Montana DIY float fish trip helps

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by troutpounder, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Doesn't happen every year, and when it does, they'll often just target certain rivers (happens on the Jefferson and lower Big Hole often); I don't think it ever occurs on the tailwaters, they'll just be more crowded if other water is shut down. Last year was a tough one down in the Missoula area; in addition to stream closures (Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork) they had a bad fire season. Hopefully, this year will be better.

  2. I was there last summer (July). My biggest complaint is that it was too easy to catch fish (no, really!). My buddy and I had a 50 fish day (each). 2/3 Browns 1/3 rainbows. Most were in 14-16 range with a few over 18. Very simply, if you got a good drift, you got a fish. We got to a point on our second day that we went looking for the smallest baetis hatches we could find in order to make the fishing difficult. Am I complaining ? No, but I don't think I will ever go back as there are other waters calling. Interesting, to me at least, was that we caught both types of browns: Scots and German. The browns also would leap like a salmon which was something I have never seen a brown do before.
    Kyle Smith likes this.
  4. Well sounds like you made up your mind as in Yellowstone in late august? I've floated several stretches up the canyon and a few down lower so if you're looking for browns that time of year... go low there's some pigs even past Big Timb. IMO I would never go to float the bighorn in late august in MT (that's a late fall, winter, real early spring deal), there's too much good water your passing up from WA, but the Lower Yellow is worth it.

    As far as the hoot owl restrictions, I've never seen it implemented on the Yellowstone, that act is reserved for the hippie rivers in W. MT.. however I'd embrace the concept of the water suckers going on hoot hours as well... just saying.
    Bill Aubrey and Old406Kid like this.
  5. Here's my advice, for what it's worth (lots of good suggestions on here already...)

    I would pick the 1st week of July, mainly because you are likely both safe from runoff yet still early in the season so are also likely safe against low water as well.

    Like any area or specific water, it is virtually impossible to plan based upon water conditions 7 months in advance, unless you were solely fishing tailwaters, and even then, you are still open to possible water releases. So, with that said, I would concentrate on an area, and then call the local shops a few weeks in advance and start really planning, and even then, be open to moving things around a bit as you travel and arrive based upon current conditions. It's no use getting too excited about a specific river only to allow disappointment if it's fishing poorly.

    So, I would head to Bozeman and use that as a base of operations. Firstly, there's no lack of decent fly shops there (as in most fishy areas of MT for that matter...) And secondly, and most importantly, there is a wealth of water and variety of water that is readily accessible. You are basically on the Gallatin and the East Branch. Within an easy drive to the lower Madison, the Yellowstone, and you can access the Park via West or Gardiner too. You can even do a long day trip (I'd reccomend an overnight) up to the Missouri, which is just a killer tailwater, and if you care to pay, you can head over to Paradise Valley and fish one of the spring creeks (DePuy's, Nelson's.) Actually, with 6 of you, you could lock up all of Milesnicks Spring Creek for a day (right down the road.) Cool little spring creek(s) plus tons of access to the East Gallatin which can be lights out at times. I'd suggest hitting the Park too if it's your first time out there, not only for the fishing but just because it's a cool experience. Maybe fish the Lamar or lower Slough...

    I'd avoid going all of the way out to the Big Horn unless you feel truly compelled to try it. Don't get me wrong, it is a fabulous river in it's own right, but it is way the hell out there and not close to anything else, plus, that time of year it's a veritable carnival. Definitely a river everyone should try given an opportunity, but it's really limited in many ways and by the sounds of it, not what you are looking for in this trip.

    Good luck, share some pics upon your return!

  6. Assuming you'll be taking I-90, you'll be going by some good wade streams, the St. Regis, Fish Cr., Thompson, and Jocko Rivers, and the lower Clark Fork. Runoff isn't usually an issue 'til late May, and some stay fairly clear. This area doesn't get the pressure you'll find on better known rivers that time of year (or ever) and fish sizes are comparable. Give me a call if you need more detailed info or a place to stay. Ray 406-207-0673

  7. The Horn is good early (March, April) and late (Nov, Dec), summer is busy. As mentioned already it has other draw backs as well. If you want to catch fish its great. I'm not about numbers and I'm a streamer junkie so the Yellowstone is one of my favorites. I like October below Livingston. Crowds can be heavy in the valley during the summer months. August is known for hoppers below Livingston. Heads up rowing through Livingston and below. Majority of the water is not difficult but a few spots sneak up on you and take out drift boats. A few are sunk every year. The valley is easy rowing. Lots of information can be found about the valley online but very little exists for the float below Livingston. Wind can be an issue also below town. If you are planning on a float below Livingston PM me. A couple of my crappy videos on vimeo are from the Yellowstone around Livingston.
  8. I you want to fish the Yellowstone, then I'd suggest either very early in the year, or else wait until the July- September time frame to be sure to miss the runoff. Any float in Paradise Valley, for 30 or so miles south of Livingston has good fishing and is relatively easy to float for a person who is unfamiliar with the river. The river farther south than that, above Yankee Jim Canyon upstream to Gardner can be a bit more tricky to float in places, as is the river below Livingston, but there are more fish farther upriver, and bigger fish farther down. Lots of hatches and chances for Browns on dries in July, and, if August is like a normal August this year (last year wasn't) there is usually plenty of good Hoppertunities.

  9. This is why I love WFF! Thank you everybody for your advise!
  10. Don't get me wrong, I have no illusions of keeping these places secret (which, unfortunately none of them are much of a secret anymore). I would be more than willing to share some out of the way places with someone if they were so inclined in their seeking information that they contacted me in a private message. I just don't think these smaller, out of the way and lesser known waters need to be pimped in the public forum...

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