Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Fling

April 18th, 2011 - "spring" fishing on the Yellowstone River.
Spring is a fickle season in Montana, providing hope one day and utter despair the next. The past couple of days have been a perfect example of that, with the early wildflowers and fresh shoots of green grass covered by a few inches of heavy, wet snow.

From a fishing standpoint spring is a welcome season, albeit a brief one. Some of my favorite rivers are already in the throes of runoff - and the abundant mountain snowpack will soon inundate every river in the state. But for now - and perhaps for a couple of more weeks - the fishing is good. The days are growing longer, insects are hatching, and the trout are actively feeding.

A solid 18" brown puts a bend in the rod.
Yesterday I floated the Yellowstone River with Brady and Jesse, the day started out promising with fish taking an assortment of streamers (stripped and drifted), stonefly nymphs, soft hackles and aquatic annelids (Google it). And then the wind came up - and stayed up. Our fearless skipper got quite a workout as he rowed against a relentless headwind all afternoon - the type of wind that the Livingston area is infamous for. Through it all the fishing remained good, baetis were hatching and we had the river to ourselves (go figure).

A beautiful Gallatin River brown - taken on a streamer.
Knowing that runoff is just around the corner, I've been fishing at every opportunity. Last week I had a chance to fish the Gallatin River with Josh, after a fly fishing related community service project that I helped him out on. We worked upstream from Gallatin Gateway and had good fishing all afternoon on nymphs, and streamers worked tight to structure. Saturday again found me on the Gallatin River, fishing a favorite stretch of the valley with Matt. On this day I quickly grew impatient with the mildly productive nymph fishing and switched over to a mildly productive streamer, and later to an all together unproductive skawla dry fly. But it was great to get out on the water again with a friend who had been lost to the ski slopes (and ski bunnies) all winter.

Good eats.
And speaking of skwalas, check out this photo that my friend Jesse took in SW Montana about a week ago! And no, this isn't on the Bitterroot (or anywhere near it).


  1. Looks like a wintry day on the Yellowstone - sure does blow like the dickens over there.

    The photo of skwalas is neat, rare to see that many - even on the 'root.

  2. Looks cold up there. Great looking fish and bugs. Thanks for sharing Will.


  3. It's been a cold spring here in MT. Wind seems to be a constant on the Yellowstone, particularly during the spring. If you get a relatively calm day over there you'd better take advantage of it.

    That skwala photo shocked me. I count 11 stones in that photo, and Jesse said there were a bunch more. What's even more surprising is where they were...a river that doesn't get any hype for its skwala hatch.