Capt. Rick Grassett’s Montana Fly Fishing Trip Report for 8/7/2018
I hosted a group of friends and clients on a fly fishing trip in southwest Montana last week, so I don’t have a Sarasota report. This is an annual trip for me and was my 17th year fishing in Montana. We fished the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Madison Rivers, a couple of lakes and a spring creek. We caught and released numerous brown and rainbow trout, brookies and a few cutthroat trout during the week. We used streamers, dry flies and nymph rigs on 3 through 6-weight fly tackle. The dry fly action was with a variety of grasshopper patterns, sometimes with a nymph dropper, or with a smaller dry fly and a few other bugs.
Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, FL and I traveled to Bozeman on Sunday, 7/29 and made the 2-1/2 hour drive to the lodge. Marshall Dinerman, from Atlanta, Denton Kent, from VA and Steve Coburn, from WI, met up with us at the airport. Mike Perez and Stewart Lavelle met up with us at the lodge after fishing a few days on the Missouri before the rest of the group arrived. We stayed at the Medicine Lodge, a 90,000 acre working ranch near the Beaverhead River outside of Dillon, a short way from Clark Canyon Reservoir. Equipped with an industrial size kitchen and a large dining room with ranch style seating and bar counters along the kitchen for extra room, it was a great place for our group. The chef, Annie, spoiled us with hearty Montana meals and desserts!
We fished with guide Dave King, owner of King Outfitters (406) 596-0209 in Dillon, and his excellent group of guides; Dan, Mark, Eli, Tyler and Tommy. I’ve fished with these guides for many years since I started fishing Montana. They work hard, do a great job and know their fishery well. We floated the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Madison rivers and had good action with browns and rainbows to more than 20” on streamers, dry/dropper and nymph rigs. We also did some still water fishing on a couple of lakes and had great action walking a spring creek, catching and releasing brookies, browns and rainbows on dry flies with 3 and 4-weight fly tackle.
One of the best things about fly fishing in southwest Montana is the variety. The fishing there is by either floating or wading. The weather and scenery were outstanding with temperatures ranging from a very comfortable high 40’s in the morning to the mid 80’s in the afternoon with low humidity, a welcome relief from southwest Florida’s heat and humidity in August! In addition to beautiful valleys surrounded by rugged mountains, the wildlife is amazing! We saw whitetail deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, hawks, eagles, ducks, geese and sand hill cranes.
Back in Sarasota red tide has become more of an issue, affecting the coastal gulf up to Anna Maria Island and getting into Sarasota Bay close to passes. Red tide is patchy and changes from day to day and even tide to tide, so there are areas that are unaffected and fish can still usually be caught in those areas. Catch and release snook fishing around dock lights and bridges and trout, blues and more on deep grass flats should be good options if the water is clean in those areas. There should be some tarpon in upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay. Juvenile tarpon in canals and creeks may also be a good option, if you can find them. You might also find them in a few places mixed with snook in dock lights.
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.