Fishing pre-runoff takes patience

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The race is on!

In this race, some people have already started, everything is dependent on the weather, and you don’t even know how long the race will last!

Matter of fact, by the time you get ready, this race may already be over.

The race is to catch westslope cutthroat trout in the Flathead River before — and sometimes between— periods of off-color water and major runoff.

Some hardcore anglers have fished all winter. Probably not, on those record frigid days in January and February!

The two keys to catching trout now are to fish where the fish are and to fish slowly, very slowly.

The easiest is the slow part. Don’t expect trout in April to chase your fly across the river.

Fish now are metabolically slow, so try to drift your small nymphs or worms right into their mouths so they don’t have to move much.

The old adage that 90 percent of the fish hold in 10 percent of the river is far too generous in April. More like 0.001 percent, or even less.

Concentrate on the slow side of deeper seams, eddies, mouths of backwaters, and deeper runouts below riffles.

Think like a fish: “Where can I lay on the bottom, using the least amount of energy?”

Drift your fly below the smallest strike indicator that will suspend your fly and the necessary split shot weights.

If you see “heads” on a sunny day, tie on a No. 20 BWO and catch some trout.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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