Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Big Hole River In
The Big Hole starts from the outlet of Lake Skinner in the
Beaverhead Mountains but that isn't the extent of its
water. It also receives water from the Pioneer and
Anaconad Mountains. The section of the Big Hole in the
mountains, as well as the sections in the Big Hole Valley,
are equal in beauty to the surroundings of any of the
great streams in Montana. Fly fishing the Big Hole River is
a truly unique experience.
The Big Hole River Valley isn't your normal western trout
stream setting. It lies at a relatively high elevation. It is
very flat and huge compared to most of the Montana
valleys. It is rather isolated and few people call it home.
The valley is generally lies over 6000 feet in elevation
and has weather patterns that range from severely cold to
extremely hot. A summer night may be rather cold but
change to bathing suit weather before the day ends. The
Big Hole Valley is a top agricultural section of the Big Sky
Country that produces as much hay as any area of the
There's lots of water of varying types to fish. The big river
flows for a total of 155 miles before converging with the
Jefferson River at Twin Bridges, Montana. It's a small
mountain stream until it gets near the Wisdom area in the
Big Hole Valley. There the North Fork helps increase the
flow of the river. Farther downstream it gains more water
from several small creeks and the Wise River. The Big
Hole River makes several turns along its way until it joins
the Beaverhead River to help form the Jefferson River
near Twin Bridges.
Keep in mind the Big Hole is a freestone stream. Its water
levels and flows strictly depends on Mother Nature and
the amount used for agricultural irrigation. Over the
years,it has gone through some tough periods of drought.
The Big Hole Valley isn't your normal tourist destination.
It's largest town is Wisdom and other than mosquitoes,
there's few of anything in Wisdom. When you visit
Wisdom, everyone in town will know you are there. Dillion
Montana is about sixty miles from the Valley, is about the
largest town nearby.
The Big Hole River is first a small, mountain stream with
pocket water and plenty of smaller size trout. Once it
leaves the mountains and enters the Big Hole Valley, it
picks up water from many small tributary streams flowing
out of the mountains. You can access the river at many
locations above Wisdom but there aren't any designated
access sites. Country roads cross over the river many
times and you can access the stream at any of them.
Once the Big Hole River enters the valley, it slows down
some and changes character altogether. There is little
decline in elevation for the next sixty miles of the river as it
slowly flows through the giant Big Hole Valley. When it
leaves the valley, it changes again and flows through a
Big Hole River Montana
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Notice the bug net over Angie's head. You will need it during the summer.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
There's some pocket water and riffles, even
some rapids in the thirty mile long canyon
section. The surrounding area changes from
wide open country and hay fields, to trees. The
forest background doesn't last long. As soon as
the River gets through the canyon section and
levels out some, the trees disappear. Wise
River is the one and only town in the canyon
section of the Big Hole River. Don't blink your
eyes or you will miss it. It empties its water into
the valley at the little town of Divide, near I-15.
From Divide, the Big Hole is again a different
type of river. Cottonwood trees will begin to line
its banks and it flows through a lot of private
property. There's still plenty of access. There's
several designated access sites along this
section of the Big Hole River which is about
twenty-five miles in length. This area is still
The next little town along the Big Hole River is
Glen near the end of this section of the river.
The river makes a turn near Glen and heads to
the better know town of Twin Bridges - better
known only because of little Winston Fly Rod
factory. There's still a fairly good amount of
public access points. There four designated
access sites and several that are not
designated where you can enter the river.
The river is greatly affected by the seasons.
Low water and warm water temperatures can
be big concerns.
During early spring the water is relatively low
but during April and May it will increase from
snow melt and top out in June. It doesn't
really blow out like many rivers do.
Early summer will find the water dropping
steady due to irrigation use and less water
from the melting snow.
Fly Fishing Guide to Big Hole River:
As mentioned above, fly fishing the Big Hole
River is largely dependant on where you fish
the river, water levels and seasons.
A word of caution: If you fish this area, or
anywhere in the Big Hole Valley, during the
months of June and July, you should be aware
that there will be huge numbers of mosquitoes.
The valley is usually flooded to irrigate the
farmer's crops. The first frost that usually
occurs as early as the middle of August, will
reduce the numbers, but otherwise you will
need plenty of protection and insect repellent.
You will also find reduced numbers of
mosquitoes in the lower sections of the river.
The Big Hole River above Jackson is a small
mountain stream. It's mostly small brook trout
fishing. When the stream comes out of the
mountains at Jackson, it changes to a slower
moving stream with less decline. The trout are
still mostly brook trout but grayling begin to
show up. This section is tightly enclosed with
willow trees in many areas. Most of the stream
is on private property. The area near Wisdom
has the most grayling. These fish are easy to
catch and as a general rule, will take just about
any attractor fly.
Below Wisdom you will begin to find some
rainbows and cutthroat trout mixed in with the
grayling and brook trout. The stream around
the Wisdom area is a meadow stream that
meanders back and front through open areas.
This section has a lot of cattle grazing along
the river and flows mostly through private
ranch and farm property. From Pintler Creek
downstream to the Dickey Bridge the river
flows along highway #43 and there is plenty of
access. The stream flows are usually very slow
in this area. You will begin to see some brown
trout and more mountain whitefish in this
section. In the early year when there is enough
water, the stretch near Sportsman's Park can
be floated. However, low summer and early fall
flows can make it difficult.
Although there are several areas along its
route with public access for waders, for the
most part, the river flows through private
property. The best way to fish the river is to
float it. You can cover far more water than
you can otherwise.
Along the way the river goes through many
changes. It's mostly a small pocket water
type stream in its headwaters. When it
reaches the Big Hole Valley it slows down
and flows through many meadows. Then
there's the area where it flows through a
canyon. Then there's the larger river
downstream that slows down and flows
open farmland. How you fish the river
depends greatly on where you fish it.
There's few rivers in Montana that flow
through such a wide variety of different
types of water and terrain. The Big Hole
River is truly a blue-ribbon trout stream. It
has a good population of large, wild brown
and rainbow trout. It has excellent brook
trout fishing in its headwaters and many
small tributary streams. There's even a
possibility of catching a Grayling in the
valley near Wisdom.
From Dicky Bridge downstream to Divide
you will find a diverse range of water
including a section of the Big Hole that
runs through a canyon. The water
increase in speed an becomes pocket
water with lots of runs, riffles and deep
pools. There are some large boulders
that makes getting around difficult in
places. This area has to be accessed by
trails. Rainbows become the most plentiful
species. This section has special
regulations so make sure you are aware
of the current rules. There are several
boat launch locations in this section.
The most popular section of the Big Hole
is the area from Divide downstream to
Glen. There is little bank access. Most all
the fishing is done from drift boats. On the
upper end rainbow trout is still the most
predominate species. The lower part near
Glen has more brown trout than rainbows.
There's special regulation area in this
section of the river between Divide and
Melrose. It is currently not open
year-round, rather only during the
general Montana fishing season.
The last section of the river, from Glen
down to High Road, there's some more
water that can be floated. This area can
get low during the summer. It contains
mostly brown trout including some very
Big Hole Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based on
our stream samples of larvae and nymphs, not
guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the Big Hole River and in all stages
of life that are applicable to fishing. If you want
to fish better, more realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with selections,
you will learn why, after trying Perfect Flies,
92% of the thousands of our customers will
use nothing else.
The hatches on the Big Hole River varies with
the sections of the river. Not all the insects are
found throughout the entire length of the river.
Some are only found in certain types of water,
so keep that in mind. You want find Trico
mayflies in the fast water of the canyon
section, for example.
As with many other trout streams, the
Blue-winged Olives are among the most
important hatches. They hatch over a long
period of time and allow some dry fly fishing
opportunities that otherwise would not exist.
The BWOs start hatching about the first of
March. It can last until the first of June. A
second hatch takes place starting about the
first of September. It can last until the first of
December, depending greatly on the weather.
Next to the BWOs, the most important mayfly is
the Pale Morning Dun. They too hatch over a
long period of time, starting about the first of
June and lasting until as late as the first of
The only other substantial hatch of mayflies
are the Tricos. These hatch on the slower,
smoother sections of water during August and
Caddisflies are often the most important
insects. Spotted Sedges are the most plentiful
species. They start hatching around the first of
June and can last on into August. Their Little
Sister Caddisflies start about two weeks after
the Spotted Sedges and hatch about the same
length of time.
In the headwaters you will find some Great
Gray Spotted Sedges during the month of
July. There are several other species of
caddisflies in the Big Hole River but they
usually don't exist in plentiful quantities.
About the middle of June you will find
three important species of stoneflies. The
Salmonflies usually start first. It can last
for almost a month but it only occurs in the
fast water sections of the river. It is a huge
hatch that is very popular with local
guides. About the first of July the Golden
Stoneflies start hatching. They are found
in the same type of water as the
The Yellow Sally, or Little Yellow
Stoneflies, start hatching about the first of
June and can last until the first of
September. They are found in more areas
than the other larger stoneflies but not in
the slow water sections of the Big Hole.
Don't forget to have a good selection of
streamer flies. The river has plenty of
minnows, baitfish species and sculpin.
Streamers work great early and late in the
day, and when the water is stained from
Terrestrials become very important during
the months of July, August and
September. Imitations of ants, beetles,
and grasshoppers work great at times,
especially in the meadow areas.
Use our "Perfect Fly" hatch chart and
select your flies for the time you will be
fishing. Please give our flies a chance to
work for you if you haven't done so
already. We feel confident that you will be
more than satisfied with them.
Fall is one of the best times to fish the
river. Cooler weather drops the water
temperature and fishing picks up until late
The river starts icing over in late fall.
Fishing during the winter is normally
limited to Whitefish.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
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The Big Hole is rolling high and
fast as well as dirty. Stream levels
are way up and likely to be very
high for the next several days or
more. This is due to runoff and lots
of rain and snow. There is
rain/snow forecast everyday this
coming week. All you can do is
stay in touch. We will keep you
informed as to the conditions.
Keep track of the latest by clicking
the above link to our weekly
updated Big Hole River fishing
Map of Big Hole River
10/13/15 Several nice size brown trout have been caught. Some are spawning and others
building redds. October caddis are still hatching good and some guys are having a ball
catching them on the surface feeding on egg layers. This is a freestone stream and its water
temperature is controlled purely by the air temperature. Anglers are catching trout from the
headwaters to the lower section of the river.
10/20/15 October Caddis are at the peak of their hatch and bringing trout to the surface of the
water to feed on the female egg layers. Brown trout are either spawning or in the pre-spawn
stage and very territorial and aggressive. Blue-winged olives have started to hatch again and
trout can still be taken n the surface at times. You have the entire river to yourself, so why wait.
11/03/15 We had begin to think the Big Hole would never cool down but when it does, it does
a good job of it. Winter storm warning are out for the next three days. Brown sculpin streamers
have been catching some very big brown trout and should continue to do so. Blue-winged
olives and midges will represent the majority of the hatches for a few weeks.
11/10/15 You won't need the net Angie is wearing over her head in the above photo. The
weather has turned cold in the Big Hole Valley. We recommend fishing the lower sections of
the river. Blue-winged olives and Midges will be the only aquatic insects hatching for the next
several days. The Brown Sculpin Streamer should continue to be a top fly to use.
11/10/15 If you go fishing this coming week, you may want to wear your long handle
underwear. It is cold and snowing. The air temperature at the point we show the weather in the
fishing report above, isn't going above freezing this coming week. If you are brave enough to
fish, head for the lowest elevation trout live in the Big Hole River.
11/17/15 There's a winter storm warning in effect through turkey day in Big Hole country.
That's almost normal for the locals. It will clear after Thursday and the trout will be eating
midges like elephants eat peanuts. Fish them larva and pupa in tandem. The Brown Sculpin
fly will still get you some big post-spawn brown trout.
12/01/15 The Big Hole is warming back up a little from the deep freeze. Fish the lower end of
the river and you should catch some trout. Midges are the only feasible options. Fish the larva
and pupa in tandem with the pupa the top fly and the larva the bottom. The Brown sculpin
streamer should still work good. There is some snow in the forecast later in the week.
12/01/15 Lots of rain and snow is in the forecast but the temperature not that cold. The lower
end of the river will have water temperatures ranging form 39 to 43 degrees. Midges will the
the most important insects to imitate and that will probably remain that way for another month
or two. Don't forget the Brown Sculpin. It has been catching some big brown trout.
12/08/15 Lots of rain and snow is in the forecast but the temperature not that cold. The lower
end of the river will have water temperatures ranging form 39 to 43 degrees. Midges will the
the most important insects to imitate and that will probably remain that way for another month
or two. Don't forget the Brown Sculpin. It has been catching some big brown trout.
12/15/15 It is cold in Big Hole country but the weather is going to warm back up some by the
weekend. Fishing this river this week isn't a great option. There is a lot of ice on the water and
around the banks. You may want to choose a nearby tailwater. If you do fish, midges and
Winter stonefly nymphs would be your best fly options.
12/22/15 You won't need a bug net to fish this coming week. You will need a big coat. It is cold
in the Big Hole Valley. Fish the lowest section of the river is you dare brave the elements.
MIdges and Winter stonefly nymph are the only flies you will need. The warmest water is about
37 degrees, so fish water that is still to slow. Trout won't hold in fast water at this temperature.
12/29/15 As mentioned in the attached report, don't forget that the Big Hole River is a pure
freestone stream and its water temperature is controlled by the air temperature. Right now,
that means it is cold with lots of ice around the banks. Fish the lowest section of the river, if
you insist. You would be better off to fish a nearby tailwater.
01/05/16 It is possible to catch trout from the Big Hole River in January. You're best odds will
come from fishing the lowest section of water in the river. The lower the elevation, the warmer
the water. Midges, winter stoneflies and the White Belly Sculpin are the flies you need to do it.
It is going to be a little warmer this week than the previous one.
01/12/16 There is a chance of snow every day for the next week but it is actually a little
warmer than last week. The water is slightly stained in most sections. That makes fishing the
Brown and White Belly sculpin a good choice. Fish the lowest section of the river for the
warmest water. Midges and the Winter stonefly nymphs are the other flies we recommend.
01/19/16 We hate giving lousy fishing reports but in the middle of January in one of the
coldest parts of the state of Montana, we have little choice. The water is just above freezing to
about 37 degrees at the warmest. You can catch trout on midges and yes, even on the
surface when the midge clutter up but all in all, it is slow fishing.
01/26/16 Last week, we recommended fishing somewhere else. Tailwaters have much warmer
water. We hate doing that but it is possible to catch trout in water in the 36 degree range. You
do have to fish slow to still current in holes in the bottom, deep pockets and other areas where
trout hold. They won't hold in much current in water this cold.
02/02/16 The Big Hole water temperature doesn't exceed 36 degrees anywhere from top to
bottom. That makes it tough to catch trout. We are not saying it is impossible, but we are
saying you would probably have a better chance on any bottom discharge tailwater. If you fish
the Big Hole, use Cream or Red midges.
02/09/16 Don't pull out your bathing suits but it will be a little warmer in Big Hole Country this
coming week. The water temperature will change very little, if any, but it will be more
comfortable for those willing to fish. Midges is by far the best option and they are hatching.
The Creams and red midges (blood midges) are the ones to imitate
02/16/16 It is gradually getting a little warmer in Big Hole Country but remember, it is smack in
the middle of Winter. There will be a lot of melting snow but more coming by Wednesday. If
you fish, fish the very lowest sections using cream or red midge larva and pupa. They are
hatching and you should also have some adult midge patterns handy. .
02/23/16 The Big Hole is cold even though the weather warmed up some. The warmer air is
melting snow in the watershed, keeping the water temperature down and it highly stained. The
only feasible option is to fish midges in the lowest section of the river out of the main current in
holes in the bottom. Cream and red midges are both hatching.
03/01/16 You can catch trout in the lower section of the river but quite frankly, you are much
better off fishing a tailwater. The weatehr is nice and warm but that tends to melt snow and ice
and keep the water cold and stained. Streamers fished in the slack water is a good option for
those who want to give it a try. It does beat sitting on the couch.
03/08/16 The Big Hole river is a freestone stream from top to bottom and is currently running
high and cold. It is unlikely to come down any this coming week because there is a lot of rain
and snow in the forecast. The water is staying cold due to melting snow. Streamers would be
about the only good fly option but fishing the high water will be tough.
03/15/16 There isn't much opportunity for fly fishing the Big Hole at this time. The stream is
flowing very high and the water almost ice cold. It is ice where it is still. You will do much better
selecting a tailwater in this section of Montana. It is back to normal wintertime conditions in Big
03/22/16 The Big Hole continues to live up to its reputation as one of the coldest spots in
Montana. There is a chance of snow every day but this coming weekend. There is little to now
real opportunity to fly fish with any success. If you do, fish the lower river with midge larvae
and pupae in tandem.
03/29/16 The Big Hole is one of the coldest rivers in this part of Montana but it is acting like
any other stream this early season. Midges are hatching and the water mostly all clear of ice.
The lower section is up to the high thirties and low forties. Fish the lowest section using midge
larva and pupa in tandem, and you stand a good chance of catching some trout.
04/05/16 The Big Hole river is high and stained from some rain and melting snow. It is going
gto be warm this coming week. The only thing that may work good before the water falls back
down is our Sculpin streamers. Work them in the slow water out of the fast currents and near
04/12/16 The Big Hole is currently blown out and there is more rain and snow coming through
Friday. It will take a while to clear back up. The White Belly sculpin is a good fly to go to when
the water is high and dingy, but you will need to wait until the first of next week for that.
04/19/16 The Big Hole river is still very high and highly stained from melting snow runoff. It is
going to be very warm this coming week and this is likely to continue. To be rather blunt, the
river isn't worth fishing until the levels drop and the water clears. The water is still in the low to
04/26/16 Last week's warm weather and this weeks predicted amount of rain will keep the Big
Hole blown out for a few more days. It is muddy and not worth fishing at this time. The situation
isn't all bad. It will help the river get into good shape sooner than normal. When it clears, it will
be mostly midges and blue-winged olives until the water get up to near 50 degrees.
05/03/16 The Big Hole is getting into better shape but still high and cold. The Mother's Day
caddis hatch is usually the first major hatch other than the little Blue-winged olives and Midges
that are currently hatching. There isn't much opportunity as long as the water is high and
stained, but if you do fish, use streamers. Sculpin patters work the best.
05/10/16 High and dirty water exist throughout the watershed and it is likely will continue that
way for the coming week. Little to no opportunity exist on the Big Hole under these conditions.
There is more rain coming and chances are good the river will remain high for the next week.
You will just have to watch the levels.
05/17/16 The river is down from last week but still high and stained. There is a chance of rain
every day for the coming week, so the situation isn't likely to get much better. You can catch
trout on streamers but you can't wade safely in most places. The lower section and a drift boat
would be the best option.
05/24/16 The Big Hole is in the full runoff mode, high and muddy. There is no fly fishing
opportunity and want be for the next several days. You should just keep checking with us and
we will let you know when there is a chance to catch some trout.
05/31/16 The stream levels actually feel down a lot but they are unlikely to stay there. The
cooler weather slowed it but the warmer weather forecast for the coming week, may put the
levels back up again. You will just have to keep checking them. It is the time of the year for the
06/07/16 The stream levels are high but it isn't blown out. It could be fished from a drift boat
but we don't think it is worth it at this time. There are some Salmonflies hatching in the lower
river along with some caddis, but again, the water is high and dingy and likely o get higher.
There is a lot of rain and more runoff water coming.
06/14/16 The Big Hole is in very good shape, considering the time of the season. This is
normally the middle of the runoff time. Although it appears it is over, rest assured it isn't. We
do think it will end earlier than normal though. Meantime, the stream levels are down and you
can fish the river. The water is still stained in some areas but otherwise, in good shape.
06/20/16 The Big Hole has straightened up fast. The stream levels are way down from the
past week and the water mostly clear. There are a lot of insects starting to hatch and more are
sure to start soon. We haven't received any reports lately but we will be getting some this
coming week. We have some customers that are going to this week The weather forecast
06/27/16 The river has gotten into good shape this past week, with much better stream flows
and water levels. The water is mostly clear from the headwaters to the lower end of the river.
Our customers reported catching some nice trout this past weekend. There are a lot of insects
hatching including the big Salmonflies, Golden stones and several mayflies and caddisflies.
07/05/16 The river has gotten into great shape for the first of July. The stream levels are down
and the water is clear. Anglers can wade many sections. There are a lot of insects hatching
including the big salmonflies, Golden stones, Little Yellow stones, Green drakes, Yellow Quills
and three species of caddisflies. It is a very good time to be fishing the river.
07/19/16 The river is in good shape top to bottom. The headwaters will produce a lot of
smaller trout for you. The middle and lower sections are the best sections to fish right now.
The stream levels are way down and wading easy most places. Thee is little rain in the
forecast. The big hole valley section poses a threat for those who don't get along with
07/26/16 This river is truly diverse, with about every type of water that holds trout. It is in good
shape from the small headwater streams through the Big Hole Valley, canyon and lowest
section. Lots of insects are hatching and our customers are sending in some very good
reports. The water levels are good for wading and the weather forecast shouldn't change
08/02/16 The upper and middle sections of the river are the preferred sections right now. Hoot
Owl restrictions are in place.The weather has been very warm and parts of the lower river
have been getting up into the sixties. Fish early and very late in the day. The last two or three
hours of daylight has been the best time to catch a lot of trout in a short time. Egg laying
caddis are bringing fish to the surface to feed.
08/09/16 Hoot Owl restrictions are still in place. The water is getting warm in the afternoons.
Fish the upper and middle sections. They are warmer than the lowest section of the river.
Sculpin streamers have been working good in the early mornings for our customers. Hopefully,
the restrictions will end soon.
08/16/16 It shouldn't last much longer but as of now, the Hoot Owl restrictions are still in place.
The water is getting too warm to fish during in the afternoons. We recommend fishing the
uppermost and middle sections of the river. The lower section is too warm. Our customers are
doing good with Matuka Sculpin streamers in the early mornings. There are lots of caddisflies
hatching, Tricos, and others.
08/30/16 There is a mandatory 24 Hour Drought Closure effective 8/4/2016, from Maiden
Rock FAS to Notch Bottom FAS. (8/4/2016)
A Mandatory 24 Hour Drought Closure effective 8/1/2016 from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner
Meadows Road to North Fork Big Hole River Mouth. There's a mandatory 24 Hour Drought
Closure effective 8/1/2016 from Notch Bottom FAS to Confluence with the Beaverhead River.
09/06/16 There are mandatory 24 hour closings on the Big Hole river from Big Hole River from
Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to North Fork Big Hole River . Also, Big Hole River
from Notch Bottom FAS to Confluence with the Beaverhead River. Also, Maiden Rock FAS to
Notch Bottom FAS. (8/4/2016)
09/13/16 The river has several mandatory drought closings. The Big Hole River from Saginaw
Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to North Fork Big Hole River Mouth is under a mandatory
24 Hour Drought Closure. The Big Hole River from Notch Bottom FAS to Confluence with the
Beaverhead River and Maiden Rock FAS to Notch Bottom.
09/27/16 Big Hole River from Notch Bottom FAS to Confluence with the Beaverhead River is
still closed. Big Hole River from Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadows Road to North Fork Big
Hole River is still closed Stream levels are about normal, the weather much cooler and lots of
hatches taking place. Brown trout are getting into the love mode and becoming aggressive.
10/04/16 The Big Hole is not going to have any more warm water problems. It is turning cold
fast and the water is getting cold fast. Streamers are catching some big brown trout as they
are going into the full mode spawn soon. We recommend the Brown sculpin and Black
Matukda sculpin. Spawning trout hate sculpin because they eat their eggs.
10/11/16 Great conditions exist in the Big Hole in all sections of the river. It is cold in the
uppermost parts but we are getting some great reports fo trout caught in the middle and lower
sections. There are some good Blue-winged olives hatches along with some Mahogany duns
and October caddis. There is some rain in the forecast but for now the stream levels are
10/27/16 The stream levels are still in good shape, flowing just a little above normal. There is
a lot of rain inthe forecast it only averages about a 50% chance most days. The levels could
go up, so make sure yoou check it. There are some very large Blue-winged olive hatches
taking place. Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage..
11/03/16 The river is still flowing high with little to no wading opportunity. It is falling and should
be back down soon. There is little to no rain in the forecast for the coming week. Blue-winged
olives and midges are hatching good. Sculpin streamers are your best fly options at this time.
Most of the brown trout are in the post-spawn stage.
11/10/16 Stream levels were high all last week but back down near normal now. Conditions
are good but there is more rain or snow in the forecast the first of next week. Blue-winged
olives are hatching good. Cream midges are hatching. We still think the best big fish
opportunity would come from fishing one of the Perfect Fly Matuka sculpin streamers.
11/17/16 Remember that there is a big difference in the air temperature in the upper part of
the river versus the lower sections. The Big Hole valley can get very cold. The weather is
turning colder and the lower sections are generally the best. There are some very good Blue-
winged olives hatches taking place along with cream midges.
11/24/16 The river is getting cold in the upper sections. We recommend fishing the middle and
lower sections. The flows are just a little above normal levels. Midges, both creams and reds,
or blood midges, are the main insects to imitate. There are a few Blue-winged olives hatching.
The cloud cover should help them be more intense. The Brown sculpin also is working good.
12/01/16 I wouldn't consider fishing the upper or middle sections of the river if I were you. The
water temperature is averaging in the mid thirties. The lower section is little warmer and
midges are hatching good. Winter stoneflies are starting to hatch. The sculpin streamers like
the Brown and White Belly sculpin will still catch the larger trout.
12/08/16 This is a freestone river and that means the water temperature is going to always be
close to the average air temperature. The air temperature isn't going above freezing this
coming week. We do not recommend fishing. I would select a nearby tailwater and wait for
better conditions. There is snow forecast everyday next week.
12/22/16 The river is in good shape stream level wise but very cold. The weather isn't going
above freezing this coming week and the water temperature won't exceed 35 or 36 degrees
anywhere. It is possible to catch trout on midges in the lower section of the river, but it will be a
little tough. Fish Red and Cream midges, with the larva and pupa in tandem.
12/29/16 The water is warmest in the lowest section of the Big Hole river and it is 33 to 34
degrees with lots of ice along the banks and slush ice in the water. The high air temperature
this coming week is forecast to be only 25 degrees. We don't think it is a good idea to fish until
it warms up a little.
01/05/17 The Big Hole is not worth fishing in the middle or upper sections due to a lot of ice.
The lower river is also very cold, with water temperatures only reaching about 35 degrees.
You can catch trout on midges at those temperatures sometimes. Creams and Reds are
hatching. If there are midge clusters, they will feed on them. Use the adult imitations for that.
01/12/17 The Big Hole River is one of the coldest streams in Southeastern Montana. It is a
pure freestone stream and its water temperature is subject purely to the weather. There is a
lof of ice in the middle and upper sections and ice along the banks and some slush ice in the
lower section of the river. The water is only 32 to 33 degrees. We do not recommend fishing
under these conditions.
01/19/17 The Big Hole is cold. The lowest section of the freestone stream has a lot of ice in it.
The water temperature is barely above freezing. There is little to no opportunity to catch trout
under these conditions. We suggest you choose a nearby tailwater or wait until there is a little
02/02/17 The stream levels are fine right now but the water is very cold even in the lowest
section of the river. There is slush ice and shelf ice and with the water barely above the
freezing level. It is possible to catch trout on Midges in water this cold, but we don't
recommend fishing under these circumstances. The is heavy snow forecast everyday this
02/16/17 Sorry for not making a post this past week. You didn't miss much. The weather has
been warmer and a lot of the snow and ice has melted but that has the water stained and
keeping it cold. It is barely above freezing even in the lowest section. There is more rain and
snow forecast this coming week.
02/23/17 The warm weather week before last was nice but it is back cold as a well digger's
hehind. There is deep snow on the banks and slush ice in the water. There is shelf ice in
some section. We do not recommend fishing under these conditions. The highest air
temperature this coming week will only be 22 degrees. There is snow forecast everyday.
03/09/17 The river is running a little high and it is stained from melting snow and ice as well as
rain. The weather is warmer and there is rain or snow forecast everyday for the coming week.
The high levels and stained water is likely to continue. Fish the Sculpin Streamers like the
Black or Olive Matuka sculpin. Midges are the only insects hatching.
03/16/17 The river is blown out or flowing extremely high. This situation will take a few days to
clear up. Rain and warm weather has contributed to the runoff of melting snow and ice. All you
can do is check back with us and watch the stream levels. The water is ranging from muddy to
04/13/17 The stream levels are still very high and the water muddy. It is too high to wade
safely in any section. We don't recommend it even for drift boats in the lower river due to the
muddy, highly stained water. All you can do is check back with us often and check the levels.
04/28/17 The Big Hole is down and in good shape with stream levels that are safe to wade
and clear water. There are some hatches taking place, mostly little Blue-winged olives and
some Skwala and little Brown stoneflies. The water is warmest in the lower river but the middle
section is in good shape as well.