Five Rivers Lodge River Guide - The Bighole River
Free flowing its entire course, the Big Hole river extends 153 miles from its modest beginnings at Skinner Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains of southwest Montana to its confluence with the Beaverhead River near Twin Bridges. Early explorers and settlers came to the Big Hole and to the high elevation valley that it divides for the sheer beauty and rich resources it provided. Since then, it has been designated at a “Blue Ribbon” fishery and is one of the most heavily used fishing streams in Montana.
The Upper Big Hole is home to the last stream-dwelling population of Arctic grayling in the lower 48 states. This has prompted many significant private partnerships and cooperative efforts to ensure the protection of this valuable population.
The Big Hole’s mid-June emergence of the famous “Salmonfly Hatch” kicks off the fishing season. The chance to throw two-inch -long dry flies for trout averaging eighteen inches is a rare treat that many anglers anticipate. That said, mid-June is also the most heavily fished time on the Big Hole river.
Dry fly fishing for rainbows and browns continues to the end of July, with prolific hatches of caddis, mayflies and lesser stoneflies.
During August the Big Hole river becomes primarily a morning and evening fishery, although occasionally the summer hopper and ant hatches can provide excellent mid-day action as well. Tricos blanket the river in the mornings, while the evening can provide tremendous caddis hatches.
The first freeze of autumn occurs in early September, cooling the waters and thus resuming the possibility of daylong fishing. At this time, the big browns prepare for spawning, their color matching the golden-turning cottonwood trees along the river’s banks. Then in October, the Big Holer river provides excellent foot fishing using streamers and nymphs in the mornings and caddis and Red Quill imitations during the warmer Indian summer afternoons.