Fall is finally here in Montana. The weather is variable, but if you can handle all 4 seasons in an hour, the fishing is worth every moment. Waders are back in season, along with gloves, rain jackets, and maybe a down layer underneath that. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. As the spawning season for browns picks up, so does the fishing.
October nymphing is good, with the usual suspects being a safe bet. On the upper river, your psycho princes, rubber legs, san juan/wireworm, and lightning bugs will do the trick. Load up with split shot (especially Raynolds > Lyons area) to get those bugs down into the pockets. Similar program on the lower river: crawdad’s, rubber legs, princes, and flashback pheasant tails will all pick up fish. Exploring some unfamiliar water might not be a bad option for the nymphers as the whole river is fishing well right now.
Baetis/BWOs are back, and the fish are eating. That being said, the fish are a little bit smarter now than they were this spring. Good presentation with the right flies will take the right fish. Water temps are cooling, and we’re seeing the most heads on the cool, cloudy, and variable days. The midday 12:00 - 3: 00 window has been the most productive for me. If you’re looking for risers, Upper Beartrap, Valley G, $3 Dolla, and between the lakes are your best bets. Any of your size 18-22 BWO dries will do the trick. BWO cripples and emergers as a dropper should will also pick up fish. Carlson’s Purple Haze size 18- 20 is a great general attractor mayfly. Changing flies 3 times for one fish can happen right now. I’ve been down to 6x tippet multiple times this week. Be persistent.
Fall browns are our favorite browns, and streamer season is in full swing. Getting your fly deep is crucial as we are trying to get the bug close enough to the fish to piss them off. Big ugly bugs are taking big fish right now. The Boogieman, Silk Kitty, and Double Screamer are some of my favorites. If you don’t feel like busting out the 7 weight, you can never go wrong with a black BH Wooly Bugger. Focus on undercuts, shelves, and deep runs. If 15 minutes goes by and nothing happens, it’s time to switch it up. Speed up the retrieve or slow it down. Switch from the bank to the middle. Switch colors. They will eat a streamer right now if you put it on them. Black and Olive have been the most deadly for me.