An old guide friend of mine used to say, “The hardest thing about fishing Montana in summer is deciding what to do”. This statement holds true not just for Montana but for anglers across the country. Summer represents primetime for a multitude of fishing enthusiasts, with an abundance of options at their disposal.
The Rocky Mountain Runoff Period
Particularly in the Rockies, we experience an extended runoff period. This is when snowmelt raises the rivers and mountain streams to levels where they aren’t ideal for fishing. However, the upside to this is that as the river levels decrease, the fish are hungry and haven’t seen any fishing pressure for that period. The biggest challenge for anglers is to strategize how to capitalize on this early summer opportunity.
Classical Tenkara Season in Montana
For me, summer signifies the onset of the “classical tenkara” season, characterized by fishing tenkara as it has been practiced in its Japanese origins.
Mountain streams in most of the Rocky Mountain West never fish better than they do in summer once the spring runoff finally subsides until the weather starts to turn in September.
Equipment Selection: The Sato and Satoki Rods
When these mountain streams finally clear up enough for fishing, my preference is to utilize my Sato rod, which performs excellently on small to medium streams. I also recommend our new Satoki rod or our Ito rod for larger freestone streams in the Rockies.
Tackling Different Conditions: Line and Fly Choices
During summer fishing, I prefer using 3.5-level lines. The wind isn’t as much of an issue in summer as it is during the volatile spring months. Fly selection, especially on mountain streams, is relatively less of an issue in peak summer fishing. Large Oki kebari and Amano kebari flies are my go-to choices, depending on the presence of larger insects. One note, terrestrials can become a big factor as summer wanes. Sometimes a big chunky sakasa fly can still work great, but this is a time of year I may chuck some hoppers, etc.
Fly Presentations and Techniques
My primary fly presentation this time of year is a simple dead drift. That said, experimenting with a pulsed fly or skittered fly can yield surprising results and add an extra level of fun to your fishing experience! If fish are on terrestrials, try to make your sakasa flies “plop” when they hit the water. A little more forceful forward cast can do the trick on this and it usually works best for bank feeding fish.
The Importance of Summer: Prime Time Fishing
The most important tip we can give you about summer is to seize the opportunity and get out there! This is prime time for fishing. Household projects and other responsibilities can wait! Just go fishing and ask for forgiveness afterward! We hope you have a fantastic summer of tenkara in Montana!