We are starting to get some phone calls inquiring about the 2017 fishing season already. Each trip is different, and we pride ourselves with customizing our trips to meet each client’s trip expectations. Here is a short list of common questions and suggestions to help you, no matter where you are planning to fish.
Things to consider when booking a guided fly fishing trip:
Q. What is the best time of year to come fish in the Bozeman Area?
A. Ahh the million dollar question! We broke down the year into 4 seasons, with pros and cons for each:
- Spring (Late March-Early June). Weather is the big gamble with Spring. It can snow here 12 months a year, but definitely during this time frame. Often the weather can switch from cold and snowy one week to above freezing and pleasant the next. These pockets of fishable weather are some of our favorite times to fish. Most locals are on the ski hill still, and it is not unusual to have long stretches of river to yourself. This leads to unpressured fish that are very willing to bite. Earlier in the Spring you can key in on pre-spawn rainbow activity as they really start to get feisty making for arguably some of the easiest fishing of the year. Lots of nymphing early Spring, rubberlegs with a firebead nymph trailer. Dry fly fishing? March will have midges, maybe some early blue winged olives, leading into April when we start to see caddis by the zillions by May. All leading up to our snow melt run-off season which will happen sometime in May and June on an average year. Fortunately here in our area, there is a good mix of tailwaters, spring creeks, and Stillwater that will not be as affected by melting snow compared to the freestone rivers. So, if you are willing to gamble on the weather and be prepared for it, the Spring time can really pay off with solitude and unpressured willing fish.
- Summer (Late June-Early September): Our busy season here, but for good reason! Consistent pleasant weather, and great fishing. Many people travel to the Rockies for recreation in the summer, be it hiking, National Park cruising, camping and of course, fishing for wild trout in wild places. Expect to see more people out on the water this time of year. We don’t really get the “bumper boat” crowds other areas of the Rockies get, and fortunately for us, the water laws in Montana help spread the river users out by allowing river traffic through private lands, unlike some other states of the West. Late June will bring the onset of salmonfly fever with gobs of big stoneflies hatching during this time (every year is slightly different!). So if dry-dropper fishing is your style, this time of year is hard to beat. For many, dealing with a few more boats and people out there is worth the reward of seeing a big brown trout swallow a size 4 chubby off the surface. As July progresses, we start to enter into our terrestrial season through August and pretty much until the first hard frost in mid-September. So there is always the possibility of big dry flies in summer, which lets face it, is what most people picture when thinking of fly fishing in Montana. That being said, most of a trout’s diet is made up of subsurface offerings such as nymphs and small baitfish. So, often we might start out the day with a dry-dropper rig early, and switch to a deeper rig to stay productive through the middle of the day. Late August can get interesting on low water years, warm clear water translates to bringing you’re A game. Utilizing a guide this time of year will pay big dividends as far a dodging fishing pressure, and finding cool oxygenated water no matter what the conditions.
- Fall (Mid September-Late October) The big draw to Fall is definitely tossing streamers for large brown trout, as they put their feed bags on to get ready for the spawn and the long winter that will follow. We will get a good blue wing hatch again, and maybe some random October caddis. If quality over quantity is your style, the Fall might be for you. More casts for less fish, but the fish you will catch are often quite large. Solitude and great cool weather are also gifts of the Fall season. Maybe even some bugling elk in the background? Many locals switch to hunting this time of year, further eliminating the fishing pressure factor. Be ready for variable weather the deeper into Fall we get, snow and cold are always a possibility.
- Winter (November-Early March): A big wildcard here, often our guide trips are people that planned to ski, and the weather got a bit warm for a day. With some of there rivers getting icy, the tailwaters and spring creeks are almost always fishable. Ice on the guides if its below 32 degrees, but if you can get that day above freezing, the fishing can be very productive. Usually shorter trips, but the neat thing about winter is it is very obvious where the fish will be. Slow and deep, or near a spring creek water source. Lots of nymphing with a good chance of some midges hatching. We fish the heat of the day when it is warmest out during the winter. Its pretty special to go fish the Gallatin in the canyon with a fresh coat of snow and no other fishermen around. Having a guide with you will curve the odds in your favor so you don’t waste time in the cold. We offer discounted guide trip rates this time of year as well.
My best advice to you when booking a guided trip is to call as early as possible. We are already starting to book our top guides for popular days in 2017. Be detailed with what you are looking to get out of your day of fishing, its your money and the more we know about your expectations ahead of time, the better we can accommodate them or make recommendations on when to come. Also, book your guide for a day early on in your vacation so you can use your new knowledge to fish on your own during the remainder of your time here.
Total beginner with no expectations? No problem! We do many beginner trips where all you need to do is show up with a positive attitude and a wiliness to learn. We will take care of the rest!
So, consider the pros and cons of each time of year, along with whatever else your “perfect day of guided fly fishing” would consist of. Call early to ensure the dates and guide you want and everything else will fall into place. Further questions? Call us! (406)-587-9111.