot spots for fishing are the East Fork and Hannon Memorial to the Darby Bridge. Float times are still reduced, so make sure you take plenty of time to stop and fish the slower parts of the river between these two access points.
As many of you probably are aware, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has had an open comment period regarding changes in the fishing regulations in Region 2, which includes the Bitterroot. Many of you have taken the opportunity to weigh in and now these comments, suggestions and potential changes will be presented for adoption in the next regulation cycle. It is important that we support these changes because they make sense and will affect the fishing on the Bitterroot for the next couple of years.
Hatches this weekend will be much the same as they have been for the last couple of weeks. The largest hatch is the pale morning dun mayfly and the stone fly hatch is next. The olive bodied summer stone is still producing some good fish as are the yellow humpies and parachute madam X.
Grasshoppers are appearing in smaller numbers this year, probably due to a colder spring, so use some of these patterns especially on the lower river.
Have a great weekend on the river!