Southwest MT Fishing Report by Montana Angler 6.3.23
By angelamontana

Posted: June 5, 2023

We’ve seen a large percentage of snow melt transfer to increased flows throughout most river systems. Conditions vary day to day but as rivers start dropping and gain increased clarity fishing conditions will continue to improve. Dam controlled tailwaters, lakes, and spring creeks remain the most consistent, and freestone rivers will need some more time to come into play. Higher water and less than ideal clarity doesn’t always translate into poor fishing, but keeping an eye on flows for drastic changes will impact your choice of location and tactics. When flows and insect activity lines up, we’re entering a special window with stoneflies, caddis, and PMDs as potential menu options. When flows are high or clarity is less than ideal simple nymph rigs will get fish in the net.


Depending on the river, stoneflies have started to make an appearance. Caddis remain prevalent, and PMDs(pale morning duns) have become a predominate food source.

Fly Selection

Fly selection will vary by the fishery. On rivers with higher flows go with stonefly, PMD and worm imitations. On spring creeks and some tailwaters be prepared to match the hatch when bugs are popping. Be prepared with PMD and Caddis imitations, in all life stages, from nymphs to adult dries, and don’t overlook emerger patterns when you see bugs around.

Reading Water

At higher flows focus on finding structure both mid river and near the banks, trout will start moving into faster water when flows regulate, but if water is on the high side focus on finding the slow water around structure.  As stoneflies start hatching trout will key in on these areas for food sources, and at higher flows the slower water provides some protection from faster currents. As flows subside and PMD activity increases look for fish to start moving into riffles and the tail end of shelves.

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Feature photo via Montana Angler
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