MONTANA: Streamer Fishing Should be Outstanding in The Next Few Weeks

Montana Fishing Overview
Fishing remains excellent across Southern Montana. Fall is in the air and as the nights grow longer and cooler many of the lower reaches of the larger rivers in the region are turning on. Old favorites like the Upper Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone are all fishing well. Water levels have dropped to normal levels on most of the rivers in the area. Hopper action is pretty much over and the main dry fly game will be focused on the blue winged olive hatch. These small grey mayflies (size 18-20) love cloudy days and with some grey skies forecasted make sure to have some in your box. The browns are also colored up and on the move and will continue to do so in preparation for spawning in November. This is the best time of the year to catch the biggest browns in the river. Streamer fishing should be outstanding in the next few weeks, especially on cloudy days. Nymph fishing big uggly streamers will also pick up some of these large trout. On most rivers try nymphing a bigger fly on top with a smaller baetis as a dropper.

Upper Madison River Fishing – (Very Good)
The upper river has great flows and continues to fish like a champ. The river has dropped back to normal levels and the fishing has been outstanding. Traffic on the river has dropped off and the big trout are eating again. The browns are moving and getting colored up and stripping streamers or nymphing big sculpins or zonkers can produce some real brutes. Some lucky anglers tag 25-30″ trout in the Madison every fall. If you want to hit a home run, this is one of the best rivers around to do it. Baetis will also be on the water and can produce some rising trout but often the action will still be subsurface. Baetis nymphs can be big producers this time of the year.

Lower Madison River Fishing – (Red Hot)
The Lower still has good flows and water temperatures have been dropping to safe levels for trout. The baetis mayflies have started and cloudy skies should produce some great dry fly fishing after lunch. Some of the nastiest weather can produce the thickest hatches. Big browns are also moving and should be feeding on cloudy days. Nymph fishing is a great way to target the big boys and the standard larger patters should target sculpins and crayfish. Small baetis nymphs will be a producer when trailed behind a bigger bug. Stripping streamers can also produce some huge trout if you commit to it. For the best dry fly fishing work the pockets and edges around weedbeds.

Yellowstone River Fishing – (Red Hot)
The Yellowstone has finally dropped to good fishing levels and is in great shape. The hopper and attractor dry fishing continues to be decent but fish are starting to key in on mayflies. I was on an overnight float a few days ago and we saw a sprinkling of baetis, larger grey drakes and some rusty spinners in the morning. Not lots of bugs yet, but the trout seemed to prefer mayflies over terrestrials. The exception are ants, the trout seem to definitely be looking for flying ants on hot sunny days. With grey skies and cooler weather in the forecast the beatis fishing should really ramp up soon. The boat traffic is very light now and nearly every inside corner after riffles can produce some fish on dries. The dry fly fishing on the ‘Stone has been so good that most of us haven’t tossed a nymph or streamer in a while, but when the cool rainy weather sets up the streamer fishing for monster browns should really turn on.

Gallatin River Fishing – (Very Good)
The Gallatin is in great shape and fishing pressure has lightened in the canyon and below. The water is gin clear and the river looks gorgeous. The clear water gives the fish a bit more time to look at your bugs so dropping to 4 and 5x isn’t a bad idea. Smaller patterns are definitely the ticket now and nymphing double small flies is the way to go. On cloudy days the baetis dry fly hatch will produce some rising trout. The afternoon fishing just after lunch has been the most productive.

Boulder River Fishing – (Very Good)
We haven’t been on the Boulder much since July, but it should be in prime shape now that fall has set in. Wade fishing is the only game with the low flows and nymphing the bigger runs or tossing dries to rising trout over the baetis hatch should be very good.

Ruby River Fishing – (Poor-Fair)
The Ruby has been a bit of an enigma this season. The clarity on the river has been off on most of the days we have visited due to the work on the dam. We have been pretty gun shy about heading that way with the questionable fishing conditions. It normally fishes like a champ this time of year on streamers and at some point the water clarity has to improve but you should have a back up if you try it.

Missouri Fishing – (Very Good)
The Mo near Townsend is a great option for targetting lake run rainbows. The river down by Craig can produce some great dry fly fishing over the baetis hatch in October.

Ennis, Hebgen and Harrison Lake Fishing Report
Lake junkies have been having some great fishing pulling streamers along banks and weed beds. The Callibaetis and tricos are done for the season.

Spring Creeks Fishing – (Very Good)
The spring creeks always get good in October as the pressure drops off and the baetis hatch kicks in. Expect a daily afternoon hatch of baetis that will bring fish to the surface. Cloudy days will bring lots of fish up and sunny days a few sporadic risers. There are still a lot of weeds which makes landing big trout tougher, but they will begin dying off and the weeds will improve as we move into the late fall season.

Montana Angler Fly Fishing
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