By Montana Grant

Posted: August 17, 2023

The BEST trout fishing in the world is changing. Blame it on global warming, climate change, overfishing, development, or pollution. What were once the BEST destinations are no longer the Best.

The BEST is in the eye or experience of the beholder. Trout fisherman flock to fishing based on what they want to enjoy. This may mean beautiful scenery, private and uncrowded waters, trophy fish, abundant fish, historic fisheries, or just something different.

Big Sky Country in Montana has been the BEST trout fishing for decades. The southwest Blue-Ribbon waters attract fishermen from around the world. There was a time when it was truly the best and then” a River Ran Through It”. Montana trout fishing has become a crowded and over exploited fishery. Too many boats, guides, outfitters, and crowds. What makes things worse is that the waters have become warmer and fish diseases have impacted trout populations. Trout populations are well below historic levels. Poor Catch and Release means higher fish mortality. Cell phone selfies take their toll and release fish often die from being squeezed, filmed, and loved to death. It’s time to give Montana a break.

There are many other superb trout fishing destinations to consider. Here are a few choices for Trout Trekkers to consider.

Colorado River    Abundant trout that are big and beautiful. Bows, browns, and Cutthroats are common species. The long river offers a diversity of fishing opportunities and options.

Deschutes River, Oregon    Gorgeous Rainbows are the number one choice. Wild trout and Steelhead are abundant and HUGE! Finicky weather can be a challenge, but fishing can be amazing.

Frying Pan River, Colorado    This famous river has recovered from whirling’s disease and is the home of huge trout up to 15 lbs.

Green River, Utah    Located in NE Utah, this river offers some of the best trout fishing in the country.

Alaska    Giant rainbows make Alaska a go to destinations. Mouse patterns and streamer fishing will reward fishermen with trout, grayling, and salmon.

Cherokee Tribal waters in North Carolina    These Smokey Mountain rivers, lakes, and creeks are managed and maintained by the Cherokee nation. All species of trout can be found in abundant waters. Fishermen can fish areas with few other anglers and net trout that average over 18 inches all day.

White River, Arkansas    This cold-water release supports a huge population of trout that are highlighted by monster Browns.

Modern trout fishermen have also changed. Today’s gear and tackle are a huge advantage over past fishing generations. YouTube videos offer education that visually teaches every aspect of the sport. There are more guides, shops, outfitters, and charters than ever before.  Catch and Release has become the predominant way to trout fish, but many anglers lack the training and skills needed. Anglers’ success goals are often about how many fish they can catch. They take exorbitant amounts of videos and pictures for bragging rights. They want privacy, high numbers, and trophy sized fish. Big money can pay for Big fish and private places.

The days of simply casting a fly on the waters have changed. Competition has taken away much of the sport’s ambience and simple pleasure. As land adjacent to trout waters is bought, no trespass signs are plastered along fence barriers. States like Wyoming prohibit stopping or wading during a drift. Other rivers have become crowded with flotillas of tubers, kayakers, rafters, and swimmers.

Yellowstone Park and other National Parks once offered great fishing destinations. Today, many of these waters have become too warm and unhealthy for trout. Wild trout have been killed off and removed so “native” trout could be reintroduced. No more stocking has allowed many populations to decline. Over half of Yellowstone’s waters were devoid of fish due to extreme weather. Yellowstone Lake and it’s amazing Cutthroat trout fishery has been nearly destroyed due to the invasion of predatory lake trout, pelicans, and other predators.

Historic waters on limestone spring creeks in eastern waters, New England fly fishing origin waters, and wild native fisheries have disappeared. Trout stocking allows for some seasonal opportunities, but these waters are also crowded and heavily used.

You can still find great places, but you need to do your homework.

Rivers do run through other places!

Montana Grant

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