I have been asked many times where the best fishing is in Montana. When I owned a fly shop I would receive calls from all over the world from fishermen who were coming to Montana and wanted to know where they would have the best luck. Of course I would tell them about the Bitterroot and other Western Montana rivers and I am sure that they called other fly shops to get the same information and compare notes between those rivers that we recommended.
There are no less than 95 rivers and streams throughout Montana and there are several more that are not even listed in the publications today. There are so many lakes that it is almost impossible to name them all and when the best fishing is during different times of the year. I decided to get on the Internet and find some of these shops and sites that recommended rivers to fish and to my surprise not many of them suggested the same rivers. For example if you contacted someone in West Yellowstone they recommend only those rivers that were local to them. Some fly shops didn’t recommend the same list so it became confusing which river to fish and what to use.
The fly shops near Billings recommended several rivers in their area and none outside of their fishing area. I found it the same no matter where I searched for the best rivers. The local shops recommended their rivers and not others. I can’t really blame them for their recommendations because they have become experts on their rivers and streams. If you would book one of their guides or ask for instructions on where to fish you would get some good advice from them.
Since I don’t fish lakes I had a hard time finding advice on many other lakes besides Georgetown and a few others. Fly fishing on lakes is rather foreign to me because I grew up fishing on them so much when I was a kid. I prefer a good river or stream that I can stand in and cast upriver or down to attract the fish to my fly. I can only remember one river in Montana where I could float for five or six hours and land over 50 fish and the two other fishermen out fish me. The Bighorn is such a river and there are probably a lot more.
Since the weather has warmed in the Bitterroot Valley the ice has melted on the river and fishing has been very good with nymphs. Fishing streamers has been limited but nymph fishing has been very productive. This winter looks to be a lot warmer than last year and I don’t think that we will get a lot of snow and ice on the water. The fish in the river are very healthy and are getting plenty to eat. Most of them are still pretty fat and have a lot of food that is still available to them.