Having fished all over this country, I will throw my .02 in the ring just for discussion purposes. Montana is the last place I would travel especially with all the other options around the country, which have 1/10 of the people and much better fishing. SOme of the streams are legendary, but most of those are disappointing if you fish the tailwaters here with any proficiency.
I guess if someone has never been out west Montana is great as there is a plethora of info to make it easier to find places to go, and it is somewhat historic in terms of rivers. Scenery is nice, but the crowds suck and the fishing just isn't as good as other parts of this country.
Don't get me wrong, there is some great fishing in MT, but there is much better, less crowded places out west.
It was the middle of the month. Some people have made remarks about crowds but we had zero problems while we were there.
I would half way agree with waterwolf, if you were going during the peak tourist season and if you were focusing only on the more popular streams. A trip to the Absaroka or Beartooth mountains will lead you to a number of smaller streams, including Rosebud Creek, where you won't see another person for days. You can also focus on Clear Creek near Red Lodge where you pretty much have the streams to yourself. While the Gibbon, Madison, Yellowstone and the Big Horn receive heavy pressure, there are also a number of streams and creeks that receive very little fishing.
I never thought I would hear those creek names anywhere other then out there. I have fished most of those you mention over the years and they were very uncrowded. Of course the fish I caught were small, but it was peaceful.
I like larger bodies of water, and larger fish, thus the reason I don't waste my time in the smokies anymore.
But you are right, if you want to get away from folks in MT you have to go to the little creeks.
Thanks Tiger fly,
I have somewhat different plans than most folks. I have some lakes and some less known rivers in mind if I go to MT, I'm mostly curious about water temp, weather and the changing of seasons as I have to take into consideration that my mom is going with me on this trip. We got to find a few things for her also.
Hans, you can actually have large water temperature differences in the streams, dependent on which part of the state you are in. I prefer the smaller creeks or streams where those swings are as great. As for the lakes, I haven't fished them in the West. I have been interested in trying some of the Alpine lakes (we would call them large ponds) around the Moab, UT area. Given the time frame you are considering can be the wrap of late Summer to an early Fall. I have also been there the last week of Sept to the first week of Oct and encountered snow and been there the same time in a different year and have temperatures in the 60s. As for your Mom, most of the areas around Bozeman, Billings and Red Lodge have other activities for the non fishermen so that shouldn't be a problem.
waterwolf, perception is everything. A small native brown or rainbow in Clear Creek is still much larger than you see in the Smokies. I would love to have access to the areas of the Yellowstone River around Laurel and Joliet areas (not exactly but you know the areas) that are on private properties that have no public access due to the trophy potentials.
I'm partial (very biased) to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I worked on these waters for four years and I love 'em. You've got reservoirs, tailwaters, spring creeks and freestone streams all within an hour of each other. Access is easy, but pressure is minimal. The hills are often overlooked by people on their way to more famous waters in Montana and Wyoming. Spearfish Canyon is a place that's unforgettable. Also, the Black Hills are very close to the Bighorn River, the North Platte and the Bighorn Mountains. Take a trip here and you'll be very pleased. There is plenty of lodging and plenty of tourist stuff to boot. There's a fly shop in Rapid City with good info (and the guy who owns it is named Hans.) www.flyfishsd.com
The whole Yellowstone thing got old after the first trip. Too many tourists () for my tastes. It was worth one trip, no question.
I just found much better fishing in other parts of the west, there are some parts of MT that were excellent, but they are well off the beaten path.
The fishing in OR, ID, and UT are ten times better then MT and there is literally no one around.
Small streams are fine, but dinking around with cutthroats just didn't fire me up much and after a couple of hours was quite boring. But to each their own, and you know what they say about opinions.