The summer days have grown to be long, hot, dry, and if your timing is right, clouded with bugs. Timing seems to be everything for a Montana angler during the sun-drenched month of August. Finding fish sipping mayflies or smashing hoppers sometimes is a “long shot”. Trying to time the hatch with optimal conditions can be harder than you think in western Montana. Here are tips to keep you catching fish when your timing isn’t perfect.
Do your homework before heading out on the river. During the month of August, water temperature is a HUGE factor. Optimum water temperature for trout is between 58-64 degrees. You can check on river temperature patterns at waterdata.usgs.gov or just check our fishing reports. (Kingfisher Flyshop Fishing Reports)
Other things to check on before heading out would be: weather, hatches, and current regulations.
Wake up early Water temps will be at their coolest point right after the sun is up. Most mayfly hatches will be active in the morning giving you the best shot at head hunting. There is good chance you will beat other fisherman, recreationalist, and the guide boats. You will be catching your tenth fish while most fisherman are still finishing their cheerios.
Explore With water temperatures being of concern, head up into tributaries where the water will be much cooler than in the main stems. Montana has thousands creeks that flow down from the numerous mountain ranges so, don’t be afraid to take a drive and discover new water. Just don’t forget your bear spray!
Bug Selection With water low and clear try sizing down in flies. Try and pick flies that more accurately represent what is currently hatching. The fish have seen a lot of Rubber Legs and San Juan worms at this point in the season. This is a great time of year to fish CDC flies and soft hackles.
Nymphing If you chose to nymph, keep changing your weights up to get your bugs in the feeding column. Also, fishing a real short nymph rig through shallow riffles this time of year can be deadly.
- Fish long leaders
- Swing soft hackles through finicky pods of fish
- Use a “cheater fly” or small/light indicator in front of tiny dries.
- Dead drift streamers the same way you would a nymph rig