Written by: Tim Linehan, Linehan Outfitting Co.

Fishing for the drain can be spectacular if you know where to look.
Photo courtesy Linehan Outfitting Co.

Mid-June is considered the actual start of the fishing season in most of the West. Rivers generally recover after snowmelt and runoff. Although they may still be slightly discolored, they tend to be perfectly fishable in most areas. Still, there’s always an element of inconsistency in terms of early season success. Water temperatures are cool resulting in few insects hatching, rainbow and cutthroat trout are still busy spawning and trout haven’t necessarily moved to the traditional summer runs and gun runs. Here are five tips to help you find more trout in the early season.

1. Enjoy the banker’s opening hours

There is no need to hit the water at dawn in the early season. Insect activity is directly related to water temperature, and as little as two degrees makes a difference. Let the day get a little warmer. Late morning, afternoon, and evening are often the best chances to be successful and find upstream trout.

2. Nymphs are numbers

Due to the low water temperatures early in the season, dry fly fishing can be sporadic. Don’t be shy. Take out the indicators, go down and stay with the nymph for a better chance of success.

3. Current walking speed rules

Keep in mind that trout will not necessarily linger in thin water and rills until insect activity increases. At the start of the season, focus on runs, pools, tailouts, and near covers. Look for water that flows at about walking pace.

1687354351 276 5 Early Season Fly Fishing Tips in the Northern Rocky | AdayAwayFishingAdventures.com
June in Northwest Montana’s Kootenai Valley means green river valleys and snow on the peaks.
Photo courtesy Linehan Outfitting Co.

4. keep moving

Because insect activity may be low, concentrations of trout will not necessarily occur. If you wade you shouldn’t get concrete feet. Consider fishing more water than you normally would. For example, if you find fish in a bank current about three to four feet walking, find another area with the same type of water. If you’re floating, consider walking longer and keeping moving. By covering more water, you increase your chances of finding more forage fish.

5. More gear is always better

If possible, mount one rod for nymph fishing and another for dry fly fishing. It is not uncommon for a brief period of daytime insect activity to occur in the early season. Upgrading two rods means you don’t have to waste time retooling to adapt to potentially changing circumstances and opportunities. No pun intended.

Catching success in the early season in the West can sometimes be inconsistent due to conditions. Keeping these five themes in mind increases your chances of success.

Tim Linehan is the owner of Linehan Outfitting Co. on the Kootenai River in Troy, Montana. He is also a former Trout Bum of the Week.