Things Looking Good for Southwestern Montana’s Fishing Season

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All signs point to a great year for water and fly fishing in southwestern Montana.

photo by Toby Swank

We just wrapped up a month of guiding on the upper Missouri River
below Holter Dam and are now getting settled back onto the waters
around our Bozeman fly shop. The Missouri is always a great early-season destination as it rarely gets off
-color, there are a lot of fish in the river, and it’s early enough
in the year where crowds and weed growth are non-factors for the most
part. There is always a little bit of something for everyone, so the
dry fly angler can find some heads just about everyday, streamer
junkies can turn some fish, and the nymphing can vary from blind
fishing deep runs to sight-fishing skinny riffles.

As for the rest of
the year though, there’s no place I’d rather be than on any of the
myriad of waters within an hour’s drive of my front door.
We had a relatively average snowpack last winter here in southwestern Montana,
so we’ve had some runoff and a week or so where fishing was limited to
lakes and spring creeks. However, the Madison has remained fishable
for the most part this spring, to the point that we’ve been able to
fish successfully on some part of the river every day.

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The arrival of the salmonflies in June brings huge trout to the surface.

photo by Toby Swank

We should start seeing salmonflies and golden stones very soon, as the
nymphs are already migrating toward the banks on the lower portions
of the Madison . Mid to late June can be one of the most productive
and fun times on the Madison when the salmonflies are around. Although
July and August are always great around here, June is typically less
crowded with great fishing as the river levels drop, the fish hang
tight to the banks, and there is an abundance of big bugs to keep them
eating throughout the day.

Visitors to the area should expect to have good conditions throughout
the region this year. There is
enough moisture and snow around to get us through the dog days of
August, yet not so much that we won’t have plenty of options
throughout June. June is going to be the month of the Madison; we
expect to be fishing the Yellowstone and Gallatin toward late
June/early July. Most of the small streams and rivers that are less
known are already in great shape and fishing well, too. This will be a year to remember
here in southwestern Montana!

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Fall is time to bust out the streamers.

photo by Toby Swank

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