Montana Fly Fishing
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The Beaverhead River
the Beaverhead River
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On this section of the Beaverhead River, angler use can be exceptionally heavy, almost to the point that on a busy day the river more resembles a floating highway than a fly fishing river. Pressure has gotten so heavy that that Montana FWP has recently instituted regulations limiting float parties. These restrictions effect both guided float parties as well as out-state floaters. Before floating the Beaverhead River on this section, make sure to check out the latest fishing regulations, as they can and do change frequently.
This stretch of Beaverhead River is where the largest fish will be found in the greatest numbers. The problem lies in catching them. The brown trout that inhabit this stretch of the Beaverhead River require precision presentations with small flies on weak leaders, all of which combine to make netting one of the larger browns a tough proposition.
The upper stretch of river is primarily a nymph fishing river. While large fish can be taken on dry flies, and the Beaverhead River does have excellent caddis hatches during the summer, the bulk of all large fish caught on the Beaverhead River come from nymphs and streamers.
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Fly fishing nymphs on the upper stretch of the Beaverhead River requires precise casts and the ability to float the nymphs in a dead drift right along the banks. This is easier said than done. The current moves fast, and constant line mending is required in order to even get a short drag free drift. When fishing from a boat, anyone can expect to lose many flies to the vegetation along the bank. The light tippets that need to be used will also cause many a fish to be lost. Popular nymph patterns include Hares Ear, Little Beaverhead Stone and Bead Head Pheasant Tail, in sizes 10-16.
For anglers who prefer to fly fish on top, early mornings and late evenings are the best time to use dry flies. The Beaverhead River has solid hatches throughout the year. Weather plays an important role when dry fly-fishing. On bright sunny days, little action will be found on top, as the fish generally stay down deep and under cover on bright days. However, on cloudy, cool days, which happen from time to time during the summer, the brown trout come to the surface to feed during the hatches. Popular dry flies to use during the hatches include the popular staple Elk Hair Caddis, Sparkle Dun and the X-Caddis, sized 16-18.
During late summer, hopper fishing also becomes decent. While the Beaverhead River is not in the same league for hoppers as the Ruby River is, the Beaverhead never-the-less does offer good action for hoppers. For the angler who prefers to fly fish on top, hoppers are an excellent summer choice.
Perhaps the best dry fly fishing on the upper stretch of the river is found in the various backwaters of the river. Brown trout are located in these backwaters, effortlessly feeding on various insects. As the current of the river is slack in the backwaters, and frequently reversed, long drag-free floats are possible, which provide a welcome relief to the rest of the Beaverhead River.
Access all along this stretch is excellent. Numerous fishing access sites exist, and public lands frequently border the river.
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