A look into the Future….May & June


Greg Falls and the boys…..on the Mo’. Mid-June 2006.

As I have said before, this winter is a bit light on snow.  What does that really mean?  Well, let me try to break it down.  This may get confusing, but it makes sense in my head. Think early season…..If you come in Sept, maybe you should think May or June this year.  I know that some of you have seen the high water the past 2 seasons, but this year is a little different.


Obviously we are a long way from May and things could definity change, but I expect that May will be one of the better months of the entire season on both the Madison and the Missouri.  If the Madison has 8 inches of clarity, will be off the hook when it opens back up on May 15th.  From McAtee to Town it should be good from here on out. There will be those days when the fishing rocks and there will be a few that are a bit slow.  Run-off could be going by mid-May and might be finished by the third week of June. DON’T HOLD ME TO THIS. Expect it to be cold this spring.  The Missouri will warm up a bit quicker since the elevation is 3500ft. Will we be rockin’ flip flops and shorts?  Yep.  BUT….it will snow and rain so be prepared if you come out.  May on the Missouri, possibly….maybe….hopefully, will have BWO dry fly angling of the years past. IF we get clouds, warmer weather and light precip the river will come alive.  The river will be lower than the past seasons from less snowpack this winter. The Mo’ could be warmer as well, triggering fish to seek out their summer haunts……riffles and bank edges.  The Missouri should see some caddis in the lower reaches, below the Canyon, and we still could see some BWO’s through the last bit of May. Don’t hold me to this, but the nymphing on the Missouri in May, could be unreal. Streamers. Dry Flies.  Yes……UNREAL. My buddy Kunhert has been gettin’ em’ on nymphs already this month.  25% of the Rainbows upstream of Stickney Creek are 18inches.  No shit. May is light in bookings. Mid to late May is the timeframe.

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Late May on the Mo’.                          Jonathon Heames & a Mo’ River Rainbow. May 2008


The Madison in early June will be muddy.  Above the West Fork one should be able to nymph up some nice trout, even in the muddy water.  A bobber, big Stoneflies, SJ Worms….you know the rig.  By Mid to Late June, the river should be dropping and clearing, giving way to more stable flows. Around the third week, expect to see some dry fly angling. The river could be fishing from Hebgen to Ennis by the middle of the month….unless we get tons of snow and rain between now and then.  The last two seasons, the Madison was blown out until the 10th or so of July.  Not this year.


Joe L and a PMD dry fly 22 in Brown Trout. June 2007.

The Missouri in June could be the best month of the entire season…..better than anywhere else in world.  There could be BWOs, Caddis in early June. Nymphing will crush them. We will most likely see PMDs by mid June.  Remember 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007? I do and so do the folks who were fishing #14 Rusty Spinners and CDC Caddis to stupid rising trout.  They were dumb as posts….and plentiful.  There will be some muddy water on the Missouri in June. There always is.  The Prickly Pear and the Dearborn will blow out from time to time, but they shouldn’t effect the river too much.  There will be more worms in the river when these two streams swell……trout love worms.  From Holter to Cascade, 35 miles or so, it will be wonderful. 


Mo’ River Brown…..late May 2008.

Come early this year and you will never want to leave.  It is Montana and the weather will be tough at times, but the hardy angler will prevail.  We always do.

Going on a guide trip?


G. Falls on the Madison River

I often get over loaded with questions when someone has booked a guide trip with Big Sky Anglers and rightly so.  Most of the time, these questions revolve around what is included, where will we fish, how long is the day, local lodging, dinner opportunites after the day….you get the idea. 

If I was a 9 to 5’er, working my ass off all year long for vacation time, I would want to make the most of my vacation.  Especially, if I was coming to Montana and going on a guided fly fishing trip.  All of my clients are hard working folks who love to fish.  They hire me for 2 or 3 days and then head off on their own to try their luck. Some clients want to be guided the entire week, engaging themselves in the lifestyle of a guide.

If you are going to hire a guide, here are a few other things you should think about:


Have a list of questions you want answered that are specific…..What time of the year should I come out for the Madison, the Missouri, the Yellowstone.  These streams can have good fishing all year long, but sometimes they can be tough or even dirty.  Most years you would not want to book a float trip on the Madison River during mid-June, but you could go to the Missouri during that same time of year, have clear water and fantastic fishing.

Are you a cold weather angler?  Most are not.  It can snow every month of the year in MT.  Be prepared for the weather. BRING YOUR RAIN JACKET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Quality websites will have up to date fishing reports including an archive from past seasons.  Read the archives!!!!  See where your guide has been fishing in the previous years.  It will help.

The area around West Yellowstone has miles of water to fish.  Map reading skills are a must for the traveling angler and if you are coming to fish in Montana, buy a gazzeteer of the state and read it on plane.  Knowing where you are at before you get there is always an advantage.  Most guides will point out sections of river they feel are more productive and if you have a map, then you can mark down……so you dont forget. 


 Why would you book a guide for $450 per day and not practice before you arrive for 5 days of fishing???? WHY?

As a guide, I can certainly tell when someone hasn’t picked up a rod since the last time they were in my boat. Would your wife go to the Bahamas without first tanning a little, just to get the white off? I bet she would. So cast your rod in the grass as the house. PRACTICE. Put a pie plate in the yard at 30 feet while you grill that steak.  Tie on some pink yarn as a fly and hit that plate…….don’t break your wrist, pause on the backcast,…..pracitice this every week for 30 minutes and you will catch more fish this summer.  You will think your guide was more on his game than last year, but the truth is, your guide is always on his game. You just came more prepared.  Honest, I swear.


Serious….yes.  Practice your casting fool!


When anglers arrive to fish, the are usually pumped up and ready to get on the river.  Relax, you are now in Montana and we do things a little different around here.  Your day will rock, just let us do our job. If we need another cup of coffee for the road, don’t fret, we probably really need it.  If we seem to take what you determine as a little too long getting ready at the boat ramp, well, there are things we are watching to make sure that your day is complete.  Things that you will never know unless you’re a professional guide living in Montana.  The day will last 8+ hours no matter what time you get on the water. 

Leave your schedule at home with your boss and your job. 


When I first started guiding, an older more experienced guide said to me, “open your eyes, open your ears and shut your mouth”. I love this quote.  Basically, it means – pay attention and follow along, you may learn something if you aren’t talking.  When your guide is teaching you a technique, lets say mending, this is the time to employ the quote above.  Watch, listen and learn.  If your guide is still telling you the same stuff at 2 pm, that he was telling you in the morning, then something is wrong.  Ask him to teach it another way, or pay more attention to what he is saying.  We want you to catch more fish.


Everyone has to start sometime.  I love beginners. They have no expectations and love everything about the entire day.  There is no way possible for them to have a bad day…..or is there?  Be upfront with your guide about your skill level.  If he is worth his salt, then he will take you aside and give a lesson before you get on the water.  If we have the time, Greg Falls and I will often meet clients the evening before and give them a lesson in the grass with a yarn rod.  Now, if we have been on the water for 14 days in row, then we will want to go home after the guide trip…dont hold us to this.  I will rather spend 30 minutes at the boat ramp before we put in, teaching you to cast, then just throw you to the fire.