Swami Dave might be rippin’ it up on the Mo, but Montana’s jewel isn’t the only tailwater in town right now.
Over in the West Koots, the Mighty Columbia is clear, warming daily, and fishing great for big rainbows on small dries. Longtime friend Kevin Watson flew in from Cowtown for a couple of days last week. On the first jet boat foray we caught a handful of smallish trout, but perseverance paid off big-time on the second outing.
We’d moved a few fish on streamers and shallow nymphs when the Columbia’s famed Grannom caddis hatch popped mid-afternoon. For the next three hours, we closed out the day casting size 16 elkhairs to pods of big redbands rising over knee-deep cobbles.
At one point we anchored perpendicular to a shelf and sighted trout after trout slipping from deeper water into the shallow riffle, their sides flashing red and chrome in the slanted light. It reminded me of classic New Zealand sight-fishing, only about 5,000 miles closer to home.
Kev fishes more than 200 days a year all over the world, but the Columbia brings him back at least three times a season. He loves the big river for the same reasons I do: Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Grannoms will predominate till spotted sedge take over next month. Olives are hatching on hazy and overcast afternoons. PMDs, Green Drakes, and Yellow Mays are just around the corner …
Whether it’s the Missouri in Montana or the Columbia in B.C., do yourself a favor this spring and hit a classic tailwater. The Rockies’ rivers are dirty with runoff, and (Lord forbid), you wouldn’t want to be seen fishing a
lake stillwater, would you?