Early morning and late evening thunder storms the past few days helped cool off our air temperatures and made for better water conditions. At our current water temperatures there are a few ways to play the game. First, chasing thermal refuge by knowing where creeks and springs enter the rivers that create cold water zones for the trout to actively feed. Second, focusing on compression lanes in the river that pile dissolved oxygen and food items into one zone together. Think right below rapids, rip rap banks, the rolling water below diversion dams, and the heads of riffles. This time of year the water is clear enough to see a lot of fish, however if the trout are in a position to be seen they more than likely are not actively feeding. Fish to the trout that want to eat. Dominant fish get first crack at food; they are the bullies of the river. What this means is many of your best fish are pinned up at the head of the run, with the first cast being the best cast. It is important get it into the spot early. When anglers delay the shot, they are skipping prime holding water. Many of the better fish lately are eating shortly after the fly hits the water, don’t let the eat surprise you.

The Clark Fork is a long drainage and has a distinct character for each section. This time of year you do not want to fish zones that are a long way from tributaries. The early bite is still better lately, with the fishing becoming trickier in the afternoon. In certain sections there are a lot of nocturnal stonefly shucks showing up right at the water line.

Bitterroot River boaters will notice it is getting low. Many of the spots are slowing down significantly, and need a push of food to amp the fish up again. We are in between hatch cycles right now, with tricos still delayed, making ants, beetles, and hoppers all the more important. If you are dialed on your spots, you can put together a great day on the water.

The Blackfoot River is a solid choice this time of year, especially given the varied menu the trout will eat. When you are fishing around cutthroat trout this time of year, you want to have ants in your box.

Rock Creek can be a great option for area wade anglers who want a lot of action without needing to get up early. Evenings on the Creek are beautiful, and the fish should be more willing to cooperate with the light lower on the water.

Terrestrial fishing lately shifted to decisive eats from trout. The do not hesitate now when they see the hopper, they know it is a high calorie meal. Finding the right water is more important than the fly. Fish what you have confidence in, if you aren’t getting them…move on to the next spot.

-Caleb Garrett