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Chuck Haney

Big Hole River

Big Hole River The Big Hole begins near Wisdom and flows through some of Montana’s most beautiful scenery before meeting the Jefferson River, at Twin Bridges, 153 miles later. Throughout its course anglers find rainbow and brown trout in great numbers and, sometimes, of staggering size. The average fish ranges between 10 and 16 inches, but trout to 20 pounds swim here. Mostly in its upper reaches, above Divide, the Big Hole also produces grayling and some nice-size brook trout. This river has it all, including great insect hatches all summer. Those emergences begin with the salmonfly and golden stonefly in

June and early July. Anglers see pale morning duns and scads of caddisflies through July and August. In August and September, Trico mayflies come off in dense clouds and, despite their diminutive size, trout key on them. Anglers match these tiny flies with size-20 and smaller imitations. This is technical dry-

“When you

only

float I don’t think that you really learn fly fishing.” fly fishing at its best, an opportunity for serious anglers to test their hatch-matching mojo. Some may walk away from the experience satisfied and others may want to tear their hair out, asking how a fish with a brain the size of a pea can be so darned hard to catch. Fortunately, grasshoppers are abundant in late sum-

mer and early fall, too, which allows anglers to diverge from the technical game and lob size-6 hopper imitations to aggressive fish. While the Big Hole can be as productive as any river in the West, it’s the entire experience as much as the fish that draws anglers here. Once off the river, fly fishers find lots of developed and undeveloped campsites, along with comfortable motels in the towns of Wisdom, Wise River and Melrose. Nights can be spent around a campfire or in one of several entertaining bars or restaurants, including the Melrose Bar, Dewey Bar, the Wise River Club and the Hitchin’ Post. During June and July, a flotilla dominates the Big Hole, but as the water drops in late July and August wadefishers take over, especially on the upper river from Dewey upstream to Wisdom. Throughout the river, even during the prime float season, wadefishers can usually find side

Montana Headwall Page 41 Summer 2014

Montana Headwall  

Outdoor Adventure Under the Big Sky

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