Walter just put up a detailed post over at his own site about the recent disaster on the Madison River and its potential impacts on the 2022 fishing season and beyond. Check it out at his site.
There’s a lot of winter left, thankfully. It is 60 degrees in Montana right now and hasn’t snowed more than a coating at valley-level since early October. Do your snow dances for healthy snowpack. If it looks like this come June, the whole west will run dry and be on fire.
Often we’re about done fishing streamers for the year by this point in November. This year, November has generally been warm (and has been very dry — do your snow dances). It’s cold right now, but is forecast to warm up again in a few days.
The above means you can still turn some big fish on streamers fished on the swing. While lightweight spey rods are the hip tools for this job, you don’t actually need one. Any single-hand 9′ 6-7 weight will do fine (though spey rods are cool). Fish a moderate or slow-sinking tip.
You want to select a fly with a trailing hook or at least a “traditional” streamer where the hook is near the rear of the fly, something like a Spruce, a Muddler Minnow, or similar. Trout seldom inhale streamers fished on the swing this late in the year. Instead they nip at them from the rear. For that reason, the hook needs to be at the back of the hook.
Small Intruder-style flies are excellent choices for this job. Here’s a good one posted by North 40, a chain of sporting goods and home stores with integrated fly shops (no guide service) in Idaho and northern Montana:
Looking to start tying flies for the 2022 season now that it’s almost tying season rather than fishing season?
This pattern is a good place to start. It was our best nymph in late June 2021, both under large dry flies and under indicators, especially on the Yellowstone River. Hopefully we get more snow during the 2021-2022 winter and it melts later in the spring, which would push the 2021 late June conditions into the first half of July.
This is an easy pattern to tie, though it’s helpful to have a feather folder and a materials clip to make it easier to wrap the CDC hackle collar. If you don’t have these tools, just tie the CDC feather in by its tip and wrap it 2-3 turns, then trim it to length.
Video courtesy Fly Fish Food.
We knew it’d happen. This summer’s extreme heat and drought just caused Montana FWP to shut down afternoon and evening fishing on the Yellowstone, lower Stillwater, Madison, and most of the Missouri starting tomorrow. We agree with this decision. It should be extended to large, famous waters in Yellowstone Park, as well.
This obviously puts a damper on our guiding. Here are remaining options:
- Morning half-day float trips on the Yellowstone River; for floats, this is probably our preferred option now.
- Full-day floats meeting no later than 6:00AM.
- Half-day and full-day walk-wade trips in Yellowstone Park; again, half-days are probably a better bet, though we can make a full-day work by sticking to small mountain streams in the afternoon.
- Full-day walk-wade trips in Montana: Basically these trips would be limited to the upper Stillwater.
- Walk-float combos: Another good option, though availability is limited. We’ll float early, then wade fish a small mountain stream in Montana later.
Do your rain dance, folks.
Here’s the full news release from FWP:
High temps prompt additional fishing restrictions on several Montana rivers
HELENA – Several angling restrictions on rivers in southwest, north-central and south-central Montana go into effect today due to warming temperatures and low flows.
The restrictions include what are commonly known as “hoot owl” restrictions, which means fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight each day. Some waters are under full fishing closures, which prohibit fishing at all times of day. These closures and restrictions will stay in effect until conditions improve.
The following closure went into effect today:
- A full fishing closure for portions of the Shields River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to USFS Crandal Creek Bridge.
These closures go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 12:01 a.m.:
- A full fishing closure for portions of the Big Hole River from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site.
- A full fishing closure for portions of the Gallatin River from the mouth to Hwy 84 Crossing.
- A full fishing closure for the entire Jefferson River.
These restrictions go into effect, Wednesday, July 21, at 2 p.m.:
- Hoot owl restrictions for the entire reach of the Madison River from the mouth to the boundary with Yellowstone National Park.
- Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Beaverhead River from the mouth to State Highway 91 South.
- Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Missouri River from Town of Cascade Boat Ramp to Holter Dam.
- Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Stillwater River from the confluence with Yellowstone River to Absaroka Fishing Access Site.
- Hoot owl restrictions for portions of the Yellowstone River Hwy 212 Bridge in Laurel to Yellowstone National Park boundary.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ drought policy provides for angling closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Warm and dry conditions are expected to continue during the coming weeks.