Montana Fishing


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Flyishing in Montana is what Heaven will be like! Countless streams and rivers full of browns and rainbows with spectacular scenery as varied as it is awe inspiring. The brown trout seem to be slightly more intelligent - the rainbows more acrobatic. But as targets go, these fish elicit a childlike response from any angler worth his or her salt. A hearty "whoop" is not uncommon and encouraged by all who understand. From the Bighorn River to the Yellowstone and Gallitin watersheds, there is no place on Earth like it. Come to Big Sky country and see what the fuss is about!
The brown trout is an interesting creature. If you find a river that has a good population of brown trout, there will always be a few gigantic specimens. But the bigger they get, the more nocturnal they seem to become. I guess that is the reason the really big brown trout get really big. The best time to catch big browns is early in the morning or right at dusk. Or if it was legal, I suppose fishing at night under a full moon might be best!

If you are flyfishing for brown trout during the day, try finding hiding places that are dark and a little deeper than the surrounding areas. Or fish under cut banks or around submerged logs. The big brown trout almost always hide under cover. One exception to this hard fast rule is choppy riffles. I have spooked big browns out of eight to ten inch riffles on the Bighorn River in August in the middle of the day.

Rainbow trout fishing is easier than fishing for brown trout almost anywhere on the planet. And Montana is no exception. For some reason the rainbow trout are more aggressive and don't seem to mind the open areas and are often found in shallow riffles as well as the typical fishy looking spots. The acrobatics of a Montana rainbow trout are a sight to behold. When a big one is hooked in fast water, you best be ready to jump in the boat and follow because they are strong and Montana rivers are even stronger.
April and May can provide difficult flyfishing conditions in Montana. If you do hit the hatches right, the fish are less educated in the earlier months, but the weather and water levels can make things tough. The legendary Mothers Day Caddis hatch on many Montana rivers can be excellent. We have hit it just right a few times and the clouds of bugs in the air is something that could be on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic - awe inspiring.

June is a tricky month for flyfishing in Montana. The weather and water starts to warm and activates the trout to feed, but the warmer weather also causes the snow to melt at the higher altitudes causing higher water in most Montana rivers. This is tough for flyfishing....unless you actually like using three split shot and twelve foot leaders.

July is much better as the weather is quite warm, the bugs are active making the trout more active as well. The ice-out water levels are usually back to acceptable and the clarity of the water comes back as well. It literally gets better each day in July.August is HOPPER TIME! This is really fun. The big fish come up to huge dry hopper patterns with abandon like no other time of the year. My hunch is that hoppers are quite tasty and filled with protein because the trout seem to eat them all day long. It is especially good flyfishing when the wind blows as the natural hoppers find themselves becoming lunch on a regular basis for hungry brown trout and rainbow trout.In the evenings, the caddis are out in force and it is surprising how fish that have been eating hoppers all day will have a nice dessert of a #16 Hemingway Caddis without giving it a second thought.

September and October it gets even better. The browns are beginning to get territorial as they enter the spawning stage of the year. Big woolybuggers, big nymphs, and big baitfish imitations that can be as big as three or four inches long are the flies of choice. The hoppers are still around, but use smaller sizes. And big attractor patterns imitating stoneflies and just anything buggy that floats works really well too...even in shallow riffles.

November through March is a time when we usually leave the Montana trout to fend off the cold without harrassment. They have battled us for seven months and to preserve the quality of the fishing in Montana we give them a bit of a break. But we'll be back in April to start the flyfishing Montana cycle over again!

  • Gallatin River Lodge - Strategically located for easy access to some of the most legendary of Montana rivers. Fish the Yellowstone, the Madison, the Gallatin, and private spring creeks.
  • Madison Valley Ranch - Located near Ennis, Montana, Madision Valley Ranch is an upscale western feeling property that has scenic views, amazing food and accommodations and legendary Madison River fishing right out the back door.
  • Ruby Springs Lodge - Luxury flyfishing lodge with private water and EVERYTHING you can think of INCLUDED! Scotch, cigars, flies, tackle,....
  • Refuge Lodge - Located at St. Xavier on the Bighorn River. We have guides and beds. You do the rest on your own!

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