Jim Heimer Up North


Blue Damsel Lodge

Bitter Root Rainbow

During the first week of April, I spent three days fishing the Bitterroot River from the Blue Damsel Lodge near Missoula, Montana. Two other fishermen and I were there in anticipation of the Skwala (large stonefly) Hatch. The Skwala Hatch traditionally occurs around this time and provides a brief window for fishing this area before the Spring runoff makes fishing impossible until late June.

Two weather related issues complicated the trip. Montana had an unusual winter with snow at very low elevations. Toward the end of March, temperatures in the 40's caused an early season "mini" runoff, which affected the Blackfoot and Clark's Fork Rivers, leaving only the Bitterroot fishable. The second factor was an unusually cold snap during the time I was there. This delayed the Skwala hatch and made the 8 hours spent on the river each day a cold weather endurance test.

The fishing on the first and the warmest day was good, with several large cutthroats and some rainbows and browns being taken. The fly of choice was the North Fork Special nymphed. The second and third days were colder, and the action was decidely low, with only one fish, a nice cutthroat however, being taken.

The Blue Damsel Lodge was very accomodating - great food and a friendly staff to take care of all our needs.

After Hours at the Blue Damsel

Beef Bourguignon at Blue Damsel

Drifting the Bitterroot

Early Season Rainbow on the Bitterroot

First Fish Brown Trout Bitterroot

Fishing on the Bitterroot

Lunch on the Bitterroot April 2100

Table is Set at Blue Damsel Lodge

Taking Out on the Bitterroot April

Well Dressed Fisherman for Bitterroot

High Lonesome Ranch

Bitter Root Rainbow

On the way back to Houston, I stopped off at the High Lonesome Ranch just east of Grand Junction in Colorado. I had my best day of fishing ever on the first day, landing over 30 fish, including a 6-1/2 lb rainbow and a 24" brown from several of the 22 ponds on this 33,000 acre ranch.

The weather was markedly warmer, the food equally good, and the staff as accommodating as ever (this was my third visit there). I managed a grand slam (rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat taken in the same day), but didn't manage the "big slam" for a 25" or larger fish. The ponds vary in shape and terrain, including one where you fish from cover on a beaver dam - and beavers don't build dams to support fishermen.


Another Bigger Rainbow

Another Rainbow

Brook in the Net

Brown in the Net

Cutthroat in the Net

The Big Brown 24 inch