Looking Back & Ahead to Montana Fly Fishing
The “season” is starting wind down now as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Day after day of rainless, sunny days has become day after day of uncertain weather patterns. Water temperatures have plummeted into the 40’s on rivers that were pushing 70 just a couple of weeks ago. The smoke and hoot owl restrictions of the summer are a distant memory. What is fresh, however, are the memories of the many great days spent as a fly fishing guide in Bozeman, Montana for my 17th season.
The year started off on the upper and lower Madison for me and the guides here at Fins & Feathers of Bozeman. Our guides noticed a marked increase in the average number and size of Rainbow trout caught during our Montana guided fly fishing trips in late March and April on the upper Madison River, near Ennis. The lower Madison always fishes great in the spring and 2017 was no exception. Whether we had experienced or novice anglers, most days on the Madison in early 2017 were exceptional so long as the weather was cooperative.
Our spring guide trips stayed close to Bozeman until the runoff started on the Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson rivers where most of our Bozeman Montana guided fly fishing trips occur. While we were able to continue offering guided fly fishing trips around Bozeman during the runoff in early May and June, we also turned our attention to the Missouri River sections below Holter Dam.
Toby Swank, our owner and outfitter, has been fishing these sections of the Missouri River since the early 90’s and guiding on the Missouri River near Craig, Montana since 2001. April and May 2017 were as good or better than any other year that Toby or his clients could recall. They had very consistent days of big numbers and big Rainbows with a few 20”-22” Browns thrown into the mix most days as well. Higher water flows than average made for some great nymph fishing, but the dry fly fishing was absent most days, despite blanket hatches of BWO and March Browns.
The mid-summer fishing around Bozeman continues to be some of the best wild trout guide fly-fishing in the western USA, without a doubt. Incredible weather and water in every direction sets Bozeman apart from all the rest. Our professional, Montana fly-fishing guides understand our regional fisheries better than most and are consistently able to find quality, uncrowded trout waters day after day.
As we already start to look ahead to 2018, the spring fishing is something that should be on most people’s radar these days. The rivers are less busy, the fishing is consistent, and the landscape is spectacular in March and April throughout Southwest Montana. Weather can always be unpredictable, but it is rare for us to run into the need to cancel trips once we get past mid-February.
Think about checking out Southwest Montana in early 2018 for a change of pace and scenery. Look to staying in Bozeman and fishing on your own or with one of our professional, Montana fly fishing guides for a few days in March/April. Also, think about joining us on the Missouri from late April-May for a change of pace and an entirely different fly fishing experience than you will find at other times of the year or around Bozeman. We recommend planning your fishing days to avoid the weekends that time of year as solitude is one of the great aspects of spring fishing in Montana and is much easier to find M-F just about everywhere in the world.
Fins & Feathers of Bozeman’s guided fly fishing prices will increase in 2018, but we will continue to honor our 2017 rates on reservations (2018) made prior to December 1, 2017. If advanced planning is in your “wheelhouse,” this a great opportunity to get things lined up and scheduled well in advance while locking in a discounted rate ($475 per boat/day). Missouri River dates are starting to fill in, so we encourage you to check availability prior to planning your travel details. Give our Bozeman fly shop and call at 1-877-790-5303 or send us an e-mail to learn more about our Spring2018 guided fly fishing offerings in the Bozeman area or on the Missouri River.