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Fly Fishing Montana in July

If fish that are more inclined to eat off the surface than the bottom are  what you seek, look no further than July fishing in Montana. The vast majority of our summer hatches, start, end or run through the month of July. 

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The Nuances of July Fly Fishing in Montana

July is for the dry fly guy. A catchy rhyme, but the statement stands for itself. Like the spring and June, July provides a tremendous number of options. In July, we see the bulk of our aquatic insects hatch and replenish their population. This doesn’t mean that the other months don’t see their share of insect activity, but July sees such a range of bugs hatching at all times of the day that keep fish looking up. A few of our favorite July hatches include Yellow Sallies, multiple species of caddis, and PMD’s. There are a number of minor hatches that come off sporadically that are easily covered with a few general attractor patterns.  We can still find good streamer fishing in the mornings and through the fast water, but July is truly the time to break out a softer rod and look for opportunities on the surface. 

 

July Fishing Options:

 

The smaller freestones like the Boulder and the Stillwater are in peak shape in July. There is plenty of water coursing through the main channel to allow us to do longer floats and cover beautiful bank after beautiful bank. For the wade angler, the flows have receded enough to allow us to walk the bank and work all the mid river pockets and seams with a single dry or a dry dropper. Oftentimes to capitalize on some of the smaller insects that are hatching in July we have to disembark from the boat to make multiple presentations to achieve the proper drift. For our guests that want to see a little adventure and exceptional evening fishing we will shoot to take off the water at dark to see the egg laying and emergence events that caddis exhibit the whole month. Generally once we hit the ramp we head for a burger and a cocktail at our favorite small town bars to rehash the day of fishing. 

 

The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks see the end of the PMD’s. The emergence of the sulfurs, which are still a reasonably sized mayfly (size 16 or 18), quickly take their place. Sulfurs provide consistent dry fly opportunities throughout the length of the creek for those that want to match the hatch. For anglers that like to cover water a plethora of ants and beetles find their way to the waters surface and the fish take notice. We can work up a long riffle fishing a dry dropper or a single dry fishing every seam and current break with good results. Should we encounter difficult winds we turn to the riffles to nymph or swing soft hackles. 

 

The Yellowstone River has a number of notable events and opportunities for our guests to participate in. Higher up on the river we see good attractor dry fly fishing for native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. We really like to get the rafts out and float Yankee Jim Canyon. Yankee Jim Canyon is a four mile stretch of river with a few class three rapids to break up the always “on” dry fly bite. We see good attractor dry fishing along the length of the river with a solid population of golden stones that are immediately followed by a nocturnal stonefly at the end of the July and into August. For those that like to get up early or stay out late there are some interesting hatches on the lower river where we have greater deposits of sediment fostering greater biodiversity. The length of the river sees good caddis activity especially on the fringes of the day. 

 

The Madison River in July sees its share of fishing pressure that we don’t see on the smaller freestones, far upper/lower Yellowstone, or on our exclusive private water leases. However, with a minimal amount of creativity we can easily circumnavigate the crowds and enjoy some of the best fishing in the world and have it seemingly all to ourselves. The Madison River has it all in July from hatches of caddis thick enough to choke on, to secluded side channels that can be alone in all day. While it’s no secret, there are still opportunities to see it without the masses. 

 

Private water fishing in July is a great way to beat the heat and the crowds. Its a guarantee that we will have a truly secluded experience enjoying the finest small stream fishing in Montana, maybe even the world. When people idealize Montana fly fishing our private water options are often the embodiment of that vision. We always liken these trips to experiences consistent with fishing in Argentina and Chile. We find ourselves wading upstream fishing lighter rods, making shorter casts to fishy structures like log jams, beaver dams, and cut banks. Generally speaking, we fish a variety of attractor dries from ants to large grasshopper imitations. We do see a variety of hatches throughout the month of July, but rarely are we stymied by picky fish as these fish see very few flies. 

 

   

July Weather:

 

In July we have an average high temperature of 84 with an average low of 48. The rains subside in July and we see an average of 1.1 inches of precipitation.