Over the past couple months, I've been busy with school, and of course, fishing. It helps to take a break from studying when some of Montana's best water is only a half hour or so from my dorm room. Fishing in western Montana this spring was good. Abundant skwala stoneflies on the rivers around Missoula made for some very consisnent nymphing and spots of awesome dry fly fishing. When the rivers were high and muddy, my fishing buddies and I made trips over the Continental Divide to the Missouri and Beaverhead rivers for some equally great spring fishing.
Only a few weeks ago, I finished up finals and came home for a stay of about a month. So far in Minnesota and Wisconsin I've got into some good smallmouth fishing on the St. Croix River, and ran into a few active early season muskies.
Not too long from now, though, I will be headed back to western Montana to work as a fly fishing guide for the summer. My Endorsing Outfitter is Robert Gary #7970 who can be reached at 406-240-6679. This will be my first summer away from the lakes of the Midwest, trading in for the rivers of the Rockies.
Here are some pictures of my past couple of months of fishing in Montana. Enjoy summer fishing!
Since I have been attending the University of Montana this year, I have been very busy with school, hunting and fishing. I've gotten behind in blogging, so heres a few pictures to chronicle my adventures over the past year.
I first fished the Missouri a couple years back. My dad, brother and I had meet a family friend of ours near Craig, Montana. For the next couple days we waded the banks of this large tailwater and experienced some of the best big trout fishing you will find. Before that, I had never experienced an average of 18-21 inch rainbows with some browns of the same size mixed in. So last week while I was looking at fishing reports from up on the river, it was said to be fishing spectacularly.
I am now a freshman at the University of Montana-Missoula, and knowing the potential of how good the Missouri could be, I quickly packed up my car and made the 2 hour drive to Craig. This small town consists of four fly shops, a bar, and a restaurant; life basically revolves around flyfishing here. I stopped in and got a few flies and headed up the river around 2 p.m. A cloudy, dreary sky combined with the classic Montana wind made it feel more like fall then summer. So I threw on my jacket, gear and started walking.
It was a little late in the day to catch the trico hatch that was happening at the time, so I started with a short leash nymph rig. Soon I started casting into the wind, and hooked the first fish of the trip. The rainbows here more resemble steelhead than trout, and was soon palming my reel to prevent the fish getting into my backing. After a resilient fight, I brought the fish to the net. The fish looked to be around twenty inches, and I slipped it back into the clear, cold water. As the afternoon faded into evening, I caught and released a few more fish of similar size, and retreated to the back of my SUV where I would spend the night.
After not much sleep and a lot of anticipation to get back to the river, I arose to a chilly morning. A quick stop into town where I picked up a cinnamon roll and a water and headed back out. I started fishing in the same area I had the day before and the fishing was even better. It seemed a size 18 black zebra midge was perfectly imitating the trico's that were emerging, and the action was fast and furious. After a few hours, I soon got a little tired of nymphing, even though it was keeping the rod bent with often. So I moved downstream into some back channels. I tied on a hopper with a small mayfly imitation on the back and sight fished to trout holding in skinny water. As I looked at some geese flying by, I heard an eruption downstream where my fly was, and instinctively set the hook into an angry rainbow.
One of the things that makes the Missouri so fun to fish is that there are so many fish willing to take so many different flies. Even though while I was fishing, the dry fly action was lacking, this river throughout the summer offers some of the best dry fly fishing anywhere with many different hatches. The area around Craig is generally known to be the best, but it is also good in other stretches. Using a drift boat is the most common method of working the river, but for anglers willing to walk, it is also easily waded. So next time your in flyfishing in Montana, you owe it to yourself to experience the Missouri. You won't regret it.
All summer long, Americas's most famous National Park attracts visitors from across the nation and even the world. Many of these people are flyfisherman drawn to the famous waters of the park and the trout they hold. Rivers such as the Madison, Firehole, Soda Butte creek, or the Yellowstone itself. Earlier this summer, in mid-July, I was out fishing in the park on some of the lesser known rivers due to excessive runoff this year. After fishing the smaller creeks and streams around home this year, it was great to get out to the large, rapid rivers in big sky country.
As we drove through the park, we saw a variety of wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, wolves, elk, and bison. The first river I set foot in was the Gardner, a turbulent body of water that flows to its confluence with the Yellowstone in a hurry. Rivers like this offer a lot of pocket water; or small "pockets" of slack or slower water behind boulders or logs. Using stonefly imitations trailed by smaller beadhead nymphs, we caught small to medium sized cutthroats and rainbows, putting up acrobatic fights in fast water. This is a great river for anyone who wants to fish with great scenery, as it winds through a spectacular canyon. And with good dry fly action and quality numbers of fish, you can't go wrong fishing here.
We spent a lot of time fishing Slough Creek, a slower, more technical river with bigger fish. Here, bison roamed a little to close for comfort. But the fishing was good, especially when clouds would roll over causing green and grey drake hatches to start coming off. Pods of cutthroats and rainbows would rise to the surface to slurp up these large flies. Fishing with large dry flies in one of the reasons so many flyfisherman go out west every year, as there is nothing like watching a hook-jaw cutthroat come up to take your fly. When these hatches came off and a good drift was had, the action was fast and furious. Nice rainbows and cutthroats were brought to hand and released back into the water.
The fishing in the park is no secret though. Fortunately when I was there, it was a little early in the season so the rivers were not crowded, but they usually are this time of year. To beat these crowds, try getting up early before everyone enters the park, or hike up to more unpressured waters. When your out west traveling and fishing, go up to the park for a day or two, and you'll find great fishing and scenery.
Whether casting a fly to rising trout, tossing jerkbaits to muskies, or taking advantage of other great fishing opportunities, June arguably is the best month for fishing in our neck of the woods.
On Friday evening, I found myself on a trout stream in western Wisconsin, the evening too perfect not to be on the river. As I entered the stream, many flies, including Caddis and Sulphurs, were emerging from the water's surface. Cautiously, I walked alongside the river to a slow run I had fished before. As the sun started to fade behind the trees, the hatch intensified. Using a sulphur dun, I started to catch nice browns that were rising with regularity.
Before I knew it, there was little light left, and the only indication of when to set my hook was the sound of a fish breaking the surface. Finished for the night, I headed backed to the car and drove home to prepare for the Metro Muskie Tournament the next day.
The Metro Muskie Tournament is a muskie tournament held on 16 metro lakes in early June. At stake are $11,000 in cash and prizes, including multiple trips to different resorts. Close to 400 people annually enter in the tournament.
I met a friend of mine who was fishing with me for the day at the landing of a popular metro lake early Saturday morning. We were joined by a dozen other rigs fishing the tournament. The weather was fairly cold, windy and cloudy — not ideal, considering we were on the back end of a cold front. But it could have been worse. We made our first cast at 6, when the tournament began, at a spot we had seen fish earlier in the week. Our plan was to cast the first hour or so, then to troll open water looking for baitfish.
After coming up empty casting, we switched over to trolling. There were plenty of other boats in the lake basin with our same mindset. After a couple of hours trolling in the open water, I adjusted and started to position the boat off deep weed lines in 25-30 feet of water. Not soon after, my reel clicker buzzed and my rod doubled over.
In the panic of the situation, I went straight for the rod, and forgot to put the motor in neutral. Not realizing I was dragging the fish at 4.5 mph, the battle was soon over, and we were left thinking bout what might have been. We fished until the end of the tournament in mid-afternoon without contacting any more fish before leaving for the awards ceremony.
Unofficially, close to 40 muskies were caught by the tournament field, and many took home lures and equipment packages with or without catching a muskie. If you want to check out the tournament next year, the website is www.metromuskietournament.com.
Either way, get out fishing now, in June, one of the best for multi-species fishing.
A couple of weeks ago, I was fly fishing in Montana and Wyoming with my family. We started our trip on the Snake River, where the fishing was good for cutthroat trout. We worked our way up to Montana, fishing a handful of other rivers where the trout were also cooperative. Our last river of the trip was the Bighorn.
We have fished the Bighorn in previously, usually renting a drift boat, and having good fishing. This time, we only had a day and a half to fish the river. The first day, things were tough, not many fish were rising, and the nymphs we had picked up from the fly shop were not taking many fish. Because of that, the day ended in some frustration. But we knew we would have another chance the next day.
The next morning we awoke around 5:30 a.m. and headed to the river. As we put the drift boat in the water, fog rolled off the river's surface. For the first hour, the action was much the same as the day before. At that point, i had had enough of what were the "hot flies,'' so to speak, according to the locals.
So I switched to a tandem nymph rig with a Prince nymph and a Pheasant Tail. These two are reliable flies that will catch fish just about anywhere. It turned out to be just what the fish wanted, as I quickly caught four browns in a swift riffle.
We moved downstream. There wasn't much for hopper activity going on, but as we neared a dry, steep bank, I just had to tie one on. That also turned out to be the right fly, as a nice rainbow came up to sip it in.
At the end of the day we felt good that we were able to turn things around, because we stuck with it and didn't give up.
From this day of fishing I learned a valuable lesson: Stay persistant, and experiment with all different flies and tactics.