I am heading to Montana for two weeks in July. I will be just south of Helena...Clancy, MT. I was wondering if anyone on here could give me some tips on streams to try, flies to tie up, and info like that. Thanks in advance!
Alot of what to use will depend on the water conditions. I was in SW MT two summers ago in late June and with the runoff, they were not fit to fish yet. From what I heard, it was August until they were good. I'm hearing it's a relatively mild winter so far this year.
I lived right along the Madison when I was out there in the late 80's and always had good luck with terrestrials, esp grasshoppers, and black woolly buggers.
You will be loaded with options! The blown out water 2 July's ago was an anomoly. Based on the snow pack this July will be fine to fish most anywhere. I'd def put the Missouri on your list to fish. If you have the means to go with a guide on a drift trip i'd suggest that. If not, you can access areas on foot or rent a raft/boat if you have a buddy. The fishing there is off the charts. Depending on when you go you might be between some hatches, but various nymphs and streamers always work if you are into that. Smaller stream options are EVERYWHERE... I'd recommend any of the "Trout Streams of Montana" books. They are loaded with info on access and define the various seasons and regulations.
I mostly nymph fish here in PA. However topwater action is still a plus. So any specific patterns that I should tie up? Or are patterns that I catch fish on in PA (golden stones, hares ears, ph. tails, etc.) going to catch fish out there as well. I know that hoppers work out there for drys but anything else? All the info that I can get would be great. Thanks for the help!!
I have a brother and a sister that live in Fromberg , south of Billings . When I visit out there I must say that at that time of year you will do well with a hopper imitation. Wish I were able to go , too !
Head straight up I-15 from Clancy for about 40-50 miles or so and get off at either the Wolf Creek exit, or contine on for another half dozen miles to the Criag exit, and fish the Missouri anywhere from the Holter Dam to Criag. There is lots of wade fishing access all along this stretch, and some of the best fly fishing anywhere in the US. Although you can cover more water if you had a boat, one isn't really necessary, and in fact I've often fished 1/4 mile of this river for 2 weeks straight and never felt the need to go anywhere else. (Helpful hint: look for some of the river's largest fish right near the shoreline, particularly in quasi-riffles, and in 6-12" of water. If you wade out waist deep, you'll have spooked many big fish feeding close in.)
Depending on whether you fish there the first 2 weeks of July or the last 2, you might get into some hopper fishing by the end of the month, or if you were to fish farther down river (north of Craig), but I'd look for epic caddis and PMD hatches earlier in the month, and morning Trico hatches starting (say) by mid-month onward.
When you're not fishing to heads poking out of the water, there are a myriad of nymphs that also work well - particularly anything that imitates these caddis and PMD's - such as small flashback pheasant tails, or caddis pupa imitations, plus the standby Sao Juan
Worms, and sow bug imitations. Check with a couple of the local fly shops in Helena, Wolf Creek or Craig for up to the minute suggestions when you are about to get there, or soon after you arrive.
You can get on the water early in the morning, and start catching fish there anytime, but in July DON'T leave the water until after well after dark, unless you just have had your fill already for the day, or unless you just don't care about some of the best dry fly fishing imaginable.
If you are a bit more adventuresome, and want a chance to hook up with a fish of the lifetime, you might also want to consider fishing "The Land of the Giants" which is in that area. It's not for everyone, but is my alltime favorite place to fish. I'm not going to more specific here, but if you might want to sample this place, stop in one of the fly shops in Helena and ask about it - the L.O.T.G. -- someone there just might give you directions and info.