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Category: Fly Fishing Tips

Fly fishing tips by Walter Wiese

Montana Warmwater Fly Fishing Opportunities During Runoff

Montana Warmwater Fly Fishing Opportunities During Runoff

The Yellowstone River is now in runoff and will probably remain so until about June 25. We’ll be doing some fishing on area warmwater lakes until Yellowstone Park opens to fishing (probably early-mid June this year due to the virus). This fishing will be “food gathering” of bluegill and crappie, but also fun fishing for bass and pike.

Here’s Walter’s favorite bass and pike fly. Check out his blog for a written recipe.

Good area warmwater options include the following, based on distance from Gardiner:

Dailey Lake: Dailey is really a “cool” water option. It holds rainbow trout, perch, and walleye. The walleye usually require going deep with conventional tackle, but the perch will eat nymphs and small streamers. The perch fishing gets better late in May and in June, while the trout fishing, for fish that can often be big, declines as the water warms.

Bozeman-Area Ponds: Numerous small ponds around Bozeman hold good populations of bass and bluegill. There’s even a pond right behind the mall! These are wade-fishing options. Walk the banks, casting dry-dropper combos or stripping small wet flies for the bluegill, or suspend bigger Buggers and the like over weedbeds for bass.

Three Forks Ponds: Three much larger ponds within the city of Three Forks provide the best warmwater fishing within a couple hours of Gardiner. The middle pond is commonly regarded as the best. These are good ponds for a belly boat or similar craft, but they’re small enough to fish from shore too. Large bluegill and some surprising bass up to five pounds are the draws here.

Castle Rock Lake: Numerous large reservoirs in central and eastern Montana provide good fishing for the whole gamut of warmwater fish, but most are too large to fish from shore. Castle Rock near Colstrip is the exception. This lake holds pike, walleye, catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. The lake is encircled by a walking trail offering good access, but also allows boats with electric motors. Walter has a motor mount on his drift boat for just this reason. The only bummer is that this lake is a solid 5-hour drive from Gardiner.

Fly Tying Vid: Floss Worm

Fly Tying Vid: Floss Worm

This is my version of the Floss San Juan Worm (Sexi Worm, Flexi Worm, Flexi Floss Worm, etc.). This is an excellent pattern for low, clear water. In my neck of the woods, it works well on the Paradise Valley spring creeks in late winter and early spring.

Fly Tying Vid: Pink Trout Crack

Fly Tying Vid: Pink Trout Crack

It’s pink season here in Montana. We tend to fish pink/rainbow scud and sowbug patterns in late winter and spring, not least because such patterns have a lot of crossover with eggs and in any case are a big mouthful for trout putting the feedbags on after a long winter. This one is a variation on the popular Arkansas sowbug pattern, the Trout Crack.

Fly Tying Vid: Faux-Fur Slumpbuster Jig

Fly Tying Vid: Faux-Fur Slumpbuster Jig

The Slumpbuster is a well-known streamer pattern by John Barr. This version is tied on a jig hook using a new faux fur yarn available under many brand names. I have seen three: Sirdar Alpine, Lion Brand Go for Faux, and Niceec Fur Yarn, but there are probably others.

The main purpose of this video is to show the tying properties of the fur yarn. Three techniques are demonstrated: using the material like a Zonker strip, wrapping it as on a bunny leech, and clipping it from the “hide” for insertion in a dubbing loop.

Fly Tying Vid: Brown Roach

Fly Tying Vid: Brown Roach

The Brown Roach is an old pattern from the Missouri Ozarks originally tied on a jighead. Here it’s on a jig hook with a tungsten bead, with a couple other slight tweaks. Sometimes derided as a “pellet fly,” this pattern works just fine on wild or holdover trout that either have never seen a pellet or have long since stopped eating them. I think it suggests a cased caddis or possibly a sowbug.

The basic pattern is also good in other colors for various species. Try it in black, white, chartreuse, and yellow for stocked trout and panfish, or in other earth tones for wild and holdover trout.