Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

12/28/08

Fly Fishing the Big Hole River - Part Three

Below Divide the river makes another turn, this time almost directly east. This section
from Divide to Glen is supposed to be the best part of the Big Hole. It is not the best
part for the wading angler because there are only a very few places it is possible to
access the river. This section is best fished from a drift boat. We have not done that
yet. It is still on our list of things to do in Montana. We have fished it a few times at
different times of the year from the few access points it is possible to reach the stream.

We have done very well each time on this section of the river. Still, we would
recommend the previous section, or section above Divide for those that don't prefer a
drift boat trip, simply because of the access.

The trout in this section of the river are about equal rainbow and brown trout with the
brown trout much more common in the lower part of this section between Melrose and
Glen. There the water slows down and the flows become much smoother. There are
fewer rainbows and more browns in this section. Above Melrose there are probably
more rainbows than browns. Whitefish are also present in very high numbers. Each
time we have tried to fish a nymph for rainbows or browns, nine out of ten fish have
been whitefish.

The last or lower section of the Big Hole River, between Glen and Twin Bridges, is far
less appealing. This area is not fished very much except during the early spring. We
are told it has some very nice brown trout but we have not fished there. There is almost
no access to this part of the river.

The first thing you should do before visiting the Big Hole is to check on the water flows.
The USGS will provide that information for you via the web or phone. During years of
low water or drought conditions, the river is very much affected and the water
temperatures can become too warm in many areas for good fishing conditions. April
and May can provide good fishing in the meadow areas. The salmon flies hatch from
the first part of to the middle of June and this is the time you will find the river crowded
with anglers.  

During the month of June the river flows will change drastically due to diversion of the
water for irrigation purposes. Low water can still provide decent fishing provided the
water temperatures are not too high. Once they get too high, it will be late summer or
early fall before the fishing gets much better. Fall can prove to be the best time to fish
the river. The exact dates vary from year to year depending on the conditions. It is
always best to check on the current flow and water level conditions before traveling
there.
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