: Montana Trout Fishing
05-03-2005, 02:52 AM
Hi There my American friends,
I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and am hoping to make a trip to Montana in September this year. I know absolutely nothing about your wonderful State of Montana and the trout fishing there. Can anyone give me some advice please re what flies to make, waters to fish and any other general information that I need to know. Thanking you in advance,
Fr Hugh Purcell
It's a big state with lots of different types of water. There's everything from lakes, ponds, big, brawling rivers that are best floated, some that can be waded, small mountain creeks, spring creeks (like your chalkstreams) where technique is critical. You'll probably get more help if you describe the type of experience you're looking for.
Ther are so many great places to fish in Montana. But in September I would have to say the West Yellowstone section of the state is just wonderful. Yellowstone Park is right there and you can combine fishing with sight seeing all at once. The Elk are in rut then and one can witness some great combat when two bull elk decide to go at it. It is not a rare happening just drive up the road into the park and it is everywhere. The fishing is great at that time of year with Hebgen Lake gulper fishing going on for big browns and rainbows. Gulper fishing is going out on the lake or walking the bank looking for trout that cruise the surface and feed on Trico's and calibates both in abundance. There are times when fish virtually cruise with their eyes out of the water gulping every fly in front of them. It is difficult fishing but the challenge is well worth it if you can cast a decent line. September is the time when these same fish start to go up the Madison River to spawn. The rainbows that go up that river spawn in December and early January. Once they start moving up river there is a constant movement of fish. Dead drifting nymphs is popular in the early morning through certain runs, just don't use a indicator as the local believe in the old fashion way. Durring the day soft hackles work well and there is usually a nice blue wing olive hatch in the afternoon. Also the Heneries Fork and the Rail Road Ranch is just over the border in Idaho and it is a must if you fish difficult rivers back home. There are so many rivers to fish and you will not run out of river. Just do a Google search on West Yellowstone fishing and it comes up with endless leads. There are many fly shops in West, most of them good but try a search on Blue Ribbon fly shop, West Yellowstone. They make all their own flies and each is perfect. They also contribute lots of money and time and effort to great envrio causes.
There are many other place in that big state to fish also and remember it is a big place and sometimes it takes many hours of driving to go from one main town to the next destination. That's why I like West Yellowstone because you have so many rivers and the Park close by.
Good luck and enjoy!
05-03-2005, 02:34 PM
I second everything mentioned about Yellowstone - no place like it on Earth for fishing/scenery/wildlife and if you go after Sept 5 (Labor Day) crowds will be greatly diminished. If you base out of W. Yellowstone, you would also be within a few hours of Bozeman/Livingston which would give you even more options - Yellowstone River, Paradise Valley spring creeks, Gallatin River; Jackson, Wyoming (TOURIST TRAP)/Tetons is just south and adds Snake River/Flat Creek, others to your itinerary.
Other options throughout the state (these are just some of the main ones everyone knows about - don't want anyone to say I'm hot-spotting):
- Bighorn River (tailwater) near Billings
- Missouri River (tailwater) near Helena
- Clark Fork/Bitterroot/Rock Creek/Blackfoot near Missoula
- Beaverhead (tailwater) near Dillon
- Big Hole
- Kootenai (tailwater) near Libby
Best advice is contacting flyshops in those towns.
Other boards to tap into:
outdoorsbest.zeroforum.comgo to the Rocky Mountain, Main, or Flytying boards. Most who subscribe are friendly and willing to give advice
www . flyanglersonline.com
Theres lots more; hope this helps, have a blast.
Edited by Moderator : Hot links disabled
05-03-2005, 03:55 PM
I second OC's recommendation of West Yellowstone as a place to base your trip around for all the reasons he stated. In addition to Blue Ribbon fly Shop, another great shop in West Yellowstone is Bob Jacklin's. Jacklin, like Craig Matthews the owner of Blue Ribbon, is a long-time, year-round resident of West Yellowstone and both of them have fished the waters in the area for many, many years.
Missoula would be my second choice of place to base your trip from because there are many rivers and lakes within 1.5 hours of Missoula. There are the Clark Fork River (above town all the way to Warm Springs some 70 miles distant upriver, in town, and below town all the way to St. Regis some 70 miles downriver), the St. Regis River, the Bitteroot River, The Blackfoot River, the Jocko River (an overlooked superb trout fishery 30 miles north of Missoula on the Flathead Indian Reservation), Rock Creek, the Little Blackfoot River, Flint Creek, Montana's Clearwater River, Swan River, Lolo Creek, and many other smaller, little known streams and all of these rivers and creeks have excellent blue wing olive hatches and tan caddis egg laying flights along with Tricos in September. There are also many fine lakes within 1.5 hours of Missoula beginning with Mission Lake on the Flathead Reservation, Swan Lake, and the huge Flathead Lake itself.
The Bighorn is very nice in September because the summer crowds have left; but it is a long way from Billings (90+ miles depending on where you fish it) and it has limited access unless you hire a guide and float it. Billings is not a good place to base your trip from because the closest best river is the Stillwater (45-65 miles depending on what section you fish) and it has limited public access. And the Yellowstone in the Billings area is marginal trout water, there are trout there, but it is a very large river in Billings and the trout are small in number there and very spread out.
The Helena area has more than just the Missouri, which 25 years ago was a tremendous fall migrating brown trout fishery in the 3 miles of river between Hauser and Holter Dams, but this fishery was ruined with the inadvertant introduction of Kokanee Salmon to Hauser Dam and Holter Dam when an irrigation reservoir was drained. The Little Blackfoot, upper big Blackfoot, Little Prickly Pear Creek, and Prickly Pear Creek are all within 40 miles of Helena. If you travel 1.5 hours, the lower Gallatin, Jefferson, lower Madison, and upper Clark Fork are within reach.
05-07-2005, 09:33 AM
I've fished Montana a lot in Sept. and in my opinion nothing beat the Missouri at Wolf Creek. However, it's a pontoon boat or float tube deal. Yes, you can wade it. Also, it's very techinical fishing. But when those large brown start sipping the BWO's it's hard to beat that river. It's a giant Spring Creek . Intimidates a lot of anglers but if you break the river down you connect.
Just my .02 FishHawk
05-07-2005, 08:17 PM
The Missouri was my home river for the 6 years I lived in Cascade, MT, and was a river I fished a lot during the 4 years I lived in Boulder, MT. However, as much as I like the Missouri and as great as the fishing is, I still recommend West Yellowstone as the number 1 choice and the Missoula area as the number 2 choice for someone going to Montana in September simply because there are a lot more choices of rivers and lakes within 1.5 hours of them than of the Missouri at Wolf Creek. The Missouri country only has the Sun River (a long way to Augusta from Wolf Creek to the quality trout water and it is mostly flowing through posted lands), the Dearborn River (must be floated since it is surrounded by private, posted land), and the Smith River (again it flows through private, posted land and requires a 5-6 day float with lots of boat dragging after the high water of late spring/early summer) available to the visiting anlger.
Don't get me wrong, I love fishing the Missouri; but if you go there as a visiting angler, you realistically only have the Missouri to fish.
For anyone planning a trip to Montana's Missouri in the "blue ribbon" stretch between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade, rest assured you do not need a boat or a guide to fish it effectively. In fact, during the 6 years I lived on the river (and fished it around 220 days/year) and the 4 years I lived 1.5 hours away in Boulder (fished it around 80 days/year then), I didn't own a boat and never felt I couldn't effectively fish it. There is a lot of public access in that 60 miles of river, all you need to do is take a drive on the various frontage roads and you will find the access points, they are not hidden nor difficult to see.
The Missouri is (as FishHawk said) like a giant (and I mean giant for those who have not fished it) with an average late summer/fall flow of some 4000 cfs in a river that is around 250' average in width spring creek. As such it requires the ability to cast fine and far off to be the most successful. The ability to cast a 4 wt rod 60'-70' and know where your #16-#22 fly is can mean the difference between having a so-so day and a great day.
The rivers around West Yellowstone are smaller, as are all but the Clark Fork below the mouth of the Bitteroot in the Missoula area, and this means one doesn't have to be able to cast 60'+ with a 4 wt to get fish consistently. Also, since the rivers are smaller than the Missouri, the fish are more concentrated and as OC has already mentioned, the browns move up out or Hegben to spawn in the Madison in Yellowstone Park giving an angler the opportunity to hook some rather large brown trout.