Originally Posted by bjweller
Being the one who is going with Gary to MT, I am really interested in answers to his question about killer hopper patterns. The number and variation of hoppers is staggering and I am assuming that what I use on smaller streams in July in CO is not exactly what the trout on the Madison will go after. If you know that great pattern that works in mid July on that River, or the Gallatin, please share as much info as you can.
Yes, we are taking 7 months to plan a trip that will last five days. It's either that or go insane.
IF you can fish hoppers by mid July with any real success then I wouldn't stress the pattern too much. The hoppers will be small and any small hopper pattern you use in CO. should work fine. You see a lot of different kinds of foam hoppers, if the fish are eating they won't be terribly picky especially early on.
Pretty much everything I've tied over the years that is a typical hopper pattern has worked.
It seems that by around mid July we usually start seeing the nocturnal stones hatching. You hardly ever see the adults but you do see their shucks on the rocks. People often refer to this as "hopper fishing" but it's far more likely that the fish are keyed in on the stones which are bigger than the majority of the hoppers at that time of the year. You might hit it, you might not.
Also I don't think that anyone has mentioned yet that it's possible that the Yellowstone won't even clear until mid July. It's happened many times in the past. So far snowpacks aren't looking that great so you may not have to worry about that.
However most likely it will have been only a 2 or 3 weeks of fishable water on the Stone by the time you get here. If you catch the first couple of weeks after it becomes fishable the streamer fishing can be some of the best of the year. The wading will be some of the most difficult.
I highly recommend the Yellowstone as the river to get a guide on. I would also suggest going below town if the water is still relatively big. It's a fun ride and, I think, more interesting water though it's hard to argue with the beauty of Paradise Valley or the upper Madison. Expect LOTS of people and boats on the Upper Madison by mid July. I personally think the Yellowstone, if it's fishing, would be the better option for a boat ride but I like big water, big fish and big streamers so....