Fishing the dirty water
I get a lot of anglers through the shop asking about the water conditions lately and usually if a river is high or off color the natural response is that it's just unfishable through runoff. Well not exactly, while i don't always recommend trying to wade in high water for safety reasons you absolutely catch fish in the dirty water. Sometimes the high water just pushes the fish to the banks and small pieces of soft water so they can be easy to find even though you may be looking for them in nontypical holding water.
Dealing With Dirty Water
Runoff season is here. The Yellowstone hit 15,000 cfs this morning, and all the local rivers are experiencing some kind of high water. In some cases like the Madison system the high water is still pretty fishable. In other places like the Gallatin and the Yellowstone, it’s chocolate milk.
Runoff can be a bummer. A lot of our good local water isn’t fishing. But don’t fret, there are still lots of places to go. If you do your research you can almost always find clear water. The Missouri is only two and a half hours away too… If you do find yourself fishing in high, dirty water in the coming weeks, here’s a couple tips to help you out.
Storms a brewing
Montana has been absolutely beautiful the last couple of weeks weather and fishing wise. There is a decent thunderstorm moving through this afternoon to cool down the warm temperatures we have seen the past two days. With the way things are going looks like we might have a pretty quick runoff. Every time it's warmed up and brought the rivers up a bit things seem to cool down for a few days and drop the river flows. If you can get that type of weather then the snow melt just pulses out in short bursts which is the easiest for the fish to recover from.
Eating the Chubby
Dry fly guys have had a couple months of tiny midges, mayflies and all kinds of small bugs on the local waters. There is a great sense of accomplishment in tricking a trout into eating a size 20 fly at 50 feet, dropping it right into his feeding lane and watching that big nose come up and sip it. But sometimes you just want to throw meat.
Casting big dries is the stuff of dreams for many fly fishermen. There are a lot of places where you never fish anything larger than a size 16 or so. So watching a fish just crush a big dry fly like a chubby, foam hopper or a size 8 drake is pretty incredible. That’s one of the many things that draws people to places like Bozeman.
Earlier this week Ethan and I drove up to the Three Dollar Bridge area on the Upper Madison. We were hoping to catch some decent dry fly fishing. Word on the street was that the Baetis fishing was pretty good and we did see a lot of fish rising when we first got there. The weather was a little funky and the fish were being very picky.
Jolly Good Fishing
Spent the last four days with some awesome Father and Son clients Jamie and Nigel from the UK. Two polite and friendly englishmen who have been planning a trip to Monatana for many years and things finally came together this week. We were able to explore lots of the area's different water from floating the Upper Madison to some private creeks and lakes. Really cool to see a 75 year old man's eyes light up with joy when he caught a trout on his first, second, and third cast of the day. Even though i've grown up in Montana and fished these waters since i was a kid it never gets old showing what Montana has to offer to people for their first time out. Somehow we managed to escape all the nasty weather going on lately and find nice little pockets of good weather and good fishing so the fishing gods must have been smiling on us.
Wildlife on the River
It is so easy when you are out fishing to get so focused on the fly and the fish that you lose sight of everything else around you. I've written about this before, and taking the time to look around and take notice of all the wonder and beauty that surrounds you on the river. Spring is here in Montana and with it everything is green and beautiful, flowers are popping up everywhere and baby animals are everywhere.
Yesterday Ethan and I as well as my girlfriend drove to the Upper Madison. Reports have been good and all of us love that area of river up there. It is one of those that if it isn't on your bucket list it should be. The morning sky threatened storms but we decided to hit the road anyway. The drive up there is always beautiful, but it is especially pretty now with everything greening up. After a long winter with everything white (or brown in this year's case), it is always nice to see some green again. All the trees have leaves and the hillsides are starting to look quite vibrant.
On the drive we saw a lot of wildlife including elk, deer, antelope and the usual assortment of birds and what not. We even saw some baby antelope, which look so ungainly it's hard to believe they can even stand up or move at all. Fishing was a little slow to start, and rising brown trout frustrated our efforts to catch them. The rain came and went, but not before putting our GoreTex Simms jackets to the test. Weather like that makes you glad you have the good stuff.
Happy Memorial Day from all of us at The Bozeman Angler. Take a moment today and remember those who have fallen in their service to our country. We thank you for your service and sacrifice.
New Video: Tying The Perfection Loop
Fly fishing uses a lot of knots. It can be difficult to keep up with them all and learn to tie them well, especially if you're just starting out or haven't done much of your own rigging before. One of the common knots is the Perfection Loop. We use this on the end of leaders, fly lines or butt sections to use the loop to loop connection. This makes changing leaders or sometimes even tippets fast and easy. Watch as shop manager and guide Peter walks you through the knot:
Yellowstone National Park Now Open For Fishing!
Yellowstone National Park opens today for fishing! This place is one that should be on every angler's bucket list. It has more world famous (deservedly so) trout water in it's borders than most places on Earth. There are countless miles of famous rivers, small creeks, and lots of lakes to explore and enjoy.
We now have Park fishing licenses for sale in the shop, so don't delay in coming down to get yours. It's looking like the whole weekend is probably going to be rainy and chilly so make sure you've got the gear and clothing you need to enjoy it. The early season in Yellowstone is pretty awesome. I've had my best BWO days ever on the Firehole in the first couple of weeks after the season opened. Another nice thing is the crowds are quite here yet. Being down there without the crowds makes an already awesome place even better.
Fighting the Wind
t’s been a really windy past few days here in Bozeman. All over Southwest Montana in fact. Spring is always a windy season but it seems like this year its been especially breezy. The wind can definitely put a damper on your day’s fishing but there are some ways you can get around it.
Find Shelter on the River
This is perhaps the most obvious answer, but it can be overlooked. Just because it’s windy in town doesn’t mean it will be windy all over the river. Often times you can find a quiet corner on the water, or some trees or bushes to provide some kind of shelter from the wind. Even on the Upper Madison, which can be notoriously windy, you can find braids that will be calm and peaceful.
Use the Right Gear
Using the right rod and line can make a world of difference on those windy days. A fast action rod loaded with a heavier line like a RIO Gold or Grand or an SA GPX will cast into the breeze a whole lot better than a slow or moderate action rod loaded with a dry fly presentation line. Heavier rod weights are often called for. A 6 weight rod will handle breeze much better than a 4 weight. Why do you think an 8 weight is the universal saltwater rod? It isn’t the size of flies or the fish, but the wind that dictates that.