Late March In Montana

#17
OK, I am planning a week in Montana the last week of March and usually go to the Bitterroot and sometimes hit the Madison. If you were me, where would you spend your time in late March?
Somewhere other than Montana.

Seriously though, I don't know how many springs you've spent on the Bitterroot lately but the last few years Starting around the first of March you can't find a spot at any put in or take out, and the majority of trucks and trailers have Washington plates. I hear the Hoh, Bogie, Calawah and Sol Duc fish well in March lol.
 
#18
Of course, it all depends on the weather and what the early low-level snow melt situation is on a day by day basis, but here are three sure fire places for late March.

1) Yellowstone River above Emigrant all the way to the park boundary. The river at Corwin Springs is generally in the 1000 CFS range and not much higher at Livingston. The low water exposes a lot of wadable water and makes for easy floating in kayaks, canoes or pontoons. Immediately above Yankee Jim Canyon there’s some good shore access on the west or Yellowstone Trail side of the river (access at Corwin Springs or Tom Miner Rd.) Fish will concentrate in the deep buckets just below riffles and along deep banks. Midges will be out on sunny days and the streamer bite is usually pretty good in the early Spring. No crowds.
View attachment 188749
2) Madison River between Ennis and the lake. This is wade fishing only, but accessible by boat from Ennis or on foot at the Valley Garden FAS. This section used to be closed until late May to protect spawning rainbows. If you catch it right, the river can be loaded with big rainbows that have moved up from Ennis lake. Zero pressure.
View attachment 188748
3) Shields River – Lower few miles around Convict Grade Rd. Wadable in early spring with good chance for big browns and lots of Cutthroat. You'll be all alone.
Shields River
Hot Spot Alert
 
#19
Of course, it all depends on the weather and what the early low-level snow melt situation is on a day by day basis, but here are three sure fire places for late March.

1) Yellowstone River above Emigrant all the way to the park boundary. The river at Corwin Springs is generally in the 1000 CFS range and not much higher at Livingston. The low water exposes a lot of wadable water and makes for easy floating in kayaks, canoes or pontoons. Immediately above Yankee Jim Canyon there’s some good shore access on the west or Yellowstone Trail side of the river (access at Corwin Springs or Tom Miner Rd.) Fish will concentrate in the deep buckets just below riffles and along deep banks. Midges will be out on sunny days and the streamer bite is usually pretty good in the early Spring. No crowds.
View attachment 188749
2) Madison River between Ennis and the lake. This is wade fishing only, but accessible by boat from Ennis or on foot at the Valley Garden FAS. This section used to be closed until late May to protect spawning rainbows. If you catch it right, the river can be loaded with big rainbows that have moved up from Ennis lake. Zero pressure.
View attachment 188748 3) Shields River – Lower few miles around Convict Grade Rd. Wadable in early spring with good chance for big browns and lots of Cutthroat. You'll be all alone.
Shields River
WTF dude?? seriously???
 
#22
I think it’s hard to say someone is hotspotting the Yellowstone or Madison. Most people know they have the potential (like any decent river in the northern hemisphere) to fish well in spring. It’s not busy because it’s hard to plan a trip that time of year because it could be 60 or 25 and a blizzard. Lucky for ff addicts like myself, most people don’t enjoy fishing in bad weather even though more than likely, the fishing will be good regardless that time of year.

I had the luxury of living in MT for 5 years and loved fishing outside the markers as I called it (before Memorial Day and after Labor Day). Easily, my preferred time to fish the state.

@surfnsully, although I think most posts here have been fine, I understand people’s sensitivities to hotspotting so won’t name specific rivers. You have some good suggestions already and I would add, be confident hitting any open water during that timeframe. When I lived in MT 15 years ago, my formula was simple; stonefly nymphs in the morning and late afternoon (double beaded at the time) followed up with simple BWO paraduns during the short window of dry fly action from about 1-3pm if the weather cooperated.
 
#25
I think it’s hard to say someone is hotspotting the Yellowstone or Madison. Most people know they have the potential (like any decent river in the northern hemisphere) to fish well in spring. It’s not busy because it’s hard to plan a trip that time of year because it could be 60 or 25 and a blizzard. Lucky for ff addicts like myself, most people don’t enjoy fishing in bad weather even though more than likely, the fishing will be good regardless that time of year.

I had the luxury of living in MT for 5 years and loved fishing outside the markers as I called it (before Memorial Day and after Labor Day). Easily, my preferred time to fish the state.

@surfnsully, although I think most posts here have been fine, I understand people’s sensitivities to hotspotting so won’t name specific rivers. You have some good suggestions already and I would add, be confident hitting any open water during that timeframe. When I lived in MT 15 years ago, my formula was simple; stonefly nymphs in the morning and late afternoon (double beaded at the time) followed up with simple BWO paraduns during the short window of dry fly action from about 1-3pm if the weather cooperated.
You're correct. The only thing I had a rub with was naming a relatively unknown river. Madison, Bighorn, Missouri, Gallatin, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, Bitterroot, Rock Creek. All of these waters are famous for a reason, but I would also even take a little exception to pointing out underutilized stretches of the famous water. I"m not saying people shouldn't offer suggestions to smaller, lesser known rivers, because I realize people that don't live here don't have time to find and explore the lesser known rivers, I just think info like that should be limited to a pm.
 
#26
You're correct. The only thing I had a rub with was naming a relatively unknown river. Madison, Bighorn, Missouri, Gallatin, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Big Hole, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, Bitterroot, Rock Creek. All of these waters are famous for a reason, but I would also even take a little exception to pointing out underutilized stretches of the famous water. I"m not saying people shouldn't offer suggestions to smaller, lesser known rivers, because I realize people that don't live here don't have time to find and explore the lesser known rivers, I just think info like that should be limited to a pm.
We will just have to agree to disagree. I am a strong believer in sharing my knowledge and experience. I want others to catch just as many fish as I do. Having fished in MT since 1972 and lived here since 2008, there are no secret spots, secret techniques or magic flies. SW Montana has been written about since the 1930s. Million of words.
P1111760.JPG
P1111761.JPG
There is no where that hasn’t been mentioned in books, mags, on of course on the INTERNET. But people do have to put in the effort and generally its lack of effort that keeps people away from decent fishing. I always hope people will take my advice and put in the effort. By the extremely low numbers of anglers I routinely encounter on the river (many times ZERO), not many people listen.

In the Spring of 2014, I wrote about a different approach to fishing big and medium sized Montana rivers.
I’ve talked about it at TU meetings and various fly fishing events. I’ve yet to see another angler on the river fishing them the way I do. Knowing where to go is the easy part of the battle. Going there and succeeding is the difficult part.
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
#27
I found a few good places to fish here in Montana. I mentioned them a few times on here but have taken to shut up about them. In the three years that I talked about them I have never seen anybody from Washington fishing them. I have fished there days on end and I'm usually fishing it alone. I like that nobody else is fishing them. I found some new water last year here in Montana about 15 miles outside of Butte. Going up I-15 I've asked about them in a local fly shop and was told that half of the people in my area haven't heard of them. And the other half don't go there. It's fun to have water to yourself.
 
#28
We will just have to agree to disagree. I am a strong believer in sharing my knowledge and experience. I want others to catch just as many fish as I do. Having fished in MT since 1972 and lived here since 2008, there are no secret spots, secret techniques or magic flies. SW Montana has been written about since the 1930s. Million of words.
View attachment 189169
View attachment 189170
There is no where that hasn’t been mentioned in books, mags, on of course on the INTERNET. But people do have to put in the effort and generally its lack of effort that keeps people away from decent fishing. I always hope people will take my advice and put in the effort. By the extremely low numbers of anglers I routinely encounter on the river (many times ZERO), not many people listen.

In the Spring of 2014, I wrote about a different approach to fishing big and medium sized Montana rivers.
I’ve talked about it at TU meetings and various fly fishing events. I’ve yet to see another angler on the river fishing them the way I do. Knowing where to go is the easy part of the battle. Going there and succeeding is the difficult part.
Nice collection of books.
 

Latest posts