Hustling on the Wing
If it was easy rich kids would do it – Another one of my father’s prods to work harder comes to mind this morning as I look at the upper Bitterroot flows and a week full of anglers coming into fish the Skwala hatch that should have already been in the mid river for two weeks, but is currently squashed due to all time high low elevation snow for March getting pummeled with warm rain causing the Bitterroot to blow up.
So you either smoke a bowl of back medicine like Dudeman guide and cruise through crappy fishing blaming that part of the system you can’t control or you assume that the answer is out there, even though difficult, and make a plan based on log book data. Then bust up your hands, head, and back chasing it. No doubt this week is going to be a pro vet grinder on weather and water temps, but with extraordinary conditions comes extraordinary opportunities. All deep river knowledge is gained on the edge of conditions.
Any puff ball throwing oar hack can be super guide when its 1500 cfs on the drop in Darby in late June with Golden Stones littering the water. Yes, even soft rich kids catch them with baby belly white rowing hands and a cozy trust fund to get them through the rest of the season when the water whipsaw threatens.
Can you catch them great today? Today in the too windy? Today in the too cold water? Today in the dirty water? Today in the too bright? You got trout guts, son? You know, today the day that two surgeons from New Jersey booked out of their busy life schedule and hired you take them fishing. That is question that each guest asks regardless of conditions. Manufacture trout, not excuses. Welcome to guiding youngsters, it isn’t a lifestyle job where all the pressure of the world falls off you and the mountains, pretty rivers, and trees act as soul balm for actually having to work hard and produce. Sorry bud, the relaxation is for the guys in the knee locks because they are paying you for it. Time to earn your river cred this week.
That was the rant, here is the gameplan for the week.
Bitterroot – She is headed out today. We may have it by the weekend, maybe. With this water temp my opinion is we need the Darby gauge at 800 cfs or less. You need enough soft water to be able to force feed them. Can you catch them at the higher flows on the drop, yes but the Spring is about 30 fish days, not 8 fish days so we will need to be careful when we head back in. The first few boats fishing it correctly could do some heavy damage by the weekend. Maybe, could be, for sure, not sure, and compulsively watching USGS flows like a 15 year old daydreaming in Algebra class taught by a hot first year teacher in a red skirt.
Clark Fork – Gone.
Blackfoot – Sneaky, so Sneaky, sooo Sneaky. Extremely low water temps and a snowmobile shuttle. I don’t think I have the chin for it, but Snangler keeps calling me a river chicken for not putting it up for option. He is scared of it too but he enjoys pounding his chest at my expense. I have slid boats over snow banks this time of year to unbelievable pods up on capnias, but with this flow regime Snangler can pound all he wants on my deaf ears.
Rock Creek – Wade maybe. Maybe. I need boat options for the week, so that is out on logistics.
Missouri – Here is the answer you are looking for. Yes there will be driving, but it has been fishing well. The moving parts of the equation are :
1. 35 degree water temps, so you will have to morph out of the summer program and work different water speeds. Exact location, depth, and hooksets will be the difference between 3 fish and 30. They are eating it, but it won’t be stupid fish attaching to bad drifts. 30 big ones to the boat is pretty damn good if we can it we can get it done.
2. Tributary color. As you head down river it will get colored. The crowds that will be chasing the Missouri will cower at the dam, reasoning it is better to stand in line and be safe. How much dirt can you tolerate will give you extreme solitude in the low river, just hope you won’t be lonely for trout.
3. Lodging – Not much is open yet in Craig. Isaac’s is closed, so you will be eating at Oasis or the Frenchman. Cafe food and drinks, hard core Montana style. There are options but it won’t be a June trip when Craig is firing on all the amenity cylinders.
So the Missouri is relatively safe with some skill, the Bitterroot is on the bubble, and the first trips of the year are going to test our mettle with A Classic Journey’s reputation on the line. I guess its just another day of outfitting in Montana.
If it was easy rich kids would do it.