If you’re fishing in Southwest Montana right now, you are going to need plenty of terrestrials. I have just returned from a 5-day fishing trip out there, and it was all about grasshoppers, ants and beetles.
We caught a few on small dries, threw streamers with no luck (although others were doing well with them.) But we had most of our success with the terrestrials. And believe me, we tried it all and had a blast getting creative…thinking inside the flybox. After a summer of matching hatches and serving accurate dries to a pinpoint target, it was a blast to get wild on color and size and chuck big flies out there with reckless abandon, lots of floatant, and a dash of hope.
Here’s a snapshot of our Test Lab:
Day One: Big Hole
- Pretty float
- Small-to-medium sized fish
- Low water had us hoisting and heaving the boat off protruding rocks and pesky gravel bars (good training for the Water Safari!)
Day Two: Madison
- Chamber of Commerce day with no wind and plenty of sunshine
- Lots of action for about 2-3 hours on hoppers, ants, beetles and hopper-like attractors
- Then it shut off
Day Three: Jefferson
- A new adventure as we had never floated this river before
- A number of peanuts hit the hopper and we missed a few decent fish, but apparently we had a better chance of catching a slimy green alien that getting a trout in the net
Day Four: Morning float on the Beaverhead, afternoon float on the Jefferson
- Beaverhead was windy windy windy
- But there were rising fish aplenty
- Professor pulled out nice one on teeny dry that was rising about a centimeter off a weed pad
- Quick picnic then we hauled over to float the Jeff with stubborn determination to see if we could find signs of life there
- After I had a few hits on my hopper on the strip, I surmised the fish wanted movement
- Started twitching and giving the hopper some action and things picked up
- Caught a few on the hopper, no luck on streamers (we later decided we were throwing wrong color streamers)
Day Five: Jefferson
- Our 3rd pass at the Jeff and our success continued to trend in the right direction
- Good intel on some specific patterns improved our chances
- More hits, bigger fish
- Magnificent takes, hot fighting fish
Bottom line? The fishing wasn’t out-of-this-world epic easy. But it felt great to grind it out hour after hour and force feed trout those meaty, crawling bugs. It was an extra special terrestrial trip with lots of hours on the water, ideal weather, copious laughter, delicious food, beer & wine, three important victories in college football, lots of eats, plenty of nice fish, a couple of bigger ones, and without question the most spectacular and dramatic takes I’ve ever seen in my life.
I know, I know. I am a very lucky girl. Don’t be jealous, I come in peace.