I've had the pleasure of fishing big streams and small streams - the latter are my favorites as they are easier to get around and safer to wade. But big streams offer a greater diversity of bug hatches and bigger trout. Way back in the early 80's, I had a chance to try the Beaverhead River by Dillon. This stream is best fished from a boat with a knowledgeable guide like I had!
Tim Mosolf out of Frontier Anglers looked the same back some 25 years ago and he was a great guide. He's still at it today and I caught up with him one day this August while wading!
The Big Hole south of us is a real dry fly treat at times with excellent pods of browns, bows and brookies. One must "match the hatch" pretty closely and deliver accurate cast to these wily fellows. The results can bring a wild ride from a nice bow especially like the big boy below.
I've been exploring the upper section of the Clark Fork since last year. It is a big river down by Missoula but a nice braided stream where I go. It flows through pastures mainly which means grasshoppers as a steady diet. This section of the Clark Fork is due an over $400 million restoration effort from the Super Fund to try to get rid of old toxic "slickens" left over from the copper smelting days in Butte and Anaconda. The ground is completely bare from the metals and the water quality is poor as well so lets hope this helps. It can produce some very nice browns who bust the water after my hopper imitation like this 18"er below.
A fly box loaded with standard dry flies will usually "match the hatch" when mayflies and caddis are hatching. From left to right is the Light Cahill, an Adams, PMD, Caddis and a BWO on the dime which shows how small we have to go at times to match the hatch. That's when the prescription glasses come on to try to follow the drift of these tiny fellas.
The Light Cahill was the fly that caught my 1st trout on a fly. One day way around 1981, a friend called me to tell me his son killed em on Elk Creek by Eau Claire, WI. I asked him what he used and he said, "I don't know, some yellow bug!" So I ran home, rifled my old box of flies and found some "Yellow Bugs" and my fly rod and off I went to the stream. Sure enough, the bugs were floating down the stream and a trout nose would rise up for a meal. I managed to get a good drift and caught 5 pretty nice browns. Sure glad I did as it has been a fun run ever since!!...TROUT