Montana Fly Fishing
The Big Hole River

Big Hole River

The Big Hole River : Fly Fishing

Big Hole River : Salmon Fly FAS to Glen FAS

Big Hole River at Melrose
Photo Use Guidelines

This character of the Big Hole River in this section changes again, as the river begins its journey out onto the arid plain. As the temperatures of the water warm to higher levels, the fish on the stretch consist primarily of brown trout, both in healthy numbers and size.

Access to this portion of the Big Hole River is somewhat limited on this fourteen-mile stretch of water, as the Big Hole runs primarily through private property and is rarely followed by a road. As a result, a boat is best used when fly fishing this stretch of the river, although a wade angler who is willing to walk well away from the handful of fishing access sites will also likely find success.

Since this is primarily brown trout water, the fly fishing is more difficult on this section even though fishing pressure is significantly less than found further upstream. Good presentation is important in the slower water found on this section of the Big Hole River.

The same hatches that occur further upstream also occur on this particular section of the Big Hole River. However, as the larger brown trout rarely feed on top, dry fly fishing will only meet with success during the heaviest of hatches. To catch the larger browns that are found in this section requires using large streamers such as Wolly Buggers on a sink tip line, fished in the holes, around undercut banks, behind rocks and around submerged vegetation.

During the middle of the summer, fly fishing can dry up completely on this stretch of the Big Hole during the middle of the day due to the high heat and bright sunlight. As a result, anglers who will be fly fishing for the larger brown trout on this section should concentrate their efforts in the early morning hours and again later in the evenings.

Probably the best fishing on this section occurs during the fall. The cooler temperatures spur feeding activity and the fly fishing can be good all day long.

Big Hole River : Glen FAS to the Jefferson River

This section of the Big Hole River runs for twenty-five miles through an arid valley. The Big Hole River travels for part of this journey well out in the valley, but soon makes it way to run along the southern edge of some small, arid mountains. The banks of the river range from grass to cottonwood trees to brush to rock.

Big Hole River near Twin Bridges
Photo Use Guidelines

Access is dispersed downstream from Glen FAS. Only one designated fishing access site exists, although some road access can occasionally be found as a fair condition dirt road (Burma Road) follows the Big Hole River from Glen to Twin Bridges. What this section may lack in fly fishing quality and access, however, it makes up for in solitude. This is the most lightly fished and used section on the Big Hole River, allowing an angler or floater to generally have the river all to themselves.

This section is exclusively brown trout water and is best fished in the spring and again in the fall. Due to high water temperatures during the summer and irrigation withdrawals that lower the flows, quality fly fishing can dry up completely during the summer. Fall fishing, like found between Salmon Fly FAS and Glen FAS, revolves around using large streamers such as Wolly Buggers on sink-tip lines, fishing them in and around prime brown trout habitat.

Next Page : Floating the Big Hole River

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