Hoot owls have begun nesting.
Seriously, though. Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks instituted a Hoot Owl Closure for several rivers in the Bozeman area this last week. This means that you cannot fish the following stretches of river from 2 p.m. to midnight:
Gallatin River - Four Corners downstream to Headwaters
Lower Madison River (i.e. Madison dowstream of Ennis Dam to Headwaters) - entire river
Jefferson River - entire river
Ruby River - Duncan District Road to confluence with Beaverhead
Beaverhead River - entire river
Big Hole River - assorted stretches*
Why is there a closure in the first place?
Due to a low-snow year this last winter, water levels have dropped early in the season. As levels drop, water temps warm and dissolved oxygen levels in the water become dangerously low for trout. After fighting a fish, it will be stressed and may not be able to get enough oxygen to recover and survive.
How long will the closure last?
The closure will be lifted when water temperatures drop back into safe levels for trout. It will likely be in place for the entire summer, but could be lifted in the case of a wet, rainy couple of weeks in the Bozeman area.
Why is it called the Hoot Owl Closure?
Owls rest during the day, and are active at night and into the early morning. During the closure, anglers are required to give the rivers a rest during the day and night, but can fish in the early mornings.
*For more details on closures, visit the Montana FWP: Fishing & Waterbody Restrictions page
Current Hoot Owl Closures- 7/16/16
Lots of mild weather in the region the past week or two. With the nice weather our rivers have cooled down and made for some real good July fishing. A couple of the water ways in the area have been lifted off of the Hoot Owl Closure!! Very good news for those of us that enjoy the evening dry fly bite.
10 Foot Rods... Think about it...
Ever see a slot in the middle of the river you would really like to get a good drift through? Or needed an extra little bit of rod to execute a long roll cast while tight to the willows? How about those long reach casts up on the MO? Hopper dropper setups from the front of a drift boat on the Yellowstone? I have been bugging a lot of people who come into the shop looking for a new rod, about looking into the 10 foot dimension. 10 times out of 10, they look at me and ask, "Why?" Why 10 foot over 9 foot? Do not get me wrong I love the 9 foot length. Its great, has always been great since it has been around and we've had the technology to support that length. If you already have a sweet selection of 9 foot rods in your closet, good. Don't mind me over here. If you are interested in shopping up a new rod this season, check this out. I have a couple reasons that lead me to believe that 10 foot rods may be.... (get ready for it)... BETTER than a 9 footer.. Just prepare yourself and bare with me..
Exploring New Country
I took advantage of having two days off in a row earlier this week by filling up the jeep with gas and gear and heading in a new direction. It felt good to log some long windshield miles again. Rumors of large unpressured trout kept the enthusiasm high. Even after living here for several years now, I am constantly reminded of how vast Montana is.
High water have you down? Fishing sound unproductive? Go anyways... And enjoy it.
Ever get up in the morning and get your things together to go to the river, then get to the river and it not be everything you ever hoped for? You've probably fished in the Rocky Mountains during the month of May. With weather and water conditions being extremely inconsistent and unpredictable, fishing can be more work than play. When a fisherman/fisherwoman finds himself or herself in this position he or she has two options. 1.) You could always throw up the white flag. Kneel before Mother Nature and go home. But no good stories come from such actions. 2.) You could figure out a way to enjoy what opportunity has been given to you. Seize the Day, ya know. Fish anyways. Just in case.. I choose #2 most of the time.
High Water Mark
Spring is here and more people are getting out and enjoying the great weather and great fishing! It is always such a great time of year, hearing everyone come into the shop and sharing their encounters with some of our local fish and rivers. One thing about this time of year, the high water pushes people closer to the high water mark. It is critical that we, as fisherman are aware of our boundaries. Respect the land and the land owners in our amazing state. The rules are in the sprotsmans' favor as it is, there is no reason to get greedy now. If you have any questions about legal access and or legal boundaries feel free to come into the shop and we can help you out. None of us want the battle between fisherman and landowner to continue and become more of an issue.
Also with all of that, the fishing is getting good and things are shaping up to be a great year in terms of water for us here in the region.
Fly Fishing Classes
If you have ever wanted to learn all the things you needed to know to go out and be successful on the river, we offer the class you're looking for. Everything from a 2 hour casting lesson, to the knots you'll need to know. Also the importance of river edicate will be discussed so we can all still be friends when we see each other out on the water enjoying the great fishing Montana has to offer. Lunch is also included and will be brought here to shop so you can snack while we go over reading water and fly selection on some of our trickier water ways.
Bugs are out in force; and variety.
Shop staff Ethan, Marley and I made it down to the river last night after a long day in the shop. Believe it or not, sipping trout were not necessarily our main target but it turned into that kind of a night. The bugs started coming off in force early, around 5 o'clock. Caddis swarmed around the railroad bridge, then a little later the midges came off in great numbers. As the evening progressed we laid eyes on BWO's, Tan & Black Caddis, Midges, March Browns, and a couple lone Grey Drakes.
Even with the constantly changing water conditions, the bug activity right now is border line crazy. Has all of us here at the shop feeling very optimistic about the months to come.
Steelhead Trip Olympic Peninsula
We had a last minute cancellation on Rod's hosted steelhead trip to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state so there are now two spots available. This trip is usually booked up a year in advance so having a spot open up is pretty uncommon because the area is so pristine with incredible fishing. The OP is one of the last great Wild Steelhead runs on the West coast and pair that with the rainforest habitat that the rivers flow through and it's a spectacular combination.
The Importance of a New Fly Line
“I would rather cast a cheap fly rod with the best quality line rather than a high end rod with old crappy line.” --some fly shop dude
There is a lot of truth to this quote. Often times people mistake casting flaws for issues with the rod, when in reality a new line would solve a lot of problems. New quality line such as those from Rio and Scientific Anglers will have a smooth slick finish, with a supple core. These are qualities that will deteriorate over the life of the line depending on how it is abused and cared for. New line will shoot through the guides without much friction, creating a smooth effortless casting stroke. Old line with coils, cracks and a tacky texture will cause a caster to use more force to get the line to shoot through the guides.
Fishing This Week
It looks like we will get a couple days above freezing this week. Fishing can get pretty good during these mini thaw periods we tend to get every now and again in winter. Here are just a few things to keep in mind while fishing during the winter cold months: