This Clark Fork River Montana fishing report is brought to you by Linehan Outfitting Company and provides current water and fishing conditions for the lower Clark Fork River below Alberton Gorge. This report is updated frequently or as conditions change.
Flows at St. Regis: 7750cfs
Water Clarity: stained but very fish-able
Water Temperature: 40 degrees
Best Time Of Day: late morning to evening
Hatches: baetis, skwala stonefly, March brown
Patterns: Pat’s stonefly, bh prince, bh copper john, bh green machine, parachute Adams, purple haze, Rasta Skwala, bullet head skwala, parachute skwala, bugmeister, bh pheasant tail, sj worm
The lower Clark Fork River is fish-able at the moment even though it’s on the rise. Recent rain around Missoula has bumped up the Bitterroot and Blackfoot. It’s starting to feel a bit like spring here in northwest Montana and at least daytime temps are consistently above freezing for the time being.
Bug activity is still slim. March browns, baetis and skwala stoneflies should be hatching but it may take a few warmer, sunnier days to really get bugs active. Skwala nymphs are starting to migrate toward the banks but are not really hatching and very few adults are being seen flying at the moment.
Nymphing is your best bet right now. Fish are concentrated in deeper pools, drop offs, and tailouts. Keep in mind with chilly water temps trout are not likely to move very far to eat. Get the flies down, and fish them slowly along the bottom and around structure.
Streamer action might move a few fish but don’t be that aggressive with the retrieve. Let streamers roll and bounce and instead of ripping them back, let them pulse and dead drift some of the time as well. Bigger fish might like a bigger meal this time of year and big black buggers with a #12 Pat’s stonefly nymph as a trailer is a good rig for prospecting while floating.
Dry fly action should get better in the coming days. As I mentioned, water temps are still a bit chilly and a couple days of sunshine would actually help the bug situation. Baetis have started to show but not really in numbers. If you see a fish rise, slide a small parachute Adams or purple haze over it and you’ll likely get an eat.
Expect more rain and dark skies to continue through the week with daytime temperatures in the high 40s. It looks like early next week we might see some sunshine and high pressure. Cooler nights might be possible and warmer days will help increase water temps a degree or two which will stimulate insects. But all in all it’s perfectly warm enough and gray skies are good for fishing. Keep an eye on flows and water clarity as rain will influence both. Under these conditions it could be day by day situation.