The old rule of thumb in northern Idaho, western Montana and southeast British Columbia said you can fish just about any cutthroat creek, after the Fourth of July. Showing up earlier meant you might be limited by high water. But these days, with summer arriving earlier, that date has changed significantly. In fact, Idaho and Montana’s cutthroat waters were in good shape for much of June and they are going to be almost perfect over the holiday weekend . . . and beyond.
In addition to these waters dropping into shape earlier, the huckleberry crop seems to ripen sooner each year, too. That’s what I found last week while scooting around Idaho and Montana, picking hucks and catching scads of nice cutthroat on dries. The huckleberries were ubiquitous with some patches seeming to go on endlessly. The cutthroats were in every pool and they were eating a variety of imitations matching a smorgasbord of bugs on the water. Golden stones. PMDs. Drakes. Even craneflies. If you could get a dead drift you could get a cutthroat, to the tune of the 97 that a friend and I landed, combined, last Saturday.
These cutthroat streams—and there are a plethora of well-known and under the radar waters to be had—should fish well for the rest of the season and into fall. So don’t feel like you have to get out there this weekend or you’ve missed it. On the other hand, the huckleberries won’t be perfect forever. If you can put up with the rookie campers this weekend, it may be a good time to get out there with your best dry fly rod and a zip-lock bag—cutts and hucks are a pretty good summer combination, especially if you’re packing the kids along.