Montana spring creeks are home to some of the most coveted wild trout waters found anywhere in the world. These small streams are spring fed bodies of water characterized by consistent year round water temperatures and stream flows. These stable environments provide exceptional habitat for many insect types along with the trout that feed on them. Generally speaking, there is dry fly fishing to be found just about any day of the year on the regional spring creeks.
Although there are a few publicly accessible spring creeks in the region, the ones that offer the best opportunities for Montana fly fishing are only accessed through private land. Most landowners restrict access by only allowing a set number of anglers to fish the creeks per day and charge a fee that varies depending on the time of year. If stalking feeding trout in gin clear water sounds goods to you, then a Bozeman guided fly fishing trip to one of the several Montana spring creeks in the area should be near the top of your list when it comes to where to fish with one of our guides this year.
Spring creeks can be found throughout the region and range in size from being only a few feet in width to the size of single lane highway. The creeks that we primarily guide on are typically what we consider a small stream in that they are anywhere from 10-20’ in width, relatively shallow, and have gentle currents. Although spring creeks are found throughout the region, our guides typically stick to the ones found in the Paradise Valley of Southwest Montana.
The Paradise Valley creek properties include Depuy’s, Armstrong, and Nelson spring creeks. Each has its own uniqueness in terms of the amount of accessible water, stream characteristics, and quality of fishing. Each of these streams is open year round and make for great fly fishing destinations anytime of the year, particularly in the winter and spring.
All of the Montana spring creeks that we guide on are totally wild fisheries with naturally self-sustaining trout populations. The landowners are deeply invested in maintaining these unique fisheries for the enjoyment of anglers.
The summer months are considered as the prime season for fly fishing most of the spring creeks out west. Long days and relatively cool water conditions make for hatches that last throughout the day and well into the evenings most days. As a result, the spring creeks get pretty busy once the summer gets here and advanced bookings are usually required.
While the idea of fishing to rising fish during a mid-summer hatch sounds great to most folks, the idea of paying an extra $125 per rod is not for everyone. The summer months, on the Paradise Valley creeks, are well suited for the experienced angler looking to do some technical fishing without a guide. Our Montana fly fishing guides are always happy to head that way with our clients, but we often feel like there are better options during this time of year in terms of a guided fly fishing experience around Bozeman.
The spring creeks of Paradise Valley are the only ones in the state that are open year round to fishing. They make for a great choice for a Bozeman guided fly fishing trip during the winter and spring as they hold lots of trout during these times of the year, are relatively un-crowded, and offer discounted “rod fees.”
A mid-summer PMD hatch on any western spring creek is the stuff dreams are made of for the dry fly purist in all of us. Usually starting in the late morning, the emergence of these pale yellow colored mayflies trigger a rise from even the most reclusive of Brown Trout. All the way through the hatch, fish can be found steadily rising to insects in various stages of their development and determining which stage seems to be the most important to the fish is where an experienced guide really comes into play. PMD’s can be found on most of the spring creeks throughout June and July, with June being the better time of year to really key into the hatch.
A spring Baetis hatch on Depuy’s or Armstrong’s is an experience that draws anglers to these hallowed water from around the world. Cloudy, humid days in late March and April see prolific hatches of these small mayflies during the mid-day hours. Fishing during the BWO hatch is classic “match the hatch” fishing where the angler picks a steadily rising fish and targets it specifically. There are usually midges around in the mornings as well this time year, so we often just fish dry flies all day long this time of year.
The spring creeks in Paradise Valley are great places to spend a winter day when here in Southwest Montana. Solitude on some of the most storied trout water in the world is often easy to find come mid-January. These creeks are important spawning tributaries of the Yellowstone River and for both Rainbows and Brown Trout, and see dramatic increases in overall fish numbers during the winter and spring months. So, there are lots of fish, few people, off-season rates, and incredible waters nestled in a place called “Paradise Valley”…sounds good to us!
Our Bozeman fly fishing guides' focus and specialty is fishing for wild trout here in Montana. While there are some spring creeks, even in Montana, where the trout grow large as result of feeding programs, the creeks we fish are full of truly wild trout. As a result, the size of fish we can see in a day might range from fingerlings to over 24”, with most being 12-16”. Rainbow and Brown Trout are the primary species with the occasional Cutthroat being caught in the Paradise Valley spring creeks.
A guided Montana fly fishing trip on a spring creek is a great way to dramatically improve essential skills like reading water, understanding entomology, and casting. Our staff of experienced guides is always eager to spend a day on the spring creeks with both novice and experienced anglers alike. Advanced reservations are necessary to secure a spot on any of the creeks, so be sure to discuss this option with us when booking your trip if a spring creeks is something you would like to experience this year.
Guided spring creek days are limited to walk-wade trips and are generally very easy to navigate. That said, an angler in average to excellent physical condition will get more out of a day on the spring creek than one with mobility issues.
Our Montana fly fishing guides provide everything you need to get on the water with the exception of a Montana fishing license, which can be purchased online or at our fly shop. All of the spring creek landowners charge a trespass fee ($40-$100 / per angler), which is in addition to the standard guide rate and varies according to the time of year. Drive time to the Paradise Valley creeks is less than 30 minutes from our Bozeman fly shop. Please be sure to mention that a spring creek trip is something you are interested in when you book your Bozeman fly fishing vacation. Call us at 406-586-2188 to secure your reservation or send ua an email if you have any questions.