Spring on Small Streams – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Spring on Small Streams

Steve Kestner on a March Guide TripMontana and fly-fishing for trout go hand in hand for many reasons. Whether it’s the prolific hatches, wild trout that populate our streams, or simply the shear number of accessible rivers and streams – there just isn’t anyplace like Montana. The big rivers and spring creeks are among the most well known fisheries in the west – maybe even the world. Beyond these rivers with names like Madison, Missouri, Clarks Fork and the likes lies an amazing abundance of tout filled water with much less recognizable names and significantly fewer anglers. Oftentimes, these are harder to find as locals and anglers “in the know” much closely guard their reputations.

While most of the small streams are closed in the winter to protect spawning trout, there are dozens and dozens of small to mid sized rivers as well, which offer tremendous rewards for the adventurous angler. These streams, especially in the spring and fall, offer relatively easy access and wild trout that some would consider less sophisticated than their big water brethren. In addition, they offer protection from the brutal winds that seem to be present more times than not during these times of year.

So take a look at some maps and be sure to check the regulations, as there is often no rhyme or reason to the various state closures. Some places to start – I would be shot if I rattled them off here online – would be the larger tributaries of the Yellowstone River below Livingston, various Rock Creeks, and the Gallatin River in southwest Montana.

Spring is here in Montana and these streams are always a great choice to find a wide range of opportunities for the fly angler. Blue Winged Olives, midges, stoneflies (Skwallas), and March Browns in the not too distant future bring feeding fish to the surface throughout out March and April. One can expect relatively easy nymphing and the occasional streamer bit as well so there’s always something for just about anybody. This time of year is by far among the most coveted time of the year to be on the water for local anglers and there is definitely a reason!