I hosted a group of friends and clients on a destination fly fishing trip in southwest Montana during the past week. This is an annual trip for me and was my 18th year fishing in Montana. I traveled from Sarasota to Bozeman on Sunday, 8/4 and made the 2-1/2 hour drive to the lodge with Marshall Dinerman, from Atlanta, and Steve Coburn, from WI. Mike Perez and Stewart Lavelle, from Sarasota, met up with us at the lodge after fishing the previous week in British Columbia and Dennis Kinley, from IN, drove out and also met up with us at the lodge.
We stayed at Medicine Lodge, on a 100,000-acre working ranch near the Beaverhead River, outside of Dillon. Equipped with an industrial-size kitchen and a large dining room with ranch style seating, it was a great place for our group. Chef Annie Kubicka spoiled us with hearty Montana meals and desserts!
We fished the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Madison Rivers, a couple of lakes and a spring creek with guide Dave King, owner of King Outfitters (406) 596-0209 in Dillon, and his excellent group of guides; Dan, Mark, and Tommy. I’ve fished with these guides for many years since I started fishing Montana. They work hard, do a great job and know their fishery well.
We had great action on 5 and 6-weight fly tackle with brown and rainbow trout to more than 20” on streamers, dry flies, dry/dropper and nymph rigs. We also did some still water fishing on a couple of lakes and had good action walking a spring creek, catching and releasing brookies, browns, and rainbows on dry flies with 3 and 4-weight fly tackle. The dry fly action was with a variety of grasshopper patterns, sometimes with a nymph dropper, or with a smaller dry fly and a few other bugs. Like fishing everywhere, there were good days and slower days but overall it was great!
The weather and scenery were outstanding with temperatures ranging from a very comfortable high ’40s in the morning to the mid-’80s in the afternoon with only 15% to 20% humidity, a welcome relief from southwest Florida’s heat and humidity in August! In addition to beautiful valleys surrounded by rugged mountains, the wildlife is amazing! We saw whitetail deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, bears, hawks, eagles, ducks, geese and sandhill cranes.
Back in Sarasota catch and release snook fishing around dock lights and bridges and trout, jacks, blues and more on deep grass flats should be good options. There should be tarpon in upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay. Juvenile tarpon in canals and creeks may also be a good option. You might also find them in a few places mixed with snook in dock lights.
Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by industrial, agricultural and residential runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!