Thursday, February 7, 2008

Most Asked Question

Hello and thank you for viewing the Western Drifters Blog. Remember, you can contact us at It is early February and the skiing is fantastic. This means we should have a good water year and quality fishing. Even though it is winter, it is time to start thinking of fishing. (I know this because I have been having fishing dreams lately) :)

In my line of work I get a lot of questions, most pertaining to fishing and some not. However, probably the most asked question is:
When is the best time to come fishing in Montana?
Now the "wiseacre" answer would be "Any time you can get here!". Truth is, there are many "right" answers to that question. Here is my take on the "BEST" times to fish Montana waters. (I have omitted Nov-Feb as they are extremely weather dependent here. Most of our trips this time of year are from folks who find themselves in Big Sky Country hunting or skiing and want a little fishing thrown in).

The general best time to show up in Yellowstone Country pre-runoff is the last two weeks of April to the first week of May. Our hatches on the Yellowstone and surrounding rivers are building to a crescendo with the famed Mothers Day Caddis Hatch coming right before runoff (Yellowstone and Lower Madison). Because of the ever unpredictable weather/runoff it is a good idea to be flexible. A good backup are the Spring Creeks of Paradise Valley and there are a few private lakes to choose from as well.
May brings high water to most of the states' freestone streams and rivers. This is when we hit the tailwaters. The nymph fishing in May is typically excellent on the Missouri (our favorite Montana tailwater) as well as the popular Bighorn River. We are still fishing the private waters as well. The last week of May through June marks what we consider to be the "BEST" time to fish the Missouri. The great fishing results from a wave of insects (PMD's and caddis), rising water temps and hungry rainbows in need of a big meal to accomodate their rising metabolism. This can be truly "EPIC" fishing. Rising fish, incredible nymph fishing and, if you could bring yourself to remove the dry fly, some great streamer action as well. June on the Mo, hard to beat!

As The first week of July hits, the water temps on the Missouri start to climb. By the middle of the month the action takes on a more average tone. This is when we turn our attention back to the Longest Free Flowing River in the United States. The Yellowstone River. Sometime towards the last week of June and the first week of July the river clears. It is high and teeming with stoneflies. This is the big bug, the Salmon Fly. What a lot of anglers don't realize is that this is the start of the most varied hatch period of the year. No less than four sizes of stonefly blend into three sizes of caddis that blur into three different mayflies. This time of year is also great because we have many different rivers to fish, including the Madison, Boulder and Stillwater. All this plus the Spring Creeks are going off with PMD mayflies. Mid July typically marks the start of the good fishing in Yellowstone Nat'l Park (YNP). July hatches fade into August hopper and terrestial fishing on the big rivers and YNP. THIS is why July and August are the "Best" time to be on the Yellowstone and surrounding waters.

September finds us still hanging around the Greater Yellowstone area. YNP is still fishing and some of the wade fishing on mountain creeks cools us on hot afternoons. The hopper fishing fades into a combo of terrestrial/mayfly hatches in late Sept. The waters all over the state are cooling and hatches are starting up again. During late September and October we split our time between the Yellowstone Area and the Missouri. Again, if you can clip off the dry flies and nymphs, you can have some great streamer fishing.
These are general guidelines as weather and other things can effect all fishing. However, in writing this we have come to the conclusion that the "wiseacre" answer is indeed correct. It seems that good fishing blends from one river to the next seemlessly throughout the year, so the best time to come truly is whenever you can! We are confident at Western Drifters that despite the time of year, we can show you a quality fishing experience and catch you at least a fish or two and probably more. Please contact us at (406) 222-7364 or with questions or to book for the 2008 season and feel free to leave a comment concerning this blog.

About Western Drifters

Western Drifters Outfitters has been in existence since 1993. The founder, Tony V, became an accomplished fly-fisherman in the 1980s and has been fishing the area waters since 1990 His expertise has allowed him to become one of the top requested guides for places such as Dan Baileys Fly Shop and others in the area. Tony chooses his guides with the same standards he sets for himself. We guarantee the best!