Spring Fly Fishing with the Montana Angling Company
Spring in Montana means it is time to dust off the fly rods, renew fishing licenses, and head to the river for the start of a new fly fishing season. March 1st is the kickoff of the official fishing season in Montana. Our anglers and Montana fly fishing guides are always eager after a long winter to enjoy some great Spring fly fishing. By the middle of March, winter’s grasp loosens on our Montana rivers and anglers can expect improving conditions through April and into May.
Spring is a favorite season for fly fishing in Montana for many anglers. Spring offers the great combination of strong hatches, consistently good fly fishing, and solitude on our blue ribbon rivers. April is a great month for fly fishing the rivers near Bozeman, MT. May is the peak of the spring fly fishing season and anglers will be treated to some of the best fly fishing of the season on the Missouri River. For dry fly anglers, this is can’t miss fly fishing.
- April is one of the best times of year to fly fish in Montana for anglers that value solitude on the water
- The Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch is early May on the Yellowstone River is one of the best hatches in Montana
- May fly fishing on the Missouri River in Craig, MT kicks off the prime dry fly fishing season
- Winter Guide Trip Specials run through the end of March. Spring Guide Trip Specials run through the month of April
What to Expect
Anglers fly fishing in Montana during the spring months of March, April, and May can expect great fly fishing across all of our Montana rivers with conditions that improve and peak by early May. Winter weather is to be expected through mid-March and is common through the end of April. By May conditions are consistently favorable, but cold temperatures and snow are always a possibility. Waders are strongly recommended for all spring fly fishing trips in Montana.
Anglers fly fishing in March can look forward to wide open rivers with low angling pressure. The quality of the fly fishing in March is largely dictated by weather conditions. Generally warmer weather and low wind will make for the most productive days. Hatches of midges are often strong and by the end of the month anglers can expect the first appearance of blue winged olive (BWO) mayflies.
By April, the fly fishing in Montana is consistent and hatches of midges and BWOs are in full swing. Anglers can expect quality dry fly fishing most afternoons on the rivers in Bozeman, MT and the Missouri River. Solitude on our blue ribbon waters is plentiful and anglers can expect favorable conditions most day but should be prepared for late-season winter weather.
May marks the beginning of the prime fly fishing season, May 1-October 31, in Montana and the peak of the spring fly fishing season. By the first of the month dry fly fishing is as good as it gets and anglers will enjoy some of the best hatches of the season. BWOs hatch in full force through the middle of the month and the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch pops on the Yellowstone River usually by the 10th of May. On the Missouri River anglers will enjoy some of the best fly fishing of the year. The dry fly fishing is excellent, catch rates are high, and the trout are some of the largest average size in Montana.
Where to Fly Fish in Montana
Spring fly fishing in Montana is great on all of our area rivers, but conditions on individual rivers and streams fluctuate over the course of the spring season. Anglers will have the best success wade fishing on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks in March, as near constant temperature water makes for reliable fly fishing regardless of weather and conditions. Wade fishing on the Gallatin River and Madison River is also another good bet in March. By the end of the month floating on the Madison River, Missouri River, and Yellowstone River is often a good option when boat ramps become accessible as ice thaws with warming temperatures.
Anglers will find similarly good fly fishing in April on all of our Montana rivers. Wade fishing and float fishing are both productive options. Dry fly fishing improves through the end of the month and anglers will find good hatches of BWOs and Midges on the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers daily. On the Madison River and can expect some BWOs but the main event for dry fly anglers is the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch which generally kicks off on the Lower Madison River by April 25th and the Upper Madison River shortly thereafter.
The Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch on the Yellowstone River is a noteworthy annual event in May and marks some of the best early season dry fly fishing of the year. Anglers that are able to time the hatch will encounter blizzards of bugs and pods of actively feeding trout. The window is limited and run-off often cuts the hatch short but anglers will be rewarded with some truly great fly fishing.
For most anglers and our Montana fly fishing guides, May fly fishing in Montana is all about the Missouri River tailwater in Craig, MT. The fishing is as good and consistent as it gets. Thick hatches of BWOs, Mother’s Day Caddis, and March Browns makes for some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. The productivity can be staggering at times and some of the biggest trout of year are landed every year by our anglers on May fly fishing trips on the Missouri River.
Spring Fly Fishing Tactics in Montana
Spring is the start of quality hatches and dry fly fishing in Montana for the season. Hatches of midges start by mid-March followed by BWOs in April, Skwala stoneflies, and the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch and March Browns in May. Dry fly fishing is great during all of these hatches. Anglers will find the most success late-morning through the evening each day. Both sight fishing and blind fishing can be productive during all of these hatches and anglers will find success with good presentation and flies matched to size and color.
Nymphing is consistently productive throughout the spring fly fishing season in Montana and will account for the greatest quantity of trout caught by anglers. Midges, sow bugs, and scuds will be productive on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks and the Missouri River early in the spring. Stoneflies, caddisflies, pheasant tails, and #12-16 attractor nymphs will be productive on the Yellowstone and Madison Rivers from early April through early May. Sowbugs are king on the Missouri River for nymph anglers in May. Often fly fishing with a tandem rig consisting of a #14 sowbug to a #16 sowbug is all you need, all month long.
Spring is one of the best seasons for streamer fishing in Montana. As water temperatures warm into May the bite improves and our trout become more willing to chase large streamer patterns. On the Madison River some of the biggest trout of the year will come to hand in April. Large flashy sculpin and baitfish imitations work well, especially as flows increase with spring run-off.
Spring Fly Fishing Trips in Montana
Spring has sprung in Montana and anglers will enjoy Spring fly fishing trips with the Montana Angling Company. Winter Trip Special Rates run through the end of March and Spring Trip Special Rates run through the end of April. Anglers will enjoy discounted guide trip rates that account for often shorter days on the water and variable conditions compared to the prime fly fishing season. Anglers will also enjoy great fly fishing and true solitude on the water with Spring fly fishing trips in Montana.
May fly fishing trips on the Missouri River are a favorite amongst our longtime anglers and professional guides. Anglers will be treated to the combination of great dry fly fishing, high catch rates, and consistent angling conditions on one of Montana’s most scenic blue ribbon rivers. Many of our Montana fly fishing guides book well in advanced as does lodging with our partner lodge, the Missouri River Ranch. We recommend booking trips 4-8 months in advanced for prime dates and guide availability.