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Special to the News-Argus

I enjoy fly-fishing Big

Spring creek because it pro-

vides a good catch rate of

decent sized trout and because

of the esthetics of scenery and

wildlife. Waxwings, yellow

warblers, western and king-

birds find airborne insects

during hatches, and you may

see fawns, muskrats or mink.

Although nymphs are more

often effective, I prefer dry fly

fishing, having the luxury of

choosing my timing due to

retirement. Trout surfacing for

dry flies is to many of us the

most enjoyable form of fish-

ing. During different seasons I

fish different stream areas

depending on water tempera-

ture and hatches. I don’t fish

the upper stream when rain-

bows are on spawning redds.

Among a seemingly endless

array of fly patterns, most will

catch some fish, but those

who key in on specific hatches

and insect imitations will

greatly enhance their success.

Although many minor hatches

exist, I list only those relative-

ly easy to find and fish. Early

April: 1. Blue wing olives size

22 (try a 20) and a size 18. The

latter provides better autumn

action. 2. Some size 18 black

caddis. Most hatches are spo-

radic and of short duration.

April 15-20 to May 20: 1. An

unusually dark size 12 march

brown, mottled dark wings/

grayish body; 2. A size 16 little

brown stonefly. Both this and

a little greenish yellow sum-

mer stonefly are overlooked as

they fly at low angles individ-

ually to the water to lay eggs

and are less obvious than cad-

dis or mayflies.

June into early July brings

several different caddis, and

things get tricky. Trout may

feed on emerging pupae in the

surface film, hatching adults,

spent adults, or egg layers,

some of which dive to the bot-

tom. Pupae in brown, gold

brown, gray, and a rough

slightly goldish gray brown are

useful, most in size 16. Adult

dries in brown body/light

brown wing, gray body/gray

speckled wing, green body/

brown wing, tan body/gray

wing, and spent brown/body

light brown wing may be

found. Uncased caddis larvae

in slightly brownish or olive

green were historically effec-

tive below town, but these are

now in very short supply, as

are these August hatches. The

“chimney cased” green larvae

in the upper stream provide

cloudy afternoon and evening

September fishing and are

dark gray size 18.

The first three weeks of

July is the optimum time for

the size 16 yellowish light gray

winged pale morning dun

(PMD) as a dry, nymph, or

emerging nymph against the

surface tension. Sporadic

activity may be found until


Many nymphs are unusual-

ly dark in this stream, as the

stream bottom is dark and

often slightly solidified by

lime. Little imagination is

needed to realize that better

survival among well camou-

flaged nymphs will result in a

darker population given time.

The PMD nymph is olive

brown while on the Henry’s

Fork of the Snake, the same

insect has a far lighter color-

ation. A pheasant tail nymph

is a good imitation although I

tie mine of fur. Blue wing

olive nymphs are dark and are

active swimmers.

The most common failing

in fishing the stream is to

underestimate the summer

clarity of the water and

approach too close to the fish.

Wild fish view movement on

the bank and the flicker of fly

lines as probable predators

and lose their appetite. A low

profile and chest waders are

necessary to success.

Montana trout streams

have not been planted since

studies of the early 1970’s

demonstrated much higher

numbers of fish and larger

average size from natural

reproduction, while most

stocked trout disappeared

within two months after

stressing and moving out wild

fish, depressing the popula-

tion. The genetic diversity of

wild fish contributed to natu-

ral resistance to whirling dis-

ease developing in rainbow

trout and a population recov-

ery in the Madison. Rainbow

numbers here are now quite

reduced by this disease. Wild

trout in a stream take more

time to reach maturity than

well fed planted fish in reser-

voirs, fish which exist for fam-

ily recreation and consump-

tion. Estimates indicate that

over 90 percent of anglers

release all fish caught in this


The stream has suffered a

long slow deterioration of hab-

itat traced back to the miles of

water eliminated by man, with

steadily increasing erosion,

loss of meanders, and increas-

ing stream bank damage.

Remediation efforts at Brew-

ery Flats and the Machler proj-

ect will help stabilize the

stream and reduce further

property damage. In both

cases, the new stream bed is

much shorter than the original

meanders but represent the

best efforts now feasible. Our

stream has far less good trout

habitat than 30 years ago

when it was already a dimin-

ished resource. Despite these

impacts, while not a destina-

tion for big fish, it remains a

delightful and rewarding


page 4

saturday, april 1, 2017

Central Montana Fishing Guidew

After a long day

on the water...

We invite you to stop in

and share your fish stories here.

Good Food

Good Drink


(All lies accepted)

Fly-fishing tips for Big Spring Creek

David Stuver (right) suggests peo-

ple key in on specific insect hatch-

es to increase their success.

A flyfishermen tries his luck on Big Spring Creek.

David Stuver suggests keeping a low profile when the

water is clear.

News-Argus file photo