Known for its closeness to Yellowstone National Park, year-round activities, and a sense of peace unmatched by other states, Montana is high on most savvy travelers’ lists of places to visit at some time in their lives. Just utter the name, and you’ll feel the thrill of what’s to come; peace, simplicity, and supreme beauty.
You can find right spots for fly fishing in most states, but some are more epic than others. But Montana, is it the heaven on earth for anglers?
Montana – Heaven for Fly Fishing
Montana is a beautiful, and a vast and varied state of mountains, canyons, river valleys, forests, and caverns. It is positioned on the Canadian border between Wyoming and the Dakotas.
It’s the fourth largest state with over 145,000 square miles, but with the population under 1 million, it ’s the sixth least-populated state. So there is enough room to breathe and fish.
Major rivers include the Yellowstone, Madison, Missouri, and Flathead. Montana also has the shortest river in North America, the Roe, which is 201 feet (61 meters) long. There are lots of plains in the central and eastern sections of the state. The northern Rocky Mountains are in the western part.
The Yellowstone River is a headwater of the Missouri River. It is an excellent fly fishing river. The longest undammed river in the continental US, the Yellowstone River flows the Rocky Mountains in the park of the same name. The absence of dams along the river provides for the excellent fish environment from high inside Yellowstone Park.
The river offers excellent trout fishing in practically every area. Cutthroat and brown trout are plentiful and active. Rainbows are less so but still familiar. The Yellowstone is mostly a no-kill river, so don’t plan on dinner. The Lamar, Soda Butte and Slough Creek tributaries are easily waded and not excessively challenging.
When it comes to fly fishing in the states, no river is more legendary than the Madison River. It is a fly fishing mecca of severe anglers.
In the early 90s, however, the fish in the river were devastated by whirling disease. Fortunately, the fish in the Madison has been on the rebound. Which means the legendary Madison should be high on your list.
The Madison is a rock bottom stream and can be slippery. The current isn’t extreme, and you can wade most of it without a problem. Browns, Cutthroats, Rainbows, and Graylings are the prominent fish. Hatches start in April and run through the middle of September. The Salmon Fly hatch in late June is the best, but you really can’t go wrong.
Early summer, as the weather starts to warm up, it is time to start thinking about breaking out the rods and planning about a trip to Montana, and Madison. Remember, big rivers might take weeks to clear after snows from the mountain melt.