As we near the end of August there is still some summer left in our season, but fall is definitely creeping into the picture. The days are shorter, the mornings are chilly, and some wet weather patterns are starting to appear (high of 52 degrees and 90% chance of precip on Monday, snow accumulation above 7,500 feet, for example). But with afternoon highs in the 70s and 80s most days, it is still flip-flop and sunscreen season in Montana, and we will soak it in as long as it lasts.
Most days the fishing is as good as you are, especially when you're throwing small dryflies at rising fish on our home water, the Missouri River. But wherever you go in Montana nowadays, you are likely fishing to fish that have seen a fly or two already this season, so you need to be better than the last person who tried to fool that trout. As a general rule of thumb, it is not the fly, or the rod, or the sun, or the wind, or the leader, or the arrow that catches the trout. It's you, the angler, the Indian. Shoot your arrows straight at the target and you'll definitely catch more trout.
Smoke/fire report: It's been smokey across Montana for a few weeks now, mostly from fires on the west coast, but we have a few local fires that seem to be dying down as they come under containment. Today it's clear skies in Helena, and hopefully they stay that was for awhile.
River conditions: As good as it gets for late summer - historically high for most watersheds and great temperatures for healthy and active trout. No 'hoot owl' closures this year after a monster snowpack and a cold, wet spring. This is the payoff period of the year when t comes to river flows.
Hatch cycles: The Missouri River is in the midst of an epic trico hatch, which is running about a month behind schedule. As long as the wind lays down you will find rising trout from ramp to ramp. Bring your reach cast and hunting mentality for success.
Across the rest of Montana it's terrestrial season until the fall mayflies arrive in later September. Hoppers, ants and beetles rule the day.
Angler pressure: This is the quiet period of the fishing season; kids are back to school, tourista visitors are on the lighter side, many anglers like it later in the fall. There is very little competition on most of our blue ribbon rivers right now, which we love.
Hunting forecast: Big game archery and upland bird hunting season opens Sept 1st, so many Montana outdoors folks will be shifting their focus away from the river and into the hills chasing after elk and grouse. We will be too on our days away from the river, which means even less pressure out there.
Montanaland overview: Things are awfully good here right now. The late August river doldrums of most seasons have been swept away by great river flows and fantastic weather. It's good out there! Get yourself some of the magic before it's all over for another year.