My base of operations is out of beautiful Twin Bridges, Montana. Your trip, therefore, is centered right in the heart of southwest Montana's best blue-ribbon trout rivers: the Big Hole, the Beaverhead, and the Madison.
One of my favorite times to fish is March or April; timed to fish the March Brown and Skwala hatches of the Madison and Big Hole. Nothing like throwing dry flies to rising fish on St. Patty's Day! Spring fishing is timed to chase the Salmon Fly hatch around southwestern Montana. Summer is for PMDs on the Beaverhead. Fall trips are timed for the beautiful colors, less crowds, and prolific blue-winged olive and mahogany dun hatches.
Think about running my famous, FIVE RIVERS-FIVE DAYS, where we run the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Madison, Henry's Fork, and South Fork!
The Big Hole - one of my favorite rivers and the reason I live in Twin Bridges - is 150-plus miles of undammed trout fishing heaven. Tremendously varied in water type, from flat great dry fly sections to technical rowing sections in the canyons, the Big Hole has something to offer every type of fisherman. The Big Hole can roughly divided into three long sections, first, the upper high-evevation beautifically-scenic reach offers flatter water, great dry fly fishing and brookies, browns, rainbows, and grayling. The second reach, the canyons section, offers higher gradient flows through the Jerry Creek and Divide Canyon reaches. This area is largely a brown and rainbow fishery with chances at grayling and our native trout, the westslope cutthroat. As the Big Hole tumbles out of the canyon reaches it enters flatter gradient, largely braided cottonwood reaches of the lower Big Hole. This section offers awesome scenery and some of the finest brown and rainbow fishing in the west.
Hatches on the Big Hole are as varied as the water type, from epic salmonfly action, to goldenstones, to sallies, to March Browns and Skwalas, to green and gray drakes, to PMDs, to Tricos and BWOs. Dry fly action can happen at anytime of the year.
No other river offers what the Beaverhead River in southwest Montana offers, consistent opportunities at browns and rainbows over 20 inches - all day long. You will definately learn how to play big fish on small flies on the Beaverhead. I tend to spend a lot of the day casting to giant rainbows along a reach I refer to as "Land of the Giants." This section of river requires technically-correct long drifts, when the grab happens, well, all hell breaks loose.
"Get the drift, get the fish."
Dry fly fishing on the Beaverhead can be outstanding. The Beaverhead offers prolific PMD hatches through the summer, which can allow for the refining and perfecting of your dry fly fishing skills. Other super hatches include caddis and sallies. But one of the most awesome dry fly experiences you can have happens on the Beaverhead - the cranefly hatch. I describe this fishing as streamer fishing with a dry fly. You don't dead drift a cranefly, you skitter it, which results in explosive hits.
The Madison is the 50-plus mile riffle. From Quake Lake by Raynolds Pass to Ennis Lake near Ennis, the Madison is the king of trout fishing riffles. Its also the 50-plus mile, hottest rainbow in the west, giant-upstream-running-brown riffle. When you think of trout-fishing perfection, you'll think Madison river.Though I spend a lot of time on the Madison nymphing; nothing is cooler than hitting the salmonfly hatch on this river, nothing! The salmonflies are the biggest around, and with the fast-pace of the Madison, its an awesome experience. But, if the salmonflies are missed, there will be other dry-fly action on the Madison, especially caddis, golden stones, and sallies.