Intro to fishing in the Bozone
If you’re new to the sport of fly fishing, now is a great time to get out and wet a line in the fabled waters of southwest Montana. Here are a few places to go broaden your riparian education.
The road to Hyalite Reservoir follows this creek and there are plenty of pullouts. A well presented dry fly will fool these small, abundant rainbows. Try the Irresistible Adams, elk-hair caddis, and Royal Wulff. To increase your odds, tie a small bead-head nymph about 18 inches off behind your dry fly. Most any nymph will do, including the old standards: prince, hare’s ear, pheasant tail. For the chance at a slightly larger fish, head up above the reservoir.
The valley's namesake waterway boasts abundant public access, proximity to town, and high numbers of fish. Whether it's the upper river in Gallatin Canyon or the lower river out in the valley, walk a little ways from your car for solitude and better fishing. The lower stretch has larger fish than the canyon and good dry fly fishing, especially on cloudy days. Standard nymphs and streamers also produce in the long runs, riffles, and undercut banks. Cameron Bridge, Axtell Bridge, and Williams Bridge are all great starting points. In the canyon, stop at Storm Castle Creek, Greek Creek, and Red Cliff Campground, then nymph the pocket-water and deep runs of the canyon with a heavy stonefly trailed by a smaller bead-head.
Lower Madison River / Bear Trap Canyon
From the picturesque Bear Trap trailhead, hike along the east side of the river to access nearly eight miles of pocket-water, deep holes, and weedbeds. While dry flies can occasionally produce, the typical lower-Madison rig starts with a sculpin or crayfish pattern trailed by a small soft hackle or bead-head nymph. The San Juan worm also works well here. If you’re after that elusive 24-inch Madison brown you’ll want to try stripping big ugly streamers like a zonker, double bunny, or wool-head sculpin.