As fishing begins to heat up, Jack Rebhan heads out to fish a rocky section of the Gallatin River. 

As the days get longer and the sun shines a little more, the rivers around Bozeman start to come alive with hopeful fishermen. As fishing prospects become more numerous and drift boats start making their appearance, here are a few things to keep in mind for the spring season. 

In the Bozeman community, fly fishing is a popular outdoor activity. The university has a fly fishing club called the Bozo Trout Bums, which aims to create a community around fly fishing and preserving local waters. 

“(Spring fly fishing) has this exciting energy where you know that warmer weather is coming and the fish are getting hungry,” Brendan Cook, an active fisher and member of the Bozo Trout Bums said. “This is also a great time to get out on the water before the tourist pressure.”

Students may encounter "another hard fishing season" this year, Cook said. Because of the low snowpack accumulated over the winter. This means that the window for fishing will be shorter as the season goes on. Fish are affected by the water temperature, if it is too hot or too cold they are sluggish and inactive. When the water level drops more direct sunlight hits the fish and they become sluggish earlier in the day which shortens fishing times. Similar restrictions were set last year when the Montana Fish and Wildlife department enacted “hoot owl” fishing restrictions. In order to protect fish health fishing was prohibited when it got warmer during the day and into the night, specifically between 2 p.m. and midnight. 

As the weather warms and the snow in the mountains begin to melt, the flowing water becomes “dirty” from the runoff.

“When the water is dirty you don’t have to worry so much about presentation since the fish can’t see you as easily.” This is an interesting aspect of spring fishing that many fishermen capitalize on. It also makes it easier for beginners to get out on the water because even if their presentation isn’t perfect the fish will have a harder time figuring it out. 

One of the fundamentals of fly fishing is knowing what flies to throw out at certain times of the year. While it is important to not forget the winter basics of a slower presentation through the water, especially in the early spring months, it’s time to look ahead to spring activity and warm weather hatches. 

“Midges are coming off when it’s warm, and streamer bite is on,” Cook said. Streamers are the larger, flashier flies presented with constant movement through the water. Midges that look almost like mosquitoes emerging during the cooler parts of the day are especially attractive to fish. Stoneflies and mayflies will start showing pretty soon and should be something to consider throwing on a line.

While no true angler will reveal their favorite fishing holes, Cook said he was excited to fish the Gallatin River this spring. The area past the Big Sky turn-off hosts a lot of good areas for anglers to test. If you want to learn more about the Bozo Trout Bums you can find them on Instagram at @BozoTroutBums. They will also be hosting a BBQ on April 23 with raffles and fly tying events with a few giveaways including a Yeti cooler and Costa sunglasses.

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