June Insect Hatches – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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June Insect Hatches

June is the month of aquatic insects. Stoneflies, mayflies, and caddis are all having their mating heyday. Our rivers turn into bug soup and the fish get ecstatically happy, bringing them in droves to feed on the surface. When the insect biomass is high it can be difficult to determine exactly which insects the fish are snacking on. Continue reading to determine what that pesky trout is feeding on and learn all about our upcoming aquatic insect hatches.

When rivers begin to drop in late June and the insects start feeling frisky, the SW Montana anglers paradise gets even better. Several species of aquatic insects hatch and mate in June. This creates an epic time for dry fly fishing but also presents the challenge of figuring out exactly what the fish are choosing to consume.


Salmonflies are the most infamous stonefly that hatches in June. The time period in which they hatch is very limited and fish can easily gorge themselves on these bugs quickly. If you hit the hatch when trout are crushing adults, the fishing is phenomenal. Fish a day late and gorged fish won't get near a fly. Our local freestones and the upper Madison have the best hatches.

Golden stones last throughout June and into July. These bugs are slightly smaller than the salmon bugs and have a dirty yellow/gold appearance. When goldens are around fishing is typically much more consistent than the salmonfly hatch. Also primarily found on local freestones and the upper Madison.

The smallest and least exciting stonefly is the yellow sally. These little dudes have a red butt and are around Bozeman rivers through the end of July. The best sally fishing can usually be found on the lower Madison but the Gallatin also produces a good hatch.

When trout are eating stoneflies on top the rise is rapid and splashy and the angler can typically see the bug that is munched. Big fish however, will slowly gulp down these massive insects.

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Mayflies get trout to rise in the iconic slow slurp method of surface eating. PMD's (pale morning duns) have started on the lower and will be around until the beginning of August. Fish will eat duns and spinners consistently when the wind doesn't blow these critters off the river. Duns have yellow bodies and wings that point to the sky like a sail. The spinners have mated and look rusty in color with wings flat on the surface. Fish can be picky about which stage they will eat.

Brown drakes are one of the largest western mayflies reaching lengths of about an inch long hatching normally in late June. The window to fish with large brown drake patterns is short but if you luck out and find yourself in a swarm of drakes, expect to see a lot of fish up and BIG trout eating on the surface. Brown drake hatches are usually the best on the lower Madi.

Green drake hatches are significant on both the Yellowstone and Gallatin but unfortunately, these rivers are blown out and difficult to fish during the heat of the hatch. Keep an eye out if you end up fishing either of these freestones for the green mayflies.

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Caddis hang around all summer but are not the main target for trout when the insects mentioned above are around. With that being said, if the caddis are thick on the water or if you encounter splashy fast eats, fish will be munching these smaller bugs that resemble tents on the surface of the water.

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Midges hatch all year but are not even considered by trout that are feeding on the surface when larger insects are flying around. It doesn't hurt dropping a zebra midge under any of the dries mentioned above for some great fishing success.

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Stop by our Bozeman fly shop to browse the best fly selection in town for any of the aquatic insect hatches we will see this June. Stay in the loop about the hatches as soon as they start and which flies to use by reading our Montana fly fishing reports.