Make no mistake about it, the future of fishing lies in the hands of impressionable youngsters like these two hardcore fish-heads, and our mentorship of them. There may be no greater way to teach trout and river life skills than a 60 mile float down Montana's fabled Smith River. It is a full immersion experience in a fully captivating environment - Montana's Disney World.
If you are the kind of angler who tracks snowpack and streamflow reporting, then you know the scoop; it was a big snow year in Montana, with dumps of low elevation snow falling as recently as last week, and we've had plenty of spring rain along with a couple short periods of warmth and sun. What has that all added up to currently? Lots of blue-ribbon rivers in some state of run-off and most are unfishable.
That's my driftboat anchor on the right. The one on the left belongs to some other deadbeat fishing guide who hasn't been around quite as long. His is pretty new and mine is certainly not. I've been dragging this particular anchor around Montana for at least a decade now and I've become fairly emotionally attached to it.
We have some great news from the Montana FWP about our beloved Missouri River. According to a presentation given from biologist Jason Mullen earlier this week, our fishery below Holter Dam is in great shape. The fish are in good health which not only bodes well for our current fishing season, but for the future of the river as well. Read below for some of the highlights from Jason's presentation, it is interesting to compare our notes and thoughts as anglers to the scientific research that is done by the biologist gurus from the state.
April 15th is the date in Montana where we transition from measuring snow to rain for our precipitation, so it's a good time to look at the current SNE (Snow Water Equivalent), in our watersheds and try to forecast what's to come in the next 3 months.
There is a well known English idiom that states, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So instead of chattering along about the details of our first two sessions of The Montana Fishing Guide School; here is a 12,000 word essay written via my camera lens while tagging along with two groups of students during their week long journey Montana.
You’re intently studying the river and feeding a few sipping trout in a foamy seam along the bank of The Missouri River. Your focus is sharp, the excitement level is high, and the beauty of your surroundings overwhelms the senses; everything unimportant to the moment fades into the background. Suddenly, a golden eagle flies overhead casting a shadow over the lazily rising brown trout you’re attentively examining. For its own safety, the trout instinctually stops rising. The eagle put it down, at least for the moment.
Good news, fish-heads - with forecasted temperatures approaching 70 degrees tomorrow it should be a nice spring day to get out on the water. The bad news is you'll have to choosy about the water you sample because low level snow melt has brought a few of our favorite rivers up enough to make them at least questionable if not unfishable.
Pretty picture, huh? This was the view from the bow of a flats skiff I was on in the Florida Keys a few days ago. As a saltwater angler this is not what you want to see. Blue skies and warm water are the keys to happy tarpon and permit in March.
The push and pull of spring and winter weather patterns makes for a fun start to March in the Northern Rockies, one day its powder and skis and then the next its sink tips and streamers. Before the recent dumping of snow I was able to get out for a few days of streamer fishing on two of our favorite waters in the area.
We spend a tremendous amount of time every year discussing lodging options with our anglers - it's part of the customer service we provide as part of your overall fishing trip. Where you stay while visiting Montana is a personal choice that is usually narrowed by very specific determining factors; when you are coming, the size of your group, the style of lodging you prefer and how much you want to pay to stay. With our knowledge of the options available in each region we offer trips, we can easily help you navigate the ins and outs to find the perfect spot for you.
Some of my fondest memories as a child revolve around time spent outdoors with my family. Endless camping, hunting, and fishing trips will forever remain as some of the most cherished events of my childhood. I vividly remember always lying in bed the night before a hunting trip with my dad, unable to fall asleep. My boundless excitement and ardent anticipation wouldn’t allow my mind to rest; I literally couldn’t wait for the next day. This type of excitement is something that will stay with a person forever.
We have good news for our anglers curious about how our trout and rivers are faring this winter - the river is still there, so are the trout and they still bite flies pretty darn well! Yesterday was my first outing of the season and with a few days of temps in the 40s it seemed like a good idea to go sample the home water.
It’s undeniably the time of year that everyone gets excited when the thermometer reaches 38 degrees. We aren’t necessarily dealing with prime fishing weather just yet; but after a long bout with winter, any temperature above freezing must be cherished with outdoor activities.
The last week brought some epic snow to Montana, especially in the northern region where over 5 feet fell around Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountain Front. Southern and Central Montana got less, but the Yellowstone region has been getting hammered all winter. Jackson Hole Resort is closed indefinitely due to power outages related to TOO MUCH SNOW. Did you know a major ski area could close long-term due to too much snow? We didn't either.
This morning I had a cup of coffee with my good friend, Jim. We usually get together in January to take a look at the fishing calendar and get some choice dates locked down for the coming season. May for March Browns, June for PMDs, July for Tricos, August for 'hoppers. I love fishing with local anglers and Jim and I have shared some very memorable days on the water together in the last few years.
We are about half way through the winter months here in the Big Sky state, and it's time we emerge from hibernation to report on the ups and downs of life in the off season of a fishing guide.
We got the cold, but we need more snow! Near sub-zero temperatures hung around most of Montana for the last 6 weeks, and we had a couple big snowstorms rolled through, but due to a weak start we are running behind on snowpack. Our friends to the south and west (Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon and California among others), keep stealing all our snow! California really needs it, so we'll give them a break, but the rest of you are just being greedy ski bums.
A short ride eastward in the ’06 Tundra led us to the southern end of Planet Hoth, a place none of us had ever hunted before. The cozy warmth of the truck cab's defroster was feeling extremely comfortable as the thought of a long day in sub-freezing temps started to become a reality. However, we didn’t drive all the way to this place to gaze lazily out of a windshield toward the frozen mountain in front of us. There was a mission to accomplish-fill the freezer with elk meat.
With one arctic blast after another, most of us in the Northern Rockies are stuck inside tying flies and dreaming about our next outing. As the thermometer needle dips below zero, the mind wanders to the river and what it might be doing without us. While many of our favorite freestones in troutopia are frozen solid with too much ice to fish, there are some great opportunities for winter fishing. In the winter season we like to focus our efforts on the local tailwaters. When the weather breaks its time to go.
Fall. It is the season Montana outdoorsfolks dream about the rest of the year. It's all in play in the fall - trout, birds, big game, mountain biking, autumn aesthetics - and October is the peak month to hit them all. The only problem is 31 days is definitely not enough to fit in all the things you want to do. Not even close, and don't even get us started on playoff baseball.
August is here and we are ready to embrace the late summer fishing season in Troutopia. This is the month we can expect warm temperatures that make for perfect afternoon siesta conditions for fish and fisherman, but overall it is a cooling time period as we move toward September and the fall season. Here's what you need to know about trout fishing in Montana in August:
Every person is born with an inherent fishy factor that sticks with you throughout your life. Regardless of experience and ability in angling, your fishy factor will play a big part in your productivity as an angler in any given day on the water. No matter how many different places you go, how good your technical casting and presentation skills become, your fishy factor will remain unchanged. It is a part of you.
With the ever popular growth of the Montana Fishing Guide School, we have decided to expand our offerings for summer 2016. If you or someone you know wants to live the lifestyle of a fishing guide or just wants to be a better angler, the Montana Fishing Guide School is a great choice.
With a forecast like that we can expect our sunscreen stock portfolio to shoot up along with the flows on some of our rivers as the remaining mountain snowpack continues to melt out. It's the overnight lows pushing the 60 degree range that make a big difference, and 90 degrees in the afternoon is real warm by Montana standards for early June.
With June coming up quick, it's time for a Montana fishing report and short range forecast for you, our fishy friends. May has brought us some great moisture this year, with lots of rainy days and relatively cool temperatures which has helped to preserve our snowpack and fill the reservoirs that feed our tailwater rivers. Things are looking quite a bit better for our summer flows and fishing than they were a few weeks ago - keep it coming Mother Nature!
It has been a month of classic spring rocky mountain weather here, with more on the way; 80s tomorrow, 50s by Friday. The north wind has been relentless, even on high pressure days when we should see gentle downstream island breezes, and we are more than ready to see it head back to Canada for the summer.