This is the weather forecast that Montanans have been dreaming about for the last 2 months, which is about how long it has been since it last rained here. As you may have heard among reports on hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the rocky mountain west has been having some natural disaster issues of our own, namely severe drought and major wildfires in Montana and across areas of the pacific northwest. Somehow we went from a big snowpack year with a nice wet spring to one of the driest and warmest runs of weather we have ever seen before, and it has led to a summer of way to many hot and smoky afternoons in Montana.
We are exactly one month away from the Autumnal Equinox, but in Montana the 1st of September usually announces the end of summer and the start to our favorite season, the Fall. Archery hunters are already afield chasing pronghorn antelope, upland bird hunting opens next week, elk will be in full rut within a month, and some of our best fishing of the season is still to come.
Summer roared in like a blast furnace bringing a string of days with highs in the 90s to most of Montana. It has been H-O-T Hot. Too hot. Melt in your driftboat about about 3PM hot. Can't drink enough ice water hot. It has not been awesome. You know what has been awesome though? The morning and evening trout bite, that's what. It's our saving grace in the short sweaty season in Big Sky Country.
Here's the secret short list to get through the next 6 weeks of the fishing season:
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 catch the biggest trout. They are the best trout. They are huge. They don't always look huge because our hands are so giant, but trust us they are the hugest trout you will ever catch.