Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by dcslick, Jul 23, 2013.
Check the regs. I believe some streams closed for bull trout after July 31st.
For Bulls, i would check out the elk and Wigwam in BC....They had severe flooding this year but should be good to go now.
I got back from Whitefish just a couple of days ago and had a great first time fishing there. A couple of notes on where pbunbury and I fished, what worked and what didn't:
We fished all three forks of the Flathead (North, Middle and South). We had the best luck on the North and Middle Forks. We started on the South on the first day, and probably would have had better luck if we returned later in the week. Our fishing improved over the weekend as we learned the water better and what the fish liked to eat. We caught mostly westslope cutthroats with a rainbow and whitefish sprinkled in the mix.
The guys at Lakestream in downtown Whitefish were super helpful and more than happy to tell us a few tricks and suggest flies. We also had a great time getting to know Dave at Stumptown Anglers which is just outside of town. He took us out one afternoon and showed us some absolutely magic water on the North Fork.
The water there is gin clear—this was completely new to me. It was super exciting to look down and see dozens of trout just stacked up. It also became mildly frustrating when I did not have any strikes (or even looks) on the first day. Even when I had the right fly on, if I landed it in relatively still water, the fish would swim up, take a look and refuse. I've never been able to see this kind of action before, and it really helped me learn how trout think and eat. Once I learned what the fish were biting on, the key was to land the fly upstream of the fish in moving water along a seam. As the fly passed in the moving water, the cutthroat couldn't help themselves. We also had good luck along drop offs.
The most productive fly for me was hands down a size 12 or 14 Purple Haze (a purple parachute adams with a white parachute). This fly was most effective from mid day through the evening. The Dave's Haze variation of this fly (orange parachute) also worked well. We also had good luck with red and black ants, size 8-10. Parker hooked up a few with a size 6 orange and yellow salmon fly. I even managed to haul in a larger cutty while stripping in a Washington State Special yellow and red Pat's stonefly size 10. A size 8 tan muddler minnow also saw some success. We had heard that hoppers with purple bottoms marked up with spots were working. We tried a few of these, but never had much luck.
Since we had the girlfriends in tow on this trip, Parker and I devised a white water rafting day for the whole group (seven of us total). The folks at Glacier Guides in West Glacier let us rent a raft and self guide for the day (about $240 all told). We floated much of the Middle Fork. While the ladies sunned themselves, the three guys in the boat were able to get lines wet. This turned out to be a great idea... We found a lot of great holes to fish and caught a few while we were floating... just make sure to have all the rods out of the middle of the boat or broken down when running rapids. Unfortunately the other fella on the trip will be making use of his rod's warranty policy.
While we didn't catch any pigs, I would still characterize this as a very successful first time out in this area. I saw many giant lurkers deep in a few pools on the Middle Fork. I'll be back soon with a full sink tip and some streamers for those beasts. When we weren't fishing, we enjoyed a couple days in Glacier National Park spotting big horn sheep, mountain goats and bears. Whitefish is also a fun town and really comes alive at night. If anyone has any questions... just ask.
North Fork magic.
Rainbow on the North Fork.
Cuttie on the North Fork.
Mid day fun on the Middle Fork.
Little fella on purple haze on the North Fork.
nice report. been to that area several times but only to golf. I will have to try fishing there too
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Nice pics; glad you and your friends had a good time.
Looks like you had a tough go of it... better luck and fun next time . I have not fished those rivers yet myself, so great to see info and candid results. Did you consider either the Yaak or Kootenai?
I had an opportunity to fish the MF last year. I carried two rods with me after seeing some pics at the fly shop. One rigged with a pink hopper, one with a sink tip and huge articulated streamer just for dredging monster bulls. I never found what I was looking for with the streamer setup, but will forever remember the sight of an eighteen inch cuttbow rising ten feet through those air clear waters to inhale my hopper.
Where exactly did you fish on the south fork? It is usually the best fishing of the three. Was it downstream of the dam before it meets up with the main river or above the reservoir?
We fished it just downstream from the dam and Devil's Elbow. We also fished a little further down before the confluence. We did not fish above the reservoir. I think our luck on the South Fork had more to do with us getting used to the water/what flies to throw and less with how the river actually fishes. If I had another day to fish the South Fork again, I'm sure we would have had much better results. Have you found the fishing to better above or below the dam?
Neither of those came up in our discussions about possible day trips. We considered trying the Wigwam or the Elk in BC; and definitely want to hit those up next time. On my next visit perhaps I'll take 2 into Whitefish instead of 90 and scope out the Yaak and Kootenai too. Do you have any experience on those streams?
The Devil's Elbow stretch can be good fishing but it is temperamental due to fluctuations when they are generating from the dam. The upper river (55miles on a dirt road) above the dam is my favorite place to fish bar none. Had a great day up there this July with my dad and brother. You can wade fish it but it's better if you have a pontoon or raft.
I fished the Kootenai some years ago, but water levels were pretty high and fishing was really tough. I'm told it is a great late season option -- think we were there in June. It's also a big river and best if floated. I will definitely have another crack at it.
If you have the time, I would consider taking a few days to follow the Thompson River from its head down to where it dumps into the Clark Fork. Thompson River Road follows the river from start to finish and you can pull off and fish just about anywhere.
I took 2 days to fish it & it was amazing! Brook trout closer to the head, 12" rainbows and 17" browns a little further down. I fished the whole thing dry, mainly using Kaufmann Stimies, and it was a busy few days!
You may run into bears...you probably won't run into people. I'll take the trade off