Making the Most out of your first fishing trip to Montana
Each year thousands of people make the trek from each and every state and other countries for their first fishing trip to Montana. They have been lured by numerous magazine articles, blog posts, tales and stories from the in the know crowd and they depart for Montana ready to land two foot trout and pay a pilgrimage to the holy water. Most pick a river or two that they have dreamed of fishing find the closest airport and they are off on a grand adventure. Most have read numerous blogs, books and listened to braggarts on the subject and many have immersed themselves in the river to the point of feeling the water run in their veins. While almost everyone achieves their adventure goal many fall short in the fishing category. Here are a few trips to make your first Montana fishing trip successful.
Local Reports: Before arriving in Big Sky country do some research. Find the local fly shop or outfitting service on the targeted river and spend several months reading the weekly fishing reports. Also, if possible search the web sites archives for the fishing reports for the past few years for your selected week. This will give you a good idea of hatches, patterns and water flow for your targeted time frame. It will also clue you in on what gear to pack and flies, leaders and tippets to have on hand.
Local Knowledge: When you arrive on the targeted river stop by the local fly shop. Don’t just swing in for a fishing license be prepared to spend some time. Most shops are happy to help out the traveling angler. Ask the clerk to pick you out a dozen of the best flies for this week of fishing. Grab a map and ask about certain access or areas that are not on the map. These guys are the best source for almost free knowledge.
Guided Trip: In the fly shop I hear the same story each year. A traveling angler comes to Montana for their first trip and spends a week frustrated not catching fish. On the last day they break down and hire a guide. Afterword they are amazed on how much more in tune with the river they are. If you can swing it hire a guide at least for the first day of your trip. Book well in advance and explain your week long plan. Ask for a teaching guide that will help you fish better. On the day of your trip tell the guide again your expectations and then sit back and listen to everything they say. Most guides are happy to depart with more knowledge in 8 hours than you can stumble on in a week of fishing. It might cost you a little but it will pay huge dividends the remainder of the week.
Gear: In your pre trip planning research what is the favorite rod, reel and line of the local guides. Most of this is freely available on outfitters website. If all the guides prefer a 9ft 6 wt make sure you have one of them in your quiver when you arrive. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to cast weighted nymphs on a soft 4 wt that works just great on small east coast streams. Sometimes the gear really makes the difference. The weather in Montana is as varied as the terrain. Make sure you have good rain gear and some fleece even if it is August. Nothing will drive you from the river and a great after storm hatch then being wet and cold.
Lastly, remember to bring your sense of adventure. One of the best parts about fishing is the beautiful country it puts you in. Take a few moments and look around, sit on the bank and just relax. To many people count success by fish numbers and size. Dig deep into Montana and experience everything it has to offer.