Fighting the Wind
t’s been a really windy past few days here in Bozeman. All over Southwest Montana in fact. Spring is always a windy season but it seems like this year its been especially breezy. The wind can definitely put a damper on your day’s fishing but there are some ways you can get around it.
Find Shelter on the River
This is perhaps the most obvious answer, but it can be overlooked. Just because it’s windy in town doesn’t mean it will be windy all over the river. Often times you can find a quiet corner on the water, or some trees or bushes to provide some kind of shelter from the wind. Even on the Upper Madison, which can be notoriously windy, you can find braids that will be calm and peaceful.
Use the Right Gear
Using the right rod and line can make a world of difference on those windy days. A fast action rod loaded with a heavier line like a RIO Gold or Grand or an SA GPX will cast into the breeze a whole lot better than a slow or moderate action rod loaded with a dry fly presentation line. Heavier rod weights are often called for. A 6 weight rod will handle breeze much better than a 4 weight. Why do you think an 8 weight is the universal saltwater rod? It isn’t the size of flies or the fish, but the wind that dictates that.
All of us here at the shop are pretty diehard catch and release kind of people. There are very few exceptions to that rule. One of them, for me at least, is the stocked cutthroat in nearby Hyalite Reservoir. Hyalite is a really fun fishery that is close to town and is easily reached after work. The state also stocks it with native Yellowstone Cutthroat. While I would never kill a native cutthroat in a river, if it was stocked in a lake that’s pretty fair game. They’re tasty too…
Hyalite is the nearest stillwater fishery of any size and it can be a very productive one too. There are a lot of fish in it and they can be taken with a fly rod easily. In addition to the cutthroat, anglers can find brook trout, graying and the occasional rainbow trout. Lots of angling options.
Yellowstone National Park Fishing Licenses Now Available
The fishing season for Yellowstone National Park opens this Saturday, May 23. Yellowstone is one of those places that draws people form all over the world. For good reason too. It offers visitors a unique experience that is hard to match anywhere in the world. There is more water than you could legitimately fish in a lifetime, and most of it is pretty overlooked. You have better odds of catching native and wild fish in YNP than most places in the area. The fishing experience here is well worth the time, money and effort to get here.
Park licenses are now available down here at the store. A three day license is $18, a week is $25 and a whole season is $40. If you're a local or plan on visiting even a couple of times the season pass is way to go. Combine that with a yearly Yellowstone license and you're in good shape.
Personally, Yellowstone is one of the places I hold near and dear to my heart. I grew up fishing the Firehole, swinging soft hackles for trout during the Fall Baetis hatches. Many happy days over the years have been spent exploring the various waters of the Park, and I feel like I haven't even really scratched the surface. There is a lifetime's worth of excellent water in Yellowstone. Might as well get started on it now.
Montana Fishing Film Fest Coming This Friday!
Getting psyched for the fishing season is always easy this time of year, but if you need a little more help come on down to the Montana FIshing Film Festival this Friday, May 22. This film festival focuses on films about our beautiful state, and is a fairly new entry to the festival circuit. It is full of some great movies and is sure to get you excited about fishing.
Indicator fishing can be an incrdible way to maximize your catch with trout but it doesn't have to stop with the bobber. There are a few fun ways to effectively fish wet flies without a strike indicator
First the czech nymphing style is a very popular technique developed by the eastern european competition fly fishing teams which utilizes a long leader and one or two weighted flies. Tungsten beads are a great way to have a heavy fly that will sink fast and easy to cast on a light rod. We also like tungsten flies tied on a jig hook to help reduce snags and get a really solid hook set.
Indication of a Strike
Lot's of different strike indicators on the market right now and a great tool to effectively fish our area rivers when the fish aren't rising to dry flies. Here are a few benefits and different hacks that we like to use and consider to help make your nymphing game more dialed in.
Depth is a huge thing nymphing so being able to easily change your indicator to fly distance will determine where your flies sit in the water column. Typical rule of thumb for fly to bobber length is 1-1.5 times the depth of water your fishing. So say if your fishing a hole that is about 6 ft deep a fly to bobber distance of 6-9ft is good. Like everything in fly fishing there are exceptions to the rule so sometimes you can go more or less from there. In the winter the trout like to hug the bottom and dont move to far to eat so getting down deep will put your flies in an easy place for them to eat the fly, like off the tip of their nose. Summertime will sometimes have the fish sitting in shallow water or more aggressively grabbing flies so a short leashed distance of 5ft will help detect the strike quicker.
Tomorrow, Saturday May 16, is opening day for the waters that are closed in Montana. That means from Quake Lake to McAtee and from Ennis Bridge to Ennis Lake opens up on the Upper Madison, as well as all the small streams in the area. Opening Weekend is always worth celebrating. It’s one of those milestones that anglers all over the world mark on their calendars and count down the days toward.
Here in the shop we have been seeing a lot more people from all over the country starting to trickle in and be ready to fish for this weekend. We say Welcome Back! We love to see people from all over coming here to fish. You never know who you might bump into or where they might be from. This weekend is kind of the start of tourist season out here and we are looking forward to it.
Father Daughter Fishing
The last two trips i've had have both been father daughter anglers. The other day i was out with Tim and Ellie who is on her way to becoming an amazing angler. She is 8 years old and we had a blast fishing the lower Madison on Friday. We had clouds and some fish up on BWOs but mostly they were all about the zonker. Ellie got into a few fish and one of them made it to the net and her dad stuck a real nice brown towards the end of the float. Then we ate sushi at the boat ramp and called it a day.
Have you ever stopped to look at the tail of a trout? It’s pretty beautiful. The translucence, the spots, the way the light shines through it.. There is nothing in nature quite like it.
So often we catch a fish and are in such a hurry to get the picture, get the fish back in the water and get the fly back out there. If there was one fish in the hole there might be more, right? Hurry hurry hurry, don’t want to miss anything.
Take just a moment and enjoy the beauty in your net. If you pull the fish out of the water to admire it, be sure you’re not keeping it out of the water long at all and get it back in the net. Keeping a trout just under the surface of the water can really make the colors pop too. Get your pictures and get them back in the water.
Fish are always beautiful. I know I say this a lot, but take the time to enjoy what nature offers.
Luck and Living In Bozeman
This post has a bit of a more personal note than most I’ve written on here, but it carries a message everyone that lives here and loves this place should take to heart. Montana is a hard place to leave. Really hard. I’ve done it a couple of times now and always I keep coming back. One of my best friends left last fall for a girl in Michigan and last week he came back.
He loves to fish but out in Michigan he had spent a grand total of four or five outings. What did we do the first day he was home? Three hours off the plane and we were sitting in our friend and fishing guide Ken Stock’s boat on the Lower Madison. On the drive over he kept saying how big the mountains looked, how green it all was, and how beautiful everything seemed.
Out on the river the first fish he caught was a little rainbow that I doubt was pushing the double digits. But the smile on his face said it all. That one fish meant a lot to him and the size really didn’t matter at all. He was happy to be home.