So Many Options

So Little Time


When is the best time to fly fish Montana? We hear this question from anglers all the time and it’s an important inquiry. As Montana fly fishing guides and avid anglers for the past couple decades we thought a little professional insight might be in order for those of your next Montana fly fishing trip.

First we’ll discuss what you as an angler should consider prior to traveling to fish in Montana, then we’ll provide some of our recommendations based on the season.

  • The first thing to consider is what are your personal fishing priorities? Do you want to target selective trout or just go for some biggies? Are you a dry fly only angler? Maybe you’re just looking to have a great day on the river and introduce your newest partner to fly fishing and get them some professional instruction.
  • Further consideration – what time of year is best for you and your group to travel? Montana like many western states experiences large amounts of spring run-off. This run-off is when mountain snows melt and flood certain rivers making them un-fishable. Fortunately, other rivers or spring creeks fish very well.

Now that you’ve had time to consider your priorities and travel dates here’s our thoughts on when is the best time to fish Montana. We’ll also suggest some, but not all, of the best rivers during those times.

When is the best time to fish Montana


March & April

Best Rivers
Why it’s Good
  • Great hatches, dry flies, streamers & Caddis!
  • Great sight fishing, fewer anglers & Midges
  • Big trout, great nymphing & quality dry fly

May & June

Best Rivers
Why it’s Good
  • Excellent nymphing, quality dry fly & streamer action
  • Good sight nymphing, some dry. Hatches: midges & PMDs
  • Good nymphing & dry fly. Salmonflies, Golden Stones & caddis
  • Big trout cruising for midges & Callibaetis

July & August

Best Rivers
Why it’s Good
  • Quality dry fly. Hatches: PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Caddis & Hoppers
  • Quality dry fly on Lamar & Soda Butte. Hatches: Drakes & hoppers
  • Excellent sight fishing. Hatches: PMDs, Sulphurs, & great midges
  • Quality nymphing / possible dry fly. Hatches Caddis, Yellow Sallies, PMDs & Tricos.

September & October

Best Rivers
Why it’s Good
  • Quality dry fly and streamers. Hatches Drakes and Baetis
  • October sees large trout, some dry flies. Hatches: midges, & Baetis
  • Quality streamers, some dry flies. Hatches: midges, Baetis, & tricos
  • Consistent water temps, streamers & nymphing. Hatches: Baetis & midges

November thru February

Best Rivers
Why it’s Good
  • It’s cold and windy here! Crank out some of your favorites for next year.
  • Test your skills on some Tarpon, Bonefish, Redfish or Permit!
  • On the rare 40 degree day midge fishing can be effective


The Best Variety

Best Location
  • Livingston, Montana and the surrounding area
When & Why
  • Hands down our most popular trip is the Montana Sampler. This option gets you on number different rivers from Spring Creeks, to Yellowstone Park to drift boat fishing large rivers such as the Yellowstone and Madison.

Numbers in the Net

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • April, May, June & October the “Mo” has huge numbers of trout/mile
  • April, July/August – when hatches are plentiful and trout are hungry
  • August/September – great hatches for eager Cutthroat trout

Big Trout

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • April & late October pulling streamers for Brown trout
  • Nearly every month except August & early September
  • September/October on the Yellowstone River near the Lake
  • April/May and October on the Lower Madison can produce monsters
  • May, June, July & September – sight fishing to huge cruisers

Dry Fly Only

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • April – Caddis, March Browns & Baetis; August – Hoppers
  • June/July – PMDs & Sulphurs; August – Midge-mania
  • May – Caddis; June – PMDs; October – Baetis
  • August – Hoppers & Drakes; September – Drakes, Baetis


Best Rivers
When & Why
  • Year round (except August/September) produces the most trout
  • Dredging the Madison is a consistent producer throughout the fishing season
  • Technical sight nymphing is effective April-October on the Creeks

Streamer Junkie

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • Big water produces large trout, especially when pulling streamers. We recommend any of these rivers for streamer junkies especially between April-May and again in late September-October.

Drift Boat / Raft

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • Drift boat April-July & mid September-October
  • Drift boat & rafts April & July – October
  • Drift boats & rafts April – October
  • Rafts only – season varies on flow, typically July
  • Rafts only – season varies on flow, typically July – August

Walk Wade Stalker

Best Rivers
When & Why
  • April – October, excellent sight fishing opportunities abound
  • Late July – October on numerous small streams in the Park
  • April, July-October use drift boat, pull over & wade hot spots
  • There are a few small streams we don’t publicize that have good wade opportunities