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.

 

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