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!

14 Day Self-Quarantine Lifted in Montana

Update on Travel to Montana

We were hit with some good news on May 19th, 2020. Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced phase II of the reopening of Montana starting on June 1st.

  1. The most important for our industry and Montana’s economy is the removal of the 14 day self-quarantine period for people traveling into Montana. For all anglers itching to come out and fish with us, you now can do so without waiting in your place of lodging for 14 days first (starting June 1st)!
  2. Capacities increase to 75% for restaurants, bars, and breweries – when you are visiting; you will be able to dine out and enjoy the local restaurants after a long day on the water with us.
  3. Groups of up to 50 people will be allowed.
  4. Social distancing will still be advised.
  5. Montana entrances into Yellowstone National Park may receive the green light on June 1st to open as well.

While this encouraging for us and our industry, we will continue sanitizing and disinfecting our rental gear, boats, and vehicles before and after each trip to keep you and our guides safe. We will continue to practice social distancing per the CDC guidelines.

At Trout On The Fly, our goal is to make your fishing trip with us as safe and comfortable as possible. We have put in place protocols that will help us protect you and our guides from the spread of COVID-19. You will receive the below question before your trip with us.

 In the last two weeks, have you experienced?

  • Fever > 100.0 F
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Sinus Congestion, Nasal Discharge, or Runny Nose
  • Body Aches
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Ear Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Itchy eyes, eye discharge, or “pink eye”
  • Sick people in your household
  • Exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 individual

If you answer “yes” to one or more of the listed questions, your trip will be canceled or rescheduled unless cleared by your healthcare provider that you do not have COVID-19.

Our pre-trip protocol for cleaning and decontamination of loaner equipment, boats, and vehicles.

 Cleaning/Decontamination type

  • Sanitizing wipes approved for COVID-19, alcohol (70% or greater), or soapy water before each trip.

Frequency

  • Before and after the vehicle has been shuttled
  • After clients have exited the vehicle at day’s end
  • Each time clients change seats in the boat

Vehicle:

  • Keys & fobs
  • Exterior and interior door handles
  • Steering wheel
  • Ignition button
  • Window switches
  • Radio, GPS, and other buttons and dials
  • Seat belts & buckles
  • Air vents
  • Cup holders
  • Grab handles
  • Headrests
  • Seats
  • Seat Pockets

Boats:

  • Seats
  • Cup holder trays
  • Coolers
  • Boat bags and gear that is exposed to guests
  • All interior surfaces

Equipment:

  • Rods and reels
  • Waders and boots

Social Distancing

  • We may ask you to drive/follow your guide to the boat ramp in your vehicle. If you must ride with your guide, we will require each person in the vehicle to wear a face-mask.
  • We may recommend a walk-n-wade trip versus a boat trip.
  • We will do our best to maintain the 6′ distance between each other at all times.

Food and Beverage Handling

All food and beverages will be purchased and packed from a certified restaurant or store.

Please do not share anything with anyone.

Each guide will provide hand sanitizer, and we recommend each person uses it, especially before lunch.

All materials from lunch will be cleaned up as contaminated and package appropriately.

Fishing Report

Fishing on our waters continues to be great! We have had cooler temperatures that have slowed down runoff and allowed rivers like the Yellowstone and Gallatin to clear up enough to be fishable again. On the Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers, crowds are minimal at best since out of state anglers are not willing to self-quarantine for the 14 days before fishing in our state (understandably).

Madison River – The Madison River continues to fish very well from Earthquake Lake downriver near Bozeman. We are still seeing a few Skwalla’s around, and the fish are opportunists if they see one float by.  Baetis (BWO), March Browns, and Caddis are bringing fish to the surface for the dry fly anglers. Nymphing is still the best technique to bring numbers of fish to the net. The streamer bite remains hit or miss.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 12-8
    • Gold rib tan Hares Ear soft hackle – size 14-12
    • BH gold rib tan Hares Ear – size 14-12
    • Lightning Bug, purple – size 18-16
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • PT (pheasant tail) Beadhead Soft Hackle – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • BWO CDC Thorax Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive and brown – size 16-14
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
    • Carnage Western March Brown – size 14-12
    • Parachute Hare’s Ear – size 14-12
    • Amy’s Ant, olive – size 14-12
    • Chubby Chernobyl, olive – size 14-12
  • Streamers
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 4
    • Kreelex fly, silver and copper – size 8-4
    • Tips Up, white – size 4

Missouri River – Either the jet boat section below Hauser Dam near Beaver Creek or the drift boat section from below Holter Lake to the Dearborn River continues to fish very well. Nymphing is the most productive approach for the anglers wanting to catch several fish. A reminder that the Missouri River will have clean, clear fishable water during runoff (late-May early-June). The dry fly bite is hit or miss with BWO’s. Having a “ready rod” available with a dry fly is advantageous if or when you see heads start feeding on the surface. Overcast, low wind days are best for the dry fly angler. The streamer fishing has been more miss than hit lately, but if you keep at it, it will pay dividends on quality!

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Soft Hackle Sow Bug, pink and tan – size 16-12
    • Lighting Bug, pink & purple – size 16-14
    • Tailwater Sow Bug – size 16-14
    • Green Machine, olive or PT (pheasant tail) – size 18-16
    • RS2, olive or grey – size 18-16
    • Transitional Dun, pink – size 16
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange & pink – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • BWO CDC Thorax Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Sparkle Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4

Yellowstone River – The Yellowstone leveled off from May 2nd until May 17th, which allowed the river to clear up considerably. The Water temperatures also sparked the Caddis to hatch in good numbers with some good dry fly fishing in the late afternoons into the evening hours. This river is very fickle day to day this time of year with the water clarity. If fishing the Yellowstone, we would make a last-minute decision based on water conditions.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black/olive legs – size 8-4
    • Morsh’s Super Pupa, green – size 16-14
    • KGB Caddis Emerger, olive – size 16-14
    • Deep Sparkle Pupa – size 16-14
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Elk Hair Caddis, olive – size 16-14
    • Snowshoe Caddis, olive – size 16-14
    • Carnage Western March Brown – size 14-12
    • Chubby Chernobyl, olive – size 14-12
  • Streamers
    • Sparkle Minnow, color – JJ Special – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Morrish Sculpin, light & dark olive – size 8-4

Yellowstone National Park

Great news, Yellowstone National Park has opened through the south and east entrances in Wyoming only. Montana has plans to open its entrances through West Yellowstone, Gardiner, and Cook City on Monday, June 1st. We will keep you posted if the Montana entrances indeed open up on June 1st.  Fishing will be permitted as usually starting on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (May 23rd, 2020). You must purchase a Yellowstone National Park fishing license when fishing in the Park, your Montana or Wyoming state fishing license does not allow you to fish in YNP. Park fishing licenses cannot be purchased online, you must purchase from a licensing agent located in the Park or in a entrance towns such as West Yellowstone, Gardiner, or Cook City.

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

Travel Update to Montana

Update on COVID-19 Directive for Montana.

On Wednesday, April 22nd, Montana Governor Steve Bullock addressed his phase one and two Directives for reopening our state. To read the full Directive, click HERE.

Governor Bullock has lifted our stay at home orders starting on Sunday, April 26th. Beginning April 27th, we will be able to start offering guided fishing trips again. While this is excellent news, this first phase still has restrictions; if you are traveling to Montana from another state, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days before we will be able to take you out on our waters. If you meet the requirements and are scheduled to fish with us during phase one, we will still need to follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines until we receive updated Directives from Governor Bullock.

Once anglers are able and willing to start traveling to Montana, we recommend contacting the local health department in the county which you will be lodging at before your arrival. Each county may have Directives that may differ from the state of Montana.

  • Madison County (Ennis, Cameron, Big Sky) – Click HERE
  • Gallatin County (Bozeman, Big Sky, West Yellowstone) – Click HERE
  • Park County (Livingston) – Click HERE
  • Lewis & Clark County (Helena) – Click HERE
  • Bighorn County (Fort Smith, Hardin) – Click HERE
  • Cascade County (Great Falls) – Click HERE

We will keep you posted on these topics as they evolve. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more prompt updates.

Fishing Report

We know this report will be painful for many of our readers to read as they sit at home and are unable to join us for some of the years best fishing during the spring. But hang in there. By doing your part will only help all anglers have the opportunity to come out to Montana sooner rather than later.

We experienced some more than welcome springtime temperatures hovering in the high 50’s to low 60s this past week. The beautiful weather started to melt some of our mountain snow, and as a result, some rivers became off-color. The Gallatin, Jefferson, Yellowstone were off-color but fishable during this warm spell. The lower Madison River between Bozeman and Norris Montana had water temperatures that reached 50 degrees, almost warm enough to encourage the Caddis to start hatching. The Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch needs water temperatures to hit that happy 52 degrees to get things started. This hatch is challenging to hit perfectly due to the fact that the warmer air temperatures needed to get the water temps up also triggers snow to melt and creates some dirty water, thus leaving us with a very short window to capitalize on the hatch. To have the best success with this hatch, we recommend fishing from midday until dusk. This allows the water temperature to get up to that happy 52 degrees when the Caddis will start hatching or returning to the river to lay their eggs.

Madison River – Of all the rivers we offer trips on, the Madison has been on fire lately! We are still seeing Skwalla’s, Baetis (BWO), and some March Browns hatching. For best fishing and the opportunity to fish a dry fly we recommend fishing from Raynolds Bridge access down to Ennis Lake in the Madison Valley. The afternoons (once the water temps are up) have been best to see some fish feeding on the surface. Nymphing has been VERY productive until we find rising fish. The streamer bite has been hit or miss.

Recommended Patterns

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black with olive legs – size 8-4
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, olive with brown legs – size 12-8
    • Green Machine, olive or PT (pheasant tail) – size 18-16
    • RS2, olive or grey – size 18-16
    • Lightning Bug, purple – size 18-16
    • $3 Dip, brown – size 16-14
    • PT (pheasant tail) Beadhead Soft Hackle – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • BWO CDC Thorax Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Sparkle Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
    • Carnage Western March Brown – size 14-12
    • Parachute Hare’s Ear – size 14-12
    • Amy’s Ant, olive – size 14-12
    • Chubby Chernobyl, olive – size 14-12
  • Streamers
    • Peanut Envy, olive – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Morrish Sculpin, light & dark 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 to the Dearborn River have and will continue to fish very well through runoff (late-May, early-June). Mostly a nymphing a game right now. However, we are seeing some fish feeding to Baetis adults on overcast days when the wind is calm. The streamer guys are seeing some quality browns come to the net but not in quantities.

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
    • Green Machine, olive or PT (pheasant tail) – size 18-16
    • RS2, olive or grey – size 18-16
    • Transitional Dun, pink – size 16
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange & pink – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • BWO CDC Thorax Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Sparkle Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • Kreelex, gold/silver – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Sparkle Minnow, olive – size 4

Yellowstone River – Leading up to the warmer weather we received last week, the Yellowstone was in great shape and fishing well. The water clarity diminished to 6”-8” by Wednesday, April 22nd. This will still fish during these conditions but mostly a nymph and streamer game with patterns that have some color to them, such as San Juan Worms, Stonefly nymphs, and white streamers. Blue Winged Olives are the fly of choice for the dry fly anglers if you happen upon rising fish. Like the lower Madison River we anticipate seeing some Caddis and March Browns in the next week or two. We would recommend fishing anywhere from Carbellas to Highway 89 fishing access site. Once you float below 89 Bridge you will encounter the Sheilds River pushing some muddy water into the Yellowstone.

  • Nymphs/Emergers
    • Pats Stonefly nymph, black/olive legs – size 8-4
    • Green Machine, olive or PT (pheasant tail) – size 18-16
    • RS2, olive or grey – size 18-16
    • Lightning Bug, purple – size 18-16
    • PT (pheasant tail) Beadhead Soft Hackle – size 14-12
    • San Juan Worms, red & orange – size 6-2
    • Egg patterns – orange – size 18-14
  • Dries
    • Adams & Parachute Adams – size 18-14
    • BWO CDC Thorax Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Sparkle Dun, olive – size 18-14
    • Purple Haze – size 16-14
  • Streamers
    • JJ Special – size 4
    • BH (bead head) Wooly Bugger, black – size 8-4
    • Morrish Sculpin, light & dark olive – size 8-4

Jefferson River – Our favorite time to fish the Jefferson is in the spring before runoff starts. That window of opportunity has faded in the rearview mirror unless we receive multiple days of colder weather to slow the snowmelt, and based on the ten-day forecast, that is highly unlikely. The Jefferson will start to see runoff conditions earlier than the Madison, Gallatin, or Yellowstone Rivers (late-April). The ideal time is late-March through mid-April. Once the river starts dropping and we see 6”-8“ water clarity, then we are ready to get back on this river, this will occur around mid-June.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park always opens to fishing on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Opening day is May 23rd this year. The Park is closed to all visitors, and we have no new information on if or when they will reopen. Hopefully, by May 23rd. We will keep you posted once we receive some information on this. Cross our fingers.

Stay safe and always enjoy the time you have with family!

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

Spring Fishing & COVID-19 in Montana

During this unprecedented time in our world, we would like to take this free time we have to update you on our status here in Montana. As most of you already know, Montana has a relatively small population for the size of our state, 1 million 52 thousand residents in the fourth largest state. However, these numbers do not make us immune to the Coronavirus, but we can all do our part and follow the CDC guidelines to help stop the spread.

On March 26th Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a statewide stay at home directive that goes into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday, March 28th through Friday, April 10th. Under the directive, people may leave their homes for essential activities, including health and safety reasons, for necessary supplies and services, to take care of others, and for outdoor activity.

“To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or in closed terrain).”

On March 29th social distancing guidelines have been extended through April 30th. Keeping a minimum 6′ distance between you and another person. Avoid crowds of 10 or more people.

On March 30th, Governor Bullock issued a directive for travelers entering Montana to self quarantine for 14 days. Ordered through April 10th.

“The Directive applies both to Montana residents and non-residents entering the state for non-work-related purposes. It requires a self-quarantine for 14 days, or the duration of a non-work trip to Montana—whichever is shorter. The Directive also instructs the Montana Department of Commerce to advise vacation listing and rental sites that they must notify potential out-of-state renters about the quarantine requirement. Health care workers are excluded from the Directive.

Further, the Directive authorizes the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks at Montana airports and rail stations and screen for potential exposure history for travelers arriving in Montana from another state or country.”

Guiding anglers is not considered essential, so we will not be taking anglers out through April 10th and most likely through April 30th. We do encourage anglers to get outside and enjoy being on the water so long as we are staying at least six feet away from others while fishing. We believe we should all take it to the next step and fish solo or only with those in your immediate household through April 30th.

In This Newsletter:

Staying Safe on Fishing Trips, Fishing report, Travel Insurance & Snowpack.

Staying Safe on Fishing Trips

Safety is our number one priority for you and us. With that said, all April trips have been canceled. For the month of May, we will keep you informed on any restrictions that will effect your trip(s) with us.  We are cautiously optimistic that the curve will straighten by June, and hopefully we can get back to showing anglers a great time on the water. Given the current circumstances, we want to reassure you that we will follow the necessary guidelines to keep you and our guides safe during your fishing trip while in Montana. Here are a few steps that we are adopting to ensure your safety with us.

  1. All our guides will carry and use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes often. We ask that you bring sanitizer and disinfectant wipes as well.
  2. Regularly disinfect common areas such as fishing rods, car door handles, and areas of common use in our boats.
  3. To limit extended times in our vehicles near each other in a confined area, we may ask clients to follow their guide to the boat ramp/fishing access sites.
  4. If anglers or our guides have any symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, feeling tired or worn down. We would ask that you stay at home. We will work with you on rescheduling or canceling your trip(s).
  5. We may encourage a walk-n-wade trip versus a float trip to limit the distance near each other.

Fishing Report

Fishing has been good and continues to be good in all our area waters. We are seeing a higher volume of local anglers out fishing for this time of year. This is due to the nicer weather we have been receiving, but also because of all the business closures throughout our state. Naturally, unemployed anglers are taken to the rivers to consume their downtime. Currently, we are seeing no guide trips out on the water since our industry is not considered essential. The trout are mostly hanging in the deeper, slower-moving water (walking speed). We have not had any reports of rainbows sitting in the shallow water on their spawning beds yet, but keep an eye out as these rainbows will soon start making their beds for the spring spawn. Please don’t bother them if you do see them on their beds.

The Gallatin River near Bozeman, MT, is in good shape with good water clarity. Nymphing is the primary game on the Gallatin River using Palomino Midges, Baetis nymphs such as a Hogan’s S&M size 16, stonefly nymphs like a Pats Stone in black with olive legs size 4-6, red San Juan Worms and egg patterns are also catching some fish. We are seeing some fish feeding on adult Midges on the warmer days during midday from 12 to 3, so keep an eye out for rising fish.

The Madison River is fishing very well from Earthquake Lake down towards Bozeman. Most of the boat ramps are accessible now, which allows us to access a majority of the River. Like the Gallatin River, the nymphing game on the Madison River is best with the same patterns as on the Gallatin River. Consider fishing a size 6-8 olive stonefly nymph. This will mimic the Skwalla Stones that we should start to see in the upcoming month of April.

This is a great time of year to be on the Ruby River. Because the flows are lower, it’s easy to navigate without trespassing, which is always a big concern when fishing the Ruby River. There have been fewer anglers fishing the Ruby, and the fishing has been equally as good as the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. Keep your eye out for fish working the surface between one – three o’clock on midges.

The Missouri River in both the jet boat section and the drift boat section is fishing very well. Egg patterns, San Juan worms, Soft hackle Sowbugs, Pink lightning bugs, Disco midge, Hogan’s S&M, Green Machine are all great nymphs to have in your box while on the Mighty Mo.

Travel Insurance

When booking a fishing trip with us, we have and continue to recommend purchasing trip insurance. Trip insurance can cover the cost of your guided fishing trip as well as flights, car rental, lodging and more. Having insurance is important now more than ever. As a partner with Global Rescue we highly recommend them for your travel insurance needs. We recommend looking into your trip insurance before you send us a deposit, or immediately after you have sent us a deposit.

Snowpack

We have solid numbers heading into our spring. It should be another season with plenty of water!

Getting out on the water is a great way to pass the time, all while social distancing yourself from other people. Montana is a large state, and we have plenty of water to fish, there is no reason you should be fishing within 100 yards of another angler. Get outside and enjoy the time you have off while you can. Give your loved ones a hug and stay safe out there.

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

Leap Year Fishing News From the Big Sky State

We want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth at The Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and Edison, New Jersey, this past January. It was great to see a lot of our frequent guests and talk fishing with future guests. At the show in Marlborough, I had John and Paul Bunker helping out in the booth, thank you Bunker brothers for all your hospitality and help, I couldn’t have done it without you! At the show in Edison, NJ, I had Chris Kirkwood in the booth helping me. Chris’s knowledge of travel from the east coast to Montana is invaluable! Chris has put all three of his kids through college at Montana State University in Bozeman, with this came a lot of commuting from New Jersey to Bozeman and back. If you need any information about what east coast hub to fly out of, what airlines to use, and where to rent a car to avoid inflation during peak tourist season – Chirs is your guy. If you need any travel advice, let me know, and I will put you in contact with Chris Kirkwood or John Bunker.

In This Newsletter:

2020 Fishing License, Final Trade Show, Snowpack, and Fishing Report.

Time to Renew Your Annual Fishing License

Because it is a leap year, Montana anglers get one extra day on their 2019 season fishing license, February 29th. Starting on March 1st, 2020, you will need to renew your Montana fishing license. There is one new change that is beneficial to nonresident anglers beginning on Sunday, March 1st. The one-time annual cost of a nonresident Angler AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) Prevention Pass (AISPP) has declined from $15.00 to $7.50! You can purchase your Montana fishing license online HERE.

Owners of motorboats, sailboats, or personal watercraft need to get new, free 2020-2023 validation decals for their watercraft. The current green decals will expire on February 29. You can order these online HERE.

Our Final Trade Show of 2020

The 45th Annual Houston Fishing Show in Houston, Texas March 4-8 at the George R. Brown Convention Center

  • 1001 Avenida De Las Americas (Located in downtown Houston) Exhibit Hall A,
    Houston Texas, 77010
  • Show Times
    • Wednesday March 4th: 12 noon to 9pm
    • Thursday March 5th: 12 noon to 9pm
    • Friday March 6th: 12 noon to 9pm
    • Saturday March 7th: 10am to 7pm
    • Sunday March 8th: 10am to 6pm
  • Our booth number is 544.

Current Snowpack

Snowpack is looking great for all of our rivers!

When booking a trip with us, keep in mind our runoff in southwest Montana is historically mid-May through the first week in June on a ten-year average. However, rivers can get high and off-color earlier or last longer. During runoff, we have plenty of fishable water; sections of the Madison River will fish well, and a majority of the Missouri River will be in good shape. Of these two rivers, the Missouri River will see more angler pressure than the Madison River.

Fishing Report

February started as it should with snow and cold temperatures. However, this final week of this leap year month has daytime temperatures hitting the high 30’s to low 40’s in the Gallatin Valley. These temperatures have anglers trading in their skies for their fly rods, and I can’t seem to blame them! Currently, we have plenty of accessible fishing access sites on our waters that are free of snow. Several boat ramps on the Madison and Missouri Rivers are accessible, which is early for some of the sites. If you plan to float, make sure you can launch your boat at both your access points. Just because you can get your boat in at point “A” doesn’t mean you can get your boat out at point “B.” Wade fishing on both the Gallatin River and Ruby River are in prime shape with easy access, and I highly recommend spending a half-day on either when the daytime temperatures are at their peak, from 11-2.

I was at the Gates of the Mountain Marina last week, where we launch our jet boats for the Land of Giants trip on the Missouri River. They had open water at the boat ramp two weeks ago; however, a cold snap that followed locked it back in with ice. The warm weather forecasted for this week should melt that ice at the boat ramp again and allow us to launch our jet boats on the Missouri River hopefully by the first week of March. The water temperatures are still bitter cold – while out fishing, target the slower deeper moving water. With this week’s favorable temperatures, we will see fish feeding on midges, both the emerger stage and adult. Take caution when approaching the water not to spook any rising fish near the banks. Be careful when wade fishing, there are still ice shelves present (see photo below), and they are slippery. Also, watch for these ice shelves breaking free and washing down the river; they are large enough to take out an angler in the water.

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

Out With 2019, In With 2020

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! We want to thank everyone who supported us in 2019!

In This Newsletter:

2019 in a nutshell, Madison River scoping update, upcoming trade show schedule , Madison River presentation, snowpack, and fishing report.

A Look Back on 2019

2019 was filled with lots of great people, great fishing, and great memories.

Spring 2019, our first prolific hatch on the Madison River, the Mother’s Day caddis hatch came off, well, on Mother’s Day! We have not seen this for several years. Typically this hatch has been coming off in late April or the first few days in May before Mother’s Day. Fishing the Mothers Day caddis hatch can be frustrating and rewarding. One of the issues with this hatch is that the fish seem to key in on the adult caddis later in the afternoon until dusk when most guide trips are pulling off of the water. Consider a drift boat trip with us where we begin around mid-day and fish up to dark during this hatch.

Our next major hatch on the Madison River was the famous Pteronarcys Californica, aka the salmon fly hatch! Like clockwork, annually this hatch starts in late-June and can extends into the second week of July. In 2019 the fish didn’t seem to be keyed in on the “big bug” throughout this hatch. However, the fish that were eating them on the surface were quality. If you are willing to stick with the big dry fly, you will be rewarded with a quality brown or rainbow trout.

Late July through the middle of September, we experienced one of the best terrestrial seasons in 20 years. Not just on the Madison River, but a majority of our waters!

October was colder than usual, with wind chills hitting sub-zero on multiple days. Our walk and wade trips in Yellowstone National Park on the Madison River was hit or miss. The overcast days produced more trout than the sunny days. The better fishing on the Madison in YNP for these fall run-up trout got good around the 20th of October and stayed good until the last day we could fish in the Park, which is always through the first Sunday in November. The weather was a little too cold to commit to being in the drift boat all day. On those cold October days when we were scheduled to float, or if Yellowstone National Parks roads were closed due to poor road conditions, we would walk and wade fish around Raynolds Bridge, $3 Bridge, Pine Butte, and Lyons Bridge. Using our vehicles to warm up in between fishing spots made those trips possible.

Madison River Update

The public comment period ends at midnight on Monday, January 6th for the Madison River Recreations Scoping Process. If you have not done so already, take the time to voice your thoughts and concerns. The opportunity to comment on this issue could shape the future of public water access in Montana.  To take the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RDWKFXW. In addition to taking the survey, you can submit written comments to madisonrivercom@mt.gov.

Upcoming Trade Shows (2 of 3)

1 of 3)  The Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA January 17, 18, & 19 at the Royal Plaza Hotel and Trade Center.

  • 181 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, MA 01752
  • Show Times
    • Friday: 10am – 6pm
    • Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm
    • Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm
  • Our booth number has not been announced. We will announce it on our Facebook page once we know.

I will be giving a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation each day of the show: WHEN & WHERE TO FISH THE MADISON RIVER

  • Talk time and location
    • Friday: 1pm room B
    • Saturday: 1pm room B
    • Sunday: 1pm room B

To purchase tickets for the Marlborough show, click HERE.

2 of 3) The Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ January 24, 25, & 26 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center.

  • 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837
  • Show Times
    • Friday: 9am – 6pm
    • Saturday: 8:30am – 6pm
    • Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm
  • Our booth number has not been announced. We will announce it on our Facebook page once we know.

I will be giving a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation each day of the show: WHEN & WHERE TO FISH THE MADISON RIVER

  • Talk time and location
    • Friday: 1pm room B-100
    • Saturday: 1pm room C-75
    • Sunday: 1pm room B-100

To purchase tickets for the Edison Show, click HERE.

Presentation in Stratham, NH – all are invited, its free!

Thanks to our good friends John Bunker and brother Paul Bunker for setting up this event!

I will be giving a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation on When & Where to Fish the Madison River. John Bunker will be giving a brief presentation on Angling in Yellowstone National Park, , and Paul Bunker will provide a brief overview of the Yellowstone Volunteer Fly Fishing Program.  Paul has spent over 200 days in Yellowstone and is working to restart the Volunteer Program in 2020.

Where: Wiggin Memorial Library – 10 Bunker Hill Ave, Stratham, NH 03885

When: Thursday, January 16th, from 6 to 7:15pm.

Current Snowpack

Fishing Report

Unfortunately, we do not have a current fishing report for you. We have been busy in the office getting ready for trade shows and getting ready for the 2020 season. We do know that the warmer weather lately had anglers getting out to wet a line. Take advantage of those warmer days in the winter months.  The best time to fish during our winter season is from 11am to 2pm when the air temperatures are at their peak. This time of year, you should be ready with midge patterns, both larvae, and adults, for when you see heads up feeding. If fishing the Madison River, we recommend fishing near Raynolds Bridge, between Hebgen & Quake Lake, and below Ennis Lake. These sections historically will be accessible and ice-free. Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your vehicle when venturing outside during the winter months, bring spare clothing, extra food, and let family or friends know where you plan to fish.

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

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!

As most of you know we typically send out a Christmas card to each angler that fished with us for that season highlighting some of many memorable photos captured during the season. Some, if not many of you have “made” the annual Christmas card. This year our annual card was not ordered in time due to some unexpected events. However, we still want to highlight some of those wonderful photos captured during the 2019 season. Enjoy!

May your holidays be filled with family, friends, lots of love and laughter!

Fall Report

We hope everyone had plenty of Thanksgiving food yesterday and enjoyed time with family and friends! Now sit back with that full belly and enjoy the news!

In this newsletter:

Madison River management plan update and survey. 2019 fall brown trout run report. Upcoming trade show schedule. Holiday gift ideas.

Madison River Management Plan Update and Survey

The Madison River Foundation and the George Grant Trout Unlimited chapter submitted petitions to our Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks 5-member commission with their plans for a management plan for the Madison River. Their plans were very similar to the original plans the commissioners rejected in April of 2018. On November 12th, 2019 the commissioners rejected both petitions that were submitted to them, thankfully. Moving forward, FWP has started its public scoping process.

Please take the time and fill out the survey which needs to be submitted by December 6th, 2019.

Here is the email from Montana FWP –

“Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park is beginning a public process to gauge public support and collect feedback on various alternatives for dealing with crowding and conflict on the Madison River.

The process, known as scoping, will ask the public their opinions on various alternatives to addressing four main issues: commercial fishing outfitter management, social conflict management on the upper river, lower river recreational management, and angler use management on the upper river. The form of this process will be a public survey.

Additionally, the public will weigh in on their support for a management goal for recreational use on the river.

The scoping process comes at the direction of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which met earlier this month to hear petitions from various interest groups proposing solutions to recreation management on the Madison River. The commission denied all three petitions but directed the department staff to insert the options proposed within the petitions into a scoping process.

The public will have 40 days to comment. Once the scoping process is complete, the department will consider the survey results and draft a proposed rule, which is slated to go before the commission in February. The commission will then choose whether or not to put the proposed rule out for public comment.

“It’s taken a long time and a lot of work to get to this point where we can officially collect input on our next steps,” said FWP director Martha Williams. “People are passionate about the Madison River, and we know it’s important for us to consider all interests in moving forward. We’re committed to doing just that.”

In addition to taking the survey, people can submit written comments to madisonrivercom@mt.gov.

The survey can be found at this link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RDWKFXW.”

Fall Brown Trout Runup Report

Similar to the fall of 2018, our fall run for 2019 started out slow. When I say slow I am talking about two anglers with one guide landing 8-15 run up rainbows and browns per day. The fishing seemed to get good around October 25th, historically the fall run gets good around mid-October and continues to stay good into November. From 10/25 on clients were landing 20-30 run up rainbows and browns per day between two anglers on the overcast days, some of those browns hit the 20″-23″ mark on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. The overcast days produced more and better fish than the sunny days which is normal. Catching trout on the sunny days seem to be challenging but the whitefish seemed eager to eat our flies. October was much colder than most Octobers with a few days where the wind chill hit -25 degrees. Believe it or not, we had only two cancellations during the cold snap in October, some hearty anglers out there! Several days the Park Service closed the roads in YNP due to snow (or lack of snow) however, we took advantage of those days and fished the Madison River in Montana around Three Dollar Bridge, Reynolds bridge, and Pine Butte areas with great success and no crowds. To sum it up I would recommend booking later in the season for 2020 based on the last two years of fishing during the brown trout run. When booking we can fish in Yellowstone National Park through the first Sunday in November, which is the 1st for 2020. BOOK NOW FOR PRIME DATES IN 2020!

 

 

Upcoming Trade Show Schedules

We are only attending three trade shows this winter, and here they are!

  1. The Fly Fishing Show at the Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center in Marlborough, MA – January 17-19, 2020.
  2. The Fly Fishing Show at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison, NJ – January 24-26, 2020.
  3. The 45th Annual Fishing Show at the George R. Brown Convention & Exhibit Center in Houston, TX – March 4-8, 2020

We will keep you posted on show schedules a couple of weeks before each show. Stay tuned!

Holiday Gift Ideas?

Are you struggling with holiday gift ideas? Check out our online store for the perfect Christmas gift! In stock –  Trout On The Fly hats, t-shirts (women and men in an assortment of colors and sizes), hoodies, buffs and the perfect gift a fishing trip!

 

 

 

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

Long Overdue Newsletter & New Address

Where Have We Been?

We apologize for not getting a newsletter out since Memorial Day weekend. We have been busy with trips out every day since Easter! It’s exciting but a lot of work and at times exhausting, hence the 4-month delay in getting this newsletter out!

Fishing Report For This Summer

We have had a wonderful season to date. Water temperatures and flows have been in good shape all summer long, good for the fish and the anglers. We had no “hoot owl”  closures on our waters this summer. “Hoot owl” closures are enacted when Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks steps in and closes rivers from 2 pm to midnight due to warm water temperatures. Because the temperatures have been cooler, our salmon fly hatch was about a week to ten days late this year. Typically we will start to see the first adults around June 18th, but this season we didn’t see them until around June 28th, and even then the fish weren’t that hungry for them. The caddis dry fishing during the salmon fly hatch made up for the slower than average salmon fly bite. Fast forward to late July and our terrestrial fishing turned on! The hopper and ant bite was amazing this summer! During the start of the hopper bite, some of the fish were suicidal when it came to eating the hopper; we would have two or three fish try to eat our hoppers at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than that! As word got out on how good the terrestrial bite was on the Madison River, every guide in Montana and Idaho and their siblings departed their “home” waters and made the pilgrimage to the Madison River. The crowds didn’t seem to slow the bite down one bit. Around late-August, the fish started to wisen up to the hoppers and they began to be more selective on what they were eating. The two best hoppers were the Thunder Thighs in pink and tan and Morshs pink or orange body. Finding these two hoppers in a sizes 14 or 12 in Montana was like winning the lottery! As I write this email the fish are still eating the hopper. When will they stop eating the hopper? Who knows but we are enjoying every day they do! The Yellowstone River was amazing some days with the hoppers and slow the next day, typical for the Yellowstone, but a blast when they were on it!

Moving forward to current conditions of area waters: We had a weather cold snap from September 6th through the 11th that just let up, triggering some fall run-up rainbows and browns to make their way into the rivers from area lakes and reservoirs such as Hebgen Lake, Ennis Lake, and Holter Lake. Our favorite time of the year! From now into November you could catch the brown trout of a lifetime! A typical day on the Madison River right now will start out with nymphing or streamer fishing in the morning, then switch to a hopper and ant when the air warms up. The fish seem to be keyed in on the terrestrials when it is sunny out on the Madison River. The nymph fishing has been solid with Baetis patterns such as PT Spanker, Green Machine or the Micro Mayfly.

We Have Moved

My family and I have moved back to Bozeman, MT from Butte, MT. This was a decision we made to ensure our kids would have the best opportunities for academics, sports, and social life.

For those of you who don’t know the story of TOTF; I moved to Bozeman, MT from my hometown in Billings, MT in the mid-’90s for college. I fell into the fly-fishing guiding world as an independent contractor in the late-’90s and have never looked back. I lived in Bozeman, then Big Sky, then Gallatin Gateway, then the Madison Valley near Raynolds Bridge and five years ago my wife got a job in Butte, MT as a general surgeon, and now we are back in Bozeman, MT!

We are not a brick and mortar store. We are a full-service outfitter and guide service that tailors trips to each individual’s needs and wants. From all-inclusive packages to vacation rentals. We accommodate beginners or experienced anglers, large groups, corporate groups or single anglers. We offer drift boats, walk-n-wade, and jetboat trips. We can outfit you from head to toe with waders, boots and rain gear. We provide the use of rods at no extra cost on all of our trips.

New Rates

To stay competitive in pricing TOTF will be raising our trip rates effective 1/1/2020. At this moment we are unsure of the new rates that will be adopted. If you would like to book for 2020 but pay the 2019 trip rates, please contact us with the dates you want, how many anglers in your party and a 50% deposit to secure your spot.

Merchandise

Because we are not a brick and mortar store, anglers always ask how they can buy a hat, shirt or sun mask. We have a full line of apparel on our online store. Here are a few samples.

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

Montana Fishing News

In this newsletter:

Fishing Report, Runoff Conditions, Yellowstone National Park Opener!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! We would like to remember all of the service men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our great country. Thank you to all the families who have loved ones that died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Fishing Report

We have been so busy since Easter that the newsletters have taken a back seat to all the wonderful spring fishing to be had. Clients have enjoyed some great trips on the Madison, Missouri, Yellowstone, and Ruby Rivers – walk and wade, jet boat and drift boat trips. The weather has been all over the board with sunny days, wind, rain, snow and colder weather patterns. Despite these conditions, and with the proper gear, we have had no problems finding fish.

Missouri River 

The Mighty Mo has fished very well in April and May. Both our jet boat trips in Land Of Giants and our drift boat trips near Craig, MT were very productive and will continue to be productive through runoff. Because a majority of the Missouri River is a tailwater fishery, we don’t have to worry about muddy water from runoff. Below Hauser Dam, where we offer trips on the jet boat, there are no tributaries below the dam that put muddy water into the Missouri River. Below Holter Dam, where we offer trips with the drift boat, there is one major tributary that we watch: the Dearborn River, approximately 13 miles below the dam. The Dearborn River will throw major amounts of muddy water into the Missouri River, making much of the Mo unfishable below the Dearborn. There is plenty of clean fishable water in the drift boat section from Holter Dam to Dearborn ramp during runoff.  Nymphing has been ideal in both sections with the occasional head up on Blue Wing Olives. Patterns like Soft Hackle Sow Bugs, Green Machines, Rainbow Warriors, Pink Lightning Bugs, egg patterns, and San Juan Worms. We are only a couple of weeks away from seeing some PMD’s, a favorite time for most anglers on the Missouri, as this is usually a great time to fish the dry flies.

Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) on the Missouri River is currently at 7500 coming out of Hauser Dam. During late April the flows were almost reaching 12,000 cfs – this is common to purge the reservoirs before runoff in anticipation of runoff filling it up again.

Madison River

Our busiest river when it comes to guided fishing trips, the Madison River speaks for itself. It always produces fish, diverse structure, amazing scenery and it can accommodate all anglers.

The famed Mothers Day caddis hatch came off on Mothers Day weekend; how appropriate! Leading up to the Mothers Day hatch we did have a few nice days with prolific March Brown hatches where the fish were eating on the surface. During the March Brown hatch, we had Skwala adults out as well. Fishing a Skwala dry with a March Brown dry behind it was deadly! After the few days of nice weather around May 8, 9 & 10 the cold wet weather came back in and has not left Montana. This colder weather has delayed runoff which has been nice keeping most of our waters in play! It looks like the weather is supposed to finally break with some sunny days forecasted for the Tuesday after Memorial Day! For this long weekend, the Madison River will be fishable from Yellowstone National Park to the headwaters of the Missouri River. The warm weather next week will lead to runoff conditions and limit the sections that will fish well. One of the major tributaries to the Madison River is the West Fork of the Madison. The West Fork flows into the Madison about 1 mile upstream of Lyons Bridge on the west side of the river. This will dump muddy water in during runoff leading to poor water clarity. We can still fish this section of river below the West Fork however, you will be confined to fishing the east side and center of the river all the way down to Palisades fishing access site. The muddy water from the West Fork will merge to the east side of the river by the time it reaches the Palisades area, not to mention more tributaries will also contribute to the muddy waters below Palisades such as Indian Creek.

Bugs for the Madison River this weekend include: Pats Stone black with olive legs sizes 2-6, San Juan worms in red or orange, Purple Lightning Bug size 16, Pearl Lighting Bug size 16, Green Machine in PT size 16, Red BH Serendipity, Green Caddis Pupa patterns in size 16, Adams size 16, Parachute Adams size 16, Purple Haze size 16, Peanut Envy in Olive, Kreelex Fly in silver.

CFS on the Madison at the Varney Bridge gauging station is currently at 1900. During the warm spell in mid-May this station almost hit 3500 cfs. If you are planning on floating without a guide make sure you are careful with these flows, especially a short distance downstream of Windy Point fishing access at the Wolf Creek Bridge. High waters make this difficult to impossible to float under – if you’re not sure don’t float in this section! This bridge has already claimed one boat this season.

Gallatin River

We have had a couple of trips out wade fishing the Gallatin River this spring with great success. Mostly smaller fish averaging 8-12″ in length. Most of our trips on the Gallatin River are performed from Spanish Creek, downstream past Bozeman, MT to the headwaters of the Missouri River, near Three Forks Montana. We also offer wade trips on the Gallatin River in Yellowstone National Park, which opens on 5/25/19!

The Gallatin River is fishable for now. This will change as the weather becomes warmer next week, at which point we will keep a close eye on the clarity before each trip scheduled for the Gallatin. When the Gallatin is too muddy to fish we always have the Madison River as a backup, as well as the Yellowstone National Park section of the Gallatin. This portion of river is upstream of the Taylors Fork tributary that affects downstream clarity during the runoff.

Bugs you will need if you are hitting the Gallatin River this weekend include: Pats Stone black with olive legs sizes 2-6, San Juan worms in red or orange, Purple Lightning Bug size 16, Pearl Lighting Bug size 16, Green Machine in PT size 16, Green Caddis Pupa patterns in size 16, Adams size 16, Parachute Adams size 16, Purple Haze size 16, Wooly Bugger BH in black size 8-4. Similar flies to the Madison River right now.

CFS on the Gallatin River is currently holding at 1450 at the Gallatin Gateway gauging station. During runoff, the cfs can hit as high as 8,000 depending on snowpack.

Ruby River

The Ruby River near Alder, MT is a fantastic fishery that we truly enjoy fishing in the winter and spring months before runoff and before the crowds arrive for the summer. This fishery is fantastic for a half day of walk and wade fishing. A great option for a full day is to fish the Ruby in the morning and spend the second half of the day on the Madison River near Ennis.

Bugs needed for the Ruby include: San Juan worm in orange and red, Wooly Bugger in black size 4-8, Micro May in olive size 16, Purple Lightning Bug size 16, egg patterns size 16, Bow River Bugger sizes 4-8, Morrish Sculpin in olive, brown or dark olive.

CFS currently on the Ruby below Ruby Reservoir is 360. The ideal flows that allow you to walk around and not trespass are lower than this at 100 cfs or less. However, there is good fishing to be had on the current publically accessible areas of the Ruby River. Remember it is the responsibility of the angler to know private vs public land and where the ordinary high water mark is.

Yellowstone National Park

It has been 202 days since the last time we were able to wet a line in Yellowstone National Park (since Sunday, November 4th, 2018 to be exact.) The park always opens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and you can fish through the first Sunday in November. Remember that Yellowstone Park requires a different fishing license than Montana. These fishing licenses can be purchased at licensing agents in West Yellowstone, MT,  Gardiner, MT and a couple of locations in Bozeman. You can also purchase them in the park at ranger stations. You CANNOT purchase online. A few other important reminders when fishing the park: 1. No lead split shot. 2. No felt sole wading boots. 3. Barbless hooks. 4. Legal fishing hours are from sunrise to sunset. For more detailed regulations make sure you get a regulation book when you purchase a fishing license.

If you are fishing in YNP this weekend make sure you are carrying your bear spray and know how to use it!

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