Fish Food.  Photo: S. Stalling

 

Here in Big Sky, MT it's the best time of year. Runoff is nearly over and as the muddy water on the Gallatin gives way to a beautiful, light green color, there is one thing the shop trout bums can't get off their brains: Salmonflies. The hatch is coming. As the nymphs begin to move towards the banks of the river, we know the pocket water along the edges will soon be alive with splashes from rising trout. Just the thought gets me going....

 

We'd like you to get the most of this salmonfly season so we thought we'd give you some tips to help you hook into that monster Gally brown. Landing it is entirely up to you.

 

Here you go:

 

Fish constantly. It's almost impossible to predict the timing of the salmonfly hatch. The hatch moves up river and can blow past an entire stretch in a single day. Start low on the river and be sure to keep in tune with the local reports.

 

Cast towards the bank. Salmonflies crawl from the edges of the river and scale boulders, bushes, and fallen trees to hatch. Trout know this and they hang out near the edges snacking away, it's not uncommon to find a 20" trout in 8" of water. 

 

Use heavier tippets. 4x and 5x are NOT the way to go. Throw on some 2x or 3x for some bigger fish.

 

Use a smaller dry fly. Trout can easily get gorged on salmonflies as they're massive! Try using a golden stonefly and some full trout may find they have room for a smaller bug. Caddis or yellow sallies can also be effective in bringing up gorged trout.

 

Don't be afraid of hiking. Getting away from the popular fishing spots can greatly increase your chances. Hit the spots that are not in clear sight of the highway and you'll find many more eager and willing trout.

 

Dust off the big bug box and get out there!