The Beaverhead River is open to fishing from the spillway at Clark Canyon Dam to it’s confluence with the Jefferson in Twin Bridges. We all eagerly await the regular season opener as many of our other rivers are high and muddy and more importantly, it offers some of the best early season fishing in the state. The flows are being bumped at this time of year as irrigators downstream call for more water so be prepared with a good array of patterns as the fish will change their menu from day to day. As long as the bump isn’t too great. I think a 10-15% increase is still fishable.
When flows are bumped the fish are still eating, just not always an insect. The trout will key in on invertebrates like scuds and sow bugs that live in the moss. Keep in mind that when flows are bumped the fish are still eating, just not always an insect. Have scuds, sow bugs, Cranefly larvae and of course, San Juan worms in your fly box. When this happens the water will go off color and you will see moss in the river.
Nymphing is the standard operating procedure on the Beaverhead as the water temps being very cold and the fish below the dam tend to key in on small nymphs.
The dry fly fly bite below the dam is fairly soft. You may see a few rising to Blue Winged Olives but your best bet for dries is downstream below Barrett’s to Selway Bridge.
We have had good streamer bite, even in full sun. A good cloud cover day is even better. The downstream sections below Henneberry, Barrett’s and selway Bridge will offer the best streamer bite most days.
Although standard in-line leader will work, we employ the drop-shot rig for getting the flies at the right depth and keeping them there especially in fast deep water. Read how to tie and fish a “Drop Shot” leader from a previous post. One Big Reason Your Not Catching Fish Nymphing.
Beatis or Blue Winged Olives are the spring hatch now and we’re seeing a few of the first PMD’s. Midges are of course always present but the fish will show a preference for the mayflies and seem to prefer to wait until the water warms enough and the hatch gets going. Read Top 12 Nymphs For Catching Trout for a more thorough list of nymphs.
HOT NYMPH PATTERNS:
Mitchell Split Back- #18-22 olive.
Barr Emerger-#16-20 PMD or BWO
Psycho May-#16-20 olive
Ray Charles-#20-16 olive, gray, tan
Poxy Back Scud-#20-16 olive, gray, tan
Soft Hackle Sow Bug-#20-16 tan, pink, orange
San Juan worm-#16-12 red, burgundy
Sex Dungeon-# Mini #8 to #4 white, olive, black, yellow
Boogie Man-#6 to 4 olive, grey, white black
Zonker- #8 to #4 natural, white, olive
Sculpzilla-#6 to 4 natural, olive, white
Kiwi Sculpin #6-2 natural, olove, white
To learn more about fly fishing the Beaverhead River and guided fly fishing trips on the Beaverhead and all around southwest Montana visit our site www.mtfishtales.com