It is getting to be that time of year in Montana. The elk are bugling. All kinds of trucks with ATVs driving by you with coolers but my most favorite time of the year is the last couple of weeks in October and the first week in November. It means spawning Montana trout and specifically large Brown trout coming out of lakes and reservoirs and coming up into rivers, streams and creeks to spawn. It also means that the Rainbow trout are following them and feeding on the Brown Trout eggs.
There is not another time of the year that catching numerous big trout in a short timeframe can be done. They have their minds on other things and they can be very concentrated in certain holes. The fly selection always starts with an egg pattern and they are not near as picky as other times of the year. It is not uncommon on a good day to catch 40 trout that exceed 18 inches and a few can hit 24 inches. They are wild, colorful and make spectacular runs that can go a couple of hundred yards. Key is to find a place where they are coming out of a lake or reservoir. There are several public places where that happens and a bunch on private places. You have to get access to the private places and that can be challenging to impossible. It helps to have contacts with real estate agents for introductions. You want someone that sells Montana land for sale that has creeks, streams or river frontage.
These trout will come out of lakes or reservoirs or large rivers and come into streams or creeks to lay their eggs. I have seen 20 inch trout in creeks no wider than 3-4 feet across. You catch one fish and then have to go find the next pool with trout congregating. Site fishing is some of the funnest fly fishing you will have when you get to see the trout take the fly. You set the hook and hold on.
There are two times of year that spawning happens for trout. In the fall it is the Browns with the Rainbows following to eat eggs and in the spring it does a 180 and the Rainbow spawn and the brown trout follow to eat eggs. Spawning Montana trout give you one of the last few chances in the lower 48 to catch a number of big trout in a few days. Beauty is once you figure out a place you don’t need a guide since the fishing is not very technical and you can come back every year around the same time to do it again because it is a repeatable event.
I won’t tell you the absolute places to go for spawning Montana trout but I would suggest looking at some of the bigger reservoirs that have rivers or creeks above the lake that spawning Montana trout can swim up to lay eggs. You can also read the Field Guide from MT.Gov. Fly shops can also help you in giving you general areas for spawning Montana trout. They won’t tell you exact places unless they are taking you there but many times you can fish once with them and then do your own thing. Just be respectful and don’t go in the exact same holes. Remember the spawning Montana trout are helping many of these guys make a living and they are near the end of their season.
Also, keep in mind that certain public areas will close at the end of October or first week in November so from a timing issue and regulations issue you need to keep that in mind. This time of the year is unpredictable but can also be the most beautiful time of the year. The trout colors aren’t so bad either.
If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy our article on different flies in fly fishing.