The Missoula dry fly fishing has put our rivers on the to-do list for serious anglers all over the globe. It starts in March and runs right through October. However, mid-summer is a time period overlooked by many, and the rewards are reaped by those intrepid fly fishers who come looking to fish a single dry fly all day. This is the peak of tourist season and many guide’s schedules are filled with novice anglers passing through on their way to Yellowstone or Glacier National Park. They catch plenty of fish too, as the dry/dropper combo on a dead drift will produce year round. But we all go to bed at night with our fingers crossed for the angler who can throw 40 feet downstream of the boat on a reach cast.
There are risks with fishing during mid-summer just like any other time of year. Drought years create low water conditions and fishing restrictions, hot temps make for slow afternoons, and fire seasons create a smoky mess. This year is different though, we have pleny of cold water in our rivers, no big fires yet, and loads of hoppers on our grassy streambanks. This is the year to be here.
So back to the angler with a good reach cast. Guides manufacture fish for their clients all season. It’s what we do and a big part of why we are in the game, but a whole different world unfolds when that experienced angler steps in the boat. Our water has been dropping and clearing for over a month, and while our fish are still there, the big ones are cautious and easy to spook. A single dry fly on a long cast in front of the boat can keep an angler tight to big fish all day. They WILL eat it almost everday if they’re not spooked. That same fly fished out the side of the boat on a marginal drift will go untouched for hours on end.
That is why the dry/dropper rig is so prevalent. It will produce fish for average anglers throughout the season and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you want to see what Missoula dry fly fishing is really all about then practice your cast. Practice some more and then work on your reach cast. The angler who can put in the right spot giggles all day like a school kid.
It’s hopper season in Montana and you should be here.