Hopper fishing in Montana is tough to beat, and last summer was no exception. After a tremendous winter we started last season with a quality snow pack. Usually by August we are experiencing river closures to help protect fish from becoming overly stressed in warm water. Fortunately, anglers did not have to worry about that thanks to all the snow. As a result of the rivers being in such good shape we saw prolific hatches and very happy trout throughout the entire summer.
By: Cody Ling
August can mark the start of harvest for most farmers. The sounds of combines running through fields under the big sky can be music to an angler’s ears, knowing that all the hoppers are being pushed to the rivers. We experienced one of the best hopper seasons in almost a decade in southwest Montana. When something is that good it’s tough for anyone to ignore. Needless to say the rivers stayed busy through the fall.
My brother hit it big last summer and ended up visiting during prime hopper fishing. When my brother and I are fishing together we like to get away from the crowds. So, instead of looking to the obvious Blue Ribbon trout streams that Montana has to offer, we did some recon on spring creeks. These spring creeks are wide enough to jump across and require some very technical fishing. I’m talking long leaders, and crawling on your hands and knees in full stalk mode.
This was my brother’s first experience with the technical fishing that springs creeks require to be successful. It took a little while for him to get used to the casting angles and the thick brush. The game changer was when I had him take hold of the Douglas upstream plus. It was almost immediately after he started fishing this rod that he found success. The faster action allowed him to land his hopper in each trout’s feeding window while keeping his casts short enough to stay out of the brush.
In the video (see above), we had just walked up to a zone where we were watching some fish feed on tricos. We were not into throwing size 18 tricos at the time so my brother decided he would take a chance on the hopper. The heavy brush on both sides had us optimistic that at least one of the fish feeding would feel opportunistic on a larger menu item. The cast itself was not easy. There was a bridge behind him and overhanging reeds and willows in front of him. He took his time assessing the right casting angle to avoid blowing up the spot by wrapping his hopper in the willows or slamming it down on the water. He did exactly what he needed to do. As we watched the hopper floating helplessly through the foam we were greeted with the explosion of a brown trout on the surface of the water and a lively fight ensued.
One of my favorite parts about fishing with my brother is that the stoke meter is always pinned at max. Although this isn’t a big money production clip that we see on insta feeds and film tours, it appeals to the everyday angler! Very few anglers will ever have the opportunity to visit the idealistic fishing destinations that we see in the movies but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have similar experiences. That is what I love about this iphone clip. Two brothers enjoying each others company on the creek, learning from each other, and being stoked. So next time you find yourself daydreaming of a trip to Mongolia, or being envious of some high profile anglers crushing GT’s in the Seychelles, remember that it isn’t all bad creating memorable moments on your local water.