Late Summer Montana Guided Fly Fishing | What to Expect – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Late Summer Montana Guided Fly Fishing | What to Expect

Terrestrial season in Montana offers primetime dry-fly fishing, with shots at seriously large trout.

We have made it into the dog days of summer. Most of our famous summer hatches have petered out. But don't fret, some of the best dry-fly fishing for large trout is about to happen. It's terrestrial season.

What Are the Fish Feeding On?

In August, the green fields that line our rivers turn brown. This pushes terrestrials -- grasshoppers, beetles and ants -- to the riverbanks in search of a wetter climate. Fortunately for us, these insects aren't great fliers, especially if there is a hint of wind. The bugs fall into rivers and become trout food. Because not many bugs are hatching from the river bottom, these terrestrials become an important source of food for the fish.

Like most things fishing related, terrestrial fishing is weather dependent. The hoppers will be most active on a warm, sunny afternoon. Some days, or years, the trout will look for artificial foam imitations all day, and others, the fishing won't heat up until the afternoon. This has to deal with water flows, river temperatures, ranching and a whole other bunch of stuff that puts us into a rabbit hole we don't need to go down.

A Typical Day on the River

On our guided trips we will usually meet around 8 a.m. in Bozeman. Some years it's earlier if it's been an unseasonably warm summer. In mid- to late-September, we may push the start time back to let things heat up a bit. You'll meet your guide, who will have deli lunches and soft drinks in the cooler. You'll go over your expectations for the day. These will include your preferred style of fishing, any time restraints, whether you're looking for big fish, lots of fish or just the prettiest float.

You'll then head to the river, which is typically a 20- to 60-minute drive. If you have your own gear -- we mostly use five- and six-weight rods -- feel free to bring them. Your guide will also have a plethora of rods in the truck if you don't have your own or want to try something new. The guide will also provide all the flies, tippet, sage advice ... . You'll want to bring a rain jacket and an extra layer for the morning. Waders and boots are unnecessary. Air temps will likely be 80- to 90-degrees. Water-friendly shoes or sandals are helpful but not necessary.

At the boat ramp, your guide will rig the rods, get the boat ready and provide a casting and fish fighting lesson for beginners. You'll then hop in the drift boat and embark on a 10-15 mile journey through majestic country.

Conditions, along with your preference, will determine the style of fishing you'll start with. Sometimes we will open with a single dry fly, double dry fly, dry-dropper or nymph rig. Streamer fishing can also be an option first thing in the morning.

Most days the fishing picks up as the day goes on. You'll likely see a few big fish violently attack your grasshopper pattern at some point. This might be my favorite type of fishing and time of year to fly fish in Montana. Most years the largest fish one of my client hooks happens during terrestrial season, which begins about August 1st and lasts through most of September.

Late summer terrestrial fishing in Montana is something every fly angler should experience. Give us a call at our Bozeman fly shop or book online to reserve your spot for a wonderful day on the water.