We’re finally starting to get over to the Blackfoot River on a regular basis. Our favorite freestone has been fishing for a while with deep, heavy rigs, but we’ve been waiting for the water to clear and the surface action to pick up. Also, we’ve been way busy fishing the Missouri River, which has been excellent. A couple of our guides have been over to the Blackfoot in the last week, and reported good fishing and Salmonflies. Guide JP Basile and I decided to head over on a rare day off to see for ourselves.
The Blackfoot is on the drop and was flowing 2600 cfs (at Bonner) while were on it. Though the upper main stem is running low and dirty, the North Fork is high and clear so visibility below the confluence is not an issue. Water temperatures are in the high 50’s. Comfortable for both fish and fishermen. We wore shorts.
The big stoneflies were definitely hatching. The fish have seen some pretty intense angling pressure over the last week and were a tad bit suspect of our offerings. Refusals and whimsy takes were not uncommon. We caught fish on a wide variety of dry flies from #12-#4. We did not use a dropper at all, though we did try some emerger style trailers. No doubt we would have hooked many more fish with a dropper. As it was we had some pretty decent fishing, including a few nice ones like JP is showing you here. The big Cutt-bow above was a particularly strong fish.
As the Blackfoot continues to drop, you can expect smaller insect to come into play. Yellow Sallies, PMD’s, Green Drakes, Caddis and others will have the fish looking up, especially in softer thigh-deep riffles.In prime Salmonfly water you will continue to see the big bugs for awhile.
Nymphing is good, though we prefer to stay on top. It takes a bit of filtering to get past all of the aggressive smaller Cutts, but worth it when one of the big ones inhales your offering. As stated, I think you can use a wide variety of patterns and sizes on the Blackfoot River right now. I would definitely be trying some Green Drake patterns as well as small to medium size Chubby’s, etc.
We always get our shuttles from Leroy and Sue at Ovando River Shuttle – 406-793-3717 or 406-210-4164. Give them a call.