Montana Trout Fly Fishing Guide – Things to Know Before Going Fly Fishing For Trout in Montana
Montana is home to some of the best trout fly fishing in the United States. People come from all over the world to fish its legendary waters. Some fly fishermen seek the expertise of a Montana trout fly fishing guide while others are determined to go at it alone. fall fly fishing Missoula Regardless of how you do it there are certain things that you must be prepared for. This is a quick guide to Montana trout fly fishing that is aimed at helping ensure a successful trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Even if a person was to fly fish Montana for a year and never catch a fish, the trip would still be a success. You cannot believe the sheer beauty of this place until you have been there. The wildlife alone is enough to get people coming back for more; throw a few 20 inch trout into the mix and you are in for one of the best trips of your life. To make this trip as successful as possible, there are items that you will not want to leave behind and situations that you will want to be ready for. Read on to get a general idea of what you need to be ready for, the essential items that you need to bring, and ideas on how to make this a great trip, and hopefully a successful one at that.
Where to Fly Fish in Montana
Montana is one of the biggest states in the U.S. and is home to the Rocky Mountains and other massive mountain ranges that feed thousands of rivers, streams and lakes. With all of this water, it can be a daunting task to pick a particular body of water to fish. I have had to decide where to fish on several occasions, and I’ll tell you, it is not easy. For the most part, all you have to do is find some cold clear water and you can bet there are trout in it, probably big trout. From the northwest to the southeast corners, and everywhere in between, fly fishing for trout can be good. A good portion of the Montana is not so mountainous and more so desert, but even in this 2/3 of the state, an experienced fly fisherman can find big trout if he or she knows where to look. This is an area where a Montana trout fly fishing guide can come in handy.
Southwest Montana is by far the most popular part of the state for fly fishing. It is home to some incredible rivers that are fed from the numerous mountain ranges that can be seen in all directions. This area is unique in that a person can fish many different bodies of water in a short trip. From one blue ribbon trout river you can drive over a mountain pass and be fishing in another blue ribbon river in an hour or two. Here is a quick list of the rivers that you have to choose from in SW Montana:
All of these rivers hold a large number of big trout, but are just a few of the bigger named rivers that Montana has to offer. It takes many trips to Montana to really determine a favorite river. A person could fish Montana for a lifetime and still have new rivers to fish.
When to Fly Fish Montana
I have been to Montana and experienced both great and not so great fly fishing. Whenever the conditions are right though, the fishing has consistently been on the great side. A good way to better your chances of experiencing good fishing is to time your vacation around both weather and insect hatches. Most of the hatches are dependent on weather though, so if you come during the time of year that weather is most predicable (summer), your chances of having a successful trip will increase.
Here is a quick break down on each season and what can be expected.
Winter: Cold! This is the time of year to book a trip to do some tropical fishing. Many of the rivers in Montana freeze all the way across or are made up of big dangerous ice shelves. There is some fishing in some tail waters near the dams, but unless you are a local, the fishing is not worth going out of you war to be freezing. If you do come this time of year, bring your skis, the skiing is better than the fishing.
Spring: The fish this time of year are less fearful than they get once they have had a few hooks in their mouth a little later in the year, so great fishing can happen. The problem becomes the water flow and clarity. There is usually a small time frame when the snow and ice clear in the valleys, but remains in the mountains, making for clear water. This is a good time to fish but the window of opportunity is very small. If you can get away with short notice, as soon as you here the fishing is good, you’d better get on it because as soon as the snow starts melting and the spring rains start coming down, the rivers will rise and clarity will drop.
Summer: This is the most popular time to be fly fishing Montana’s trout rivers. The temperatures are comfortable and the river levels drop and become clear. The Salmon Fly hatch is the first hatch to really start off the season. It happens usually after June 10th. This is a busy time of year for a Montana trout fly fishing guide, but the trout love to eat these significantly sized insects. From the middle of June and throughout the rest of the summer, there will be hatches of either caddis, mayflies, hoppers and many more.
Fall: After the summer crowds leave, the fall gives way to cooler temperatures and less crowded rivers. This is a favorite time of year for many hardcore fly fishermen. The fish are ready to fatten up for the winter and some big insects begin hatching. The main attraction this time of year is the Fall Caddis hatch. These supersized caddis are a trout’s main entree and can be taken with ease off the top with large floating flies such as stimulators and caddis in size 6 – 10.
Being Your Own Montana Trout Fly Fishing Guide
For an experienced fly fisherman, Montana can be effectively fished without the help of a guide. This will certainly cut down on the budget, but is only advised for those that are proficient at casting and working flies. There is a huge learning curve in fly fishing and if you are not over that curve, then it will be beneficial to have someone to help you out, either a friend or a guide. Before you go, you will want to know what you will need as for as gear and fly patterns. At the link at the end of this article there is an insect hatch chart for Montana that can help you decide what flies to take. Another good way is to stop at a fly shop on the river you will be fishing and ask. Most of these people spend a lot of time on the river and will be able to steer you in the right direction. You may also want to ask them if they have any guides available as sometimes you can book a trip last minute for a discounted price if the guide has nothing else to do. If you are going to fly fish Montana on your own, then make sure you read the gear guide below to make sure you have all you will need.