Summer has finally arrived in western Montana. It sure wasn't here by Memorial Day, but it's here now. Despite bright sun and heat for the past week and a half, the freestone rivers are slooowly starting to drop, and every day there is more dark rock visible on the slopes of the high peaks. We still have a lot of snow to work through, but at least some of the upper drainage, super sneaky options are beginning to come in to play.
Everyone is hustling to find fishable water right now, and with Mother Mo cranking right along at 22,000+ cfs, even the Big Slide isn't such a great option anymore. We fished it one day and it was fine--with some big fish on the bite--but even most of the spots that fished well at 18,500 are now gone. So we looked elsewhere, and were lucky enough to have great weather and make it happen everywhere we fished. My past five days of work consisted of a lot of windshield time, plenty of heavy water boating and a few new callouses in places on my hands that don't otherwise toughen except for this time of year. But at least I was able to show my guests some of the more interesting rivers on the western half of the Big Sky, ditch the 12-foot
bobber/double BB/worm/scud slop rig, and catch some big old freestone trout on big old freestone bugs. A few even ate salmonflies. It's my favorite time of the year in this game...it just took us a lot longer to get there this season. Big water, big bugs, big fish.
From here on out, things should hopefully start to happen in short order. When the top ends come in to shape, the middle and lower (I'm not talking to you, lower Clark Fork. Sit back down in the corner and think about your choices) ends are soon to follow, and the bugs are certainly there. Trips are no longer canceling. And the sun is shining. I think we may finally be able to say we survived the spring of 2011. Game on.