Mid Summer Missoula Fishing Report


The season is flying by and it’s hard to believe that July will soon be a thing of the past.  The fishing has been great in Missoula so far this year, and with plenty of water still in our rivers that should continue through the rest of the season.  During good water years late July and August can be hidden gems for the fly fisherman.

There is a noticeable lull in fishing pressure during this time of year and dedicated anglers can take full advantage.  There aren’t quite as many guides out working, in part because clients can be wary from conditions in fire seasons from years past.  Local anglers don’t seem to be out as much either.  They seem to be occupied with family vacations or prepping for the approaching archery season.

Hopper time is here. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Hopper time is here.

That makes for excellent fishing opportunities for anglers heading to the water.  Less pressure, plenty of water, and lots of bugs equals big smiles for fly rodders coming off the water at the end of the day.  Conditions have changed from the higher water and stonefly hatches of June and early July and your approach and fly selection should change as well.

Wet Wading on the Bitterroot River. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Wet Wading on the Bitterroot River.

The first factor is the weather, and with a mostly sunny and warm weather pattern the mornings and late evenings are the most productive time frames.  During cloudy days the fish will eat well all day long.  Although we have plenty of water this year, it is still lower and clearer than a month ago and that means the fish are more concentrated and easier to spook.  Use caution and stealth and you will fool a lot more trout.  The last factor is bug selection and that has changed a lot in the past month.

Hooked up on a perfect summer afternoon. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Hooked up on a perfect summer afternoon.

It’s terrestrial time, and grasshopper, ants, and beetles are a major factor on all our rivers and streams.  A few places like Rock Creek, the West Fork of the Bitterroot, and Blackfoot also have a spruce moth hatch which can produce incredible fishing while it lasts.  Dry fly fishing is the general rule right now and if conditions are tough a variety of smaller bead head droppers should do the trick.

Dry Fly eating brown trout. Photo by Tony Reinhardt.

Dry Fly eating brown trout.

Now is the time to get out and fish your favorite streams.  The trout are waiting for you and the solitude on the river will only last a few short weeks before fall sets in and the fishing pressure increases.  Mid-summer in Missoula this year will be hard to beat.

Tight Lines,

Tony Reinhardt, Montana Trout Outfitters


Tony Reinhardt BioTony Reinhardt is the owner, outfitter for Montana Trout Outfitters in Missoula.  He has been a guide on the rivers of western Montana for 16 years and absolutely loves his job.  When he’s not working you’ll find him fishing with his two children or in the woods hunting.