News

Spring News From Montana

In This Newsletter

  • Current Snowpack
  • Fishing Report
  • New Vacation Home in Ennis, MT
  • Opening Day to Fish Yellowstone National Park

Snowpack

Wow! We have made a huge turn for the better on our snowpack here in southwest Montana, since our last newsletter dated March 29th. On our snowpack in the Missouri River drainage (including Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson Rivers) Snow Water Equivalent (swe), which was only 74% of the normal, is now 100%. The Yellow River was at 75% of the normal but is now at 92%. Over the last 43 days, Mother Nature has been generous with moisture! Let’s hope this trend sustains throughout this summer!

Spring Snowpack in Montana

Fishing Report

Fishing has been good to excellent on our waters since we last reported in late March.

Blue bird day on the Missouri River
Jet boat trip on the Missouri River
Baetis Madness on the Madison River
Blue Wing Olive Madness
We Offer Large Group or Corporate Trips

Madison River – After a long delay, the Ennis fishing access site (FAS) is now open! All Madison River FAS sites are open and accessible. Fishing continues to be great on the Madison River, especially in the Madison Valley from Quake Lake to Ennis Lake. We saw some dirty water flowing into the Madison Valley from the West Fork and other smaller tributaries, but it has not yet slowed down the fishing. This is a reminder that once runoff is in full swing, the Madison, from Quake Lake to Palisades FAS, will fish well. The water will be off-color but don’t let that intimidate you. If you are fishing below the West Fork of the Madison, you will be confined to the east side of the river and the center down to Palisades FAS. The water clarity on the west side below the West Fork will be minimal and unfishable.

The lower Madison below the Beartrap Canyon from Warmsprings downriver will fish well too. Cherry Creek will dump dirty water into the Madison at Damselfly FAS, but don’t let this deter you.

The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch came off on schedule but was shut down again by the colder-than-average temperatures for this time of year. We are also seeing March Browns, Blue Winged Olives, Skwalas, and Midges.

Montana Brown Trout
Spring Madison River Brown Trout
Montana Fly Fishing
Madison River Rainbow Trout
Madison River Brown Trout
Madison River Brown Trout

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 12-8
    • Lightning Bug, purple and pearl – size 18-14
    • Perdigon – Purdee John Brown– size 16-14
    • Spanker, pheasant tail, purple– size 16-14
    • Green Machine, pt or chartreuse – size 18-14
    • CDC Prince – size 16-10
    • CDC Baetis Emerger, green & purple – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns, orange, yellow or pink – size 16
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze -size 16-14
    • Flushfloater Stone Skwala – size 10
    • American March Brown – size 14
    • Griffith Gnat – size 22–18
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal, olive/white – size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2
    • Mike’s Pec’s, olive – size 6

Missouri River – has been fishing very well in both the jet boat (below Hauser Dam) and drift boat sections (below Holter Dam). Crowds have been large in the jet boat section, with both boats and wade anglers. The flows have been lower than normal and stable at 3,000-3,200 cubic feet per second (cfs), and water temperatures 45˚-47˚ F. The lower-than-average flows have allowed the wade anglers to wade further out into the river, making it difficult for the jet boat to pass through without disrupting the wade anglers. The best days to avoid the crowds are when the weather is crummy.

The drift boat section below Holter Dam has been fishing very well, with smaller crowds. The section from Holter Dam to Wolf Creek Bridge is bottlenecked with lots of trout currently. However, we are catching fish downriver to Pelican FAS. Dry fly fishing has been the best on overcast days, starting around 2 pm.

Missouri River Brown Trout
Land of Giants spring Brown Trout
Missouri River rainbow trout
Drift boat trip below Holter Dam – Craig, MT
Missouri River Montana
Spring jet boat trip
Fly fishing trip Helena Montana
Missouri River jet boat trip
Missouri River
Dry Fly Fishing on the Mighty Mo
Fly Fishing Craig Montana
Spring Jet Boat Trip

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, pink and tan – size 16-12
    • Lighting Bug, pink & purple – size 16-14
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & tan – size 16-14
    • Pill Popper – size 16-14
    • Perdigon – Purdee John Brown– size 16-14
    • Tailwater Sow Bug – size 16-14
    • Green Machine – size 16-14
    • CDC Baetis Emerger, green & purple – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns, orange, yellow or pink – size 16
  • Dries
    • Adams – size 18-16
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-16
    • Purple Haze – size 18-16
    • Griffith Gnat – size 22—18
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8 (dead drift as a crawfish pattern)

Ruby River – Flows are still low and holding around 100 cfs. Fishing continues to be great! Dry fly fishing with Baetis and Midges has been the best in the afternoons around 2 pm. Crowds vary depending on the weather. Pick the worst day if you  want to avoid crowds. Bring bear spray for the moose. The moose frequent the Ruby Valley and are in the calving season, and bear spray works just as well on an angry mama moose.

Ruby River Montana
Ruby River Montana
Walk wade trip Ruby River Montana
Half-day wade trip

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Lightning Bug, purple and pearl – size 18-14
    • Perdigon – Purdee John Brown– size 16-14
    • Spanker, pheasant tail, purple– size 16-14
    • Green Machine, pt or chartreuse – size 18-14
    • CDC Baetis Emerger, green & purple – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns, orange, yellow or pink – size 16
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze -size 16-14
    • Griffith Gnat – size 22–18
  • Streamers
    • Conehead Bow River Bugger – size 6-4
    • BH Wooly Bugger, black or olive – size 6-4
    • Zonker, natural or olive – size 6

Yellowstone River – The flows spiked a few days ago, making the waters  unfishable due to clarity issues. However, with the cold snap we have had in the last couple of days, the flows are declining again, which will make it fishable once more. Call us for the current conditions before you make your way to the Stone. 5/9/22 cfs at Livingston gauging station is 2880. May 7th was 4,500 cfs.

Gallatin River – Like the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin became muddy and unfishable, but is getting clearer again. We should have a small window this week when it will fish well, before it gets warm again starting this upcoming weekend. Contact us for the current conditions before getting on the water.

New Vacation Home in Ennis

We have added a new vacation home to our list of lodging options for you in Ennis. The White House in Ennis is within walking distance of downtown Ennis and just a 2-minute drive to the Ennis Fishing Access Site (FAS). This property is similar to our Noble Bison vacation house in Ennis. Click HERE for more details. Contact us today to book your stay before this too is booked up for 2022.

Vacation house Madison River Ennis Montana Fly Fishing Ennis Montana Vacation Home Ennis Montana Vacation house Madison River Ennis Montana Vacation house Madison River Ennis Montana

Yellowstone National Park 2022 Opener

Yellowstone National Park will open to fishing starting on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 28th this year. You must purchase a Park Fishing Permit. Your Montana or Wyoming fishing license will not work in YNP. You can purchase your YNP fishing permit HERE beforehand.

Follow us on our social media feeds such as Instagram and Facebook for more current and up-to-date information.

 

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

March News From Montana

In This Newsletter

  • Spring Fishing, Arguably The Best of the Year
  • Donate To A Good Cause
  • Fishing Report
  • March Snowpack

Spring Fishing, Arguably The Best of the Year

When guests ask me of the best time to go fishing, often my answer is spring and fall—March through mid-May and September through early November.

Between ice-out and pre-runoff—typically March through early May—is a fantastic time of the year to get on the water with one of our guides. The fish have had little to no pressure all winter long, and they are hungry going into the runoff, which arrives during mid to late May. This is also a great time to have the river to yourself with the potential for some great dry fly fishing with Blue-Winged Olives, March Browns, Caddis, and Skwalas.

Another great reason for spring fishing is that our guides are excited to get back on the water and are not “burned out” after doing 100–150 days, as they sometimes are in the fall.

Last-minute lodging options are still available, and the lodging rates can be reduced to attract guests during historically slow times of the year.

Contact us today to reserve your date(s) and guide(s) for spring 2022 & 2023. You can book through our online store, email us at nate@montanatroutonthefly.com, or call me at (406)580-7370 to check for availability. If you book now for 2023, you can be locked in at our 2022 rates before they go up starting January 1, 2023.

Donate To A Good Cause

Shawn Kauffman is a childhood friend and a Billings, Montana native. Shawn is an avid fly angler whom I have spent many hours on the water with while in high school. This is a great cause, and I am happy to help get the word out for Shawn and Ross. You can donate well past their start date on April 2nd.

SGM Shawn Kauffman and CAPT Ross Wade are participating in the infamous ‘The Grand Traverse’ race, which is a grueling ~40 mile race on backcountry skis from Crested Butte to Aspen, CO starting April 2nd at Midnight. They are doing this grueling race in order to raise funds for both of our service respective foundations (Special Forces Foundation & Navy SEAL Foundation) to garner support for post, current, and future special operators and their family members. These foundations have addressed a critical need for service members and families by providing financial, education, and other means of support. Ongoing fundraising efforts by both of these foundations is needed more than ever as the requirement for service member and family support increases. As Special Operations Forces return from combat theaters, these operators will likely require additional mental and physical assistance, which can quickly escalate to a lifelong requirement for support.  We owe it to Special Operators and their families, to do everything we can to enhance the level of support provided by foundations to these patriots and their families. Ross and Shawn have set a benchmark goal of $30k, which will be split equally between both foundations.

Donate HERE

Fishing Report

Spring has sprung here in Montana, and everyone has an itch to get out and fish, and we can’t blame them for itching that itch! Most of our waters are in great shape for fishing. Water temperatures are still very cold, so be extra careful not to fall in this time of the year.

Madison River – The Madison—from Hebgen Lake to Three Forks, MT—is fishing very well. The Ennis fishing access site (FAS) is still closed due to the ice build-up from the annual winter gorge. We anticipate this site to be free of ice and open in the next week or two based on the warmer than average weather we are experiencing. Flows are low and averaging 700 CFS at the Cameron gauging station at the Varney Bridge FAS. Water temperatures range from 40 ˚F at night to 50 ˚F by late afternoon. We are starting to see some rainbows move into their annual spawning grounds, so pay close attention to where you are wading and fishing while out on the river—we don’t want to disrupt this critical time for them.

Below are some helpful graphs of Ennis’s average daylight, temperature, and rainfall.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Palamino Midge, black – size 18-16
    • Mercury Black Beauty – 20-18
    • Green Machine, chartreuse and pt – size 18-16
    • Lighting Bug, purple – size 16
    • #3 Dip, rust-brown, olive – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange– size 4-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange, pink size 16
  • Dries
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18
    • Adams – size 18-14
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-14
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal olive/white– size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2
    • Mike’s Pec’s, olive – size 6

Missouri River – Both the jetboat section and the drift boat section of the Missouri River are fishing well. The marina on upper Holter Lake, where we launch our jet boats, was opened this past Wednesday, March 23, 2022. The flows from Hauser Dam and Holter Dam are significantly lower than average. Both the dams are discharging an average of 3,000 CFS. Water temperatures range from 36 ˚F to 38 ˚F. Again, we are starting to see some rainbows move into their annual spawning grounds, so pay close attention to where you fish.

Below are some helpful graphs of Craig, MT’s average temperature, snowfall and rainfall.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, natural and pink – size 16-14
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & orange – size 16-14
    • Rainbow warrior – size 18-16
    • Mighty Midge, red– size 20-18
    • Green Machine, chartreuse and pt – size 18-16
    • Lighting Bug, purple – size 16
    • Radiation Baetis, pink or purple – size3 18-16
    • San Juan Worm, red, orange & pink – size 6-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange & pink – size 16-14
  • Dries
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Thin Mint – size 10-6

Yellowstone River – All FASs are open—from Carbellas downriver past Billings, MT. Flows are currently 1,360 CFS at the Livingston, MT gauging station, with water temperatures at 44 ˚F to 48 ˚F. Fishing has been spotty on the Yellowstone. While it’s really good some days, on other days, the fishing is good only during specific times. We are getting some fish to start eating the Caddis larvae and pupae patterns, and this means the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch is only weeks away. Historically, the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch happens during late April to early May, depending on water temperatures.

Below are some helpful graphs of Livingston MT’s average rainfall, snowfall, and temperature.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Green Machine, chartreuse, and pt – size 18-16
    • Lighting Bug, purple – size 16
    • BH Birds Nest, tan – size 16-14
    • BH Prince Nymph – size 16-12
    • BH Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle – size 16-14
    • Barr’s Uncased Caddis, olive – size 14-12
    • Egg Patterns, orange, pink size 16
  • Dries
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18
    • Adams – size 18-14
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze – size 18-14
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal olive/white– size 6
    • Sex Dungeon, white – size 2
    • Mike’s Pec’s, olive – size 6

Gallatin River – The Gallatin River has been fishing well from Big Sky downriver to Three Forks, MT. Depending on the section you fish in, the flows will range from 250 CFS near Big Sky to 700 CFS near Three Forks, MT. Water temperatures range from 36 ˚F near Big Sky, MT to 46 ˚F near Three Forks, MT. The East Gallatin, where it merges with the West Gallatin at Manhattan, MT, has been off-color to the headwaters of the Missouri River just north of Three Forks, MT. However, we are still catching fish with nymphs and streamers in this section despite the poor water visibility. We offer both wade trips and float trips on the Gallatin River—keep in mind that we are allowed to fish from the boats from Manhattan to Three Forks; however, we must wade fish upstream of Manhattan.

Below are some helpful graphs of Bozeman’s average snowfall, temperature and rainfall.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • San Juan Worm, red and pink– size 4-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange, pink size 16
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal olive/white– size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2

Snowpack

Our snowpack is pathetic going into our spring. I hate to be a downer, but we will be in rough shape come late July and August if we don’t get moisture from now through the summer. We will keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

 

Follow us on our social media feeds such as Instagram and Facebook for more current and up-to-date information.

 

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

February News From Montana

In This Newsletter

  • The Fly Fishing Show – Pleasanton, CA
  • Time to Renew your MT Fishing License
  • Fishing Report
  • February Snowpack

The Fly Fishing Show – Pleasanton, CA

 

Our final show in 2022 – We will be at The Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton, California.

February 25, 26 & 27 – We will be located in BOOTH #E24HIGHLIGHTED IN PINK BELOW

Location

Show Hours

  • Friday, February 26th – 10am-6pm
  • Saturday, February 27th – 9am -5:30pm
  • Sunday, February 28th – 9am-4:30pm

Cash only at the gate

No need to wait in line

Advance Tickets Sale Here

Adult

  • One-day pass $15
  • Two-day pass $25
  • Three-day pass $35

Children 5 and Under: Free

Children 6-12: $5

Scouts under 16 in uniform: Free

Military with ID: $10

Scouts under 16 in uniform: Free

We will follow all national, state and local health protocols related to COVID-19 at the time of the show. We recommend following all CDC guidelines in terms of mask wearing and vaccination. We strongly encourage attendees to stay home if they are sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, and to get tested for COVID-19.

BOOTH #E24 – Pleasanton, CA

Time to Renew Your Annual Montana Fishing License

Starting on March 1st, 2022, you will need to renew your annual Montana fishing license if you plan on fishing.

Non-resident: Any angler 12 years of age and older must have a Conservation License ($10-nonresident) plus a Fishing License ($25 for 2 consecutive days, $56 for 10 consecutive days, or $86 for season-nonresident), plus an AIS (aquatic invasive species) Prevention Pass (AISPP) ($7.50 for non-residents). No license is required for anglers age 11 years and younger IF accompanied by an adult who holds a valid Montana fishing license. Click here to buy a Montana fishing license online.

Resident Licenses: : To qualify for a resident license, a person must meet the criteria set out in MCA 87-2-102 and 202. To be a legal resident eligible to purchase a resident fishing license, you must have physically been living in Montana for at least 180 consecutive days (six months) immediately before purchasing any resident license; you must file Montana state income tax returns as a resident, if you are required
to file; you must have registered your vehicles in Montana; if you are registered to vote, you must be registered in Montana; and you may not possess or apply for any resident hunting, fishing or trapping privileges in another state or country. At the
time of purchase, a person must present a valid Montana driver’s license, a valid Montana driver’s examiner’s identification card, or a tribal identification card. If unsure of your residency status, contact a regional FWP office.

You must have your fishing license in your possession while fishing. A license on your smart phone is acceptable.

Fishing Report

We had the opportunity to get out and enjoy the warmer-than-average weather during the third week of February—high temperatures in the 40s and 50s. While the warmer-than-average temperatures were enjoyable, they sure did not help the snowpack that we rely on so much for favorable water conditions come July and August.

On Thursday, February 10th, I floated the Madison River from Varney Bridge to the Eight Mile fishing access site with fellow guide Jim “Red Beard” Lioi. Nymphing was good in the morning, especially if you were willing to stop and work some of the water more thoroughly. Pink San Juan worms and black Stonefly nymphs were the best patterns. We put some fish to the net on smaller patterns, such as $3 dips in black and the Palomino Midge in black. The nymph game slowed down once the sun was high in the sky at midday. We then switched to streamers, which was very productive, and used an olive-and-white Barley Legal. It was so good that we contemplated running back up to Varney and doing a second float to fish just streamers!

On Saturday, February 12th, I floated the Missouri River with my fellow guide Nathan Anderson from Mid-Canon to Prewett Creek. We had a better-than-average day and were able to catch fish on nymphs, streamers, and dry flies! I started with the nymphs, and Nathan began with his trout Spey rod. Stopping to fish was more productive than fishing from the drift boat on the move. The water temperature was a whopping 36˚, which made it difficult to stand in the water. During the first run, Nathan hooked 17 trout on his trout Spey rod—all on a copper-and-gold Kreelex in size 4. The nymphing was just as good for me during the first run, mainly on an orange wireworm in size 4. We moved a few fish on streamers while on the move in the drift boat on an olive Sparkle Minnow. At midday, we were fortunate to have 20–30 trout feeding on adult midges under the shade of one of the Interstate 15 bridges. We pulled the boat over and spent almost an hour enjoying some fantastic dry fly fishing! This is what the Missouri River is all about—dry fly fishing to pods of feeding fish!

On Tuesday, February 15th, we had a guide trip go out for a full-day float on the lower Madison River. The fishing was great, and the guests and the guide did not see another boat or angler all day!

We always recommend taking advantage of the nice weather while here on a ski trip and getting out on our waters. You won’t regret it!

Current Snowpack

Again, with the warmer than average temperatures in February and very little snow accumulation, our snowpack for the month of February was unimpressive. Pray for snow we desperately need it in the high country!

Follow us on our social media feeds such as Instagram and Facebook for more current and up-to-date information.

 

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

It’s Showtime!

In This Newsletter

  • The Fly Fishing Show – Edison, NJ
  • Common Trade Show Questions
  • Madison River Management Plan Update
  • Snowpack

The Fly Fishing Show – Edison, NJ

 

Our first of two shows in 2022 – We will be at The Fly Fishing Show in Edison, New Jersey.

January 28, 29 & 30 – We will be located in booth #337 – highlighted in pink below.

Location

Show Hours

  • Friday, January 28th – 9am-6pm
  • Saturday, January 29th – 8:30am -6pm
  • Sunday, January 30th – 9am-4:30pm

Cash only at the gate

No need to wait in line

Advance Tickets Sale Here

Adult

  • One-day pass $18
  • Two-day pass $28
  • Three-day pass $38

Children 5 and Under: Free

Children 6-12: $5

Scouts under 16 in uniform: Free

Military with ID: $10

We will follow all national, state and local health protocols related to COVID-19 at the time of the show. We recommend following all CDC guidelines in terms of mask wearing and vaccination. We strongly encourage attendees to stay home if they are sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, and to get tested for COVID-19.

BOOTH #337 – EDISON, NJ

Common Trade Show Questions

Here are four of the most popular questions we receive and our answers.

  1. Where is your shop located? This is a popular question and a good one. Not all outfitters in Montana have a brick and mortar storefront, and we are one of those. Fly shops need to move inventory and thus may charge guests for flies and leaders. We have no desire to sell you flies, leaders, tippet, rods or waders. Not having a storefront allows us to include all tackle on our guide trips at no extra charge. We also feel charging extra for flies is a distraction on how you fish; as you start to lose those $3.00 flies two at a time (because most guides run a tandem setup), anglers start to compromise how they fish because they are more concerned about losing another fly (or two flies) when they should be rolling the dice to get that fly closer to the log or branch where the fish is located.
  2. Where do we stay during our fishing trip? We have several lodging options for anglers including vacation rentals for small or large groups, groups that like to cook their own meals, recommendations for hotels depending on where we are scheduled to fish, inclusive packages, or camping suggestions if traveling with a camper or RV. Guides representing us on the water will pick you up at your lodging location or meet you at a location convenient for you and them. We tailor trips to each angler’s needs based on the anglers’ desires, time of year for the trip, river conditions, and hatches.
  3. How many guides work for you? TOTF has about 40 guides on our roster. With that said most, if not all, guides in Montana are not employees of outfitters. They are licensed independent contractors that own their own boats, rods, gear and carry their own liability insurance. They are able to work for whomever they accept work from based on their availability. As an outfitter and guide now for the past 24+ years I have great relationships with all the guides I use and know exactly which guide is best for what water- from Yellowstone National Park to the Missouri River near Craig, MT. The guides we have listed on our website are guides we use more often than others and they are okay with us listing them on our site. We have several other I.C. guides that we use often but are not on our site. We have guides that live in Bozeman, Ennis, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Helena, Cascade, Butte, Cameron, and Missoula Montana. As stated above, guides representing us on the water will pick you up at your lodging location or meet you in a convenient location for you and for them.
  4. How many hours do we fish during a guided day of fishing? Over the past several years of doing trade shows, more and more visitors to our booth who have previously fished in Montana express concerns that when they have paid for a full day trip they end up with only a few hours on the water. Of course it would be disappointing to find out that your day starts at the ramp at 10 am and finishes at 3 pm, with only 5 hours of fishing. I am not sure where this routine started but we are not okay with this kind of treatment. Our full day trips are based on eight hours starting from the time the guide starts setting up your rod and/or the boat. Half day trips are four hours starting from the time the guide starts setting up your rod and/or the boat. If you have requested to be off of the river early we will accommodate.
  5. How far in advance should I book my trip? We always encourage booking your guided trip a year in advance to make sure you get the best guide, the dates you want, and the lodging you want. It is not out of the question to get a great guide last minute but that is usually because they had a last minute cancellation. For the best experience, we never recommend waiting last minute. For large groups of anglers, we recommend a year in advance too for the same reasons.

Madison River Management Plan Update

The Fish and Wildlife Commission, at their special meeting on December 27th, 2021, followed the unanimous recommendation of the Madison River Work Group and repealed the Rest/Rotation rules on the Madison while maintaining the existing closure to fishing from boats/vessels on the Quake Lake Outlet to Lyons Bridge and Ennis Bridge to Ennis Lake sections.

We were looking forward to the opportunity to fish from the drift boat starting in 2023 in this walk-wade-only section. However, we fully agree on the repeal. This would have been a complete disaster to allow anglers to float and fish from the boat. This is one of the more challenging sections of the Madison river to navigate in a boat, and it would open the door to boaters sinking their vessels, losing gear, or even worse, death.

Current Snowpack

We are in the middle of winter here in Big Sky Country, but it feels a bit warm for January in the Gallatin Valley. The current snowpack is good, but we would like to see these numbers higher. It is early to make any assumptions for summer water conditions. The spring months of March-May can bring high moisture snowfall and really bump our numbers up. We will keep you posted on our snowpack. Follow us on our social media feeds such as Instagram and Facebook for more current and up-to-date information.

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

2021 Fishing: End of the Year Review

We hope all of you enjoyed the holidays with family and friends!

In This Newsletter

  • Demand Was High
  • 2021 Overview
  • Hebgen Dam Failure
  • Madison River Management Plan Update
  • Booking for 2022 and Beyond
  • Upcoming Trade Show Schedule
  • Snowpack

Demand Was High

2021 was one for the books! With a pent-up demand to be outside and a considerable increase in the number of anglers wanting to fish, we saw an overwhelming number of visitors take to our rivers and lakes to enjoy the fishing that Montana has to offer. We’re very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with some of the world’s best trout fishing, and we’re lucky to be able to share with all of you. We would like to thank everyone who fished with us in 2021; thank you!

2021 Overview

Pre-runoff fishing was spectacular both on the Madison River and Missouri River. This usually occurs in April and May. Historically, our runoff happens in late May and early June. We experienced some great dry fly fishing with March Browns, Skwalas, Blue Winged Olives, and Caddis just before the runoff.

Our runoff peaked as per usual in the first week of June. However, it was a bit disappointing as the Yellowstone River peaked just a little over 18,000 CFS when historically  we would like to see this hit the 30,000 CFS range. The Gallatin River peaked just above 5000 CFS, and we would like to see this above  6000 CFS.

The fishing exceeded our expectations from mid-June through July on the Missouri River—both on the jet boat section below Hauser Dam and the drift boat sections below Holter Dam near Craig, MT—using PMDs (Pale Morning Duns). If you’re thinking of fishing with us on the Missouri River  in 2022, we highly recommend staying in Helena, MT. Helena has several lodging options, including hotels, Airbnb properties, VRBOs, and bed and breakfasts, and we are happy to give you recommendations based on your budget and lodging requirements. Sometimes it’s more affordable to fly directly into Helena (HLN) compared to Bozeman (BZN) and get an Uber or a shuttle to your hotel. Normally, you don’t need to rent a car as our guides can pick you up at the curbside next to your hotel and drop you off at the end of the day. Some of the hotels that we recommend are in downtown Helena and are within walking distance of some good restaurants, breweries, and shopping. The drive time from Helena to The Gates of the Mountain Marina, where we launch our jet boats, is approximately 20 minutes one way. The drive time to the drift boat section of the Missouri River ranges from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on which section of river we have chosen to float on your day of fishing. For more information on this, please contact us at nate@montanatroutonthefly.com or by phone at (406)580-7370.

Our famous salmon fly hatch on the Madison River was spotty again  in 2021. During the salmon fly hatch, some of our bigger fish came to net on small bugs such as PMDs, Green Drakes, and Caddis. So, for those wishing to chase the BIG BUG in the future, we recommend fishing from June 20th (give or take a day or two) through July 4th. This is a popular hatch, and our guides get booked up quickly during this time. If you’re considering fishing the salmon flies in 2022 , we highly recommend you book the dates sooner than later. We do receive the occasional last-minute cancellation, which frees up a guide.

Our rivers suffered from our warmer than average summer, the lack of moisture throughout the summer, and the farmers’ high demand for irrigation. Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks  intervened and put Hoot Owl closures on a majority of our rivers in the summer months of late July through late August. Hoot Owl restrictions are put in place when the water temperatures hit 73 degrees  Fahrenheit for three consecutive days. When this happens, anglers are not allowed to fish from 2:00 p.m. until midnight, when the water is at its peak temperature. Although the part of the Madison River from Earthquake Lake down to Ennis Lake (50 miles) never hit that 73-degree mark, Montana FWP still put it on Hoot Owl restrictions. They thought it would take the pressure off this 50-mile section since there were so many closures on neighboring rivers like the Big Hole, Jefferson, lower Madison, lower Gallatin, and Yellowstone Rivers. However, it made the problem even worse by pushing all the anglers into the time frame from 6:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m., which congested the rivers even more than usual.

Terrestrial fishing during the summer was spotty in 2021 as well. However, this was hard to gauge since we had to stop fishing at 2:00 p.m. due to the Hoot Owl restrictions, right when the terrestrial fishing started to kick in.  When booking prime dates for terrestrial fishing, we recommend mid-July through early September, with August being the best month. Once these fish become used to all the fake hoppers they put in their mouths, they become more difficult to fool, making late August and early September more challenging.

 

Fall fishing for our pre-spawning run-up browns  out of Ennis and Hebgen Lake was best during the overcast and crummy weather. It fished better for the Ennis Lake fall spawners than the Hebgen Lake runners in 2021.  Crowds of anglers may have had a role in this—we saw far more anglers in Yellowstone National Park on the Madison River compared to the stretch of Madison River from Varney Bridge to Ennis Lake. For anglers looking to get their hands on a trophy brown, mid-September through October is the best time to do so. Again, make sure you book now because the prime dates are filling up as well. You can book online HERE.

     

Hebgen Dam Failure

On 11/30/21, the Hebgen Dam on Madison River experienced a failure that resulted in less water being discharged out of Hebgen Lake. We thank those who live only minutes away for taking the initiative and helping stranded fish in the side channels get back into the river’s main stem. On December 1st, the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks coordinated a fish salvage effort to rescue stranded fish on the Madison River. FWP requested 10-15 people to help with the rescue efforts. Instead, over 100 volunteers arrived to help with the fish stranded in side-channel pools and relocate them into the main stem of the Madison River. Several of our guides, including myself and our longtime fishing guest Chris Kirkwood, joined in on the efforts and helped out any way we could. A little before 12 a.m. on December 2nd, Northwest Energy managed to fix the broken headgate and get the Madison River back to its normal flow again. At this time, the fish mortality rate due to stranded fish in the side channels and the loss of brown trout eggs (they had dried up in their spawning beds in the shallow side channels) is unclear. We may not see the effects of this for years to come. We will keep you posted.

It  was truly amazing to see the community come together to help the fish on the Madison River. These fish are the lifeline of many businesses apart from fishing outfitters and guides. Without the fish, anglers wouldn’t want to come here and spend money on lodging, fuel, restaurants, shopping, etc. We want to make it clear that the river did not dry up. The most impacted sections of the Madison River were from Hebgen Dam to Earthquake Lake and from Quake Lake to the Three Dollar Bridge area. Below is a picture from the Madison River between Hebgen and Earthquake Lake in early July and on December 1st. As you can see, the river has not dried up.

Photo curtesy of Chris Kirkwood

Madison River Management Plan Update

In late April, the Montana FWP Commission accepted applications to form a Madison River workgroup.

The following information is from F.O.A.M, for which Trout On The Fly is a contributing member.

“In accordance with the Madison River recreation administrative rule, which was adopted last year by the Commission, the 12-person Work Group will consist of:

  • three commercial outfitters with current Madison River Special Recreation Permits;
  • three non-commercial river users;
  • two people with Madison Valley business interests that are not connected to commercial outfitting;
  • one person trained in natural resource management not employed by FWP;
  • one at-large person;
  • a Fish and Wildlife Commissioner; and,
  • a representative from the Bureau of Land Management.

 The Work Group is charged with developing specific recommendations to the Commission regarding:

  • the allocation of commercial-use trips to outfitters;

  • a process to permit new outfitters on the Madison River;

  • rule language to address all recreational use on the Madison River, including the walk/wade and rest/rotation sections; and,

  • consequences of permit violations.”

On July 7th, 2021:

Delay Commercial Caps on Madison
The final decision to delay the implementation of commercial caps on the Madison River from January 1st, 2022 until January 1st, 2023 was adopted by the Commission. 
The Commission approved their list for the Madison Work Group. The approved Madison Work Group members are John Sampson, Brian McGeehan, Mike Bias, Zach Brown, Richard Gockel, Allison Treloar, Mac Minard, Daniel Larson, Christopher Dimichele, Jim Hart, and KC Walsh.”

On December 10th, 2021:

The Madison River Work Group which is charged with making recreation management recommendations on the Madison River to the Fish and Wildlife Commission , unanimously recommended the repeal of ARM 12.11.6702 – Walk/Wade Sections of the Madison River – and ARM 12.11.6706 – Rest/Rotation of Madison River Commercial Use. These proposed repeals would remove the Rest/Rotation rule and the rule that would allow float fishing in the upper Walk/Wade section of the Madison River beginning in 2022.”

“The Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a special meeting on 27 December, to determine whether Rest/Rotation and Walk/Wade rules on the Madison will be repealed.”

We will keep you posted.

Booking for 2022 and Beyond

Our bookings are coming in very strong for 2022 as we head into the new year, and we have a few bookings for 2023 as well. We anticipate another busy year of anglers wanting to get out on the water with a guide. We strongly encourage you to reserve your fishing and lodging dates as soon as possible. We are here to help you make the best decision on when and where to fish as well as the best lodging options based on your budget, needs, and group size. You can reserve your dates for 2022 and beyond through our online store. You can also contact us by emailing nate@montanatroutonthefly.com, or give us a call on (406)580-7370.

Upcoming Trade Shows

We have not attended a trade show since March 2020 due to COVID-19. At this time, the shows we are planning to attend are still scheduled to take place! We are excited to get back in the booth and see you all in the months of January and February in 2022.

Our first show will be in Edison, NJ and it’s going to be the world’s biggest Fly-Fishing Show. The show will be on January 28th, 29th, and 30th. We have not been assigned a booth space yet; however, we were guaranteed our same spot from 2020 and 2019. We will let you know about our booth space once it is announced.  For more information and to buy tickets online, click HERE.

Our second and final show will be in Pleasanton, CA. This show will be on February 25, 26, and 27. Again, we will let you know about the booth space once it is announced.  For more information and to buy tickets online, click HERE.

Snowpack

So far, winter in the Gallatin Valley has been very mild. It’s early, but we need a lot more snow this winter. More snow = more water in the summer which means happy fish, happy anglers, happy farmers, and a strong economy. We would like everyone to pray for snow, do a snow dance, or whatever superstitious ritual you think will help a lot of white stuff fall from the sky.

Happy New Year from the Trout On The Fly Team! We hope to see you in 2022!

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Spring

In This Newsletter

  • NEW – Yellowstone National Park (YNP) fishing license
  • Fishing report.
  • Update on Montana Fishing license and Mother’s Day Free Fishing
  • New Apparel

YNP Online Fishing License

Finally! All anglers can now purchase their Yellowstone National Park (YNP) fishing permit online. This is welcome news and much overdue. Those anglers whose flights arrive late but they plan on getting an early start the next day can do so now without waiting for a licensing agent to open their doors.

The cost of a fishing license has increased, and this was necessary. Let’s face it! Spending a little more to fish in Yellowstone is well worth it, and this money would be spent on a good cause. The three-day permit’s fee has gone up from $18 to $40, the seven-day permit’s fee has gone up from $25 to $55, and the season’s permit’s fee has been increased from $40 to $75.

The additional revenue from the permit fees will be reinvested into the park’s efforts to strengthen the Yellowstone ecosystem, prevent aquatic invasive species (AIS) and restore native fish habitat. The park invests millions of dollars each year into reducing non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. Substantial progress has been made over the years, and there is a need for continued investment.”  – Yellowstone National Park

YNP opens to fishing on the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend (May 29, 2021) every year, and fishing would be allowed till the first Sunday in November (November 7, 2021).

Click HERE to purchase your 2021 YNP fishing permit online.

Update on Montana Fishing license and Mother’s Day Free Fishing

HB 260
This is the bill that proposed to revise non-resident fishing license fees. It removes the 2-day, $25 fishing license and replaces it with a 1-day, $14 fishing license. This bill also removes the 10-day fishing license and replaces it with a 5-day, $56 fishing license.

This bill got passed in the House in February. In March, it got approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee and went to the Senate. On the Senate floor, it passed the 2nd reading, but was subsequently sent to the Finance and Claims Committee, where it currently resides.

SB 61

This bill would allow free fishing on the Mother’s Day weekend.

This bill passed and was signed into law by our governor on February 23.

You can now fish for free on both Father’s Day weekend and Mother’s Day weekend. Mother’s Day weekend is May 8th & 9th and Fathers Day weekend is June 19th & 20th.

Fishing Report

Madison River – All boat ramps from Raynolds Bridge to Headwaters State Park except the Ennis Fishing Access Site (FAS) are open. The road into the Ennis boat ramp still had ice on it a couple days ago. Once the ice clears, the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks (FWP) staff will be able to assess the damage and begin repairs. Hopefully, this will be open and be ready for use by Salmonfly season in late June.

Fishing has been great on the Madison River in the Madison Valley recently, and it will continue to remain so through runoff. We are seeing some healthy Run-up Rainbows making their way into the river from Ennis Lake. These fish are full of energy and chrome in color. We have not seen any spawning redds yet, but the Rainbows should start making their nests soon. Be cautious and use your best judgment while wade fishing in the upcoming weeks.

We are likely to have some great spring hatches in the not-so-distant future. Blue-winged Olives are starting to hatch on overcast days, and the numbers will get better over the next few weeks. We should see some March Browns and Skwallas in the next week or two also. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch on the lower Madison – Their hatching is expected to start in late April or early May.

We want to remind anglers that the Madison River will continue to fish well during runoff conditions in late May and early June. The water from the Earthquake Lake downriver to about the Palisades FAS will be the best on this front. The water clarity offer 4–8” of visibility, but don’t let that stop you from getting out on the river – mostly a nymph and streamer game during runoff.

Recommended patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly, black and olive – size 8–4
    • Green Machine, chartreuse and pt – size 18–16
    • Lighting Bug, purple – size 16
    • #3 Dip, rust-brown and olive – size 16–14
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange – size 4–2
    • Egg Patterns, orange and pink – size 16
  • Dries
    • Adams – size 18–14
    • Parachute Adams – size 18–14
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20–18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18

 

Missouri River – The Missouri River is in great shape and fishing very well. Rainbows are starting to move into their spawning grounds from their deep, slow winter locations, so use caution when wade fishing. Water temperatures have slowly climbed up a few degrees to 41˚–42˚ for daytime highs, which means Baetis should be on your mind. The nymphing game is still the best technique for catching fish. The human hatch is in full swing as we are experiencing more anglers than normal during this time of year.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, natural and pink – size 16-14
    • Green Machine, chartreuse & pt – size 18-16
    • Hogans S&M, olive – size 18-16
    • Weight Fly, pink & purple – size 16-14
    • Rainbow warrior – size 18-16
    • Mighty Midge, red– size 20-18
    • San Juan Worm, red, orange & pink – size 6-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange & pink – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Thin Mint – size 10-6

Yellowstone River – The Yellowstone River has been hit or miss, mostly a miss. Stripping streamers are producing some nice Browns but not in quantity. We are entering that time of year when the Yellowstone will fluctuate with water clarity depending on the air temperatures. When we see 2–3+ days in a row when it is 50˚+, the tributaries such as the Shields River will start to push dirty water into the Yellowstone. If the water clarity offers a minimum of 6” of visibility, it will be good to fish here.

Recommended patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly, black and olive – size 8–4
    • Green Machine, chartreuse and pt – size 18–16
    • Lighting Bug, purple – size 16
    • Hunchback March, brown – size 16–14
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange– size 4–2
    • Egg Patterns, orange and pink – size 16
  • Dries
    • Adams – size 18–14
    • Parachute Adams – size 18–14
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20–18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20–18
    • March Brown Adams – size 16–14
    • AK’s March Brown – size 16–14
  • Streamers
    • Galloup’s Sex Dungeon, white & olive
    • Morrish’s Sculpin, brown or olive – size 4
    • Delekta’s Double Screamer, yellow/brown

New Apparel

We have received a few more Trout On The Fly (TOTF)-branded Simms apparel. You can purchase at our online store by clicking HERE.

SIMMS M’s Bugstopper Solarflex Hoody

  • TOTF Logo on the back
  • Quick-drying, wicking, anti-odor, & UPF 50
  • Insect Shield® for long-lasting, effective, & convenient insect protection
  • Flat-seam construction for maximum comfort
  • Raglan sleeves for ease of movement
  • Hood designed to wear over a cap
  • Machine wash & dry. See garment label for details.

FABRIC TECH: 100% polyester

Insect Shield® repellent apparel provides long-lasting, effective and convenient personal insect protection to help battle insects some of which may carry diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel has been registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges (no-see-ums). The active ingredient in Insect Shield is so tightly bonded to the fabric fibers that it retains effective repellency throughout the lifetime of the product.

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed.  A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through.  This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly.  All of our UPF finishes last the life of the garment, an industry standard of 30 washings.

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

Montana Winter 2.0

In This Newsletter

  • Snowpack
  • Montana Fishing License Update
  • New SIMMS Apparel
  • Featured Vacation Rental

Snowpack

We finally received the much needed snow storms over the past couple of weeks! Bringing our current snowpack to favorable levels.

2021 Montana Fishing License

If you have a 2020 season Montana fishing license, it is about to expire after February 28th 2021. You can purchase your 2021 Montana fishing license online HERE starting at 5 am mountain time on March 1st.

New for 2021 fishing season from our friends at F.O.A.M.

“HB 260  Revise non-resident fishing license fees.  Representative Seth Berglee (R) HD 58, Joliet.

This bill removes the 2-day $25 fishing license and replaces it with a 1-day, $14 fishing license.  For multiple days, days can be non-consecutive.

This bill also removes the 10-day fishing license and replaces it with a 5-day $56 fishing license.  The 5 days need not be consecutive.

This bill passed the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee and recently passed a second reading on the House Floor.  The bill is now at the House Appropriations Committee.

SB 61  Allow Free Fishing on Mother’s Day.

Senator Pat Flowers (D) SD 32, Bozeman.

This bill would allow free fishing on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day weekends without obtaining a fishing license.

This bill passed the Senate on 21 Jan 21.  This bill passed through the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee and passed the second reading on the House Floor on February 10th, 2021.”

We will keep you posted on these bills.

Trout On The Fly Apparel

We are starting to receive some much needed SIMMS apparel for the 2021 season! We put our order on hold last spring due to the COVID-19 shutdown and the uncertainty of tourist travel to our state.  We will keep adding inventory as it arrives, so check our online store often. We have a few sale items that are worth looking at for a bargain! FREE shipping on all sale items if you mention you read this newsletter!

Featured Vacation Rental

Unwind at The Noble Bison After a World-Class Trout Fishing Experience

At Trout On The Fly, we specialize in premier guided fly fishing adventures. However, we strive to provide our clients and guests with much more than the opportunity to catch fish. It is our goal to create the type of fishing vacation and experience you’ll remember for a lifetime. That is why in addition to our guided tours, we offer rental properties that bring our guests as close to the action as possible.

Stay in a charming house that is minutes away from the waters you can fish. Like The Noble Bison, our three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Ennis, MT, less than 5 minutes to the Madison River. It’s everything you’d want from a vacation home and more.

Stay and Play — Explore the Waters of Montana

You head out to a spectacular sunrise with the alluring blue sky above. The vivid scene of contrasting bluish water and swaying golden brush takes you to a settled place. As you enjoy the scenery that surrounds you, we lead you to the finest trout location in your area. The crisp air fills your lungs and the anticipation of catching your first trout takes hold.

This only begins to describe an outing with one of our dedicated and experienced guides throughout Montana. Whether you’re a veteran or a new angler, we tailor each trip to meet your specific needs. We want to ensure that you have the best possible experience, which is why we take the time to teach people the skills needed to make the most out of their fly fishing trip.

During my career, I, Nate Stevane, have had the opportunity to work alongside anglers age 8 to 90, beginners to experts. It has been such a rewarding journey and I see the impact that these trips have on individuals, couples, friends, and families. That is why the Trout On The Fly team has created an immersive experience, one that lasts long after we dock and hang up our waders.

We wanted to offer our guests an experience unlike any other, which is why we offer a number of lodging options. Each of our lodging options offer their own unique charm and are close to the water. During your stay with us, explore rivers, lakes, and creeks, all of which are perfect for both wade anglers and drift boat enthusiasts. These waters include:

Learn more about all our waters here. Each of our trips, which are full or half day, allows you to explore various bodies of water, including the enchanting Yellowstone National Park.

After an exciting day out on the water, you can then retreat to the warm and cozy Noble Bison, a modern and chic guest house with rustic accents. It is here where you’ll reflect on the day and plan your next adventure. There is so much to see and do in the area, which is why we have made The Noble Bison such a relaxing place to unwind.

Rest Undisturbed at the Noble Bison Guest House

The Noble Bison will be your home away from home — a place where memories are made both on and off the water. A justification for getting off the “grid” to bond through horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, and much more. Not skimping on modern-day amenities (forced air and heating, smart TVs, luxury vanities, etc.), all these “extras” make you feel comfortable and secure.

Newly constructed in October 2018, you and five others can sleep in a fully stocked home that is within minutes of the notorious Madison River — which is one of the most diverse year-round fisheries in Montana. It is the ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels, as well as those who like to fish dry flies, nymphs, or streamers.

Everything you need to know about the Noble Bison

  • Occupies six people (one king-size bed, one queen-size bed, and two twin beds)
  • Located in a quiet neighborhood, just three blocks from Main St. in Ennis, Montana, and only minutes away from the Madison River.
  • 3 bedrooms, including a master suite + 2 bathrooms.
  • The 2021 nightly rate is $280.00 per night, with a two-night minimum.
  • The 2021 weekly rate is $1,750.00 (savings of $210).
  • Both the Bozeman airport (BZN) and the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park are an hour’s drive away.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with everything you need for cooking and baking (featuring stainless appliances, gas range, granite countertops, hardwood floors, etc.). There is also a separate dining room.
  • The living room is full of character, featuring rough-sawn fir hardwood floors, stone-accented gas fireplace, full-size leather couch, etc.
  • Two-car garage + a private patio, featuring a picnic table and a gas grill. Take in the Madison Mountain Range while preparing dinner for your family.

A Fly Fishing Vacation Rental You’ll Never Forget

Establishing a welcoming base camp is so important — and we take that responsibility seriously. Just like our personalized guided fishing trips, no detail is too big or too small. A lot of time and care has gone into The Noble Bison to ensure that our guests feel at home. We have designed each room with our guests in mind.

We welcome you to check out The Noble Bison, as well as our inclusive packages — including our 3-7 night Madison River Lodge package.

To plan your next memorable trout fishing getaway, here is a list of all the available trip options. I, as well as my team of guides, know our waters as if they were our own backyard. You let us know what you want to do and we’ll create the perfect trip. Each body of water offers its own unique treasures, both in terms of the fish and the surrounding scenery.

We cannot wait to share this beautiful place that we call home and provide you with your own home away from home during your visit.

Our goal is to deliver once-in-a-lifetime vacations. If you have any questions or would like to plan a personalized trip for you or a loved one, please contact us.

Also, be sure to check us out on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube!

 

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

Mid-Winter Report

In This Newsletter

  • Lodging options.
  • Fishing report.
  • Snowpack to date.

Lodging Options

Here at Trout On The Fly, we recognize each of our clients’ unique tastes and needs when it comes to lodging, and this article intends to help you make the best decision regarding your lodging options.

When we receive an inquiry about booking a fishing trip, the conversation ultimately leads to lodging. The following questions have been outlined to help you make an informed decision regarding your lodging needs.

  1. What is your budget?
  2. Do you want to cook for yourself?
  3. Do you want to eat out for every meal?
  4. Do you want an all-inclusive experience?
  5. Do you prefer a bed and breakfast?
  6. Would you prefer a vacation house?
  7. Are you more comfortable with a motel/hotel?
  8. Are you traveling in an RV or wish to stay in a tent?
  9. Which location do you prefer?
  10. Do you want to stay by the riverside or in town?
  11. What is the size of your group?

Tent/Rv

Depending on our clients’ reasons for lodging, we recommend sites suitable for their needs. If you are traveling in an RV or a travel trailer, your lodging option would depend on whether you want full hookups or no hookups. Similarly, if you are tent camping, whether you want a location with shower facilities or a primitive site would influence our lodging recommendation for you. Moreover, the location is an important deciding factor; for instance, if you are scheduled to fish in the Madison River near Ennis, MT, we recommend a location close by, NOT near the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. Another critical factor is mobile phone coverage; if you are not in a location with good mobile phone coverage, you and your guide will not be able to contact each other. If you are at a campsite with no mobile coverage, we will make arrangements beforehand when and where to meet your guide.

Hotel/Motel

All the areas we fish are equipped with hotels or motels, located at a reasonable driving distance away from the exact location where we plan to fish. Depending on where you’re fishing with us, we can provide several recommendations.

Hotels and motels are affordable options for single anglers or couples. Although these are not the best options for large groups, sometimes they are the only option. Nevertheless, this is a great option if you plan on eating out for breakfast and dinner every day. Lunch is offered in all our full-day guided fishing trip packages.

Suppose you are scheduled to fish in October for fall run-up rainbows and browns on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. In that case, instead of staying at a hotel in Bozeman or Ennis, MT, you could choose to stay in West Yellowstone, MT. October is a winter month here in Montana, which means the roads can be terrible on any given day. We don’t want you traveling long distances from October through April to fish with us. On this subject, another thing to consider when renting your car from October through April is to make sure you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. One of my longstanding clients and his son booked a mid-October fishing trip with us; they had two days planned on the Madison River in YNP and two days on the Missouri River jet boat trip. When I picked them up for their first day, they had a rear-wheel-drive two-door convertible Camaro! I was appalled that the rental car company would even rent a car like this in October. And, of course, the weather deteriorated, and the roads turned icy and snow-packed. This made travel much more nerve-racking than it should have been.

Bed & Breakfast

Like the local hotels and motels, B&B’s are a great option for single anglers or couples who wish to enjoy a good breakfast in the morning. When booking bed and breakfasts, one important thing to be considered is how early your guide wants to get you on the water. If the answer is before 7 am, we would recommend against staying at a B&B since you won’t be able to enjoy the scheduled breakfasts at the facility.

As mentioned before, we provide lunch on all our full-day trips. We would make recommendations in the area for restaurants for dinner if you planned on staying at a bed and breakfast.

Vacation House

Renting a vacation house has become quite popular over the past several years due to Airbnb and VRBO. These vacation rentals can accommodate large groups or single anglers. They are located in town with amenities, on rivers or lakes, or in the mountains.

The wonderful thing about a vacation rental is the home-like atmosphere that makes your stay feel personal and inviting. The little things such as being able to hang your wet waders at the end of the day or having a washer and dryer available so you can enjoy time with friends and family instead of wasting time at the laundromat. Vacation houses are great if you want to cook in, eat out, or enjoy a combination of both. Here at Trout On The Fly, we can even arrange for a chef to come in and cater to you and your group while you are out fishing! The chef could talk with you about the meal you prefer—from prime rib to encrusted walleye. This would be a great option if you wish to savor a two-course gourmet dinner, including appetizers, on a budget.

Between our recommendations, Airbnb and VRBO, we are confident that you will find the right vacation house for your needs. Book early to spend your time at the vacation house you desire!

All-inclusive Lodges

Despite the welcoming feel, one might sense through the name that all-inclusive lodges are not for everyone.

The pros are that it is a one-stop-shop option—you show up, and everything from meals to housekeeping is taken care of; you just sit back and enjoy your time with family and friends and let the staff take care of you. However, this option is on the high end when it comes to budget. If it is your first time traveling to a new area, an all-inclusive lodge can give you the peace of mind you always looked for.

The cons of an all-inclusive lodge can sometimes outweigh the pros. Most all-inclusive lodges are highly structured. This means that breakfast is served at a set time, the guides show up at a set time, and appetizers and dinner are at a set time. This does not provide the flexibility which people look for during vacations. So, if you are here for the fishing, this may not be the best option. For example, the best fishing timeslot can be at 6 am in late-June–early July, the all-inclusive lodge may not the best option. Similarly, if you are targeting rising fish at 4:30 pm, just when the appetizers are served—at 4:30 pm—then this may not be the best option for you.

If you are willing to spend thousands of dollars on your Montana fishing vacation, choosing your lodging can be as important as picking your outfitter and guide. Lodgings get booked just as quickly as great fishing guides. Hurry and fish out your lodging of choice!

Fishing Report

Weather conditions have been unseasonably warm lately which has allowed anglers to get out and enjoy some of the open water.

Madison River – Location, location, location! Walk-n-wade fishing between Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake. Wade fishing below Earthquake Lake at Raynolds Bridge, $3 Bridge, Pine Butte, and the West Fork. Wade fish below Ennis Lake are going to be your best options for open water.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Palamino Midge, black – size 18-16
    • Mercury Black Beauty – 20-18
    • #3 Dip, rust-brown, olive – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange– size 4-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange, pink size 16
  • Dries
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18

Missouri River – If you follow our social media pages, you are aware that we could get the jet boat in on Upper Holter Lake so we could fish below Hauser Dam in the Land of Giants on January 16th. We had to break some ice with the boat in the first 100 yards leaving the Gates of the Mountain Marina. The ice was 3/8″ – 1/2″ in thickness. We were the only boats on the river and the lake that day. There were a few wade angles that walked in from below the dam. The fishing was good! The better fishing was located in water that was 4-6’ in-depth and moving about walking speed. For a majority of the bigger fish landed was located where the river meets the lake, stripping a black wooly bugger VERY SLOWLY. The great thing about fishing from our jet boats is that we can fish the same productive water over and over again.

We were able to float the Mighty Mo from Holter Dam to Craig, MT on January 15th in the drift boat. Our fishing was not as productive as the jet boat section of the Missouri on 1/16/21. Like the jet boat section, most of the fish were in deeper, slow-moving water. Once you recognize the structure of water the fish are holding in, you can row past the non-productive water to the holding locations and focus your time there.

Both the drift boat section and the jet boat section of the Missouri River did not produce any consistent rising fish for us to target. If you plan to fish the Missouri this winter, I would make sure you have your midge dry flies with you.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, natural and pink – size 16-14
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & orange – size 16-14
    • Rainbow warrior – size 18-16
    • Mighty Midge, red– size 20-18
    • San Juan Worm, red, orange & pink – size 6-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange & pink – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Thin Mint – size 10-6

Ruby River – Fishing the Ruby in the winter is an excellent option for a few hours during the warmest part of the day from 11-3 pm. The flows are manageable to wade around within the ordinary high water mark without trespassing (click HERE for Montana Stream Access Law). Usually, there is little to no competition out there, and there is a high chance you will fish to rising fish.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Palamino Midge, black – size 18-16
    • Mercury Black Beauty – 20-18
    • Disco Midge, red – size 20-18
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange– size 4-2
    • Egg Patterns, orange, pink size 16
  • Dries
    • Biot Midge, black – size 20-18
    • Antonio’s Quill Midge – size 20-18
    • Griffiths Gnat – size 20-18
    • Morgans Midge – size 20-18

 Snowpack to Date:

Since our last report on December 16th, the snowpack in the higher elevations has barely moved up. We are not too concerned about these numbers yet. March and April months can bring heavy wet snow to bump our much-needed snowpack up to average amounts.

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

 

2020 Fishing: End of Year Review

In This Newsletter

  • End of year review.
  • Madison River Recreation Plan update.
  • Fishing report.
  • Trade show season.
  • Holiday gift ideas.
  • Fishing with us in 2021.
  • Snowpack to date.

2020 Fishing: End of Year Review 

As 2020 comes to a close, there is no denying that it has been a challenging year — especially for businesses. All of our April and May trips were canceled due to travel restrictions to Montana in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, once our governor, Steve Bollock, lifted travel restrictions to out-of-state tourists, we were up and running once again, eager to fish!

Luckily, we managed to salvage our 2020 season with last-minute bookings. If you were someone who came out and fished with us during this 2020 season, we would like to thank you!

The Salmonfly season started as it should in mid-late June, but an unexpected week-long cold front put the hatch down, which never fully recovered in comparison to what we should have experienced. Since there was a lockdown in April and May, there were heavier crowds than what there typically is during our peak tourist season of June, July, and August. This was because local anglers were unable to work, spending their time on the water. 

As June came to an end, July PMD (Pale Morning Dune) fishing on the Missouri River was great, particularly in the jet boat section known as “Land of Giants.” The rainbows were feisty and fought like a small steelhead making this month both exciting and rewarding for both locals and tourists. 

In late July, August, and into September, hoppers were the primary bug of choice — but compared to hopper fishing in 2018 and 2019, 2020 would be given a B rating. 

For those who love to fish brown trout, we enjoyed an early push of browns in mid-late September out of both Ennis and Hebgen Lakes. The high numbers of fish in Yellowstone National Park on the Madison this early was a pleasant surprise; and with not many anglers out, this yielded an excellent experience for those who visited us during this time. 

Early October was warm and sunny, but fishing for runup rainbows and browns was more challenging than earlier in the season. However, we are always pleased when someone surprises us with a larger than average fish, such as the 28” female brown that returning guest, Ron H., caught on October 4th. His large catch was landed during a half-day float trip from Varney Bridge to Eight Mile Ford on the Madison River. That day, the weather was wonderful — another warm and sunny October morning. Ron hooked her around lunchtime, kickstarting an exciting battle to the net. Ron managed to bring her in using a 4x fluorocarbon on a size-14 silver Lightning Bug. 

Over my 20 years guiding anglers on the Madison River, this is the biggest I have had come to the net. Based on my experience and knowledge, I would confidently bet that this fish came up out of Ennis Lake. Her colors did not indicate full spawning colors, like most of the browns we caught that day. 

Once October 22 rolled around, Mother Nature slammed us with an early cold blast that lasted until October 26th. Temps dropped to the single digits with wind chills well below zero. When temperatures drop this low, the very best tactic is to “truck fish” — jumping from one fishing spot to the next, warming up in the truck between spots. This ensures a more lengthy, productive day. If we committed to launching and fishing from the drift boats with no means of warming up, our day would have likely been cut short. 

Booking for 2021 and Beyond

As we approach 2021, we’re eager to get back out on the water! As always, we recommend booking as early as possible. Booking your trip a year or two in advance is not uncommon. Doing so will ensure you receive the dates you want, the lodging you want, and the guide you want! For your convenience, you can book directly through our website

Deposit & Cancellation Policy on Fishing Trips

  • A 50% deposit is required at the time of reserving your fishing guide. The remaining balance will be due 60 days before your scheduled trip(s)
  • Cancellations made 61 days or more from your scheduled trip will be refunded the full amount.
  • Cancellations made between 60 and 31 days before your scheduled trip will forfeit $100 of the trip amount.’
  • Cancellations made 30 or fewer days before your scheduled trip will forfeit 100% of the trip amount.

Trade Show Season

We were scheduled to attend three trade shows in January, February, and March 2021. Due to COVID, the shows were canceled or we are not optimistic at this time that if the shows were to go that the attendance would be any good. We always enjoy coming to your area and seeing all the great customers we have and meeting new ones. We will all have to catch up on the river here in Montana for 2021!

Madison River Recreation Plan Update

As a member of FOAM (Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana), we wanted to share this important information from their website. This plan will go into effect on Christmas day, 2020.

On November 18th, 2020, the Fish & Wildlife Commission voted to approve a recreation management plan for the Madison River. After FOAM viewed the recommendations from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, they rejected their proposal. Surprisingly, their management recommendations did not highlight many of the areas found in the proposed FOAM plan, nor did they address public comments. FOAM offered alternative options that would help craft a plan that would be suitable to all river users, without having a devastating impact on our industry. 

The Commission was recognized based on their positive involvement, as they took part in one of the most constructive working group meetings seen in respect to the Madison. 

Following this meeting, the Commission adopted the following rules:

New Rule I:

  • Madison River Special Recreational Use Permit (SRP) holders will be assigned a number of trips that they may operate in a season equal to their highest number of historic use of trips in the 2019 or 2020 season (FOAM’s proposed new rule VI in petition).
  • New Rule I will be implemented, January 1, 2022.

New Rule II: 

  • Rest and Rotation will be implemented from June 15 – September 30.
  • On Saturdays, June 15 – September 30, from Raynolds Bridge to Lyons Bridge will be open to noncommercial float fishing and closed to commercial float fishing.
  • On Sundays, June 15 – September 30, Lyons Bridge to Palisades Fishing Access Site will be closed to commercial float fishing.
  • On Sundays, June 15 – September 30, Raynolds Bridge to Lyons Bridge will be open to all float fishing.
  • New Rule II will be implemented June 15, 2023.

New Rule III:

  • Ennis to Ennis Lake, will remain as status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will remain as status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat from October 1 – June 14.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will remain status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat, Monday – Friday, June 15 to September 30.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will be open to fishing from a boat on Saturdays and Sundays, June 15 – September 30.
  • New Rule III will be implemented, June 15, 2023.

Last-minute Gift Ideas

Christmas is nearly here and after a tough year, you’re likely looking to give those extra special people in your life something memorable. If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, look no further. If you’re looking to buy for an angler, a guided fly fishing trip in Montana with one of our legendary guides would certainly be a gift they’ll never forget. 

You can learn more about me and our amazing guides here

This is the type of gift that won’t end up in a closet or garage, collecting dust for years to come. A guided fishing trip will bring incredible, joyous memories for the rest of the angler’s life! As an angler myself, I can’t think of anything better. 

We offer a range of all-inclusive packages, providing our guests with experiences in a location that can’t be beat. Stay in the Madison River Lodge, situated at the center of the famous Upper Madison 50-mile riffle. What’s even more exciting is that the river bends around the property, allowing anglers to cast a line at their convenience. When anglers aren’t fishing, they can enjoy the views from their walkout patio, which overlooks the river. 

There are options to book for 3 nights, 4 nights, 5 nights, 6 nights, and 7 nights. 

These packages include:

  • Lodging
  • All meals including beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages
  • Guided fishing
  • Equipment use – rod & wader rental
  • All your tackle on guide trips including flies & leaders
  • Private access to the Madison River

Learn more about our packages here. There are also a wide range trip options available, including a half-day float or walk-n-wade, Yellowstone National Park walk-n-wade, and more. 

To make things simple, we offer gift cards. Please contact us for details. 

We also have an online store with Trout On the Fly apparel. Items such as hoodies, SPF shirts, Simms hats, and cotton shirts all make great gifts. Click HERE to start shopping. 

Snowpack to date

When the cold front nailed us in late October, I was sure we were in for a great winter, just like 2019. Following that cold front, it was unseasonably warm here in Bozeman, MT. Now, we’re in the third week of December, and temperatures are leveling out to normal temps. 

Daytime highs in early December were in the ’40s. I had a good friend in Florida text me on December 1st saying it was 32 degrees at his place in Destin, FL. At the same time, here in Bozeman, the outside temperature was the same, and 37 degrees in Billings, Montana. 

Wow! How can this be?

Madison drainage is 69% of normal, Gallatin drainage is 72% of normal, Yellowstone drainage to Billings, MT is 100% of normal.

 

As of December 15th, the daily highs for the 7-day forecast for Bozeman are 32 -39 degrees F.

Fishing Report

We received some much-needed snow the second weekend in December, as temperatures were fairly warm the first nine days of the month. It wasn’t until the 10th that temperatures began to fall to more normal temperatures for December. No need to rush out the door to be the first angler on the river — the waters are quiet. Instead of being an early bird, let the air temperature warm-up. We recommend fishing from 10 am to 3 pm when the day is at its warmest. 

And always, location is everything. 

  • We recommend fishing on the Madison River from Hebgen Dam to Earthquake Lake, below Quake Lake at Raynolds Bridge, Three Dollar Bridge, the West Fork area, and below Ennis Lake
  • When fishing the Gallatin River, stay below Big Sky, MT, down the river around Gallatin Gateway, MT. The Ruby River below Ruby Reservoir. The Missouri River from Holter Dam to Craig, MT, will be best. 
  • If fishing the Bighorn River, we recommend staying in the first 13 miles below the Afterbay to Bighorn FAS (fishing access site). Area spring creeks are also a good option this time of year.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Zebra midge, black and red – size 16-20
    • Rainbow Warrior – size 16-20
    • Tailwater Tiny, olive – size 18-20
    • San Juan Worm, red and orange – size 2-6
    • Egg Patterns, orange– size 20-18
  • Dries 
    • Griffith Gnat – size 18-22
    • Klinkhammer – size 18-22
    • Twisted Midge– size 18-22
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4
    • Peanut Envy, Olive – size 2
    • Barely Legal, olive/white – size 4

In Closing

2020 has been a tough year for most, but 2021 will be full of new opportunities. Us guides are excited to get out and share these waters with you! There are plenty of fish to catch and memories to make. 

We are optimistic that 2020 is in our rearview mirror, and we are looking forward to 2021. Enjoy your family, friends more now than ever, get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and most importantly, make sure you get out and fish! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. We hope to see you in 2021!

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!

Mid-summer Report

Update on COVID-19 Directive for Montana.

On Wednesday, July 15th, Montana Governor Steve Bullock addressed his Directive on mandatory use of face coverings. To read the full Directive, click HERE.

COVID-19 and guide trips with T.O.T.F.: To limit the amount of time in a confined vehicle with guests, we are asking all guests to follow their guide to the boat ramp finish location. From here, we ask guests to bring and wear a mask in the guide’s vehicle for the short ride upriver to the launch location (approximately 10-minute drive). When you are finished with your trip, your vehicle and the guides vehicle will be at the take out location. On all walk and wade trips, we are asking guests to follow the guide in their vehicle to the locations where they intend to walk-n-wade fish.

Fishing Report

The good news is we have been busy on the water with guests the bad news is we have had no time to sit down and write a fishing report since May 19th.

Fishing has been good and we are not experiencing the crowds on the rivers as we have in past years during peak season. All our rivers and lakes are in great shape and fishing well. The options are endless!

Madison River –  Fishing continues to be good to great on the Madison River from Earthquake Lake to Ennis Lake. We are seeing some Midnight Stones, aka Nocturnal Stones, around Ennis, and fish are eating both the nymph and the adult stages. Start your morning off with a cream or purple Chubby with a silver lighting bug or a $3 dip dropped off the Chubby (Hopper Dropper technique). Around 11 am-noon, convert over to a hopper and ant pattern and enjoy the afternoon fishing on the surface! We are seeing some great fish coming to the net dead drifting a sculpin pattern under a strike indicator; drop a small nymph off the back of your sculpin such as a size 18 green Psycho Prince and hold on! The lower Madison from Ennis Lake to the Headwaters of the Missouri River is experiencing its annual warm waters with the bikini hatch in full swing. We would highly recommend avoiding this section of the river until mid-September when water temps decline to a more suitable temperature for the trout.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 12-8
    • Psycho Prince in green, purple and yellow – size 16-14
    • Prince Albert– size 16-12
    • Lightning Bug, silver– size 14-12
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • BH Serendipity, olive and brown – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • M’s Hopper, yellow, pink and tan – size 12-8
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and brown – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Chubby Chernobyl, cream, purple – size 10-6
  • Streamers
    • Double Screamer, black/olive, and silver – size 4
    • Tips-up, white – size 4
    • Bow River Bugger, olive – size 8-4

Missouri River – Either the jet boat section below Hauser Dam near Beaver Creek or the drift boat section from below Holter Lake is starting to moss up. Don’t let this discourage you from fishing these two sections of the river. These rainbows are feisty, acrobatic, and are putting on a good show. Caddis, PMD, Sow Bugs and Scuds are the nymphs of choice on the Mighty Mo. We are seeing the PMD’s starting to fade out for the season; however, some days surprise us with a mix of PMD’s in with the Trico’s. Crawfish patterns are picking up some nice fish on the dead drift under a strike indicator too. The dry fly game is becoming more challenging where long accurate casts are required to be successful. Some fish are starting to eat terrestrials in the afternoon when it warms up, and every day is getting better with the terrestrial bite – keep trying them!

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, pink and tan – size 16-12
    • Lighting Bug, pink & purple – size 16-14
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & tan – size 16-14
    • Pyscho Prince, green – size 18-16
    • RS2, grey – size 20-18
    • Tung Dart – size 16-14
    • Split-back PMD – size 16-14
  • Dries
    • Parachute Trico – size 18-22
    • Parachute Trico Emerger – size 18-22
    • Trico Sparkle Dun – size 18-22
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopoer, pink yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive & brown – size 18-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8 (dead drift as a crawfish pattern)

Yellowstone River – The Stone is in great shape with good flows, clarity, and water temperatures! Nocturnal stones and terrestrials are the bugs needed. This is our favorite time of the year to fish on the Yellowstone as big fish are willing to come up and eat a larger dry fly such as a hopper or Midnight Stone. If you must fish a strike indicator set up, we recommend a Pats Stone, Zirdle Bugs, or sculpin pattern on a dead drift. Drop a small Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle off the back of the big bug. This time of year, if we experience a heavy rainstorm in the back-country of the Lamar drainage in Yellowstone National Park; this will wash muddy water into the Yellowstone River and can make it unfishable for a few hours or a couple of days. If you are scheduled to fish with us on the Yellowstone River, and this happens, we will take you to the Madison River as a backup.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black, olive, tan – size 8-4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8
    • BH Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle – size 14-12
    • Hares Ear Soft Hackle – size 14-12
  • Dries
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopper, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Daves Hopper, Yellow and olive – size 12-8
  • Streamers
    • Copper Zonker – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 8-4
    • Bow River Bugger, olive – size 8-4

Jefferson River – The Jefferson River is starting to fill the pain of low water and high water temperatures due to irrigation and hot summer days. If fishing the Jefferson, we recommend getting on the river early and off early, fish from 6 am to 2 pm. We also recommend fishing higher up on the river where the water temps will be a little cooler, such as Twin Bridge to Silver Star. Terrestrials with a nymph dropper are your best options. Fish a San Juan Worm under a Hopper.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • San Juan Worm, red or orange– size 8-2
    • Squirmy Worm, red, orange or purple – size 8-2
    • BH Lighting Bug – size 14-12
  • Dries
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • M’s Hopper, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Daves Hopper, Yellow and olive – size 12-8
    • Chubby Chernobyl, tan, purple or pink – size 10-6
  • Streamers
    • Double Screamer, black/olive, and silver – size 4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 8-4
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 4

Hebgen Lake Hebgen is starting to get good with our annual still water mayfly – Callibeatis. Get on the lake early before the winds decide to pick up. If the winds do pick up, move your location to one of several protected bays on the lake. Start your day fishing under a strike indicator with a black leech and a Callibeatis nymph. Have a dry fly rod ready! Once you start to see fish working the surface, you don’t want to take the time to change your rod. Look for the fish that is feeding more consistently, as you will have a better shot at catching him/her. The fish that feeds more sporadically will be a difficult target. We are seeing some flying ants, spruce moths, and hoppers as well on Hebgen. A great strategy when you have a lot of competition with natural Callibaetis on the water, put on an ant pattern or Hopper on and watch Mr. Fish opt for your fly over a Callibatis!

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • BH Hares Ear, grey – size 16-12
    • Feather Duster Callibaetis – size 16-12
  • Dries
    • Nyman’s DOA Cripple Callibaetis – size 16-12
    • Organza Callibaetis Spinner – size 16-12
    • Thunder Thighs, pink, yellow and tan – size 12-8
    • Ant Acid – size 16-14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, tan size 14
  • Streamers
    • Space Invader, black/olive and Yellow/tan – size 6
    • BH Semi Seal Leech, olive or Black/red – size 10

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is open and fishing well. When fishing the Park this time of year, we always recommend the Northeast corner on the Lamar, Slough Creek, Soda Butte, and Yellowstone Rivers. These rivers will have cooler water temperatures, which is better for the fish. Some of the waters on the west side of the Park have higher water temperatures due to the hot thermal water flowing into rivers like the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison. If fishing these rivers, concentrate your efforts above any thermal features and fish earlier in the day when water temperatures are best. Look for and fish the cooler tributaries to these rivers.

A reminder: All of your guided fishing trips on the Northeast corner of YNP are two-day minimum. This means your guide will meet you at a convenient location for you and the guide. Because of COVID-19, we will have you follow your guide to each location to fish. You and the guide will repeat this on day two of your trip. Any trips on the West side of YNP, we will accommodate single day trips.

Three Anglers In A Boat 

We have been receiving a lot of inquirers about fishing three anglers in a boat. We often frown upon having three anglers in the boat for several reasons.

  1. This becomes a liability. Our drift boats and jet boats have U.S. Coast Guard max weight limit for each vessel. If we exceed this weight limit and have an accident we would be at fault. Yours and the guides safety comes first.
  2.  If we were to allow three anglers in one boat, only two anglers could fish at any given time. This means one angler is not fishing. The best scenario for allowing three anglers in a boat is if it happens to be a mom, dad and a child that is young and needs to be with their parent. We would still observe the max weight limit.
  3. 3 persons or 750 lbs – this includes the weight of the guide.
  4. Most guides are not willing to take on three anglers in their boat. It is back breaking-work, and the boat is not as responsive to get you into position when needed.
  5. Everyone will have a more enjoyable and productive day if we can keep the boat to a max of two anglers for each boat/guide.
  6. If we agree on letting you have three people in the boat (plus the guide) the cost is an additional $200.00 on top of the daily rate.

Thank you for staying connected with us on current conditions, reports, and news!