Do you have Montana on your mind?
Our March speaker, Ed Lawrence’s take on fishing Montana:
“Imagine this: it’s the middle of July. The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. Fish are jumpin’. And you’re mowing the lawn. Or washing windows.
Sad to say, some of your pals are casting flies into the Yellowstone, or Madison, or Missouri Rivers in Montana. They are in pursuit of herds of Rainbow, or Brown, or Cutthroat trout. You could be there, too.
After all, it doesn’t take an intergalactic flight to get to Bozeman. Airlines daily deposit anglers from all points of the compass to this fishing mecca, this breadbasket of blue ribbon water.
In July you’ll probably be tossing dry flies. Or nymphs. Or streamers. Take your pick: on many days you’ll fish ‘em all between sunrise and sunset. So pre-trip prep is easy: just bring your boxes, then check with us to find out if there’s something special the fish are keying on. Don’t be surprised that a Sculpin works in the morning in July, and a Chernobyl Ant or Yellow Sally in the p.m.
The Good News is that you’ll be casting to wild trout, vigorous little nippers that grew up in the rivers, not a hatchery.
Actually, they’re not so little. On the Missouri River in the 34-miles long stretch between Wolf Creek and Cascade, the count ranges between 5,000-6,000 fish per mile. In 2013, fish in the 18-inch length represented about 24 percent of the total population.
They’re pretty chubby too, since they live in a tailwater with predictable flows and food sources.
The same holds true for the Madison, which exits Yellowstone National Park (‘the park’)and flows for 30-some ripply miles to Ennis. Most recently, the fish count ranged between 2,500-3,500 fish per mile, and the Rainbow population is on the rise.
Mike Vaughn, the Madison river biologist, recently said in an email “By the way, my lead man on our shocking crew this past September says he has never seen more big rainbows in the Pine Butte section. He has been on every crew out there since 1992.”
Not to be outdone, the Yellowstone is only a 25-mile jaunt east from Bozeman. She offers 90 miles of free flowing water between ‘the park’ and Big Timber. While the Missouri’s character is that of a large spring creek, and the Madison is one riffle after another, the ‘Stone has a different personality. After descending through Yankee Jim Canyon, she meanders through miles of ranch land populated by grasshoppers.
Montana’s indigenous Cutthroat population is greater in the upper reaches above Livingston than in the valley.
River access is a piece of cake: if you can put your booties in a stream from a public place, you can fish anywhere on the stream as long as you stay below the high water mark. Odds are you’ll run out of energy before you run out of river.
In addition to your flies, a rod will come in handy. Our go-to rods are 5 – 7 weight, 9-footers. Floating lines work just fine; bring some split shot for fishing nymphs. Fill your vest with 9-foot, 3X – 5X leaders and tippet, and Thingamabobbers.
Summertime temps are in the 70’s-80’s with an occasional foray into the 90’s, so don’t bother packing the waders. Include a windbreaker for the occasional thunder shower, and recently purchased sunscreen, not the tube that’s been in your vest since two summers ago. A sense of humor’s always a welcome addition to the mix (after all, it’s only fishing).
In the meantime, don’t worry about the lawn. Or windows. They’ll be there when you return home, and you’ll have great memories to keep you company while you’re doing the chores.”
Ed has been guiding for 15 years , primarily on the Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin and Missouri rivers. Prior to becoming a professional guide, Ed was a professional writer with credits in all of the major fly fishing magazines. He also authored three books. Ed is a graduate of the University of Oregon, grew up in the Bay Area and is still an avid San Francisco Giants fan.
It’s bring a friend night this month. With three great outings lined up, the coming series of Fly of the Month, casting lessons starting in April and the opening of trout season, can you think of a better time to introduce someone to the Delta Fly Fishers. Bring a friend. If he or she joins, you even get a discount on your next year’s dues.
This month’s meeting will meet at the John R. Williams School, Stockton. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30. Guests and the general public are welcome.