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The Mountains in Montana
Fly Fishing the Mountains in Montana
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Fishing in the mountains of Montana can provide an angler with some of the best fishing the state has to offer in a remote, isolated and beautiful setting. For a person who enjoys fishing in solitude, the mountains of Montana are the place to go.
Fishing pressure is generally light to almost non-existent on most mountain lakes and streams in Montana. While there is a great diversity in the types of fish in the mountains, the primary fish species include the cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and golden trout. Due to the low fishing pressure, the fish in the mountain lakes and rivers in Montana tend to be much easier to catch than their cousins that are found in the major rivers. Most fish are easily caught on dry flies, particularly in the morning or the evening, or on small spoons for anglers using spinning outfits. Live bait can also work well - although the use of live bait is often restricted in various mountain areas, so be sure to check the latest regulations before putting that worm or minnow on a hook.
The size of the fish can vary dramatically from lake to lake in the mountains. Many of the lakes in Montana are very cold and sterile, resulting in lots of small fish. Other lakes, often times just a short hike away, can hold some very large fish, with cutthroat trout exceeding fifteen inches not uncommon at all. Yet other lakes can be entirely fishless, due to either the type of water (some lakes that are fed entirely by glacial melt are not kind to fish) or because the lake freezes solid during the winter.
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Mountain fishing in Montana has very low fishing pressure due to the difficulty of access. This difficult access does not come from lack of access, but rather that most mountain lakes and streams require some time and exertion on the part of the angler to reach. Unlike most other western states where anglers can frequently drive right into a mountain lake, most good fishing lakes in Montana require a hike or horseback ride in - treks that can sometimes take days.
As a result, simply getting to the mountain lakes and rivers in Montana can be an adventure in and of itself. Treks into the mountains also generally require some specialized gear, least of which is a backpack, backpacking tent, cooking equipment and a high-quality sleeping bag. Special fishing equipment, such as four piece fly rods or travel spin outfits also can come in very handy. Due to their weight and bulkiness, most anglers who hike into these mountain areas leave the waders and float tubes at home.
And of course, any trip into the mountains of Montana will take an angler through some of the most beautiful and varied country found anywhere in the United States. While some mountain areas do receive a fair amount of backcountry use by hikers, most mountain areas in Montana have only light use, allowing an angler to find solitude in a pristine setting.
It goes without saying that any trip into the mountains has its share of risks. Events such as the local wildlife (read Grizzly Bears or an ill-mannered Moose) along with the weather can turn a mountain trip into a deadly experience for those who venture out into the wilderness un-prepared. Thus, when heading out to the mountains, be prepared. Have high quality gear and know how to use it. Warm clothing - particularly clothing that is NOT made of cotton, is an imperative, since it frequently drops below freezing at nights during the summer and has the potential to snow at anytime of the year. Make sure you have good maps of where you are going, and that you let someone know where you will be.
Overall, fishing in the mountains of Montana, whether it is a fast moving stream or a beautiful lake, is an experience that can bring memories that will last a lifetime. Any angler who ventures out to the high country will be rewarded with stunning scenery, solitude, as well as with frequently excellent fishing. Just be prepared before you go.