While we’re still smack in the middle of the fly fishing season it’s only natural for my mind to wander and consider that only ten days from now the Montana upland bird hunting season opens. This year I’m especially excited as Gracie, my young golden retriever, is now two and her training is coming along well. Last season, and as a nin month old puppy, she hunted extremely well. The first season for a puppy is generally about keeping them close, obedient, and providing them with many opportunities to have success. Gracie shined on all accounts and flushed many birds while staying in range and allowing clients to make good shots. Her retreiving skills were natural and she displayed a terrific nose when tracking running birds. I was even amazed at how she ran down a big rooster pheasant on the east side of the mountains. With little experience at all with pheasant, she did what retrievers do best, just relied on her nose. But what amazed me most was the fact that she bumped two hens during the chase and never for moment did she come off the scent of that downed rooster chase the hens or even to try to flush other birds. Sometimes it’s luck with young dogs, sometimes it’s not. I’m very much looking forward to getting her on the ground again in ten days as I beleive I’ve a good little dog coming along nicely. More later in that department and I’ll keep you all posted.
With a week of extraordinary rain and cooler temps behind us, a more stable high pressure pattern has settled over the Kootenai River for the immediate future. Extended forecast has temps in the 80′s and mostly sunny. This will likely bode well for the fishing. Last week was wildly inconsistent what with downpours, pressure changes, and weather but look for conditions to become more even for the next several days. Dishcarge from Libby Dam is still 7000cfs and water temperature in the stilling basin is 61 degrees. Caddis and small attractor patterns are moving fish in the mornings and hoppers and ants are still the bugs of choice when the day starts heating up. Look for better action in the morning and late evenings. Indeed bigger fish are presently very shy during hot, sunny days. But stick with the big bugs, keep the fly on the water in faster runs and through boulder gardens and bigger fish will occassionally show themselves. Also, look for pmd spinner falls in riffles during the mornings and concentrate on fishing even currents on inside seams in three to four feet of water. All in all the Kootenai is in good shape and fishing fair to pretty well.
Last week I had the pleasure of fishing with Bill Schneider. Bill is the former owner of Falcon Press and presently the travel and outdoor editor for an exciting on-line magazine called NEW WEST. Bill and his videographer Gene did a great job. Check out the story on Linehan Outfitting Company, the Kootenai River and see the video for yourself. You can find the link at the bottom of home page.
Expect no major changes on the Kootenai for the immediate future. It’s mid-season and the fish have settled into conditions nicely. Discharge from Libby Dam is still 7000 cfs and water temp below the dam is 56 degrees. Look for pmd spinner falls in the mornings, caddis hatching in the riffles during the day, and caddis swarms and pmd hatches in the evening. If you can hang in there until just before dark you might see the river explode with rising fish. Caddis ovipositing eggs are really stimulating activity and what with full moon phase conditions are ripe for action at dark:30. Hoppers and droppers are producing fish throughout the day. Don’t oversize the dropper. Stick with size 14 and 16 pheasant tail, copper johns and prince nymphs and even caddis emergers. Flights of flying ants are also beginning to show up sproadically. Some are big and some are very small. But they’re out there and the fish love them. Don’t forget about the standbys this time of year either…when in doubt, try a size 14 parachute adams.