March 1st marks the start of a new license year for anglers in Montana. That means you need to pick up a 2017 Montana fishing license before you head out to the stream or lake next time. You can buy your license the old fashioned way, in person at a sporting goods store, fly shop, or FWP office or you can go on-line to MT FWP and purchase and print your license from home. You can even keep a pdf copy of your license on your phone this year that qualifies as proof of license should you get checked by a game warden.
Despite the new license year upon us, there aren’t many anglers out fly fishing on local streams. The recent cold and snowy weather has kept all but the most hard-core hunkered down at home, or up at the ski hills. You can catch some trout in these conditions, but don’t expect banner fishing. The water temps are still a little too cold for good insect activity and the fish are sluggish.
It is a noticeable change from last season when there were boats rolling around town by mid-February and pretty respectable fishing on this date in 2016. We are well behind that schedule this year which might hamper our early season a little, but it bodes well for the rest of 2017 with lots of high and mid-elevation snow still on the ground.
Look for the Bitterroot and Rock Creek to offer the best action once we see the next batch of warm weather. A day or two of temps in the 40’s is all it will take to get the ball rolling and start our fishing season. Nymphs and slow streamers will be the best tactic for the foreseeable future, but the dry fly fishing will come. Mid-March is my guess for when the trout will start looking up and then it will only get better from there! Get your Montana fishing license now while it’s cold and snowy so you’ll be ready when the fishing does heat up.