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I flew into Boise, ID, to meet my fishing buddy Pete, on Friday 3/21, late, with rods in hand.

We woke up the next morning to hit a small, high desert, tail-water in Oregon, right over the border. Upon arrival, we noticed large browns sipping midges and the occasional explosion of fish taking a skwala. We immediately set out sight fishing for the big browns, and within 15 minutes Pete had on a hog. A big brown crushed his skwala in 6 inches of water, and then exploded when he realized he was hooked, when landed, we guessed the fish to be right around 24”. Not bad for a wild fish in a river flowing under 2o cfs. After the big fish we continued to sight fish the big browns with different midge emergers and adults, our most productive pattern of the day had to be a palimino midge in an 18 and 20. (pictures of results coming soon)

3/23 - The next day on the same river proved to be tough, with high winds and sunny conditions, the fish just weren’t rising the way they had the day before. We spent a few hours on the water, but the conditions made it hard, and we came home fishless.

3/24 - With the desert river fishing tough, we headed east to another small tail-water. After a three and a half hour drive, we made it to our spot. It was sunny, so we were concerned the rainbows would be cautious, but they proved not to be, and as we walked down the bank, we could see dozens of fish chowing. The water was crystal clear, and with a flow of about 80 cfs, all of the wild rainbows were visible. Any dead drifted small parachute would take one of the 15 to 17 inchers, it got to be too easy. By 4pm we figured we had landed close to 20 fish, all on dries, all sight fished. So we moved on.

3/25 – After a stay with one of Pete’s crazy relatives, we woke to steelhead fish the Salmon river below Challis, ID. With crowding a problem, we were forced to fish off the beaten path. The Salmon river was reportedly stuffed with fish, and the hatchery was receiving hundreds of fish daily, we saw this with nearly everyone having a fish or two. So we set out and fished all morning to no avail, this was Pete’s second steelhead experience, the first one being three frozen days on the Grande Ronde, with no fish, so he wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. In the afternoon we moved down river and found some open water where it looked like nobody had fished for a while, so we worked it and nothing. On our way back to the car, I said I wanted to fish this good looking run one more time, and sure enough, first cast, fish on. My first steelhead on a fly!! After a decent fight and a few jumps, I landed the 4/5 pound hatchery hen. She was in great shape for an Idaho fish, so we decided to keep her. With the fish we got a little more enthusiasm and started at the head of the run again, Pete first, me after, and 15 minutes later, I hooked another one, but this time it came unbuttoned and that was that. So after a long day on the river we started heading north to Missoula, MT. An hour into our drive we got a call from a fisherman who had a report from the upper river, saying a guide had a client into 10 steelhead, so we turned around.

3/26 – About 1am the snow started to fall, and the car we were sleeping in got really cold…we woke up with two inches of fresh and the visibility being poor at best, our sight fishing water wasn’t looking good. After 20 minutes on the river and what had to have been hypothermia setting in, we decided to really head to Missoula.

3/27 – Bitterroot River – we floated from Stevensville to Florence, had cold winds all day and snow, our skwala fishing was SLOW, but we still managed a few fish.

3/28 – no fishing today, just regrouping and a little backcountry skiing adventure

3/29 – Back to the Bitterroot, we decided to go higher up the river, with warmer weather conditions and partly cloudy skies, the Hannon to Wally Crawford was perfect. After joining the line of boats (around 12) we set off, throwing big skwala’s at the bank. The fishing was consistent and we had fish take our flies on almost every bank. No real hogs today, but the consistency made the day very worth while.

3/30 - With two days on the Bitterroot under our belts, we set out to the lower Clark Fork, working off a tip from a local shop, we drove all the way to Superior to launch the boat. We instantly saw skwalas floating down the river and knew with the overcast skies, that fishing would be great. If anyone ever has the chance to fish the Clark Fork, defiantly do it, it is by far my favorite trout stream in western Montana. We set out fishing similarly to the way we were fishing the Bitterroot, but with the long banks, and only two other boats on our float, we could concentrate on rising fish. We had excellent fishing the entire day, and even though I went through a slump of me missing 10 fish in a row, I still had a great time.

3/31 – Yesterday, we made it back to the Bitterroot one last time. We chose to float lower, from Tucker to Bell Crossing. Overcast skies and warm weather made the fish rise all day. We had fish on even in the first stretch of water. Big Skwalas and the smaller Nemoura stones caught fish all day; fish were also podded up eating March Browns. The big fish of the day was a 22-inch brown that took a skwala under a tree branch. We easily brought 20 fish to the boat.

Well sorry for the lengthy report, but it was a great trip, and we managed some nice fish. I will post pictures when I can, and will put them in my gallery labeled “spring break trip”

That’s it for now –
crump:thumb
 

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Idaho, Montana, and Oregon Spring Break Report for ...

Crump!

You 'da man! Nice report. That's one hell of a nice report. Keep it coming.

In 3 weeks 3 of us are heading to MT and will be basically operating out of Dillon. Your report is kind of a pump-up for me. Thanks.

Sparse

Streams are made for the wise man to contemplate and fools to pass by.
(Sir Izaak Walton)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Idaho, Montana, and Oregon Spring Break Report for ...

Sparse, Dillon is a sweet area, but, can you wait? Because the Beaverhead will only be open in the lower section, which call still be good, and everything else will be good but not great. If you really want to experience the Beaverhead, go after the opener when you can fish the upper river. Also before you go, be sure to ask about the water clarity, because I fished it early last year ( the first week of may ) and one of the creeks was dumping in a ton of silt, so we had very limited fishing with the 6 inches of vis. You might want to consider the Missouri for that time of year, because the rainbows will be winding up the spawn thing, and there are always lots of browns too. But if you have your heart set on Dillon, and 3 weeks is set in stone, Im sure you will get into some decent fishing. Send me a pm if you have any questions, I lived in Missoula last year, so I had a year to learn western Montana.
crump:thumb
 

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Crumpdogg,

Dude, all I have to say is SAAAWEEET report! It is about time for me to make my annual spring trip to Idaho. Next time you want to chase some steelies up on the Salmon. Give me a holler. I have some property on the river right there at Elk Bend below Challis and my neighbors let me crash in their empty single wide when I am in town. And next time you go, take advantage of the local hot springs. Can't beat steelheading and hotspringin in the same day.

MAC
 

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Crump,

Glad you had a great trip. Skwala fishing can bring up some of the biggest fish of the year. Sorry you ran into a little bit of traffic, but everyone is so locked into the Bitterroot this time of year that sometimes you get slugs at certain public accesses. Doesn't sound like it made a difference though. As the season wears on all the boats spread out to all four drainages, Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Rock Creek. So traffic really disappears later in the year.

Nice Report.
 
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