We starting our 2024 fly fishing road trip a week ago. If you’re a regular here at RiverKeeper Flies, you know we fly fish the Madison River, MT in early July. Our route this year, took us up Lolo Pass along the Lochsa River, ID into the Bitterroot Valley, MT.

Bitterroot River | www.johnkreft.com

The Lochsa was a little high, so we decided not to stop and fish.

The Bitterroot River was running between 1400 – 1500 cfs. We stopped at Tucker Crossing boat launch and fished. The river was high, but fishable. We’ve been here in past years and the river was high and brown, completely unfishable. The Bitterroot Valley is beautiful.

There were stonefly nymph shucks along the rocks and I’m guessing they were Golden Stones.

Bitterroot Stonefly | www.johnkreft.com

I rose a couple of fish, but none came to the net.

That evening, I found this spinner on the campervan door.

Bitterroot Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

A little later, I found another on the screen and I pulled out a flash because the sun had set.

The following day, we drove up the river, hoping to find lower water flows. Stopping at Wally Crawford boat launch, the water was still higher than we liked. But we were there, so why not walk upstream to see if we could find any rising trout?

You can tell the water level is still high because it was in the streamside grass.

I did find a trout willing to take my dry fly, this 9 inch Cutthroat.

We returned to the campervan, made a cup of coffee and discussed whether to continue our quest of finding trout on the Bitterroot or head east towards the Madison.

We chose the latter and drove over Chief Joseph pass towards the Big Hole. Our plan was to drive along the river, check the water flow, and perhaps stop and fish. It was windy that afternoon and ultimately, we drove past all the water and headed to the Beaverhead upstream of Dillon, MT to a favorite eddy.

Six hours later, this happened…

Beaverhead Brown | www.johnkreft.com

We found our favorite eddy empty of fly fishers and fishable.

Fly Fishing the Beaverhead River | www.johnkreft.com

This is another image of the fish above, about a 19 inch Brown!

Beaverhead Brown and Snake River Co Net | www.johnkreft.com

I asked Dancingtrout to hold my fish for a quick photo. It was the only fish we hooked and landed that evening.

We returned to the eddy the next morning, hoping to find rising fish. The eddy was full of foam, and we finally found a few heads sipping PMDs in the foam.

Dancingtrout hooked up on this beauty!

Beaverhead Brown - Closeup of Head | www.johnkreft.com

It was a little over 21 inches!

Beaverhead Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

But that was it. Only a total of 2 fish, but my oh my, what beautiful trout!

The fish stopped rising and we thought we could make it to the Madison for the evening hatch.

On the road again…

We chose to stop and fish around West Fork, hoping again for rising trout. We weren’t disappointed.

Holding First Madison River Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

We had some action that night, but this was the only nice one to the net. At least we were finding rising trout to Caddis!

The next morning, we arrived at $3 Bridge around 7:30 am. Besides the Caddis, we observed Salmonflies and Golden Stones in the streamside brush.

Madison River Salmonfly | www.johnkreft.com

A Salmonfly shuck next to Indian Paintbrush.

Indian Paintbrush and Stonefly Nymph Shuck on Madison River | www.johnkreft.com

A female Golden Stone.

Madison River Golden Stone | www.johnkreft.com

And she turned for the camera so I could photograph her egg sac.

Madison River Golden Stone with Egg Sac | www.johnkreft.com

Here is a Caddis swarm latter that evening…

Caddis Swarm on Madison River | www.johnkreft.com

And a closeup…

Caddis Swarm on Madison River - Closeup | www.johnkreft.com

We did manage to land a couple nice trout that day.

Madison River Brown | www.johnkreft.com

And the one who doesn’t like a picture taken!

Flying Madison Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

We plan to stay at the Madison for a while, so be sure to check back as I provide more information on our fly fishing road trip

Enjoy…go fish!

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