News

Fall Fishing, Our Favorite Time of the Year!

In this newsletter:

  • Summer Overview
  • Fall Fishing—Our favorite time of the year!
  • Fishing Report

Summer Overview

It has been a while since we last published a newsletter—June 5th, to be exact. Our only excuse, which is a good one, is that we have been busy taking guests out on our waters every day.

Fishing has been fair to good this summer. August has been a difficult month with spotty fishing, especially with the terrestrials. Some better fishing has been on the wade-only sections of the Madison River from Raynolds Bridge FAS to Lyons Bridge FAS and from Ennis to Ennis Lake, most likely because it is seeing little to no pressure from anglers, especially if you are in a boat floating away from the Fishing Access Sites and getting out to fish. The section from 8 Mile FAS to Ennis Lake was put on Hoot Owl Restrictions on August 2nd but has been lifted since August 24th. Hoot Owl Restrictions mean that we cannot fish from 2 pm to midnight due to high water temperatures within that period. Those anglers that were willing to get up early and get on the water by 6 am and finish at 2 pm were rewarded with great fishing and no crowds of anglers.

Those anglers in the float sections of Madison River, from Lyons Bridge to the Highway 287 Bridge in Ennis, found August days challenging unless they were willing to stop and work the buckets holding fish. Those fish have seen every fly tied and are very wise, so it takes a few passes by their feeding lane with a few different options to get their attention or piss them off, depending on how you look at it.

For more information on the current state of Hoot Owl Restrictions, you can click HERE, or contact us; we will be happy to help.

We took some folks to Yellowstone National Park to do some fishing this summer. YNP attendance was down by 40% in August, which was nice for those who do not enjoy crowds of people. However, like anywhere in the Park, you could find some great fishing if you are willing to hike a distance away from any major roadway. Below are a few picks of some anglers we hiked and fished on the Yellowstone River, a true pinch-me moment for them and for us!

Yellowstone National Park Fly Fishing Trips Yellowstone National Park Cutthroat Trout Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park Couples fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park

Lake fishing on Hebgen, Ennis, and Holter Lake has been good in August, often better than the rivers, and doesn’t have crowds. Sounds like a win in my book!

Fall fishing – Our favorite time of the year!

As we turn the corner into September, this means: 1) fewer crowds as kids return to school; 2) cooler water temperatures as the nighttime high’s cool down; 3) more water available to fish as Hoot Owl Restrictions are lifted, and 4) finally, the bigger-than-average browns are prompted to start their migration out of our reservoirs for their annual spawn in late October and November. And this is why September and October are our favorite times of the year to fish. It’s not too late if you are interested in the opportunity to chase a larger-than-average brown in the fall with us. We have available guides. We always recommend mid-September through October and will be happy to help with recommending accommodations based on where we think the best fishing will be during your scheduled fishing dates with us. You can book through our online store HERE.

Fishing Report

Madison River

Dam: 1010 cfs

Kirby: 1140 cfs

Cameron: 1290 cfs

Again, some better fishing has been in the walk-n-wade-only sections from Raynolds Bridge to Lyons Bridge and from Ennis to Ennis Lake, and this will continue. We can float these sections, but we must get out of the boat to fish. This is a huge advantage as it helps avoid crowded fishing access sites without trespassing to get to good water. As we make our way into mid-September, we will want to focus on the water from Varney Bridge to Ennis Lake to intercept the bigger browns migrating out of the lake to their spawning grounds. These browns typically start their spawn in late October. However, like all fish, there are some early spawners in mid-October. These browns are on the feed and are agitated. Overcast days will be best, but then again, our biggest brown (28″) in this section with a client was on October 4th, on a sunny day at high noon on a nymph.

Madison River rainbow trout Madison River Rainbow Trout Barley Legal streamer eating rainbow trout

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 8-4
    • Bead Head Squirrel, natural – size 12-16
    • Sizzlin Hot Spot Squirrel – size 12-16
    • Prince Albert, silver– size 16-14
    • Lightning Bug, silver– size 14-12
    • Hogans S&M, olive – size 16-14
    • Green Machine, olive & PT – size 16-14
    • Bloody Mary, size 14-16
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Hi-vis flying ant, purple, black and red – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze -size 16-14
    • Royal Wolf – size 16-14
    • Thunder Thighs Hopper, pink, yellow, and tan – size 10-14
    • White Cloud Hopper, peach or pink – size 10-12
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal, olive/white – size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2
    • Delektable Screamer-Double Olive Black  Silver – size 6

Missouri River

Below Hauser Dam: 4160 cfs

Below Holter Dam: 4070 cfs

Cascade: 3920 cfs

The fishing can be really good in the months to come. However, much of the Missouri River is full of weeds. This can be frustrating for any anglers, especially when the weeds start to break free. You may spend more time picking the weeds off your hooks than fishing. Consider fishing at Upper Holter Lake as it is fishing well.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, pink and tan – size 16-12
    • Firebead Ray Charles, grey, pink & tan – size 16-14
    • Green Machine, chartreuse & pt – size 16-14
    • Perdigon – Purdee John Brown– size 16-14
    • Blooms Weight Fly, purple – size 16-14
    • Tung Darts – size 16-14
    • Silvey’s Diving Caddis, tan/olive – size 16-14
  • Sizzlin Hot Spot Squirrel – size 12-16– size 16-14
  • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Adams – size 18-16
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-16
    • Purple Haze – size 18-16
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive, purple & brown – size 16-14
  • Thunder Thighs Hopper, pink, yellow, and tan – size 10-12
  • M’s Hopper, pink, tan & yellow – size 10-12
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Thin Mint – size 8-10
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4
    • Zirdle Bug, olive – size 8 (dead drift as a crawfish pattern)

Hebgen Lake

The browns will start to stage at the inflow of the Madison River on the Madison Arm as they feel the water temperatures decline in a couple of weeks. You can’t beat this experience during September and October. Callibaetis are still present, but not for long as evening temperatures decline. Nymphing under a strike indicator will work best with the Callibaetis and leach patterns. Try an ant or attractor dry during the Calibaetis or Tricohatch, and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • BH Hares Ear, grey – size 16-12
    • BH Red Copper John – size 16-14
    • Ice Cream Cone – red or black -size 12-16
  • Dries
    • Callibaetis Spinner AK’s – size 16-14
    • Silhouette Dun – size 16-14
    • Gulper Special – size 16-14
  • Hi-vis flying ant, purple, black and red – size 18-14
  • Royal Wolf – size 16-14
  • Meanie, Bee – size 14
  • Streamers
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black or olive – size 8-4
    • Balanced Leach, black, olive, or burnt brown – size 10-6

Yellowstone River

Corwin Springs: 2060 cfs

Livingstone: 2250 cfs

The Yellowstone River in Montana is one of our waters’ most fickle fisheries. Yet its wildness and the thought of a potential larger than average wild brown draws us back to it. Fall is a great time to swing for the fence for a brown of a lifetime. No guarantees. Come float with us on the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states this fall and strip streamers for the chance at a fish of a lifetime!

Yellowstone River Brown Trout
Photo by guide Sam Cady

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • TJ Hooker, Tan & Coffee – size 8-12
    • Birds Nest, olive & tan – size 16-12
    • BH Prince Nymph -size 12-8
    • Lil’ Spanker, silver & red – size 16-14
    • Gold Rib Hares Ear Soft Hackle – size 16-12
  • Dries
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
    • Adams – size 16-14
    • Parachute Adams – size 16-14
    • Dave’s Hopper, yellow or olive – size 8-12
  • Thunder Thighs Hopper, pink, yellow, and tan – size 10-12
  • M’s Hopper, pink, tan & yellow – size 10-12
  • Chubby Chernobyl, purple, uv cinnamon, pink, tan – size 6-10
  • Streamers
    • Sparkle Minnow in sculpin, jj special, and smoke colors– size 8-4
    • Mikes Pecs Sculpin, white or olive – size 6
    • Sex Dungeon, white, olive or tan – size 2

Gallatin River

Gallatin Gateway: 467 cfs

Logan: 280 cfs

Fall is a great time to get back on the Gallatin River, especially the lower sections near Three Forks, Montana. Full-day float trips on the lower Gallatin will be available once the Hoot Owl Restrictions are lifted (most likely mid-September). We are currently taking guests out on half-day trips in the morning before the water temperatures rise around noon. Fishing has been good and will only improve as the water temperatures start declining in the next few weeks. Most ranches will be finishing up their irrigation, which means more water in the rivers as well. The bigger-than-average browns will start to make their way up from the Missouri River in mid to late September. You can fish from the drift boat downriver to the Missouri River from Manhattan, MT. Everything upriver of Gallatin Forks FAS is wade only; we can float some of these upper sections but must get out of the boat to fish.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Lightning Bug, silver or purple– size 14-12
    • Hogans S&M, olive – size 16-14
    • Green Machine, olive & PT – size 16-14
    • Bead Head Prince Nymph, size 14-16
    • Physco Prince, purple or yellow – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Hi-vis flying ant, purple, black and red – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze -size 16-14
    • Royal Wolf – size 16-14
    • Thunder Thighs Hopper, pink, yellow, and tan – size 10-14
    • White Cloud Hopper, peach or pink – size 10-12
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal, olive/white – size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2
    • Delektable Screamer-Double Olive Black  Silver – size 6
    • Sparkle Minnow in sculpin, jj special, and smoke colors– size 8-4
    • Mikes Pecs Sculpin, white or olive – size 6

 

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!

Run-off Fishing Report From Montana

In This Newsletter

  • Where to Fish During Run-off
  • Fishing Report
  • Final Snowpack Report

Run-off Season in Montana

As I write this newsletter, it once again is raining here in Bozeman, MT. Lately, cooler air temperatures and more than average precipitation have boosted Montana’s much-needed snowpack and moisture. This has been warmly welcomed by not only our rivers and reservoirs but also ranchers, and forest firefighters, all of whom appreciate the higher-than-average moisture we have received. (And my city water bill too is less, as I need not water my lawn!). We hope this trend continues throughout the summer months.

Our waters are slowly swelling with rain and snow melt, and are becoming off color. This week will bring the run-off into full swing, as the temperatures increase. Don’t let this stop you from getting out to enjoy our waters. Fishable waters during run-off include the Madison River from Earthquake Lake to Palisades FAS (fishing access site), Warmsprings FAS to Blacksford on the lower Madison River, and the Missouri River below Hauser Dam and Holter Dam near Helena and Craig, Montana. Don’t forget about our still waters, such as Hebgen Lake, Holter Lake, Canyon Ferry, and Harrison Lake. Still water fishing is not the most popular option amongst anglers but should not be overlooked during run-off; speaking of which, let’s not forget the waters in Yellowstone National Park. The Firehole, Gallatin, and some other rivers and streams, which we prefer not to mention here or on any social media platform, can fish well too.

Fishing Report

Madison River

Of all the waters that we offer trips on, the Madison River is the most popular, and for good reason. It offers the most diverse, year-round fisheries in Montana. It fishes very well during run-off. The structure in the YNP section is different from the Three Dollar Bridge sections, which in turn is different from the Varney to Ennis Lake sections and the lower Madison from Warmpsrings to the headwaters of the Missouri River near Three Forks, Montana. The Madison is great for beginners, as they will have opportunities to hook fish and learn how to land fish, which is a major part of learning the sport of fly fishing. Regardless of this, the Madison will challenge seasoned anglers. It is great if you like to wade fish, fish from a drift boat, or enjoy a blend of fishing from the boat and getting out to wade too.

In the “Fifty Mile Riffle” sections on the upper Madison, the section from Earthquake Lake to Palisades FAS is currently the best option during run-off. We are still catching fish on the Baetis patterns in the mornings and Caddis in the afternoons. Stone fly patterns are a must in your fly box, as we are only weeks away from the Salmon Fly hatch.

On the Lower Madison River, just 30 minutes from Bozeman, MT, in the section from Warmsprings to Blacksford, the water is warmer than in the upper Madison River, which provides some different hatches, such as Caddis, PMD’s, and a few Yellowsallies.

Madison River float/wade trip Madison River Brown Trout Madison River Montana fly fishing Madison River Wade Trip

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, coffee – size 8-4
    • Psycho Prince in green, purple & yellow – size 16-14
    • Morrish Super Pupa, Olive– size 16-14
    • Lightning Bug, purple & pearl– size 14-12
    • Hogans S&M, olive – size 16-14
    • Split Case PMD – size 16-4
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • Silvey’s Diving Caddis, brown/olive – size 16-14
    • Snapping Craw – size 6
    • BH Serindipty, red and olive – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze -size 16-14
    • Flushfloater Stone Skwala – size 10
    • American March Brown – size 14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive, purple & brown – size 16-14
    • PMD Thorax – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • Barely Legal, olive/white – size 6
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 2
    • Delektable Screamer-Double Olive Black  Silver – size 6

Missouri River

Due to much of the Missouri River being a tailwater fishery (dam controlled), this is a great option during run-off. Our jet boat trips below Hauser Dam, and the drift boat section below Holter Dam to the Dearborn FAS is fishing great, and the water will stay clear and fishable during run-off. We are starting to see some of the year’s first PMD (Pale Morning Dun) hatch on the Missouri River. This is our favorite time to be on the Missouri River; let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy fishing to pods of large trout with a dry fly! We are also seeing Caddis on warmer days and a few March Browns and Baetis hanging around on cooler days.

Missouri River Fly Fishing Trip Missouri River Land of Giants jet boat trip Missouri River Rainbow Trout Land of Giants in Montana Fly fishing trip Helena Montana

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
    • Perdigon – TNT PMD – size 16-14
    • Split Case PMD – size 16-14
    • Weight Fly, purple – size 16-14
    • Silvey’s Diving Caddis, tan/olive – size 16-14
    • TNT PMD // Tungsten Jighead – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
  • Dries
    • Adams – size 18-16
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-16
    • Purple Haze – size 18-16
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive, purple & brown – size 16-14
    • Snowshoe Caddis, olive – size 16-14
    • Parachute PMD – size 16-14
    • PMD Thorax – size 16-14
    • Film Critic PMD – size 16-14
  • 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)

Hebgen Lake

Fishing is great in Hebgen Lake and a great alternative to some of the muddy rivers during run-off season. Hebgen Lake is filling up from an extremely low year in 2021. We can again launch our boats at the Yellowstone Holiday Marina near the Grayling Arm. Dry flies, streamers, and nymphs are all putting fish in the net. Chironomid fishing has been great, both under a strike indicator and an adult on the surface. Streamer fishing is good, as well. With our jet boats and prop boats, we can easily move around the lake to find feeding fish and calm coves protected from the wind. For those anglers who have fished the fall run on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park, these are the same fish – rainbows and browns averaging 18”-20” in length.

Hebgen Lake early June
Photo curtesy of Jeff Watt
Hebgen Reservoir Brown Trout
Photo curtesy of Ken Takata

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Chironomid Bomber, black/red & black/silver – size 12-14
    • Ice Cream Cone, black or bright red – size 12-14
    • Jumbo JuJu Chironomid, blood, olive, or zebra -size 12-14
  • Dries
    • Midge Cluster, peacock – size 18-16
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-16
    • Hanging Midge, gray – size 18-16
  • Streamers
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black or olive – size 8-4
    • Balanced Leach, black, olive, or burnt brown – size 10-6
    • Near Nuff Crayfish, brown or dirty olive – size 8-4

Upper Holter Lake

If the conditions are good (no wind), the fishing on Holter Lake has been great to incredible. Fishing a single Chironomid about 24” under a strike indicator without any weight is the best technique. You will have plenty of opportunities. A balanced leach with a Chironomid dropped off has also been highly effective. Calm, overcast days have been the best. If the wind picks up, we are able to use our jet boats to move up the Missouri River to continue fishing.

Our captains are among the few caped licensed captains to launch our boats with paying guests at the private Gates of the Mountain Marina just 20 minutes north of Helena, Montana.

Holter Lake Rainbow Trout
Photo by guide Matt Hoff

Fly fishing trip Helena Montana
Photo by guide Matt Hoff

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Chironomid Bomber, black/red & black/silver – size 12-14
    • Ice Cream Cone, black or bright red – size 12-14
    • Jumbo JuJu Chironomid, blood, olive, or zebra -size 12-14
  • Dries
    • Midge Cluster, peacock – size 18-16
    • Parachute Adams – size 18-16
    • Hanging Midge, gray – size 18-16
  • Streamers
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black or olive – size 8-4
    • Balanced Leach, black, olive, or burnt brown – size 10-6

Snowpack

This will be our final snowpack report until November or December of this year. We could not resist showing off our states current levels one last time. This is truly amazing and much needed. Hopefully this great snowpack will fill all of our reservoirs.

Montana snowpack June 2022

 

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!

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!