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2018 Montana Fly Fishing Outlook

May 11, 2018

It is March in Bozeman, Montana and fly fishing season is here. Our Montana fly fishing guides have started to put away their skis, dust off their drift boats, and get back to fishing. Winter 2018 was the real deal. Lots of snow and long cold spells made for tough winter fly fishing in the Bozeman area. Many of the larger rivers were choked by ice and boat ramps were inaccessible. The trout got a nice long break from anglers this winter. Some of the usual winter suspects, Depuy’s Spring Creek, the Gallatin, and the Lower Madison, provided a few windows of opportunities for anglers looking to get their mid-winter trout fishing fix, but overall the rivers and streams near Bozeman were quiet and cold from December through February.

Looking forward into the Spring and Summer, our magic 8 ball is telling us 2018 is going to be a great year for fly fishing in Montana. The snowpack is well above average statewide which means we will have plenty of cold water all summer long. The flipside to this is that we will have a longer than normal runoff season. Expect many rivers to remain unfishable and unsafe to floating longer than usual in 2018. For the Yellowstone River I’m betting the last week of July before it is really in shape. Expect the Gallatin River, Jefferson River, Boulder River, and other local freestones to follow suit. For our guides and travelling anglers this means the majority of trips will be on the Missouri River, Madison River, Spring Creeks, and Private water options June until mid-July.

Once flows settle down, patient anglers will be treated to what could be some of the best August dry fly fishing in recent history. Hoppers will be right at the waters edge with fish ready to chow down. The lengthy Hebgen Dam construction project was completed last fall. The Madison River should have cooler water and good flows throughout August. For the Bozeman, Montana based angler this means lots of options and great fly fishing any direction they go. Not the summer to opt for going somewhere else instead.

The Missouri River is where our Montana fly fishing guides can be found April thru June and back again in the Fall. Anglers can expect higher than normal flows, which will mean great nymphing and streamer fishing until flows drop in June and the dry fly bite turns on. We still have some prime dates available at the end of May. Contact us to get them before they are gone. Terrestrial fishing should be great this year through the heart of the Summer. We’re betting on a great September. October is our favorite time of the year to fly fish the Missouri River. It’ll be here before you know it. 

Our forecast on where to be and when to be there for 2018? Missouri River in April, May, June, and first half of July. Yellowstone, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers July, August, and September. Missouri River in October. Big Horn River in November. For wade fishing anglers the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks and Yellowstone National Park will provide great fly fishing throughout the season.

If you have already booked your 2018 Montana fly fishing dates with the Montana Angling Company you are in for what is looking to be a special year. For those still needing to, give us a call at 406-579-9553 and we will make it happen. You are not going to want to miss out on 2018. Fish On!

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