Abstract Lines

Fly Fishing Montana in May

While many traveled anglers think that Montana shuts down in May for spring run off. May ushers in the peak season on the Missouri River and area Stillwaters.  

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The Nuances of May Fly Fishing in Montana

May proves to be my favorite weather month in Montana. The sun is out in full force many days. The only issue is that triggers the snow melt in the high country. While there is an outside chance that many of our freestones will have days of good fishing early in the month, it is difficult to count on that. This heavily limits our options in May. However, the three primary options we have in May are fishing at their peak. 


May Fishing Options:


The Missouri River provides the most consistent fishing in the month of May. Moreover, its consistently excellent fishing. The water temperatures in May will range from the mid 40’s into the low 50’s. May fishing on the Mo’ provides fishing that is accessible to every angler. If you have never picked up a rod before, no problem, we will catch fish. If you have fished 4 continents, I would wager that May on the Mo will still provide some “wow” moments. From a subsurface standpoint the Mo fishes great. But the insect activity in May can provide outstanding dry fly opportunities. May sees hatches of midges, baetis, march browns, and caddis on the lower river. The water temperatures are also conducive to a phenomenal streamer bite, and with ultra clean water this can be highly visual! 


The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks with their ground sourced water continue to provide excellent fishing from top to bottom. The rainbow trout finish their spawn early in the month and feed with fervor to regain lost body condition from the spawn. The spring creeks continue to see solid emergences of baetis and midges. Small terrestrials begin to play as the grass greens and the chance of a hard freeze is gone. Additionally, the nymphing remains solid. With the warmer water temperatures, fish will move into shallower haunts and this gives our guests the opportunity to sight fish on clear days. 


Private Water, specifically the stillwater variant, provides excellent fishing. We see both high catch rates and large specimens. While the thought of fishing a lake may conjure thoughts, of sitting on five gallon buckets with cane poles, this is much more sophisticated. Stillwaters provide a multitude of angling opportunities. Generally, we start the day determining the depth in which the fish are feeding. We do this by stripping specialty lake lines that sink at known rates. While fishing lakes we always keep an eye on the shoreline as hatches of midges and calabaetis can provide phenomenal dry fly fishing to fish that are measured in pounds not inches! 


May Weather:     


The average high in May is 64 with many days later in the month that push well into the 70’s. The average low is 37. We receive and average of 2.5 inches of precipitation. As in April, these weather systems generally drive insect activity, and over cast weather rarely spoils fishing.