Clients ask us lots of questions about the fishing, the weather, traveling and more. Here are our usual answers. If you want to dig a little deeper, give us a call.
John on trip planning:
“The best time to fish is whenever you can get here.”
With an elevation just over 3,000’, Missoula boasts the longest dry fly season on free stone streams in all of Montana. Our hatches start around the middle of March and run straight through the middle of October. In light of our diverse and prolific waters, we feel confident we can find somewhere to fish any time during that period. If you have specific angling requests (only casting dry flies to rising fish, pitching streamers for the rivers’ biggest fish, or drifting dries the size of small birds, etc.) call us and we’ll help you decide which time of year suits your desires.
“There are five of the planet’s best trout rivers here. And you want to sleep?"
Okay, okay, you can’t fish 24/7. Fortunately, the Missoula area’s accommodation options are as varied as our rivers and able to match any level of sophistication or budget. BRO negotiates great rates at local hotels, can direct you to area rental cabins, and conducts trips out of the area’s finest bed and breakfasts and lodges. Follow this link to our ‘lodging’ page and make your reservations.
“Flying into Missoula is like getting a cutthroat to eat a salmon fly in June.”
“You mean there’s more to life than fishing?”
Missoula is pretty easy to fly into and the airport has been recently remodeled. Depending on which of our four major airlines you choose — Northwest, Delta, United or Alaska/Horizon — you’ll fly through Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver or Seattle to get here. The number of flights varies by season, but there are usually multiple options on each airline.
It has come to our attention that, on occasion, some people do things other than fish. Missoula is a good place for such people. The second largest city in Montana, Missoula is home to The University of Montana. Our town’s wealth of cultural, dining and shopping opportunities will surprise you. There’s also much to do at the edges of town. Missoula is a gateway to an endless number of hiking and biking trails with several designated Wilderness areas and National Forests nearby. Like viewing wildlife? Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge is a birder’s paradise, and you’ll find that the National Bison Range more than lives up to its name. For a full picture of what Western Montana offers, visit the Glacier Country web site.
John on fishing:
“Our guides can’t read your mind. Unless you’re a trout.”
No matter when you visit or who you fish with, communicating with your guide is key to getting the experience you want. This discussion starts when you book your trip and it continues on the river. If you’re a beginner, say so. If you only want to fish dries, speak up. If you have plans for an early dinner, prefer solitude, would rather catch one big fish than lots of little ones … TELL your guide. You get my point. The best way to avoid disappointment on any trip is to set expectations up front. Our guides will do their best to exceed them.
“There is no such thing as a long day of fishing.”
Our typical full day begins with meeting clients around 8:30 a.m. and returning to Missoula around 6:30-7:00 p.m. Half-day anglers expect to be on the water for up to four hours. BRO guides will fish as long as you want, but come gratuity time please remember the guide’s extra work following an extraordinarily full day.
“Where should we fish today? Probably everywhere.”
Western Montana is laced with literally hundreds of miles of rivers, creeks and lakes. And our guides know them well. Generally, we take you where the fishing has been hottest. But if you have a special request – like fishing big streamers to big fish or sight fishing lakes for cruising rainbows – let us know. We’ll pick the right piece of water for the fishing you want.
“You’re going to fish with that?”
“‘Let it hunt,’ is the phrase you’ll hear most from your guide. That, and ‘HIT!’”
Quality gear is a big part of a good fishing experience. If your gear is a little out of date or you just haven’t gotten around to buying some, don’t worry. We can outfit you with our quality rental gear, from breathable waders to high-test graphite rods. If you’re ready to wade in a little deeper, our shop in Philipsburg also sells a variety of top-flight gear from Loomis, Redington, Galvin, Patagonia and more. Our shop staff will gladly set you up with the right gear for fishing Western Montana.
You can’t catch fish with your fly in the air. Fishing dries in Western Montana is all about getting long, drag-free drifts. Actually, fishing dries anywhere is all about getting long, drag-free drifts. So get your bug on the water and let it hunt.
“When it comes to catching fish, variety is the spice of life.”
There are four main species of trout in Western Montana — rainbow, brown, cutthroat and bull trout. Each has its particular allure. Rainbows are strong, acrobatic fish. Cutthroats take dry flies readily and are among the Rockies’ most beautiful species. Browns grow large and fight hard. And bull trout are big, predatory and undeniably magnificent. Depending on the water you fish, there is the potential to catch all four species, plus whitefish, cutthroat/rainbow crosses and even a brook trout or two. No matter what we catch, we release it. Our guides are experienced at handling trout and ensuring that we stress fish as little as possible. Because no matter how good a fish looks in your hands, it looks even better swimming.
“No, that’s not a canary.”
In Western Montana, we fish with big bugs. Sometimes extraordinarily large bugs. The giant golden stone is an excellent example. It hatches throughout July and has a wingspan rivaled only by its distant cousin, the golden eagle. Seriously, it’s a big bug about the size of your little finger. And to a fish it looks an awful lot like a Snicker’s bar might look to you and me.
“So you want to add a little 'me' time to your time in Western Montana?”
People often ask if there are places where they can fish on their own. The answer is: absolutely. Montana is blessed with a very wader-friendly stream access law and public access to every river in the area abounds. If you want some alone time with area rivers, we suggest you start your trip with a day or two of guided fishing. A day in a boat with a pro will give you a crash course on area hatches, rivers and options. Our guides will gladly offer suggestions and fishing tips.