Blog Posts In Rocky Mountain

Big Hole Runoff, by the numbers

Big Hole River Fishing Report

  • Water Flow: 2,580 cfs
  • Water Temp: 53 degrees mid-day
  • visibility: 6 inches
  •  fishing: big shiny streamers

When I woke up this morning, NOAA was preaching doom and gloom and predicting an 8ft flood stage at Melrose by Saturday.  This would be a disaster for our Kid's Day on the Big Hole, but luckily the weather patterns have changed and so has the flood prediction.
Big Hole River Flood Prediction

Big Hole River weather report through the weekend

The weather will warm up, but not quite enough to bring the snow down with any consequence.  It looks like we are going to have high water for quite some time this year.  As I have been saying though, as long as it peaks and clears by mid June, fishing is going to be great regardless of the water level.

Big Hole River flow chart, cfs

Winter Weather Advisory: 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains

Better get the skis back out. Alex Ralston, former BHL guide, on Lost Trail Pass

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/10/11

  • Water Flow: 2,830 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 42 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days

Big Hole River Fishing Report 4/9/11

  • Water Flow: 2,330 cfs and rising
  • Water Temp: 45 degrees
  • Visibility: 6-8 inches
  • Fishing: Catch up on housework for a few days
  • Weather:

Big Hole Fishing Report 4/29/11

Spring on the Big Hole River

Big Hole River Fishing Report
  • Water Flow:  1,140 cfs
  • Water Temp:  39 degrees
  • Visibility: 3 feet
  • Weather:  High 34 today, cloudy
  • Fishing:  Good!

Hatches:  The skwala hatch has been on the Big Hole for the past week. This is a shy, unusual aquatic insect in that the male doesn't have the ability to fly very much due to the shortness of its wings. Trout look for them falling off willow and tree branches.

Recommended Leader: 9ft 3x

Recommended Tippet: 3x

Best Techniques: A dry/dropper combo is working well on warmer days when the trout are more active and looking for the skwalla stone flies. Tie on a #10 skwalla dry fly and attach a #12 Kaufman mini stone fly to the bend of the hook. Since the skwalla fly doesn't fly very often, trout look for them near the bank and falling off willow branches and overhanging limbs.

Tip of the Week: Streamer fishing can be productive on warmer days in the winter. Vary the speed of your strip starting out with a long, smooth strip keeping the tip of the rod on the water. If this doesn't work, try a faster strip and/or pausing to allow the streamer to sink before continuing the fast strip. Also try a dead drift with several big mends in the line to allow your streamer to get deep. A 2X tippet is recommended for streamer fishing this time of year in a 9' length. If these techniques don't produce, tie a small #16 beadhead pheasant tail or flashback hare's ear on the bend of the streamer hook with a 5x tippet and strip very slowly through the deep pools.

7 day outlook: The weather forecast is calling for highs in the 40's with possible snow showers through the week.

"I dunno Loyd, the French are......" From the rendezvous to Aspen

Orvis Western Guide Rendezvous, 3rd and final day

Attendance was down a bit this morning, as expected after a great night of networking at the bank patio cocktail party.  Those who missed out really missed out though, as we had two very informative and thought-provoking panels.  The first focused on best practice in guiding and the second aimed to involve the guiding community in the conservation movement.

During the Best Practice panel, three experienced guides and two area anglers presented their thoughts on and expectations for a day of guiding.   The guides emphasized safety, honesty, and empathy.  For example, when guiding a guide should make the client aware of hazards and possible scenarios as well as offer advice on how to avoid them.  They offered past experiences and methods of overcoming problem situations and dealing with problem clients.   Next, they described methods of better connecting with clients in order to ensure a quality experience for the client.  A guide should be honest about the conditions and their plan of action.  They should be empathetic to a client when teaching, and should only offer praise when the client actually deserves it.

The presentations from the clients were extremely helpful.  Guides are well versed in post trip bitching but it is a rare opportunity to hear a clients post trip sentiment.  Mark, from Casper, said the initial meeting with a guide is very important and can cause anxiety.  This is the first impression for both client and guide and personality is a huge factor determining  how the day will play out.  From there, he just wants to have a good time.  He wants to learn something, hopefully catch some fish, but if not he just wants to have fun.   Dianna, also an angler from Casper, said learning is the most important part of her trip.  She wants to learn about the river, where it comes from, where it's going, what environmental issues it faces, and how people can help.  In this way she becomes invested in the day and can take that investment home and build a relationship with the river.  Experience is greater than the fish count.  She wants to learn and is willing to take the time to do it.

After each presentation the audience was permitted to ask questions and the discussions that followed were quite interesting, ranging from personal questions to personal accounts of very awkward situations in the field.  There were a lot of laughs and a lot of notes being scribbled.  I think all who attended greatly benefited from the session.

Trout Unlimited of Casper presented during the following session, describing its current projects and the bumps in the road it encounters on a day-to-day basis.  In short, they are short on funding and short on membership and they wanted to know why we guides were not more involved.  This question sparked an hour-long discussion which touched on everything from the organizational methods of TU to the lack of involvement from the younger guide population in the world of conservation.  In the end, both TU and the guides had gained helpful guidance toward better serving the rivers we all love and need.

We broke for lunch and then headed out to the river for an entomology presentation and the Guide Olympics of Casting.  The event consisted of a five-hole course in which an angler would attempt to put the fly into the hoola-hoop in as few casts as possible.  Winner took home a rod, to be announced and presented at tonight's cocktail party.  The holes included accuracy, precision, and distance, varying from 20 feet to 200 yards (multiple casts around obstacles)

Following the cocktail party this evening, will be the final banquet with keynote speaker, Anders Halverson, author of An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World

Tomorrow Dad and I head to Denver to play golf, smoke cigars, and sip scotch with the famous John Fellin.  Many off-color jokes will be told and mounds of scrumptous food will be consumed.  From there we head to the Aspen area to reconnect with my father's old pals from the Fothergill Flyshop days, before returning to the lodge to gear up for the approaching season.

Take care!

Slick roads, even slicker casting techniques

Dad and I were due in Casper, WY at 9:00am today for a spey casting clinic on the North Platte, part of the 2011 Orvis Guide Rendezvous.  After a treacherous drive from the Big Hole to Bozeman yesterday,  we decided to wait for the blizzard to pass overnight before venturing on.   On the way to my house north of Bozeman after dinner, the snow was so heavy you could hardly find the road with low beams and high beams were blinding in the reflection of the giant flakes.   We woke up at four this morning and hit the road at five.  Our poor Jetta was buried under six inches of heavy slush, the roads had not been plowed, and the snow was still coming down hard.  We crawled through town and then up the Bozeman Pass at fifty miles an hour behind a tractor-trailer in the dark.    At the top of the hill above Livingston we hit a line of bumper to bumper cars, flanked by emergency vehicles and police officers.  So much for getting up two hours before dawn.  A tractor-trailer had lost the road in the snow and over corrected. Somehow he avoided disaster but ended up jack-knifed across the freeway.  Luckily, no one was hurt.

The snow continued until the Wyoming border and what should have been a six-hour jaunt was in fact nine hours of white-nuckle driving.  Needless to say, we missed the morning session of our spey casting clinic.  Spey casting is a centuries old technique from the Spey River region in Scotland that solves the problem of shooting a long cast without the liberty of a full back cast.  When ice formations, cliffs, or heavy foliage prevent a traditional fly cast, a two-handed roll cast with a longer and heavier rod can really shoot line across a river.  It is used for steelhead and salmon fishing but also has applications for trout fishing.

With snow falling, we threw on our waders on in the parking lot of the Parkway Plaza and caught our teacher, Jeff Putnam, and his crew just as they were finishing lunch.  Jeff grew up fly-fishing and fly-tying and has guided throughout the west.  He founded Jeff Putnam's Fly Fishing Schools, which offers professional fly casting instruction for all levels of expertise.  He teaches clinics in Sacramento and has a series of online videos and dvd's.    Today's lesson was proper technique for two-handed spey and switch rods with Orvis' new line.   Because the North Platte is running 4,000 cfs more than last time they held the clinic, we were not able to wade across and a  hotel van shuttled us down to the true left bank to practice.   Jeff took us through a simple roll cast, a switch cast, the snap-T cast, and several spey casts.  He made it look incredibly easy, though I quickly found out it is very easy to overpower the rod and lose effectively of the cast.  Less is definitely more in two handed casting.  If you keep your elbows in and your right hand out of it, the rod will pick the line out of a strong current and shoot it back through the wind.  It will take a lot of practice but I look forward to testing it out on the Salmon River this fall.  Check out Jeff in action in this webcast:

Big Hole Lodge Photography Course

It's no wonder that fly fishing and photography go hand in hand.  Our sport takes us to the most beautiful places on Earth and we have the unique opportunity of coming face to face with one of natures most elusive species, the native trout.  Without the art of fly tying, the technology of rod building, and careful casting technique, we would never be able to so closely examine such a beautiful creature in its natural habitat; without photography we would never be able to preserve that experience.

Cameras today and computer aided developing techniques allow us to truly capture the feeling of fly fishing.  Through photos in fishing and outdoor magazines, you can sit by the fire and transport yourselves to the aquamarine flats of the Caribbean, the pine flanked riverbanks of the Rockies, or the breathtaking tundras of Alaska.  The photographers who bring you those opportunities spend their days carefully studying scenes and setting up shots that will capture the power of those moments.  Now you can too.

Big Hole Lodge is proud to host its first all-inclusive week-long Advanced Photography Workshop! Next October, the Rocky Mountain School of Photography will put on a week-long landscape course taught by Kathy Eyster.   The course will be focus on landscapes and color theory, as part of RMSP's Beyond Foundation Workshop series.  At, Advanced on the Ranch: Big Hole Valley, MT, guests will stay in the luxurious Big Hole Lodge cabins and will enjoy gourmet meals prepared by our talented chef.

Who Should Attend: If by now you’ve been around the photographic block a time or two, and your camera is locked on manual mode, then your eye is trained and you are flexible enough to handle different lighting scenarios and it's to get off the beaten path!  Start developing your own style.  You should be comfortable with the manual exposure operation of your camera. A portfolio review is required upon registration as this is an advanced course. Please call our workshop office for details.

What You Will Learn: Aside from earning an education in the natural beauty found in southwest Montana, you further your skills by spending a week in an authentic fly-fishing lodge with like-minded photographers at your same skill level. Throughout the week, Kathy mentors you individually and provides group lectures on topics including the Zone system for color, fill-flash for landscape photography, color theory and building a cohesive body of work. With flowing rivers, the Rocky Mountains and Western architecture as the backdrop, you create images during morning and evening field shoots, which then become the focus of group critiques led by Kathy in the comfort of the lodge’s dining room. When not “in class,” you share conversations and stories over a barbecued meal or evening bon fire.

This workshop begins Saturday, October 1st at 7 p.m. and ends Friday, October 7th at noon.

Tuition includes lodging for 6 nights (single occupancy), all meals, and gratuity. Enrollment is limited to 7 students.

Register online @ Advanced on the Ranch or call RMSP at (800).394.7677 for more information.