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Kschaefer3February 14th, 2014, 12:37 pm
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
I am going to take two weeks off this summer to fish. I will be driving, and I will be fishing trout. Montana was my first thought, but I am open to anything.

Where would you go?
EntomanFebruary 14th, 2014, 6:27 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
"Montana was my first thought..."

You're not alone in that, Kyle. :) If you are going on a pilgrimage to fish hallowed western waters, Montana is the clear choice. IMO guides are a must if it's your first time out. A good one will insure quality fishing inspite of the crowds.

However, if the goal is exploration and guides would blow up the budget (or you just want to DIY), consider Wyoming. You could start in the park (especially if you've never seen it) and work your way South. A freelancer can find outstanding fishing without the big crowds.

I've done the former enough that the latter would be my choice at this point (or I'd head to Canada). The real question is what are your goals?
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
WbranchFebruary 14th, 2014, 9:58 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Kyle,

While 99% of the time I will agree with Kurt however if you listen to me you will not need a guide for your MT trip. While I know very little about the rivers in the north western part of the state I do know quite a bit about the Beaverhead, Big Hole, Madison, the Livingston spring creeks, the Missouri, and the Big Horn. I also know my way around the bigger rivers in YNP. It pretty much depends on how many days you want to fish each river.

I think you just have to fish the Big Horn. It is the first river of consequence that you will come to in MT. Once you get to Billings you hook a left, going south (I forget the highway but it is an interstate) I know that because one time I was driving at 100 mph and way, way, back I saw the lights on a patrol car and I slowed down to about 80 mph. Then I pulled over onto the shoulder. This was back in the early 1990's when there was no day time speed limit. The signs would say something to the effect of "Drive at a prudent rate of speed". (Or something like that) The state police officer gave me a summons not for speeding but for "improper use of a natural resource". I asked him to explain that statement and he said at 100 mph I was wasting gasoline which is a natural resource. How I digress, anyway when you get to Hardin you turn right and keep going until you get to Fort Smith.

Fort Smith is the hub of the Big Horn river fishing. You can rent all sorts of cabins at Cottonwood Campgrounds. They have a nice web site so check it out. Will you be bringing your pontoon boat? If so Cottonwood can provide you with a shuttle for a fair fee. There are three float options; After Bay to Three Mile, Three Mile to Thirteen Mile, and Thirteen Mile to St. Xavier.

I've done the first two dozens of times but I've never done the third float although I've heard it can be very productive. When I used to fish the BH it was running between 3500 cfs to 5000 cfs. Now, and for many years, it is running much less, like 1500 cfs to 2000 cfs. I'd think that all that is going to do is concentrate all those thousands of trout per mile into a smaller area. Thirty fish days are not uncommon if you are adept with a two nymph setup throwing upstream. The BH used to have a very good PMD emergence, very good Tricos and a fantastic black caddis from the late afternoon to dark. There are lots of browns in the 18" - 20" that you will catch on nymphs and dries. I know bigger fish are caught on streamers.

The next stream you should fish for just one day would be Armstrong Spring Creek. It is just west of Livingston a few miles. It costs $100 for a day ticket but it is worth the money if you can fish it from mid June to late July.

Then you could continue to drive west to Ennis and fish the Madison for 2 - 3 days. You could base in Ennis and I'd bet you could find a nice place to stay for $75 a night. The Madison is made for floating since it is basically a fifty mile long riffle. There are lots of channels and other places where you can get out of the toon and wade fish. This is a great nymph and streamer river unless you can get there when the Salmon fly (huge stoneflies) are emerging. Then you can just wade a few feet out into the river and cast your stone fly dry up against the grass or even land it on the grass and pull it off and then hang on as there will surely be a big brown trout waiting to inhale it.

Jump in the car and drive over to Dillon and stay at the Creston Motel for about $60 a night. Then every morning get your lunch and stuff and drive all the way south on I-15 until you get to Clark Canyon Dam and you can fish the "Miracle Mile" from where the Beaverhead starts just below the dam downstream to Henneberry access. All through this water you can throw streamers in the morning and nymph and you will see pods of big rainbows and browns gathering at your feet as you shuffle your way down river.

After a day of two of that drive west and fish the Big Hole around Maiden Rock. Get off I-15 and cross the steel bridge. You can park and walk up or down river and find all sorts of browns and rainbows and if you are very lucky you might even catch a grayling. Be careful though because the Big Hole is used for irrigation and it is often drawn down pretty low.

Now get back on I-15 and drive north about three hours and you should start to see Helena and about 40 miles further you will see the mighty Missouri. I'll be there from July 01 through July 11. There aren't a ton of rooms in Wolf Creek or Craig as the Missouri is pretty much the mecca in the US if you feel you want to call yourself a dry fly fishermen. Many have come but only a few go home with the memories of 21" - 24" browns on dries.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
OldredbarnFebruary 15th, 2014, 11:20 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2607
Hey Matt! What ever happened to "loose lips sink ships?!" ;)

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WiflyfisherFebruary 15th, 2014, 11:37 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 653
Kyle,

If you listen to Matt you will never come back. :-)

John

Hey Matt! What ever happened to "loose lips sink ships?!" ;)

Enuf said. :-)

John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
WbranchFebruary 16th, 2014, 2:31 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Hey Spence,

Firstly I like to mentor Kyle, secondly at 70 years old I'm less inclined to be so secretive about my favorite places to fly fish, thirdly there just ain't no mo secrets out there ole boy, and lastly I gave him rivers he might like to try. I didn't tell him the GPS coordinates of my favorite riffles, runs, and channels nor did I give him the dressings, or samples, to the deadly flies I have developed while fishing MT for the past forty-two years.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
EntomanFebruary 16th, 2014, 6:07 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Kschaefer3February 17th, 2014, 10:24 am
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Matt - Thank you for all the information! The definitely seems like the kind of variety I am looking for. I'll start doing my research on all those places. With how slow I am at tying I should probably start preparing my boxes.

Kurt - Wyoming was near the top of my list too. I was even thinking about swinging through WY for a few days then going up to Montana. I don't think I'll be hiring a guide, although I understand and appreciate your point. I have used only two guides in the past. Both of the guides I have used were fantastic, but I just don't get the same gratification as doing it alone. Also, I tend to like to fish alone and be on my own schedule. I'm not the best fly fisher in the world, but I know enough that I should be able to catch fish without one. Plus, I'm used to catching 6 fish a day on a good day. More than a handful of times last year I walked away with the smell of skunk on me.

Kyle,

If you listen to Matt you will never come back. :-)


Doesn't sound like the worst thing ever. :)
WbranchFebruary 17th, 2014, 6:08 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Kyle,

If you have any questions, about anything, pls feel free to email me directly.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
OldredbarnFebruary 17th, 2014, 11:20 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2607
;) Matt...I may be wrong but I think this symbol means I'm poking a little fun...You know I don't question your kindness to this young angler. You are just being generous and sharing some of that angling knowledge you have stored up there in that head of yours...and you are correct...There are very few "secrets" left.

IMHO we need to encourage the "youngsters"...There are a lot of gray beards about in our sport...We need to get the next generation fishing.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WbranchFebruary 18th, 2014, 9:59 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Hi Spence,

I'm sorry, I'm not up to speed with very many emoticons (or whatever they are called) To be frank I didn't even see that ";)"

All I saw was a comment that got me really hot, very quickly. My apologies.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GutcutterFebruary 18th, 2014, 4:49 pm
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
...I didn't tell him the GPS coordinates of my favorite riffles, runs, and channels nor did I give him the dressings, or samples, to the deadly flies I have developed while fishing MT for the past forty-two years.

Hey Matt-
Can I have them?
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
EntomanFebruary 18th, 2014, 6:11 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Hey, you guys quit tag teaming Matt. My sense is he's not a man to be trifled with. Especially between seasons! :) LOL
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
WbranchFebruary 18th, 2014, 9:42 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Yea, stop triffling with me for crying out loud!! I'm going to will all my secret spots, and the maps to the treasures, to Dr. Tony because he never steered me wrong.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GusFebruary 18th, 2014, 10:11 pm
colorado

Posts: 59
Wow Wbranch I was going to fish CO this summer when I'm there for a wedding but I think Montana wins it. Hopefully they won't miss me.
"How do you help that son of a bitch?"

"By taking him fishing"

-A River Runs Through It

www.jsrods.com
WbranchFebruary 18th, 2014, 10:25 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Hello Gus,

"Hopefully they won't miss me."

As long as it isn't your wedding, or you aren't the best man, no one will even know you were invited. Go fishing you'll have more fun and won't have a hangover.

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Feathers5February 19th, 2014, 9:58 am
Posts: 287
Hi Spence,

I'm sorry, I'm not up to speed with very many emoticons (or whatever they are called) To be frank I didn't even see that ";)"

All I saw was a comment that got me really hot, very quickly. My apologies.


Matt, You scare me!
WbranchFebruary 19th, 2014, 1:35 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Sometimes I even scare myself!
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
EntomanFebruary 19th, 2014, 5:25 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
:) lol
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
OldredbarnFebruary 19th, 2014, 7:58 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2607
Yea, stop triffling with me for crying out loud!! I'm going to will all my secret spots, and the maps to the treasures, to Dr. Tony because he never steered me wrong.


Matt...You know we only mess with you sir cause we like you...Now Tony, you have my email! ;)

Spence

Finally! It warmed up today...North of freezing...There's water everywhere and dripping off the roof...Should have nice water levels in our streams this season. Tied up some Hennies and watched hockey today...We are closer than we were in January.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
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