The hopper fishing has been getting better and better just about everywhere in SW Montana over the last two weeks. As things continue to dry out in the valley floors, expect to see more hoppers getting concentrated near the river and creek channels. Hopefully the warm weather will hold out through September and live up to the billing as one of the best months of the year.
The best hopper fishing in the area so far has been over on the Yellowstone downstream of Livingston. That being said, we’ve been getting more takes the last few days on small hoppers up in Paradise Valley than we were just a week ago. The upper Madison, lower Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson are each yielding some fish on hoppers with some days being better than others. It does seem like more fish are looking up over the last week now that flows have started to stabilize.
The best advice we can give to those looking for some great hopper fishing is to get a long drift. Fish can eat hoppers just about anywhere so don’t just hit the banks as those fish tend to get stuck much more the ones that are eating mid-river and in the skinny riffles. As with any day of fishing, the feeding fish can be in different water types throughout the day so be sure to fish it all. Hopper fishing is not just for boat fishing either as long upstream casts from the bank, especially in fast water, can be the most effective way to find some very large fish.
We’ve got oodles of hopper patterns and there always seems to be a new favorite pattern every year so keep your “ears open” for the hot fly. So far for us this year, our favorite patterns have been the Moorish Hopper, MFC Foam Hopper, Sweetwater Hopper, and the Grand Hopper in peach color. Just about any of them will work at different times and it never hurts to try to throw something different at them if you think you should be seeing more fish. A small Dave’s or Henry’s Fork Hopper is always a great choice if you aren’t seeing much action on the foam patterns.
This is one of the most enjoyable times of year to be out on our rivers so get out there before the summer goes away! Fish a hopper by itself or with a small attractor nymph or dry behind it and see what happens.