Friday, December 10, 2010

August- September { Missouri River Montana }

Like I said earlier, the hopper fishing seemed to "peak", around the first two weeks in  August, it was a time of the season where just about everything came together, water levels, water temps, flows, and really for the first time all season, the weather. We had seen some very inconsistent weather starting in April, and it continued right up through August. It was the coolest summer we have seen , since, 1993. It really did not get "hot' until August. We would have a day here or there where it did get pretty warm, but, over all it was a cool, wet , summer.
It was a season of anticipation, and expectation, that both fell just a bit short. In the Spring, most of the buzz in the Fly Fishing world was about the 35 year plague of Grass Hoppers that was going to invade the Mid-west and Western  North America. Some Fly distributors were boasting incredible sales of hopper patterns , and warning fly shops and outfitters to "buy now", or you could be left short by August...About that time is when the rain and snow started, and  for the next three months , we saw a deluge of water , peaking around the end of June. Most of the Islands in the river were completely submerged, for weeks at a time, becoming much too wet for hoppers to live and grow. The hoppers were in great numbers on the "banks' of the river, but not out on the islands, which changed the fishing strategy for many who like to fish the shallow waters around the islands , and the middle of the river. The Missouri is a shallow river, the only place from bank to bank where the fish cannot see a dry fly is the deepest part, the channel. Yes, trout do feed on the surface here during intense hatches, but, out of the channel, the water is shallow enough for a trout to see and feed on flies floating above them.
It would have been the greatest hopper fishing in the history of the river , if we would not have had the high water , and the islands would have had the grass hoppers in great numbers. This would have opened the entire river to hopper fishing, not just along the banks, or, a few spots where the wind blows the hoppers out into the river.
This past August did have very good surface activity, and hatches of Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, and Tricos. Most years, August is a slow month, too warm, too many bright sunny days, but , this season it was prime. Fish were feeding on red ants, hoppers, beetles, some black ants, due to the water levels and temps both being better than most years. Black caddis were showing in good numbers in the lower river, and the hopper action in the upper river was really great some days. By the latter part of August, the fish were getting very difficult, spooky, as some would say "terrified!".
September was a month that was sunny, warm, and more consistent water flows. The caddis were still in good numbers, but the PMD's were over, and the Tricos were good on the less windy days...The hopper fishing was good some days, but , it was hard to string two or three days in a row. One good day, one great day, one slow day...Funny, by now the fields along the river were alive with all different sizes and colors of hoppers...
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