Hitting the Sweet Spot

Hitting the Sweet Spot

Sawyer, Kit
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There’s no better way to shake off cabin fever than a day out on the river. The trout get more active as water temperatures rise, and they seem easier to catch after relatively little fishing during winter. Here are three of the best places to go for good spring fishing around Bozeman.


The Beaverhead and Poindexter Slough

It may be a bit of a drive, but Dillon is home to some of the best spring fishing in the state. The Beaverhead River is open the entire year downstream from Pipe Organ Bridge (upstream from Pipe Organ opens in late May), and it’s loaded with good-size rainbows and browns. With low to moderate flows, it’s often a good choice when other rivers are high and muddy. Nymphing with standard tailwater patterns will produce fish, and the streamer bite can be red-hot this time of year. While you’re over there, check out Poindexter Slough. It’s one of the few public spring creeks in the state.


Below Ennis Lake

Closer to Bozeman, the lower Madison provides plenty of good options in the spring. The first half-mile or so of river below Ennis Lake is very popular, and for good reason—rainbows stack up below the dam to spawn. Look for big browns eating eggs in the deeper runs below the spawning redds. If you’re looking for more solitude, try accessing the river at Grey Cliff or Cobblestone. The river braids out nicely down there and holds a surprising number of good fish early in the season.



The Missouri River below Toston is generally overlooked as a trout fishery, but in the spring it gets a good run of lake fish moving out of Canyon Ferry to spawn. Streamers, San Juan worms, and egg patterns are your best bet. There are rumored to be some big pike lurking down there too.

Keep in mind that the rainbows and cutthroat spawn in the spring, so be careful not to bother them while they do their business. You’ll also want to pay special attention to the fishing regulations, as many creeks and certain river sections are closed until the third Saturday in May.


Kit Sawyer has been wetting lines for the last 20 years and is currently an outdoor rep for Hart-Montgomery.

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