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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning a trip to Montana in Sept. I am flexible on which week that I take. I will have off Wed through Sunday. Is later in September better than early? Does it really matter?

I have caught a lot of bows here in WA. I have caught 6 Deschutes Redside, 1 Brown, and 3 SRC. 1 Dolly.

I would like to get some nice Brook Trout, Cuttys, and Browns. Any fish is great, don't get me wrong, but I would love to mark some other species off of my list.

I have a 3 weight Redington CT, 4 weight Sage XP, 6 weight Sage ONE, and a 7 weight Spey. Is the 6 weight too much? Is the 3 weight too small?

I have 5 total days. I will be leaving from Kirkland Wa. I could leave at 6pm on a Tues and would need to be home late Sunday night. We prefer to camp off the grid. Not really into established campgrounds. I have a pontoon but will probably plan on wading everywhere. My GF loves to visit Breweries but is more than content reading a book on the shore with a good beer in hand while I fish.

Early plan is to leave Kirkland around 7 pm on Tues. I would like to get to CDA and visit one of my favorite watering holes by midnight. Catch 3 or 4 hours of sleep and be in Missoula by sunrise.

Fish the Clark Fork in the morning, Bitterroot in the afternoon, camp on Rock Creek and fish it Wed night and Thurs morning.

From there head over to Three Forks and spend the day fishing the Missouri, and Gallatin. Then head down towards the Madison/West Fork area and camp.

Madison/Firehole (Madison Campground) day 3.

Beaverhaed/Ruby/Big Hole day 4.

Wise River/Sheep Creek in the morning on day 5 and leave around noon for home to be back by midnight.

Are there any other places that are must see in SW MT in September? Is this even possible? What would you eliminate if you had to?
 

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Water may be a bit smaller than normal based on current predictions. Strongly suggest checking with Frontier Anglers or 4 Rivers fly shops as the date approaches. I would hold off until the 3rd or 4th week of September simply because temps will have cooled and the chance of some precipitation the preceding weeks is higher.

Just my opinion, but you're trying to cover a lot of ground in a pretty short window. Having done that race track in my early days of MT trips, I quickly switched to more focused itineraries; allowing for more time to really enjoy the river and surrounds. The Beaverhead is typically a good bet as is the upper Madison below Hebgen. And, of course, there are the Firehole, Gibbons and Madison trifecta in YNP.

The 4 and 6 weight rods are just fine. Were you coming later in the fall, during the streamer hatch, the 7 weight might be good to have. Still, you have plenty of time to find that ideal 5 weight... I would feel stark naked not having at least one of them in my quiver.
 
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Indeed. How about you research 2-3 potential places you could camp for a few nights and make a gametime decision about which ONE place you want to explore on a 5-day trip? As for September timing . . . it seems that Montana is about 1 month ahead of Washington so I would advise shooting for earlier in the month to reduce chances of camping in early winter weather.
 

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I agree about concentrating on a smaller area and spend more time fishing/drinking and less time driving. You'll be back and can explore more areas the next time. Bozeman area is great for close fishing and breweries (as is Missoula, but I'm partial to Bozeman). If you can leave the dates flexible until closer to the trip that's ideal. The latest you can go and still have good camping weather the better. I would take all those rods probably and pick the best for each situation you encounter. If you want to just take one it would be the 6wt. Many people say a 5wt is the best do-it-all for trout, but I'd argue a 6wt is ideal for that area with a better ability to handle some streamers and a sink tip. I had a trip back there recently and fished my 3wt, 5wt, and 6wt but used the 6wt 75+% of the time. If you want to fish a bunch of dries the 4wt would be a good bet, 3wt for tiny water, 7wt to swing streamers in bigger water, 6wt for everything else and/or all of the above.
 

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The 4 and 6 will both be good hopper sticks, depending on what river and how windy. Rock Creek ain't that great when it's running really low, but the Clark below RC should be like tits. Bring some small pmd patterns. They hatch pretty late in the summer on the CF. Unless it is some other fly of the same color.

I would skip the Gallatin unless you like the sound of traffic and douchebags, with mostly mediocre fishing.
 

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Browns start to migrate into smaller tributaries later in September depending on water temps and flows. Also the number of fisherman calm down the later in the month you go. Something to consider...

Montana is a huge state. Some of your driving trips you indicated above are in the 4+ hour timeframe - lots and lots of time off the water seeing beautiful country (if that is what you want to do) - but some of your days of fishing will be traveling more than fishing.... As others have suggested find a central location (or two) and make fish day location choice each morning. It takes time to learn about each water and to be successful.

BTW with a little research you will find some waters have all the trout you are looking for (plus some).... Montana provides some great tools to accomplish this: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/mFish/newSearch.html

Enjoy your trip!
 

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I would skip the Gallatin unless you like the sound of traffic and douchebags, with mostly mediocre fishing.
That's no joke. I fished up in the canyon one day and it was ok until mid morning when the steady train of rafts started. Like bumper to bumper almost. I never remember it being that bad when I lived there. Anyways, I relocated after a couple hours of that and had a much better time. If you want to catch small trout there are better places to do it than Gallatin Canyon.
 

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That's no joke. I fished up in the canyon one day and it was ok until mid morning when the steady train of rafts started. Like bumper to bumper almost. I never remember it being that bad when I lived there. Anyways, I relocated after a couple hours of that and had a much better time. If you want to catch small trout there are better places to do it than Gallatin Canyon.
My boss had a kayaker in the Canyon tell him "not a good place to fish, man..." while he paddled right over the fish.
 

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I could spend 5 days on anyone of those streams. I like to fish, windshield time is ok in the middle of the day but you want to be on the water for the early and late rises, better fishing. Don't make the mistake of trying to do it all. Mems.
 

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i tend to disagree I like seeing lots of territory and getting a taste of the fishing here and there vs getting a solid diet of one place. Especially for someone who may have never been here before. get an idea for what you might like to come back and explore more thoroughly. I tried spending a week on the Madison once.. fishing was great but i got bored with the same scenery. Same goes for Rock creek.
I will say however that that's a lot of driving and will cut into fishing time, but Montana is much more than fishing
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Definitely want to see as much as possible while we are there. I am ok with fishing for a couple of hours in the morning, making a mid day stop for a couple of hours, and fishing the last couple of hours of the day. Thats 6 hours on the water. Plenty for me. 3 or 4 hours of drive time is fine as we like to get out and explore and take back roads when possible.

I don't know when I would be back in the area so I want to get a taste of as much as possible. We actually enjoy the window time and listening to music, etc.
 

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You also have to be aware of the rivers closing down.
The Wise river is about 60 to 70 miles from BSC. These rivers and creeks are not close together.

You can get Grayling out of the Ruby and the Big Hole. But they are not close to each other either. You have to do one hell of a lot of driving to cover all you have listed. I would pare down your list a little or you will spend all your time driving to each place.
 

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My boss had a kayaker in the Canyon tell him "not a good place to fish, man..." while he paddled right over the fish.
I couldn't believe the number of rafts when I first relented on my ban of the Gallatin eight years ago or so. Caught a few decent fish and then they started; it was like fishing in a railroad yard.

I would have paid serious money for a harpoon.
 

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Agreed with everyone. Your schedule might keep you from fishing, rather than get more in.

The Missouri around Three Forks is something I might scratch off, especially if it's early September. It's definitely better than July, but the traffic through the canyon down to West and in the Park in September can still be somewhat aggravating and time-consuming, especially if you're trying to fish three rivers over 150 miles away on Day 4.

Good luck either way.
 

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Something else to keep in mind: shorter days. As you approach the end of September the day (daylight) is significantly shorter. The hatches and fish activity transition to a mid-day thing. I would not plan on long mid-day drives, as that is often prime time. Also, the nights are longer and colder, so the fisheries take a little longer to warm up. One fishery/day is a little more realistic, unless they are a stone's throw apart. Swimmy's itinerary is a good start.
 

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Way too many places in such a short trip. Pick one camp within a short drive to a couple places. Learn the water then go back and try another spot. If you try too may places you will only be disappointed. Pick a hatch or spot and focus. You can go back. Stay East of the divide if you want Browns. I don't drive to Montana for Bows or Cutties cuz you can get them here so why drive to Montana for those.If you go early in the month you could do Tricos in the morning one place and head to another for Caddis in the afternoon evening. If you go late you can do Hoppers/Streamers. Simplify and focus !!!!
 
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