East Fork of the Bitterroot - Montana
Have been hearing good things about the salmonfly and golden stone hatches on the Forks of the Bitterroot. Access is better on the West Fork, from what I have seen and heard. And there are likely more folks on it for that reason. Not such easy access on the East Fork, but more my kind of water.
Got to the stretch of the East Fork I had in mind about 1:00. Very pleasant day. Partly cloudy, very little breeze, and temps in the upper 60's when I got there. Scouted for a while and then picked a place to start.
By the time I got to the water, it was about 1:30. Decided to start with JC's Salmonfly. First cast, saw a fish come to the fly, hit it, and take off. Second cast, saw a fish come to the fly, hit it, and eat it. A 7" cutthroat. Nice way to start my first day on a new piece of water. After that, it had nothing to do but slow down, which it did.
Stayed on the same stretch of water today, fishing likely spots. Second place I fished, got a couple good splashes, but no hook ups. Picked up a couple more cutthroat in another spot, small ones like the first fish. Fished several spots with no action.
Decided to cross the river at a bridge and fish the opposite side, which came at me in a big sweeping bend from my right around to the left. Lots of good looking water. Changed from the salmonfly to LF's Golden Stone. First place I tried - bingo. Another cutt. Then another one is short order. Moved on upstream and had a few hits that didn't hook up, several good looks ( aka refusals ), but no more fish eating the fly.
About that time, I noticed a couple fellows coming on downstream. Talked to them for a few minutes - long enough to get the scoop that it was great dry fly fishing yesterday. They were not doing well at all today. From that point on it was a matter of fishing water these local fellows had already fished. Not a good scene, but the water was warming up some and there were a few PMDs around. No fish up, but at least I was getting some action so I decided to just keep on moving upstream.
By this time I had had quite a bit of action ( takes, hits and refusals ) on both flies. Went back to the salmonfly. Picked up another couple cutts and saw several more fish refuse the fly. The action wasn't fast and furious, for sure, but it was steady enough to keep it interesting.
Came to a spot where there was a deep slot just a few feet off the bank. After several casts and good drifts, finally saw a fish coming to the fly. A beautiful 12" cutthroat finally got to it and ate it. Biggest fish of the day to that point.
Got a couple more good drifts over the same slot when another good sized fish started up from the bottom. Saw him all the way to the fly. A gorgeous 14" rainbow.
That was the end of the action. Not a bad way to wrap it up. I did fish a couple more places on my way to the easy route back to the truck, but I was so pleased with how my three hours had gone that it didn't really matter if I saw another fish. Got a few neat pics - wish I could show them now, but it will have to wait. Will add a slideshow to this thread when I get home.
The fish are always right.