Big Hole River Fishing Report

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The Big Hole River starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson, Montana and flows on for about 156 miles. Beginning as a slight stream, it picks up muscle as it joins with the North Fork, and draws more volume as it passes through the Wise River basin. At the Continental Divide it changes its northeasterly direction and heads southeast until it joins the Beaverhead and forms the Jefferson River close to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana. It hosts one of the last known habitat for the native fluvial artic grayling but is best known to fly fishers for its trout.

Like so many Montana rivers, the Big Hole is as full of history as it is of water. When Lewis and Clark stumbled upon it, the river was providing a buffer zone between rival Indian tribes vying for land as they sagely anticipated the westward push of European miners, furriers and settlers. Fifty years later, a significant number of the Nez Percé, a tribe that had initially befriended the Expedition, refused to accept life on a reservation and were nearly wiped out by U.S. troops in the Battle of the Big Hole. Today’s battles consist of quarrels between ranchers who desire water for irrigation and recreational users who wish to see the water preserved.
 
 
Fishing the river can be basically divided into three sections. From the headwaters at Skinner Lake to Fish Trap, the river meanders slowly through high meadowlands. This is where the few remaining artic grayling can be found, although browns and rainbows are in abundance here. In the second section, Fish Trap to Melrose, you will find boulders and pocket water rushing through a narrow canyon; here rainbows outnumber the browns with an estimated 3000 fish per mile. The final section, Melrose to Twin Bridges, is lined with cottonwood bottoms, braided channels and long, slow pools. In contrast to the second link, browns outnumber rainbows 2 to 1 with approximately 3000 fish per mile.
 
Featured Fishing Trips
Guided Fishing Trips
$
550
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
How often do you get to put your nymphs and streamers at home? Join us on a dry fly day to remember on the Big Hole. Enjoy fishing on one of the top blue ribbon fisheries in Montana ... morewith one of the most experienced Outfitters on the Big Hole. Regardless of ability gain new skills and techniques while enjoying the thrill of fishing dries.

Note

Depending on the season and what is catching, fly choices may change.
$
495
-
$
575
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
Fed by three different mountain ranges, dozens of freestone creeks and flowing over 100 miles, the Big Hole River is one of those places you just can't get off your mind. Often referred ... moreto as "The Last Best River", the Big Hole fishes well from ice out in April until the winter weather hits in November. Limited outfitter use makes this river a first choice for many of our guest anglers in Montana.

What the Big Hole offers:

Over 100 miles of fishable water.

Freestone trout fishing.. No dams here.

More colors of mayflies than you have in your box.

Caddis hatches that can require dust masks.

Stonefly hatches that bring even the largest of trout to the surface.

Brown and Rainbow trout that will test every skill you have.

6 months of changing conditions - great early and late season opportunities.

Fishable at high and low flows

Side channels, dry fly slicks, and nymphing riffles.

Trout fishing the way it was meant to be.
Additional Information
Tributaries:
The Big Hole River is a tributary of the Jefferson River
Source:
Skinner Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains of Montana (part of the Bitterroot range)
Mouth:
Jefferson River at Twin Bridges, Montana
Length:
153 miles
Seasonal Conditions
Season
Temperature
Hatches
Spring
36 - 67
 F
Initial river levels low; volume & hatches pick up April/May; Salmon Fly hatches in June
Summer
42 - 80
 F
Early summer recommended with caddis & mayflies; later, water level low due to irrigation
Fall
20 - 46
 F
Cold nights/good day fishing; Baetis mayflies/Blak Baetis for trout as temperature drops
Winter
17 - 42
 F
Trout incidental; predominately Whitefish; maggots, artificial flies & lures only 12/1 – May 21
Latest Guide Fishing Reports
Guide Reports
Early lowland run off in April caused the big hole to jump from around 450 cfs to just over 2000. This pre runoff really kickstarted the fish. The fish turned on as soon as it started ... moreto fall. it has now stablized around 1500 and fishing remains good on both dries and wets.

There are still a few squalla bugs around so a size 8 chubby chernoble has been a good one especially with a San Juan worm hanging hanging about 2 ft below it if there is a little cloud cover, you can expect a good hatch of march browns by about 1:00. If the march brown do show up look for risers. There are only 400 fish per mile on the Jeff as compared with over 2000 for the Madison. Look for the fish there not everywhere. If you can get a few clouds, streamer fishing stays pretty good all day but the big show is the march browns in the afternoon .
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 2 May, 2017
Fish Caught:
9-12 fish
Waters are on the rise on the big hole, but still has good visibility. The big hole goes up but rarely gets too dirty to fish its headwaters have never been logged thus high water ... morebut low sediment load. Fished the big hole a week ago, and caught the water on a spike the cfs came up almost 800 while we were on it.. Like most of the rivers around here you want to catch it when the water is on the way down not on the way up. As predicted fishing was kind of a bust, 4 fish in 5 hours and none very big. Seemed like the only way to catch fish was pull over at all the tributaries coming in and fish a San Juan worm on a bobber. Ouch! River has been an a slow decline for the last week and fishing has improved markedly. Still big, about 3000 cfs at Melrose, which is right about at normal for this time of year. Fishing the last few days has been good. Salmonfly nymphs are starting their migration to the banks so big black nymphs size 2 or 4 heavily weighted in the slow water. Best results are coming from getting out of the boat and pounding the slow water on the banks and the slow inside corners There are still a few leftover squallas and a few mayflies in the foam homes, but it is tough to catch em on dries unless you find some fish rising. More rain on the horizon and since the land is already saturated it doesn't take a lot to jack water levels Keep an eye on water levels and whenever it starts to fall get out there and get some.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 16 May, 2016
The Big Hole is still a bit frozen but if you have been wanting to fish here, it is should warm up over the next few days which should provide for some opportunities. Look for some ... morespring fed areas for fishable waters. While the browns have finished spawning for the year, there eggs lay dormant until the spring season so watch where you walk. We recommend fishing on the bottom with midge nymphs, cased caddis and mayflies. We also recommend stoneflies. Look for fish down deep in the middle of the river.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Monday, 1 Feb, 2016
A storm has rolled in to help with the much needed snow pack. Layer up because it very cold with daytime temperatures in the 20’s. It looks to warm up towards the end of the ... moreweek which could bring more hatched. Watch for ice. The flow is low. Small stoneflies are working quite well as well Rubberlegs and Little Sloans. Stick with the lower stretches of water at the bottom. Mayfly and Midge Nymphs will be all at the bottom.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 15 Dec, 2015
Fish Caught:
1-3 fish
The water temperature has been quite cold so make sure you are layered up underneath your waders. Dropped into Jerry Creek and worked my way through Maiden Rock. The midges are out ... moreso I recommend a hatching midge in the afternoon from 1-4pm. Egg Flies, streamers, and small beadhead nymphs, such as a size 18 beadhead Pheasant Tail are your best choices.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Tuesday, 1 Dec, 2015
Fish Caught:
1-3 fish
This weather is making things more difficult. Browns are spawning so watch where you walk. A number of the fish are already down the middle, settling into winter runs. Streamers or ... morea nymph rod are working the best. JJ Specials and Sparkle Minnows are hitting hard. The dry fly fishing is non-existent. The big hole is definitely a good option right now.
Fishing Water Report:
Date:
Sunday, 15 Nov, 2015
Fish Caught:
4-8 fish
Fishing Trips
  • Expert guide
  • BBQ shore lunch
How often do you get to put your nymphs and streamers at home? Join us on a dry fly day to remember on the Big Hole. Enjoy fishing on one of the top blue ribbon fisheries in Montana ... morewith one of the most experienced Outfitters on the Big Hole. Regardless of ability gain new skills and techniques while enjoying the thrill of fishing dries.

Note

Depending on the season and what is catching, fly choices may change.
Destination:
The Big Hole River, outside of Ennis is one of the top blue-ribbon rivers in Montana. The guide staff at the Upland Angler is an extremely qualified, experienced group of professionals ... morewho have grown up fishing the local waters. We specialize in the Big Hole River and provide a variety of skills from beginner anglers, to experts alike. No matter where or how you choose to fish, we will strive to make your experience a truly enjoyable one.
Destination:
  • Montana Fly Fishing Guide
  • Lodging (arrive the night prior to your first day on the water)
  • Nightly 5 star dinnners, prepared by our Chef
  • Daily Montana style fishermans breakfast
  • Any needed gear and all of your flies
Montana’s Last Best Fly Fishing Lodge The Stonefly Inn and Outfitters is a privately owned Fly Fishing Lodge in rural Montana. No stop lights or tourist traps here – just countless ... moremiles of Blue Ribbon Trout Water, an overwhelming number of Trout and the occasional cattle drive. Because of our location, we often do not see the fishing pressure some of the other areas of the state have to deal with. In Twin Bridges, you can truly unwind and enjoy your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation along with the solitude and vastness of Southwest Montana. The days are longer, the fish are bigger and the beer is colder.

Here at The Stonefly, Dan “Rooster” Leavens and his entire staff of Montana Fly Fishing Guides are dedicated to providing you a Montana Fly Fishing Vacation that will leave you wanting to return year after year. Our average return ratio hovers around 95% season after season and Rooster goes out of his way to keep it that way. 

A typical day at The Stonefly will start with breakfast with your Montana Fly fishing Guide before you head to one of our local rivers to fish. During the day, you can expect professional instruction while you employ seemingly endless techniques to catch fish. With so many rivers to pick from, each day is certain to be different. Returning to the lodge, you’ll find fresh appetizers in the Roost Lounge and take a little time to unwind and tell a fish story or two over a cocktail. Dinners are prepared by our in house chef, Glen Hornsby – a veteran chef of over 20 years in the fly fishing industry. Following dinner, nightly campfires are the norm complete with after dinner cocktails, joke telling, guitar picking and plenty of storytelling.

During your Montana Fly Fishing Vacation, you will always feel welcome at The Stonefly. You can count on professional instruction from your Montana Fly Fishing Guides, top shelf “Farm to Table” meals and courteous service from our staff. You have our word on it. Odds are, you’ll catch a few great fish while you are here as well!

Pricing based on double occupancy
Destination:
  • Experienced Guide
  • Lunch
  • Drinks
  • Flies
Fed by three different mountain ranges, dozens of freestone creeks and flowing over 100 miles, the Big Hole River is one of those places you just can't get off your mind. Often referred ... moreto as "The Last Best River", the Big Hole fishes well from ice out in April until the winter weather hits in November. Limited outfitter use makes this river a first choice for many of our guest anglers in Montana.

What the Big Hole offers:

Over 100 miles of fishable water.

Freestone trout fishing.. No dams here.

More colors of mayflies than you have in your box.

Caddis hatches that can require dust masks.

Stonefly hatches that bring even the largest of trout to the surface.

Brown and Rainbow trout that will test every skill you have.

6 months of changing conditions - great early and late season opportunities.

Fishable at high and low flows

Side channels, dry fly slicks, and nymphing riffles.

Trout fishing the way it was meant to be.
Destination:
Current Forecast
Water Flow
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Big Hole Country
If you drive from I-15 west onto route 43 west along Big Hole River toward route 93, you won't be disappointed. You'll drive thru a wide, deep valley, Montana's Big Hole Country, a beautiful area with 6,000 foot elevation praise basin flanked by snowcapped peaks. Cattle ranches and pastures filled with piles of haystacks. Pass thru tiny town of Wisdom just hour drive from Bitterroot Valley. Solitary ... more road. It's hard to less than 80 MPH. Don't miss it.
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Great Float
We floated 3 times from Salmon Fly to Browns, saw moose, golden eagles, bald eagles, deer with fauns, various ducks and other birds, and caught fish. Very peaceful---pretty much cannot see the highway or the road.
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Big Hole River, the last best river
I have spent plenty of time on the Big Hole river and is that valley and it remains unspoiled and offers adventure on the water as well as in the surrounding Mountains. Also, the Anaconda Pintlar Wilderness is located there as well as the Deer Lodge and Beaverhead National forests. The Wise River scenic byway bisects the Pioneer Mountains and is well worth exploring. The towns of Wise River and Wisdom ... more are certainly worth a visit and a cold beer. The open vistas and welcoming scenery is the old west as it was and as it should be. Fishing, hunting, hiking and just plain hanging out is what this place is all about. In the summer be sure to bring your fly rod and some insect repellent. Dont forget the camera. Cell service is non-existent. Services are very limited. There is one road, hwy. 43.
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