An overview of fly fishing in Montana from Trout on the Fly.
Our friends at Trout on the Fly have all the details about where to fly fish in Montana. Although summer is coming to a close, it’s prime time to catch brown trout on the Madison River. Read on to get a recap of the summer action on the river and what the fall season has to offer.
“We have had a wonderful season to date. Water temperatures and flows have been in good shape all summer long, good for the fish and the anglers. We had no “hoot owl” closures on our waters this summer. “Hoot owl” closures are enacted when Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks steps in and closes rivers from 2 pm to midnight due to warm water temperatures. Because the temperatures have been cooler, our salmon fly hatch was about a week to ten days late this year.
Typically we will start to see the first adults around June 18th, but this season we didn’t see them until around June 28th, and even then the fish weren’t that hungry for them. The caddis dry fishing during the salmon fly hatch made up for the slower than average salmon fly bite. Fast forward to late July and our terrestrial fishing turned on! The hopper and ant bite was amazing this summer! During the start of the hopper bite, some of the fish were suicidal when it came to eating the hopper; we would have two or three fish try to eat our hoppers at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Fly Fishing Summer Crowds
As word got out on how good the terrestrial bite was on the Madison River, every guide in Montana and Idaho and their siblings departed their “home” waters and made the pilgrimage to the Madison River. The crowds didn’t seem to slow the bite down one bit. Around late-August, the fish started to wisen up to the hoppers and they began to be more selective on what they were eating. The two best hoppers were the Thunder Thighs in pink and tan and Morshs pink or orange body.
Finding these two hoppers in a sizes 14 or 12 in Montana was like winning the lottery! As I write this…the fish are still eating the hopper. When will they stop eating the hopper? Who knows but we are enjoying everyday they do! The Yellowstone River was amazing some days with the hoppers and slow the next day, typical for the Yellowstone, but a blast when they were on it!
Late Summer Fishing Conditions
Moving forward to current conditions of area waters: We had a weather cold snap from September 6th through the 11th that just let up, triggering some fall run-up rainbows and browns to make their way into the rivers from area lakes and reservoirs such as Hebgen Lake, Ennis Lake, and Holter Lake. Our favorite time of the year! From now into November you could catch the brown trout of a lifetime! A typical day on the Madison River right now will start out with nymphing or streamer fishing in the morning, then switch to a hopper and ant when the air warms up. The fish seem to be keyed in on the terrestrials when it is sunny out on the Madison River. The nymph fishing has been solid with Baetis patterns such as PT Spanker, Green Machine or the Micro Mayfly.”
Read the full blog on the Trout on the Fly website. [Photo courtesy Trout on the Fly]