Western Montana is blessed with a wide diversity of hatches.
Eighty miles in length, the main stem of the Bitterroot offers superb dry fly action for wild Cut Throat and Rainbow Trout on it's upper section. The middle section (known as The Braids) presents excellent Rainbow and Brown Trout action. The lower section, characterized by slower water with broader flats, give experienced fisherman a chance to throw tiny mayflies to large, wary Brown and Rainbow Trout!
With excellent hatches from mid March (Skwala season) through mid to late October, the Bitterroot is a must for anyone wanting to fly fish the Rocky Mountains of Montana!
The good news is that after facing years of environmental problems, the Blackfoot is re-ataining most of the things which made it famous.
Cutting through some of the most beautiful mountains in Western Montana, don't be surprised to see a Big Horn Sheep or Golden Eagle watching as you're fighting a large Brown or Bull Trout!
If you're looking for some fantastic scenery, a little white water, some better than average fishing, and the chance of watching wildlife, don't pass up an opportunity to float the Blackfoot River.
Clark Fork River
From it's headwaters near Warm Springs . . . where Brown Trout in the 30"+ category are taken . . . to the waters below Missoula . . . where huge pods of Rainbows and Cutbows in the 18" to 20" class reside . . . there's a reason the people of Montana want the Clark Fork to remain a 'Best Kept Secret'.
Though knowledge of this river is a must if you want to fish it, anyone visiting the Rocky Mountains for a fly fishing vacation, should spend at least one crisp fall day on the Clark Fork!
Hatches of Western Montana
Western Montana is blessed with a wide diversity of hatches. The three major insects (caddis, mayfly, BWO and stonefly) are all present in varying degrees of importance. There are also ample numbers of terrestrials, whose greatest abundance occurs during the summer months.
We break Western Montana fishing into four major seasons: Pre-runoff or Spring (mid March - through early May); Post-runoff (mid June - the end of July);Summer (August through mid-September) and Fall (mid September - through October.)
The important thing to remember about Spring is . . . "Spring seasons are an excellent opportunity to hook a large fish, and at the same time, unpredictable". If you plan a trip in the Spring, prepare to bring some extra polar fleece, and don't turn down the opportunity to toss a few nymphs and streamers.
March...Skwala, Nemora, and Capnia Stoneflies
During this time period, Hoppers are the name of the game. Expect to throw lots of terrestrial patterns during the day; smaller mayflies and caddis during the hours before dark.
September...Hoppers, Trico's, Ants, PMD, Fall Drakes, Mahogany Duns
By using this guide as a generalization of hatches, and by working with your outfitter, you should be able to pick the time of the year best suited to your fishing desires!
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