Where to Fish During Spring Runoff

With the 2014 Flathead River spring runoff well on its way it saddens us to wave goodbye to another year of incredible spring fishing.  It’s time to take off your wading boots, pack up your rod and wait out the brown, dirty water until it returns to its majestic blue color…..or is it?

Just because the Flathead River is blown out and looks more like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river than anything else, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other places teeming with hungry fish. If you don’t want to wait out the river, check out some of these other great alternatives during high water.

Mission Lake

Mission Lake is located just off U.S. Highway 2 between Browning and Cutbank on the Blackfeet Reservation so make sure you pick up your tribal license before you leave town. When spring begins to melt the ice from Mission Lake, the Rainbows move to the shoreline to begin their annual spawning. Less than a stone’s throw from the shore will be some beautiful 3 to 8lb Rainbows hungry for scud, egg, worm and prince patterns. Also, don’t be afraid to throw out some leeches and small buggers.  If you are looking for some red hot fly fishing for Rainbow Trout, head to Mission Lake between mid-April until the end of May on a nice day. When going over to the east side, always be prepared to deal weather changes and high winds

Rogers Lake

Rogers Lake is located roughly 30 minutes west of Kalispell and is just under 250 acres. It has a great population of Grayling along with some Cutthroat Trout.  Grayling are a unique fish from the salmon family, range from 10 to 16 inches in length and have quite the history with anglers throughout the world. They were once highly pursued to suppress their numbers because they were thought to have impeded trout from inhabiting certain areas of rivers and streams. Later research showed Grayling and Trout actually have different diets and inhibited different micro sections of rivers, streams and lakes. Enough with the history lesson though. Let’s get down to business. You can access Rogers Lake with a drift or small motored boat. Callibaetis mayfly patterns, Prince nymphs and Damsel nymphs will all work well. Like the other waters in this article, Rogers Lake is a great option for when the local rivers are blown out. It also has the added benefit of being very user friendly for anglers just getting into the game.

Fly Fishing, Rogers Lake, Grayling, Montana

Lower South Fork Flathead River

The Lower South Fork of the Flathead River is not quite as renowned as its counterpart above the Hungry Horse Reservoir but when the rest of the Forks and Main Stem of the Flathead River are all blown out, the Lower South Fork has the one benefit of being dam controlled which keeps the river fairly clear even when the others are muddy.  Because the water is pulled from the bottom of the reservoir, you’ll want to wait for a warmer sunny afternoon to raise the water temperature a few degrees. After a few weeks of high water, the Trout start getting better acclimated and begin feeding more aggressively.  Look for slow moving water along the banks to throw your mayflies and prince nymphs or a large rubber-leg.     

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