Montana is at its finest right now. This when visitors think how lovely it would be to live here, until it snows. Most rivers are in good shape. Fishing pressure and traffic is up.
GALLATIN RIVER The upper waters are fishing the best. As the river heads downstream, the waters are warming up and getting drained into irrigation diches. At Irwin Bridge, the flows are low, warm, and full of bathers. If fishing upstream, try streamers on cloudy days. Most attractors are doing well but use your favorite small nymph dropper. Morning is best. Things warm up in the afternoon which adds more stress to the fish. Algae matts have also begun to show up below Big Sky. These could be a result of treated sewage from the resort.
MADISON RIVER The Upper is doing well but is seeing a good bit of pressure. Guide boats are everywhere. At $500-$600 a day, they are taking full advantage of the water levels and weather. Practicing proper Catch and Release is a must. Everything is on the menu. Try your favorite confident flies. Streamers are working well on cloudy days. I tied a small bead head, flashy dropper to the back of a Muddler Minnow and had several nice fish take it. Match the hatches as you see them. Caddis are in most areas, but you may see Yellow Sallies or stones in isolated spring fed spots. Tie droppers on all your dries. A small, size 18, zebra midge is the ticket.
The Lower is on Hoot Owl regulations until August 15th. Good luck finding a parking spot. Huge flotillas of tubers are everywhere. Don’t waste your time. The water temperature at Warm Springs was 69 degrees and 72 at Blacks ford. Anything over 60 begins to be an issue for the trout.
YELLOWSTONE RIVER This river always confuses me. One day I fish a stretch and have a “slay ride”. The next day, the same stretch stinks. Be flexible and take your time. Popular drifts are crowded with every boat or floating contraption possible. There are fleets of paddle boards and kayaks. This crowds up the access points. Parking is an issue. Try less popular drifts or pick a small section of bank and really dig into it. Everything is on the menu but the river at 4690 CFS is still a bit high and fast. Hopper time is coming, and this should make for the best fishing of the year. Morning has been best.
If you are willing to walk or cross the river, you can find fun fishing. Even remote waters seem to be more crowded.
Fish small, focus on less and catch more.
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.