Species You Fish for by Season
The Big Hole River holds a wide variety of trout including the brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook along with the arctic grayling. This is one of the last refuges for the grayling in the lower 48 states. All species of trout and grayling are wild fish and absolutely no stocking has been done in any river or stream in Montana since the 60's.
The Big Hole is a fertile river with good hatches of aquatic insects throughout the season. The well known hatches begin with the salmon fly and golden stone fly hatch in June and accompanied by the pale morning duns, green drakes, yellow sally's and caddis that extend into July. Grasshopper or hopper patterns along with ant and beetle patterns work well starting in mid-July and extend into September until the first big freeze. August brings on the tiny trico hatch which makes for some of the best dry fly fishing of the season. As fall approaches, the baetis hatch or blue winged olives emerge especially on a cloudy day.
Big Hole Lodge guides do their very best to find you fish that will come up on a dry fly and they work hard to accomplish this. Of course there are days when the fish don't cooperate and are reluctant to look up. Generally the guide will tie a nymph off the bend of the dry fly hook as a first option and this usually works but if this fails, as a last resort, he'll tie a weighted nymph and indicator on your line.
Region/Terrain Where You Fish:
A typical week of fishing at Big Hole Lodge may start with a float on the Big Hole River. The Big Hole is a mid-size river for Montana standards with classic pools and riffles. There are approximately six different floats the lodge utilizes on the Big Hole and each one has a different look and feel to it. The elevation can vary from 6,100 ft. on the upper end of the river and approximately 4,500 ft. on the lower.
Day two might find you stalking a trophy rainbow trout on a beautiful spring creek flowing through a working cattle ranch which is leased by the lodge two days each week. The owner has made a large investment in restoring the stream and making an ideal habitat for the trout to thrive in. This is a walk/wade day but extremely easy wading and a pathway is maintained next to the stream for safe walking. Hatches are plentiful on the spring creek and most of the day is spent sight casting to trophy trout. The elevation here is approximately 5,000 ft.
Day three might take you on a guided float trip on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River upstream of Darby. This is a long day and completely optional, but our returning guests enjoy seeing different water and this can be an exceptional day of fishing for westslope cutthroat, rainbows and brown trout. The West Fork is a pristine small river with an abundance of hatches and bright, cold clear water with the majestic Bitterroot mountain range overlooking you all day. The elevation of the river is 4,500 ft.
Day four might take you to the Beaverhead River, elevation 5,100 ft., near Dillon where Big Hole Lodge leases three miles of private access to the river on a working cattle ranch two days each week. This is another walk/wade trip and for the most part, very easy wading. This section of the river receives very little pressure compared to the upper section below the dam and is nourished by flows from Poindexter Slough, a beautiful spring creek owned by the Nature Conservancy which joins the river at the upstream boundary of the ranch. Large wild brown trout inhabit this stretch of river which can make for great sport. There is also a natural channel that breaks off the main stem of the river and meanders through the ranch for approximately a mile and offers superb dry fly fishing, especially during the hopper season. There is also a spring fed 20 acre lake on the ranch which holds trophy rainbow and brown trout. Fishing on the lake is mostly sight casting to these huge trout and can be a lot of fun.
The last day will probably find you back on the Big Hole River floating a different section than the previous float trip and a great way to end your fly fishing trip.
Big Hole Lodge also does walk/wade trips to the nearby upper Clark Fork River and upper Rock Creek outside of Phillipsburg. There is one more private property the lodge has an exclusive right to, which is part spring creek and part freestone. This stream, and we won't mention the name, flows four miles through a working cattle ranch and is primarily a brown trout fishery.
We also offer a horseback trip to the alpine lakes in the Pioneer Mountains near the lodge. Chuck Page and Pioneer Outfitters have been taking our guests to the high country to fish for rainbows and cutthroat since the late 80's and they do a superb job with highly trained horses accustomed to taking novice riders. This is an eight mile trip into the back country that is an incredible experience for those who enjoy an adventure.
Typical Weather by Season:
June weather is anything but consistent. The average high temperature is 71 degrees and the average night time low is 41 degrees. Rainfall average is 2.09 in. for the month. Hours of daylight approximately 13. Average hi water temperature is 60 degrees and average low is 47 degrees.
The month of July is our warmest month. The average hi temperature is 81 degrees and the average low is 46 degrees. Rainfall average is 1.19 in. for the month. Hours of daylight approximately 12 hours. Average high water temperature is 65 degrees and average low is 57 degrees.
The month of August starts to have cooler nights which are welcome. The average high temperature is 80 degrees and the average low is 44 degrees. Rainfall average is 1.24 in. for the month. Hours of daylight approximately 11. Average high water temperature is 62 degrees and the average low is 54 degrees.
September in our area is known for its cool nights and pleasant days. The average high temperature is 69 degrees and the average low is 36 degrees. Rainfall average is 1.01 in. for the month. Hours of daylight approximately 10. The average hi water temperature is 60 degrees and the average low is 45 degrees.