Great Fly Fishing out of Crane Meadow Lodge, Twin Bridges, MT
Capt. Rick Grassett
September 22, 2008
Big Hole - Freshwater Fishing Report
I was in Twin Bridges, MT last week hosting a group of fly anglers at Crane Meadow Lodge (www.cranemeadow.com) on what was our 7th trip there. The timing was just right this year with the weather being perfect, frost on the ground or mid 30's in the morning, warming to the mid 70's with almost no humidity. Unlike several other years when water flow was an issue, we had plenty of water this year due to a good snow pack last winter and spring.
Before I left I fished a few days in Sarasota during the week of Sept. 8th. Fly anglers fishing with me fished deep grass flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay where we caught and released trout, ladyfish, jacks and bluefish on Clouser and Enrico Puglisi flies. We also scored with DOA Deadly Combos and CAL jigs with shad tails.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, Nick Reding, Bob Harness and Bob Reynolds, all from St. Louis, MO, Mike Perez from Richmond, IN, Bill King from Osprey, FL and I all met up in Bozeman, MT. After collecting our gear, we made the 1 ½ hour drive to Crane Meadow Lodge. Dennis Kinley from NJ joined us on Sunday. The best fishing was on the Beaverhead, Ruby and Big Hole Rivers and on Mill Creek, a tributary to the Ruby River (private water). We rotated anglers, guides and fishing locations daily. The Madison River was not a good option this year due to a gate being stuck open at Hebgen Lake causing an extremely high water flow. Other than that, we were able to fish everywhere else including the Jefferson and Big Hole rivers which have been closed in years past.
I fished a couple of days on the Beaverhead and had great action. Guide Tom Caffrey and I floated from Henneberry to Grasshopper Creek one day and had great action with brown trout to 18" on hoppers and hopper/dropper combos. Mike Perez and I waded with guide Dave King one day at the High Bridge on the Beaverhead and had fast action with browns and rainbows to more than 20". Most fish were caught on nymph rigs but a few were on dry flies. Mike caught a 24" fish another day, which I think was one of the largest of the trip.
Nick Reding and I fished private water on the Beaverhead one day and his best fish of the day was a big rainbow. He and Mike Perez fished the Ruby another day and had good action. Mike fished a new bamboo rod that performed beautifully for him. The biggest fish that I caught were browns that were close to 20", which were caught with hoppers on my 4-weight Orvis TLS rod, when Bob Harness and I waded a section of the Ruby River and Mill Creek with guide Tom Caffrey. Bill King and I also floated a day with Tom on the Big Hole and caught a few nice fish. Dennis Kinley had one of his best days ever on the Ruby and Mill Creek on the last day of our trip.
It's great to watch them blast the hopper as it floats along a current seam! If you're saltwater angler, these may not sound like big fish, but believe me when you put a fat 18" to 20" brown or rainbow trout in fast water on a 4 or 5-weight rod, you may have your hands full. Proprietor Cody Meine, his staff of guides, Sue (who almost single handedly runs the place) and Chef Nick did a great job. It's like a home away from home for a week and the wildlife and scenery are incredible. I'm sure I missed several bites while the scenery distracted me from my fly. Whitetail deer, elk, moose and hundreds of the lodge namesakes, Sandhill Cranes, abound. If you are looking for a great western trout fishing experience that has a good mix of floating and wading, you should check out Crane Meadow Lodge.
Back at home, we've had a little taste of fall weather with the passing of a front on Thursday. With shorter days and slightly cooler mornings, fishing should get even better in the next few weeks. Next week's tides will improve towards the end of the week as we head towards a new moon on Sept. 29th. Fishing deep grass flats for trout, blues and Spanish mackerel, reds in skinny water and snook in the surf or around lighted docks and bridge fenders should all be good options.
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
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