Mid-summer fishing is in full swing now. The reports are all over the board - from great fishing to downright lousy. It's the time of year when the fish have been picked at and are starting to be picky on fly selection. PMD's - YES, HOPPERS - YES, ANTS - YES, BEETLES - YES, STONEFLIES - MAYBE, especially large ones for the Nocturnals around. Brindlechutes, Plan B's, More-or-less hoppers - think PINK, Waterwalkers, Parachute Ants, Purple Haze is a good selection to have on hand. Have you fished the spruce moth hatch? Us either, we've not heard of any around - so I guess we'll go another year without seeing them.
Flows are just above average for this time of year. The West Fork of the Bitterroot is currently flowing at 331 CFS, Darby gauge reads 647 CFS and Bell Crossing is at 599 CFS. Keep your eye on the water temps, upper 60's can be deadly to trout, particularly Cutthroat. Keep your trout wet and keep handling them to a minimum. Probably a good idea to forgo the grip-n-grins.
RIVER BLOCKAGES - we've been fielding a lot of calls on where to float and which section has problem areas. This year seems to be worse than most with issues throughout the river system. A few to note, but not limited to, are:
1. Bell-Stevi, Tree down 2 miles below put in, creating a long drag around - bring someone with big muscles.
2. Tucker to Bell is not even an option at this point. The channel broke through the woods about 2 miles down with lots of wood, portaging is certain and difficult.
3. Veterans Bridge - Woodside, make sure to take the left channel below the bridge, it's skinny but the right channel has a complete blockage with a difficult portage.
4. Anglers - Main Street, still a bit pushy where the water flows against the bank 1/4 mile upstream of main street bridge, be very careful here.
5. Darby - Wally - Tree below Lone Pine has been trimmed but be careful, it can still be an issue if you're not paying attention.
6. Wally - Anglers - Sleeping Child Dam is skinny and you'll likely get stuck near the bottom making floating over dangerous. Run it at your own risk.
6. Job Corps to Hannon - you must take the left channel just above High Bank - its skinny, but you won't make it through the woods on the right.
That about covers the known hazards on the Bitterroot River right now. However, new ones might appear out of nowhere or there may areas that some may find easy that others may have a difficult time with. Know your skills and when in doubt, scout it out. BE SAFE!!