Contributors to this thread:
Fly fishing for Trout
Ok, not a bowfishing topic, but a fishing one. Are there some amazing fly fishing for quality size trout opportunities, especially west, on public wadable streams, without running into extreme crowds? Can they be found? I suppose this is like asking for secret spots. I was a fly fishing nut back in high school and college, traded #20 dry flies for 4 oz. muskie lures, once I got to MN, now am wanting to delve back into the trout fishing game. Always wanted to go west on a fly fishing trip when I was plying Michigan streams back in my young man days. Have recently watched some You Tube of some awesome Cutthroat, rainbow and brown fishing out west. Would love to go. Any hints?
What part of MN? SE was always really nice, down around Whitewater….
Northeast Iowa has many, many miles of excellent trout streams!!
Where are you specifically think when you say west? Rockies?
Yep...what is west and what do you consider amazing?
If I am not mistaking Colorado has fourteen gold medal trout streams which requires a minimum of four thousand fish per mile to be classified as such.
Several western states have good enough fishing to consider moving there for that reason alone.
As a matter of fact I know a YouTube channel that one of the guys did just that!
A state that is not nearly as wadeable is Arkansas which produces some absolute monsters in the White and Litter Red.
Also, Arkansas has some trophy trout opportunities for kids under 16 and under if memory serves me correctly.
Wyoming fishing is where its at
I have fished everywhere. Their is the UP. Then there is everything else. I am a big streamer guy. Cut down Drunk and Disorderlys are my favorite It's all good...enjoy
Google Missouri River of life farm, lots of different opportunities float guided if wanted cabin tree houses on river step out and fish . It's on the white and North fork giant Brown's wild.
Google Brion wise fishing guide Missouri he. Guides the same rivers and works with the River of life farm.
Livingston Montana and fish the Depuy. Little spring creek with 6 and 8#Trout. Anywhere is good fishing, I’ve fished out of Jackson Hole and Cody Wyo. I’ve also fished some water and the Missouri River. If your fishing some Western States it’s better fishing in the middle of July, August and September. Frying Pan creek in Colorado is a famous stream.
"Arkansas which produces some absolute monsters in the White and Little Red"....I used to guide on the White River below Bull Shoals, specifically from around Wildcat Shoals down river. The fishing is out standing. And during low water non generation times the river is very wadeable particularly around Cotter and up river from there. The North Fork River below the dam is also excellent. The Little Red River below Greer's Ferry is very good fishing as well. These are 3 places where every time you cast you may very well hook a world record fish.
Theses areas however are not free of crowds, but most easy to get to waters aren't any more.
cnelk +1. I'm not a fly fisherman but I love to throw some spinners for trout when I'm out west. Wyoming is legit!
I'd love to do a lama pack in trip with Mark Livesay in Yellowstone.
First fish on a fly rod
First fish on a fly rod
Definitely Wyoming. I've found some good fishing in Colorado as well bur usually much more crowded.
Idaho. Better than Wyoming and at least on par with Montana. Hell of a lot less people on the streams than Montana. Plus, you have Steelhead and salmon runs in a number of tributaries. Not as good as Alaska but pretty awesome for the lower 48…
No, there is no good fly fishing in the west, anymore. Definitely go to the UP. ;-)
Yes Rockies, Colorado, WY, MT, ID, UT. Have heard about the Bighorn and Platte in WY a little further east, but not sure about wadable public water. Would be nice to have good numbers of fish in the middle to upper teens inches.
My son and I have a float trip scheduled for early April on the Rio Grande out of Creede. Looking forward to that.
Some decent AZ rivers and lakes in the high country (White Mountains) for Rainbows, Browns, Brook, cutthroats, Apache, Tiger, and even some arctic Grayling. Some trophy size at times…..but mainly just fun sized fish.
Guys giving up their "honey holes"... something fishy going on here.
For wade able you'll need public access to the streambed. Floating out West has more access over the length of a waterway. Plenty of great easy access fishing though. I'd say head West young man and come see for yourself.
That Idaho fishing sounds very interesting.
Don’t listen to Brad Wyoming fishing sucks :)
Corax latrans, yes, I plan on checking out SE MN for sure. My wife is from Duluth so will also be trying some north shore streams.
My best spots are on Never Mind Creek... Ha ha
Love to Ice fish! No ice this year.
1972 my partner graduated from college. I am home from the war. We start in our beloved UP in late May. We fish the best in Montana, Wyoming. Idaho. We run out of money on the Green in Provo Utah. Had money wired to get home. Most were getting on with serious life issues We were not. Had my eyes on sheep hunting, but worked a year for the money and we took off for New Zealand. Now getting ready for 74, I look back and realize those were good decisions. Yes I got into sheep hunting 26 to 30. I was broke till I was 40. Ha ha
I’ve caught a lot of nice fish over the years! But none of them was like the thrill of watching your first grandson catch his first fish! :)
I like to take a vintage bamboo rod out once in awhile. And take my time.
Guess it depends on what you call quality !! Lots of places around western MT to get what you want.. July and August is best imo .
There are true black and orange brookies that are in hard spots and coasters then everything else Ha ha... love my fellow trout bums
Lots of opportunities all over the West. As a serious fly fisherman who lives on a river in CO and fishes all the mountain states, and has guided corporate clients on multiple rivers in CO, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a guide for your first day. Every river is different, varies from week to week, sometimes day to day, and the learning curve will be shortened exponentially.
Buying some flies at a local shop will get you some good advice, but the small nuances on our rivers can make the difference between 20 fish and lots of refusals, even with the right flies.
The North Platte in WY has lots of wadeable access on public stretches and plenty of big rainbows and browns, but the fishing is often very technical with size 18-22 midges requiring perfect presentations, and on weekends the popular stretches will have company. Much like all of the productive tailwaters in the West. But if you hit it right, it can be amazing.
Be sure to learn the stream access laws for each state, because they vary greatly. Could save you some expensive lessons.
If they ain’t Steelhead or Lake Trout, do they really matter??
I've caught big lake trout on dries in Quebec.
One of these will make your fly fishing adventures more enjoyable. Trust me. I spend more time in mine in the summer than I do at home.
OP - most western streams or rivers that carry sizable trout will have a roadway nearby thus making foot access relatively easy.
Hiring a guide and floating for a day would be well worth it and not just for the fishing experience. A good guide is invaluable on new water.
On the other hand you could hike a few miles into a high mountain lake and enjoy both the solitude and big fish if you time it right.
“ I would HIGHLY recommend getting a guide for your first day.”
Absolutely great advice especially if time is not on your side!
+ 3 to Brad - Wyoming fishing is where it’s at. We have some great fly fishing here in Colorado as well, but in general the fish are smaller and angling pressure is exponentially higher here. If you’re gonna go, be prepared to use a heavier rod than you’re used to and learn to cast in the wind. It’s almost always blowing in WY…
I moved to WY for the fly fishing and hunting. If I had to do it all over again, Arkansas would be near or at the top of my list. Fishing is at least as good, weather is MUCH better.
Lake Taneycomo (which is a river in Southern MO) is outstanding fly fishing also... I had many 50-100 trout days there and caught lots over 20", some to 26".
Taneycomo is on the White River near Branson and it is excellent fishing as is Table Rock.
Bighorn River in MT/WY is pretty cool.
12yards, here's a NE Iowa rainbow.
Beautiful rainbow Mike. Are they natural fish or stocked in IA?
OP, if you are in MN, the driftless area, while not the freestones of the west, is EXCELLENT fly fishing... But there is also a cool stream just west of Nisswa in the area NW of Brainerd that I've caught a mess of trout in visiting family, if you are looking for a close to home spot, Ill check the name of it (brain cramping right now)...
Second Rio Grande out of Creede. Lots of Texas folks
Will, probably Stony Brook. I've been on it. Flows into Gull Lake.
Yup :). My mother in law lives on Gull May-Sept. So I fish Stony every summer. Fun little stream, though the Tornado a few years back did make the woods a handful to navigate around the stream in spots.
That said, Gull with streamers is pretty fun to... Though you have to be careful and clean your gear very well given the damn zebra mussels in there.
Another one just over the line in Wisco which is awesome is the Kinnickinnic. Worth a quick drive for sure.
Thanks 12yards. I believe most of the Iowa trout are stocked but there is some natural reproduction. The entire driftless region of SW Wisconsin, SE Minnesota and NE Iowa is loaded with high quality trout streams.
Used to fish the Logan "back in the day" when I lived in Cache Valley (Utah). Some days it wasn't a good day if you didn't hook 30 Bonneville Cuts in a couple of hours.
Nice Hunt Man you need a new fishing buddy.:))
I have never fished West of the Mississippi and rarely fly fish but I'm following this one with great pleasure.
Steve, what time of year are you planning for your western fly fishing trip?
A lot of these photos have me envious. Nicely done gentlemen.
Rogue River, OR
Rogue River, OR
Clearwater River, ID
Clearwater River, ID
Big sea run rainbows are so much fun!
“ My wife is from Duluth so will also be trying some north shore streams.”
I used to take off from work the 2nd week of October every year and camp in a park near the Baptism & Temperance… Leaves on the trees, grouse in the woods, salmon in the rivers and big waves to paddle on the lake. Saw some guys hauling Kings outta there as big as my leg, and I had speed-skater legs back then…. I never quite managed to tie into one o’ those….
We live in a beautiful world.
Niobrara was awfully good for my brother, many years ago. Just have to be snake-smart.
http://sportsmanscampground.com/ Just outside of Pagosa Springs Co. Call Jon and talk with him. Just a cool side note: I spent about a week camped next to Jordan not far from there, way way way back when. Good times. Great people.
Flyfishing is great just about everywhere imho. "Combat fishing" on some rivers close to bigger cities can be tiresome, but in general just getting out is awesome.
I went to Montana State in 1980 specifically to fly fish and ski race. Been getting together every year with 6 friends from there for 40 years now. Going again this year to the Big Horn the first of May.
Caught my first one on a fly for this year yesterday. Been so much snow and the ice fishing so good, haven't been out on the streams yet :)
Awesome to see how many of us fellow bowhunters are into fishing !!!
Matt, if I go, I would probably go late summer. I would expect there to be a lot of very cold runoff coming into the streams for quite a while this year. Maybe into early summer. Is that a bad thing for fishing and hatches? Salmonfly action would be epic. When do they usually come off?
A few more WY trout from years passed…
Steve, the salmon fly hatch in Colorado is usually late May to early June. It's a difficult hatch to hit because most streams and rivers are blown out with runoff during that timeframe. It's also a very isolated hatch that usually moves quickly. It's not uncommon for a salmon fly hatch to only last a half day in one location before it moves up river.
I actually prefer the Golden stonefly hatch, which usually starts in early July. If I had to pick just one week to fly fish the Rockies it would the first week of July. At that time, most rivers will have multiple hatches coming off. A size 14-16 yellow or orange Stimulator with a small Hare's Ear bead head dropper is all you really need on most days.
I saw this thread so I figure I'd ask this question. My teenage son caught and released this nice 25-inch rainbow a couple of weeks ago. He finally met his goal of getting a trout over the 20-inch mark. I want to surprise him with a reproduction. He told me he measured the girth at 20-inches (keep in mind, he is a teenager excited with a big trout and releasing it). The taxi tells me that a blank for a 20-inch girth trout is typically around a 35-inch fish. The max girth of a blank that he can get for a 25-inch fish is 17.25-inch. Do any of you have girth measurements on any rainbows or have any input? Just trying to get an idea. I think in his excitement and being alone he may have screwed up the girth measurement. Anyone have one on the wall you can measure or anyone keep track of fish they catch? Thanks for any input.
Toby, wow that looks more like a steelhead!
Thank you Matt! Is hopper fishing more late summer and into elk season?
Steve, yes the hopper fishing usually gets good in August.
Tobywon, I had this 25" rainbow mounted. His girth is 13.25".
Girth is different for all trout. This palomino I caught last summer was just under 25" and probably a girth a little over 12". I tied for first in the North Park ice fishing tourney with one that was 19 1/2" long and 16 1/2" girth, officially measured.
Rocky D, thank you!!
Matt and Jaq, great fish. Thank you, exactly what I’m looking for.
Lou, 19” with 16” girth is what we call a “football”. Great catch!
Every year I spend the Fall in Colorado and say I'm gonna do that but I don't. Some years ago I won (or maybe that's the way I wanna remember it, was probably silent auction) a 9' 5 wt fly rod at an elk banquet. Just never get around to it cuz I focus so much on being in the hills. Always have it in the truck. This year I'm gonna do it. Runnin outa years! Only time I fly fished was probably 10 or 12 years ago I was invited to fish on the Blue River on Blue Valley ranch. It was a blast and we caught dandy rainbows. I'd be happy with some brookies or whatever. I have fished a lot with panther martins and Mepps etc and caught a lot of trout but figure I better get with the fly rod. Matter of fact I wall papered my bathroom with a fish flies pattern but my daughters say its not cool. I said its better than reading.
Matt, that football weighed 6 lbs 1 oz. Someone accused me of "stuffing" it at the awards ceremony, so we opened her up and she had two years worth of egg skeins in there. Never dropped them the previous year for some reason.
Toby, to your question, looking at that one your son caught and comparing it to Matt's and it looks like a gravid female, I would guess the thickest part where the eggs are is probably in the 14.5" range? The taxi will need to xo some sanding down of the form to get a true reproduction of the shape.
Matt, that's a gorgeous prototype rainbow.
I caught this one fishing for steelhead a month ago. You just luck into one once in a while. The best I have done for trout fishing out west was in the Sawatche Wilderness.
Bownut, that’s a great fish!
“Toby, to your question, looking at that one your son caught and comparing it to Matt's and it looks like a gravid female”
That’s why you come to Bowsite, where I fish in mostly stocked streams you don’t have to worry about seeing any gravid females!
Hell, spellcheck didn’t like the word and then kept wanting to capitalize it!
Oh, great God of the heavens and the earth I admit my sin of not fishing out west more than I have and I hope that you find redeeming qualities in my attempt to remove this blot from my past!
Great browny, Bownut!!
Are there any fly tiers here? Here's an articulated golden stone pattern I developed years ago. It's a PITA to tie, but well worth it. The inserted image is what the real ones look like.
Sorry about the double post. I wish that bug would get fixed.
Great looking stonefly nymph, GG. Never tied them double like that but will have to remember that when I tie up a few more…
Lots of great fish pics! Love that big fat brown Bownut! Planning a late summer trip to the White River in Arkansas to chase them at night with mouse patterns…
Great brown BOWNUT, monster right there!!
Jaq, thank you. Based on the measurements from you and Matt, I'm comfortable saying my son screwed up the girth measurement. I'll talk to the taxi.
Rocky D, that rainbow is a stocked fish or at least a holdover from last year, but we do catch native browns here with beautiful colors and markings like the one attached. They don't get as big, but his largest native brown was around 17-inches.
Matt, beautiful work!! We used to tie flies for salt water years ago, like streamers, deceivers, Clouser Minnows but nothing fancy. I've been telling my son we need to sit down and learn to tie some for trout. He switches between the fly rod and spinning rod depending on where he is fishing and what the fish are doing. We also have rivers designated as fly fishing only where we try to hit the hatches right. He just lost a nice fish on the fly the other day and broke my fly rod (and he has a fly rod). He went to pull trout in net in close quarters/bad angle and and tip snapped. He felt bad but I told him that can be replaced and glad he's out there fishing in February.
Man this is a great post. Bownut. Great fish. Which river ?
I was on the Big Manistee Feb 3rd. Never got out of the single digits that day the 4th was a balmy day in the high 20s and we had a great day, both days. Drifting with baitcasters though. So won’t include pics on a fly thread.
I'm not a fly fishing snob Altitude. Go ahead and post pics! I used to fish steelhead a lot in MI. White R, Pere Marquette R, Manistee, Little Manistee, Bear Cr., etc. It's the one thing I miss most moving from MI to MN back in 1991. My sister and Bro in law have a cabin on the Betsie R. In retirement in a year or so, I will be a pest at their place every winter/spring.
Steve, I posted my pics over on the winter fishing thread where it’s more appropriate. Man the Betsie is a great place to have a cabin. Consistent cool water and a perfect spawning river. We are blessed with great fishing streams(creeks where I come from) and rivers.
That was on Feb 8th. The Big M. I'm heading back up tomorrow for two days. Now that I'm retired, I try and pick my days and fish mid-week and avoid the crowds.
John (aka BOWNUT), do you think that is a lake run brown?
John, how are the water levels. Has the spring run been going early. Or just getting started ? I need to get back up there
Turns out we have some nice fish right here in CT…. I got into this one right at sunset today.
Jaq, is that another gravid female?
GF, nice fish!
Wow nice fish. Almost looks like she could be spent. Flat tummy. Unless it's a male!. Lol. Matt those stones you tied are amazing. Nice work! You've got amazing talent at the vice!
Nice looking rainbow Corax!!
Steve, thanks for the kind words. I find it very gratifying to catch fish on my own hand-tied flies, especially for what the fly fishing shops charge for them. Of course, if you add up what I've spent on materials over the years, I probably haven't saved much money. ;-)
Good eye, Steve!
She is spent - one of the brood fish that had shown up on a truck which - unbeknownst to me - had been there the day before.
But that’s how it is here…. You’re either fishing a stocked pond, in which case it’s pretty easy to look like a hero…. or you’re on some public water that gets flogged mercilessly. A fish like that is like a 12 point buck, which comes out of his private land refuge for two days out of the rut.
My son tied up a size 20 midge this morning and went down to a public river and landed this dandy rainbow this afternoon.
We will be floating the Rio Grande in 2 weeks
Opening day is coming up!
Spring chinook are were its at !
Been trout fly fishing around the west for a few decades, mostly MT and CA, but also Wyo and AZ. Good fishing is where (and when) you find it. The when is important, as is the what (you use). Always loved the caddisfly and salmon fly hatches in MT.
One thing I don't like about Wyo, you can't wade a stream that's got private property on both sides - the property owners own the streambed and you're trespassing unless you're floating. I hear some folks are trying to change that - hope they do.
Be careful of what you hope for. Wyoming and Colorado have the same laws regarding rivers that pass thru private property. You can navigate them in a boat or raft, but if you touch the riverbed it's trespassing. As a result, some of those waters are the best fishing that can be found in both states, because they don't get hammered as hard as public stretches of water. It just requires a suitable raft, public access points and a bit more commitment from fisherman.
There's also the issue of property values. Folks pay huge premiums for land with fishable rivers running thru them. If any Joe Blow fisherman could legally wade fish those waters the land values would plummet.
I don't expect those laws to change anytime soon, nor would I want them to.
I'm curious as to where you all are catching native browns ? They are not native to North America but great fish to catch.
Don't over look the smaller streams too. I've caught some nice brookies and browns from streams you can step across.
I think a lot of guys consider any trout that is spawned in the river, not in a hatchery, to be "native", even though that's not technically correct. "Wild" is probably a better description for brown trout that spawn in a river in North America.
Here's my wife with a nice browny she caught last summer.
So as far as land ownership is concerned, is onX a good way to keep from breaking the law/trespassing? I definitely have no interest in violating private property.
Ahhh Salmo trutta! Yes maybe the Europeans brought them over here. And I’m sure glad they did! I’ve caught them on dry flies that I could barely tie to my leader. And I caught them ripping in a Black #8 Wooly Bugger! Just as much fun either way in my opinion. If you hook into a 10 inch Native Brookie or a 30# plus carp! When you first set the hook! That excitement! Well that just never gets old. Maybe on that we can agree. I just love catching fish! Be it a hand line or a fly rod. If your not having fun. Your doing it wrong;) tight lines and good luck to all…..;)
Don T-- nice to see a fellow fish whore on here! I love catching fish. Doesn't matter to me if it's a crappie, sunfish, smallmouth, largemouth, channel cat, walleye, muskie, trout, salmon, or any of dozens of species that swim in our local rivers. I'm looking forward to getting my boat in the water pretty soon.
I sure can relate to that Scott. Use to do a lot of ice fishing too. Just don’t get the ice like we use too. But nothing like eating Winter perch and Walleye.
12 yards, depends on the accuracy of the county property line overlays. If you are in National Forest, their boundaries are usually pretty close. On my property 1/3 of a mile from NF, my property lines are off by 180 feet on OnX, and my house and shop- garage are shown to be well onto public land.
Steve, in addition to Lou's advice, most private waters in the west will be clearly marked, especially if they have good trout fishing. I know of a few spots in Wyoming where the landowners don't seem to care as long as you stay on the river, but they are the exception to the rule. In other popular spots, the game wardens camp out with binoculars waiting for trespassers to set foot on the stream bed. I once got a stern warning for dropping my anchor on private property just long enough to take a leak out of my boat.
I've watched deputies citing boat after boat at the takeout at Lusby on the Platte. One woman said she had to go to the bathroom, didn't matter.
Size 22 bead head. Tight lines!!
Only was fortunate to fish steelies once so far, great fish Hunter!
Great looking fish guys.
I owned a piece in the past with full riparian rights. I owned on both side of the river and technically the dirt under the water. Since if the water goes up and down or disappears completely. Someone owns that dirt.
As long as people stayed near the water and didn’t tear up the bank or foliage i never minded the fishing.
The issue became. Now they thought you didn’t care about hunting and trespassing all together. And I really mind the hunting either, as long as it didn’t impact me or someone else I let hunt it. But like most things. They screwed it up.
I am glad no one owns the river beds in the UP.
Really nice catches. Beautiful brown GG.
Ground hunter, as I posted. I never cared about people fishing and my little creek was not deemed to be “Navigable” which determines Michigan Riparian rights.
If the water is navigable wading is ok. If it is not navigable wading is technically trespassing.
Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping.
This is a curious quirk. The riparian owner is the owner of the waterbed (streambed, riverbed, or lakebed), and Michigan allows the owner of the streambed to control hunting and trapping rights.
Since public lands under the great lakes are held in trust, the public has a right to hunt or trap from those "lands."
It would follow that a private landowner would have the right to control fishing on the streambed
but that is not the case in Michigan. On “nonnavigable” waters the riparian owner has the right to fish, and can exclude the public from fishing on such waters.
But on “navigable waters” , the rights of the private owners are inferior to the public trust right to fish the waters.
Note the legal reasoning supporting the right to fish is directly contrary to the legal reasoning prohibiting hunting and trapping,
but Michigan courts have repeatedly affirmed these rights.
Was wondering how long it would take.