March is nearing and the ice is finally off most Montana rivers. For those of us living here, the winter has been long and cold. Seeing the ice break and open water again is a huge relief. The fishing is already picking up some momentum, especially if you're willing to dredge a san juan worm or czech nymph.
This is prime time on the tailwaters if you can handle the elements. The fishing will be red hot and the crowds are minimal. Spend a few days on the Missouri, the Madison below Hebgen or Big Horn to get 2017's trout fishing moving in a great direction. Skwala's will start migrating towards the banks in the next month or so and dry fly fishing will ensue in northwest Montana, specifically in the Missoula area.
One great and very dirty way to approach spring fishing is with a dead drifted bugger and a worm pattern. Buggers with rubber legs in black, brown, olive and combinations of the latter with yellow are all very effective. Run them under a bobber and dredge the slow pools and undercut banks.
We have seen conditions shift rapidly in much of the west. Use the FlyWise mobile app to monitor flows, weather and find the latest regulations on your favorite rivers. It's free and the new design is pretty incredible!