Hello fishing world, Will here with Grizzly Outfitters river shop in Big Sky Montana. The rivers are cooling and the days are getting shorter as we move forward into fall. Even though the major hatches of summer have come and gone the fishing can be excellent this time of year. With the decline in temperature and bug activity we also see a decline in angling pressure, the cool days of fall can offer both solitude and great fishing for those willing to brave the variable weather.
The larger rivers we fish, primarily the Yellowstone and the Madison, require some different tactics to target the big fish of fall. If you plan to throw large articulated streamers you’re going to want something a little bigger than that trusty old 5 weight. We prefer a 6 or 7 weight rod with a sink tip and a SHORT section of leader material. When fishing with a sink tip and targeting fish holding in big pools it’s important to keep your leader short so your fly will get down into the zone fast. Sink lines can be intimidating as they come in a variety of lengths and sink rates. If you really want to get techy swing by the shop or give us a call and we’ll gladly discuss the pros and cons of all available options, we love playing with new fly lines and “test” our products on a regular basis. Don’t want to get techy? It’s cool there’s an app for that, the RIO line selector app will help you find a line for any fishing situation no headaches necessary.
When it comes to flies it’s just as easy to become overwhelmed, single hook or articulated? Floating or weighted? White or Olive? How does one decide what streamers to throw, it’s not as tough as it sounds. Home invaders, zonkers, sex dungeons, the Montana Mouth wash and sparkle minnows are all good options. I would recommend having a few different colors and sizes but don’t go to crazy. Streamer fishing is a lot about just keeping your fly in the water and waiting for that big fish to chase, to much switching and you may float right past that two footer you’ve been waiting for… Whatever pattern you choose make sure white and olive are well represented colors but don’t be afraid to branch out. Purple, Yellow and Gold have all proven to be deadly when the timing is right.
When your arm gets tired from throwing huge streamers all day you might want to keep your eyes peeled for some blue winged olives. This mayfly is the dominant fall hatch in these parts and can make for some great dry fly action when the conditions are right. Look for cool, calm overcast days if you’re going to break out the dry fly rig. These fish are wary and demand a good presentation, light tippets and small flies are necessary to fool these trout.
Nymph fishing will remain the most reliable way to get fish, rubberlegs, goomie worms, micro eggs, zebra midges and baetis nymphs will get the job done. Don’t be afraid to add some split shot and get those flies down deep, as the weather gets cooler fish will start migrating to the deeper runs and holding there.
Enjoy the fall weather and smaller crowds, be safe, carry bear spray and most important of all have fun!