Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Stonefly Season Is Here

Here we are smack dab in the middle of the dry fly mecca that is southwest Montana. The last glimmers of May have brought about the beginnings of summer, and dry fly fishing nirvana has set in. A time where heavy streamer and nymph rigs give way to equally heavy dry fly rigs. 0-3x tippets with one of the biggest dry flies in your box will keep you going all day. No droppers or bobbers to complicate the works, clean and simple is the name of the game.

The first of the summer stonefly hatches here in southwest Montana begin with the fabled salmonfly. The first sightings of a salmonfly signifies a changing of the seasons, the unofficial start of summer. As we shift away from the spring hatches towards the large stoneflies of summer, the water they hatch in shifts as well. Rivers are fresh after being cleaned out by snowmelt, leaving behind new life and seemingly new rivers. Runs fill in with trees, both growing on the bank and lodged against it, creating new little slices of trout heaven. And those channels you caught them in last season, well they could be high and dry this year.  New water develops, the trout move in, and anglers eventually find them. A timeless cycle.

 As the rivers change in early summer so does the life within and around it. Birds have returned to feast on the abundant bugs, elk and deer are in the river bottom enjoying fresh grass and guarding their young, and the trout are feeding with conviction. As the the rivers continue to stabilize, like we are now experiencing on many of Montana's freestone rivers, the trout begin to look up and eat drys all day long. On top of it all, the trout that have been hitting the net lately have been downright obese. Cutties and browns so fat you wonder if they will burst from overeating. Life is thriving in and around southwest Montana's rivers.

 We will enjoy some of the finest stonefly dry fishing of the year over the next few months here in Montana. Salmonflies and especially the golden stones will be around, with certain days bringing them out in force, throughout June and July. This means a continued pattern of throwing big dry flies to those sweet grassy banks southwest Montana is famous for. Music to my ears, as I am definitely looking forward to the next two months of river time.

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