BUTTE - It’s that time of year when people are itchin’ to get fishin’, and after last year’s hot and dry weather, things are looking better for the Big Hole River and for those in the fly-fishing industry in general.
“It looks like it’s going to be another busy summer. Early on, the first half of summer is jam-packed busy and it starts thinning out a little bit later and I think it’s just people waiting to see what water conditions are going to be as we go forward,” said Chris Bradley, co-owner of The StoneFly Fly Shop in Butte.
Last year’s hot and dry summer caused closures on parts of the Big Hole as early as June. However, this year’s cooler and wetter spring is a sign of optimism.
“It was a bit worrisome heading into this spring. March wasn’t looking fantastic, but the last couple months have been great, getting a lot of moisture, the weather’s been cool, so we’re keeping the snow that we do have, so, knock on wood, things look like we’ll be shaping up for a good summer season,” said Bradley.
The decline in trout numbers has alarmed fish biologists. In 2014, FWP recorded about 1,800 fish per mile in the lower Big Hole River. As of last year, the number was about 400 fish per mile.
Regulations still require catch and release for brown trout this year. Another regulation on the lower Big Hole is you can only use single-hooked lures. You can still use Rapala’s and spinners, but you have to take the treble hook and cut it back to a single hook.
“When you have to release the brown trout, they want to minimize any potential injuries so that fish has the greatest chance of survival,” Bradley said.