If you haven’t already heard, Hoot Owl fishing restrictions are in effect for most of western Montana. That means there is no fishing after 2 p.m. on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot, and Clark Fork. After a below average snowpack we had a record hot and dry June which brought the fishing restrictions earlier in July than we’ve ever seen. We adjusted by meeting early and getting a good day of fly fishing in before the heat of the day. Fortunately Mother Nature has given us a huge break with a prolonged weather system that has graced us with clouds, cool temps, and rain over the last week and it looks to continue through the weekend. This weather change has energized our trout and the fishing has been good to excellent on all the Missoula area rivers recently. Two weeks ago a lot of folks were specualting that our rivers might be shut down completely by August, but at the moment our water temps are holding in the safe zone for trout and the river levels have moderated.
There are still a few Missoula options with no fishing restrictions. Currently all of the smaller streams with the exception of Flint Creek are open all day. Rock Creek and the West Fork of the Bitterroot are the two other popular streams with no restrictions currently. A few anglers have chosen wade trips over the last week and they experienced some great fishing on our smaller waters. If you plan to fish on your own, the smaller streams are some of the best choices right now.
We have seen the hopper fishing gain momentum in the last few days, and ants and beetles will become go to flies in the near future as well. The Missoula area is fishing very well currently and I expect that trend to continue through the end of the month.