Montana’s Beaverhead River

The Only Game in Town
Montana’s rivers continue to run high and mostly clouded with some, including the Jefferson, pushing out of their banks this morning. So where does a guy fish moving water when the flows are up? Judging by this past weekend everyone has the same idea: the Beaverhead.

The upper mile and a half of the Beaverhead runs clear before Clark Canyon Creek dumps its spew into the river from the east bank. I decided to try the Beaverhead on Friday afternoon, and again on Saturday, and I came away with this conclusion. If you are going to fish the Beaverhead anytime soon, fish early or fish late.

I say that because I was able to damage some fish on Friday afternoon/evening. But, after being joined by a motley crew from Missoula on Friday night, at the Buffalo Bar in Clark Canyon, we didn’t get on the water Saturday until after 10 a.m. By that time the hoards had put a hurt on the Beaverhead’s rainbows and we couldn’t buy a fish.

I’ll offer a little modesty here. Some people did catch fish including some novice across the river from us. He put a licking on four big rainbows while our offerings went unscathed. I could see fish, I got good drifts, but I couldn’t get an eat. Wrong fly? Luck of the draw? I rifled through my fly boxes, tried all kinds of PMD and Baetis imitations, and even tied on San Juan worms and sow bugs. Nada.

I did hook a couple good rainbows, plus a brown that went major aerial, but mostly it was a frustrating day shared by my friends. And that’s odd, because we usually pound trout no matter where we fish, including technical waters like the Henry’s Fork, Silver Creek and the Bighorn. So, will I be back to the Beaverhead anytime soon. Maybe not. But I will go back there in a few weeks to see what’s shaking with hoppers. I have to; the river is loaded with 17-to 20 inch rainbows and sooner or later I’ll find one that’s stupid enough to eat what I’m throwing. Here are some pics from the weekend, a little debauchery rolled in with the angling, so basically a good trip despite our frustrations with those fish. Hope you enjoy.


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