Emory has been fly fishing for over 60 years and believes guides are “mostly full of bullshit.” At first that statement raised my ire, then I thought about it, looked in the mirror and at my peers and came to realize it wasn’t that far off. I’ve guided Emory for 15 years and we take turns pissing each other off, mostly it works though. He always brings a less experienced angler with him for me to help and to keep me from telling him what to do. Typically, he’ll try my program for the first 15-30 minutes and if it isn’t working he starts fumbling through his flybox and experimenting. If my flies are working, he still likes to change things up and see what else will do the job. Last year, I introduced him to the Chubby. At first glance he of course hated the “synthetic lure”. Last week we spent 3 days rafting the Stillwater and Boulder Rivers. The Chubby is the only fly I use this time of year. I’ll change colors occasionally, and switch droppers, but the Chubby stays on top.
After 3 hours of lights out fishing the first day, Emory wanted to try a traditional deer hair hopper. “What do you think of this Stuart?”….”Sure, try it(I’m learning)”.
Less than 5 minutes later, he sheepishly asked for the Chubby back and we fished it for the rest of the trip.
It’s prime time in Montana.
Spring Creeks– Same as last week only getting tougher. PMDs are hatching mid day with midges in the mornings and evenings. The hatch has been going for 3-4 weeks now and the fish are getting more selective each day. They’ve seen dozens of patterns at this point and I’ve been watching them refuse natural PMDs on many occasions. It’s getting tougher and observing rise forms is critical for success. The fish will switch from keying on emergers/cripples, to duns or spinners depending on time and place. For emergers I’m loving the Quigley film critic. The good old Idyl poly wing spinner has been my go to fly in the late afternoon and when they aren’t rising, Yeager’s crack back is deadly either sight nymphing or rolling it through the riffles blind.
Missouri- Flows are dropping and are currently at 6000 cfs. It is on fire!! Caddis and PMD hatches are fantastic and fish can be had on dry flies especially in the evenings . Hogan’s wing man and Blooms parachute caddis are awesome as well as the Quigley Half Dun and Film Critic will take care of the PMD. Good nymphs include, Bloom’s Weight Fly, Yeager’s Crack Back, Hogan’s Military Mayfly and of course, the Bush’s Crawdad and worms.
Madison- There are bugs galore on the Upper Madison, with caddis, PMDs, yellow sallies and still some golden stones hatching. I’ve been running the Gold Chubby and dropping Blooms Parachute Caddis off it. When the fish aren’t looking up, the Jimm legs with a Silvies Caddis Pupa has been good. With such a smorgasbord of insects, a ton of flies will work, pick your favorite and go to it.
Gallatin– It’s clear and fishing great. Standard patterns like stimulators, and wulff’s are always good on the Gallatin. Of course, the Chubby is awesome. I like running tungsten Pheasant tails or prince nymphs as droppers.
Yellowstone– It’s high (10000cfs) and still not clear, but improving each day. People are out there catching fish on the streamer and beahead combo. I’m a big fan of Garret’s belly dancer zonker and bullhead in black or tan. Trailers include beaded CDC Pheasant Tails, Idyl’s Prince of Darkness and the good old lightning bug.