Escaping The Crowds – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Escaping The Crowds

Summer has arrived here in Southwest Montana. Along with the prolific insect hatches, beautiful weather and rising trout, many more anglers will be visiting our local waters.

It can be frustrating to see cars parked in every turnout on your favorite stretch of river, but straying from the masses can lead to great discovery.

Here are three tips that have helped me escape the summertime crowds.

Get Stepping

If your fishing at a popular access site, put your head down and walk a half mile or mile before tying on your flies. I know, it’s hard. There are definitely fish in that juicy seam. But let it go. There will be just as good, maybe even better water ahead that you probably haven’t fished before. Plus, you can fish that run in the shoulder seasons, when there aren’t other anglers lined up along the bank near the parking lot.

Also, use your feet to explore less-pressured waters. This is the best time of year to fish small streams, which have a short window to fish. Because these trout only see clear, unfrozen water for a few months a year, they are generally easier to hook than the brute browns on the Madison River that seem to disappear in the heat of summer. However, these fish can get spooky, especially if you throw shadows atop their lies. And, small creeks don’t only hold small fish.

Target Lesser-Known Hatches

We had some great, relatively uncrowded nights on the Lower Madison during the Upper Madison’s famous salmonfly hatch. While everyone was playing bumper boats, trying to hit the stonefly hatch just right, we targeted large trout rising to Brown Drakes along the banks of the Lower. Hatches can sometimes be difficult to predict, but doing some research and taking a chance can lead you to a boiling river bereft of humans.

Fish At Odd Hours

Most guide trips start between 7 and 10 a.m. and generally wrap up sometime between 3 and 6 p.m., peaking boat traffic during the middle of the day. If float fishing is your thing, try putting in at dawn and hucking streamers until fish start rising to spinners. Or, get to the river late, and drop the boat in the afternoon as everyone is starting to hook their vessels back to their trailers. I put in around noon on a popular stretch of the Upper Madison yesterday and saw only three other drift boats throughout the 12-mile float. The same goes for wading, where it especially pays to stay until the sun drops behind mountain peaks and fish start rising to caddis.

Stop by our Bozeman Fly Shop and we can point you away from others.