Trip Report Beaverhead river, Dillon Montana July 13,14,15

This years’ fishing adventure was to the Beaverhead River in SW Montana near Dillon. Like the Madison, and Big Hole, it’s such a well-known stream with so much written about that I don’t expect to add anything new, but since it was my first time to fish the stream, thought a trip report would be a good idea particularly this year. Spent three days fishing with guides Steve, Troy, and Dennis from Anderson & Platt Outfitters & Fly Shop in Dillon. Shop and guides are all highly recommended.
I booked this trip in March when snowpack was normal, and weather was expected, well hoped for, to be OK. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Drought and above normal temps were taking real hold on the area. When I visited Montana was putting Hoot Owl restrictions on lots of nearby freestone rivers and outfitters were ceasing trips on the Jefferson and Big Hole pushing more fishing pressure on the Beaverhead. Still didn’t seem so bad IMHO. Everyone spread out and was courteous, friendly really, and we had no issues floating the river. River flows were high, 850-900 fps about 300 fps above normal. There was a big bump the first day I floated which may account for why the fishing was slow and the river a bit off color. Floated from High Bridge to Henneberry twice, and then someplace below Henneberry to after Pipe organ. Not sure the name of the day 3 put in or take out. The upper river from the Clark canyon dam to Dillon had no emergency regulations, Dillon to the mouth was Hoot owl.
Day one and two were night and day on the same stretch of the river at the same times. Day one (with guide Steve) we struggled to pick up anything in the morning, better in the afternoon. Nymphing with indicators was the game using small 18-20 bugs + chuck and duck casting. Lots of split shot. Day 2 we started in the same spot but in a blizzard PMD hatch with absolutely no fish rising. The nymphing game my guide (Troy) used was on fire. My first 8 casts all produced fish. Slowed down as we went downriver but stayed consistent till near the takeout. All browns 15-20 inches. Incredible fishing. A small pheasant tail seemed to be the top fish choice.
Day 3 (With Dennis) was sight fishing to rising fish and getting humbled. The higher flows meant lots of the risers were under willows. Putting a fly in exactly the right teacup sized spot under the willows and immediately reach cast/stack mend so it floats to the fish drag free was taxing to the patience of my guide. Let’s just say I’m good at hooking willows. Pulled it off a few times, got some grabs and awesome fish, but if you are not a very good caster, or even if you are, you might want to stick to the nymphing game like almost everyone does. Yellow sallies were coming off most of the day so a small stimulator (14?) worked well. Be warned, the fish see a lot of bugs and flies so can be very picky. You do not get a lot of chances if your casts are bad, or you drag a fly by them. My guides’ eyesight was IMHO phenomenal. He could spot a fish fifty yards away. I couldn’t see them from five.
Dillon seemed like a cool place, if you can handle -25F in the winter and 90+ in the summer. This is the area is where in 1805 the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery and their guide /interpreter Sacagawea met her brother Cameahwait, chief of the Shoshone saving the expedition by providing horses and guides over the Rocky Mountains. The Beaverhead is a rock formation that looks like, well, a beaver head and supplies the name to the river, county, and area. Well worth a side visit just north of town to feel the history. The area is slightly changed from 1805.

Boat launch - 1.jpeg River View - 1 (5).jpeg River View - 1 (4).jpeg River View - 1 (3).jpeg River View - 1 (2).jpeg Pipe organ rocks - 1.jpeg River View - 1.jpeg Tom & Steve Day 1 - 1.jpeg PMD hatch - 1.jpeg Troy day 2 - 1.jpeg Brown Trout - 1.jpeg Tom & Dennis  Day 3 - 1.jpeg Beaverhead - 1.jpeg


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