The Missoula Fishing Report hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past week. High streamflows this spring have remained the biggest challenge to consistent fishing in the Missoula area. It has been best when flows have been level for a couple days or dropping. When the rivers bump it is time to check out other options and in the past week we’ve fished everywhere from Missoula rivers, the Missouri, a spring creek, and even a lake. With one notable exception it was a great week on the water. Most visiting anglers want a sure thing, they want reliable fishing, stable water, and nice weather. Guides want that too, and I could crank out a season under those exact conditions happily. But I would miss all those big fish, especially those big brown trout. While big water often provides unpredictable fishing conditions, it also produces the largest trout of the year. Those alpha fish don’t have anywhere to hide when the water is high. They are pushed to the banks, the side channels and the soft water. You won’t necessarily rack up huge numbers of fish in these conditions, but you may end up with the trout photo that sits on your desk for years to come.
The Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork have all given up some extra large trout in spots over the past week. It hasn’t been easy fishing. A sharp eye on streamflows and weather along with experience and a willingness to gamble have been required for success. This week in high water conditions we put more 20+” fish in the boat than the rest of the season so far. Our water levels look to remain above average until run-off sets in for real. We will continue to walk the tight rope until then, and the fish that hit the net will be well worth the effort.