Peninsula Fly Fishers

Montana In The Spring

by John Files

Montana mountain wildflowers
Montana mountain wildflowers

It was a family vacation during the first two weeks in June. Checking out the fishing was enjoyable. Started on the Bitterroot. It was high; not flooding but not fishable.

Stopped by Riverbend Flyfishing in Hamilton. Chuck Stranahan, who taught fly tying classes in Los Altos, and is a regular at the San Mateo Sportsman Show, said see the relatives, and come back in the fall.

In general, some great fishing can be found in early spring, before the runoff, but it's on short notice. By July 4 the rivers have gone down and fishing is in full swing. Fall fishing can be very good. Many locals go hunting; less crowded.

grizzly bear crossing trail

Three days spent in Glacier National Park. Spectacular mountains where people take grizzlies seriously. It was still early in the season, so no problems with camping places or hotel reservations. No license is required in the park. Fishing was slow, but I did pick up 3 16 to 20 inch fish from one lake. On the 9th we had a foot of snow in East Glacier, the power was out and the hotel was evacuated. Four feet of snow by the 10th. Montana has real weather.

mountain in Glacier Park

Glacier Park

Back on the Bitterroot, the river was still too high. The Big Hole may have been fishable, but snow was threatening to close Chief Joseph Pass. We headed to Bozeman, a charming western town. The Lower Madison was in good shape. Three years of drought had left plenty of headroom in Ennis Lake so the tailwater was at a reasonable level. A small parachute tied elk hair caddis produced small fish while wading. Drift boats were getting bigger fish with large streamers. The salmon flies were almost out, but still too early. In Yellowstone, the Fire Hole looked to be in great shape and is a good early season choice; unfortunately it was time to head home from the wide-open spaces.

Madison Dam at Ennis, MT

Madison Dam at Ennis, MT

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