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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Michigan's U.P.

    Default Help with trip planning

    I haven't made a trip for awhile so in 2018, I want to start fishing in August and wrapping it up after Christmas or possibly a little later. I'd really prefer to spey fish most of the time with single hand fly fishing for the times I'm not spey fishing. This trip will be in the western part of the U.S. and probably Canada. I'll be driving so what I'd like help with is: What rivers are a must do and when would you fish them? I doubt that the time that I've allotted gives me enough time to include Alaska. Thanks for any help.

  2. Default Re: Help with trip planning

    I'm certainly not the most qualified here to answer your question, but seeing that nobody else has responded in the last four months, maybe I can bring this thread to the top and encourage some more responses. You didn't mention if you were just wading or if you were hiring guides or bringing along something that floats, which would probably make a difference in some cases. Personally, I enjoy trying to solve the riddle myself and tend to be kind of minimalist on my trips, living out of a 7x7 tent for 6/7 days and maybe one night in a motel to clean up, etc.

    In "real life" (whatever that may be), I live in MI (SE part of the lower peninsula, parents and grandparents were Yoopers). I have hbeen fortunate to have many chances to travel out West for work in the past and have more recently been taking a couple months off over the summer to go on a self-directed trout safari. I've never swung for steelhead in the West, but have fished for trout with several techniques. Here are some places I've swung flies that I wouldn't mind going back to--some I've used a 12.5 ft travel spey, 11 ft switch rod, as well as a SH rod with either a Wulff Ambush line or a line I cobbled together myself:

    Bow River downstream of Calgary Alberta: In August (and perhaps July) they have hoppers which can make for fun dry fly fishing. The highlight was definitely what the locals call "skid-*****ing", skating a stonefly imitation across on the surface. There were some nice sized fish too. Had a blast and bent out a couple hooks.

    Lower Madison River near Bozeman/Ennis, MT: By this, I mean below Ennis Reservoir from Beartrap Canyon to Greycliff Campground or so. This is a tailwater section and gets too warm to fish in the summer. I did well swinging crayfish and sculpin patterns.

    Big Horn River downstream of Ft Smith, MT: This is a famous tailwater and can be crowded at times. You can wade downstream from the dam area. I had the place to myself in November (but it was cold and windy).

    Green River below Fontanelle Resevoir, WY: Found out about the campground here from Larry and stopped by several years ago. Everyone was fishing midges but I had seen caddis in the air, so I swung up some sz 12-14 chartreuse pupae patterns and was having a ball until I had to haul a** back to my tent to keep it from getting blown away in a sudden summer thunderstorm.

    Missouri River near Craig, MT. Okay, I haven't swung flies here, but it's on the list. I need to do some research on access, etc as I plan out this summer's adventure.

    Some other places to consider:

    Rock Creek, near Clinton, MT is a favorite of mine. It's reasonably close to town, there is camping right along the river if you don't need all the comforts of home, and a motel near a fly shop (Rock Creek Merc-- good people) right at the freeway exit.

    Depending on your timing, you may have a good chance to fish for some of the aggressive browns headed upstream in the fall. I know guys throw 2 handers up on the upper Madison in MT at that time of year.

    Have a great trip. I hope this is of some help to you, and I also hope that some others will chime in. I'll likely be on the road fishing this year from late June to Labor Day or so..time to get some planning and organizing done.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help with trip planning

    August is hot here in the PNW, 90-100 degrees is very common into mid September. There are summer steelhead in good numbers in places like the Deschutes and N Umpqua, but water conditions (glacial melt, high temps) may make things difficult. It's mostly an early morning and evening game, and you try and find shade during the day. I'd start in Montana and chase trout if that's the situation. Every fly fisherman should fish Yellowstone, and that's a good time on some of the rivers (watch the temps and afternoon closures) for fishing terrestrials.

    Once September hits and temperatures start to drop things get good, and you'll have about 2-3 good months of good dry line swinging for Summer steelhead. Rivers I'd say you shouldn't miss are the N Umpqua (July-Oct), the Deschutes (July- Nov), the Clearwater (Sept-Nov), and the upper Skeena system (Morice, Bukley, Kispiox, Sept-Oct). Of course there are many other productive rivers, but those are probably the ones most folks want to fish that still have decent returns most years. Last year we saw very low returns, and who knows what this year will be like.

    Late November is kind of the end of summer steelheading for most folks. Fishing actually continues into January or later on some summer run rivers, but the weather usually slows things down and the fish get colored and lose a lot of their fight so most folks start to think about winter run steelhead.

    Winter fish start to trickle in with the rains on the coastal rivers in December and really start to show in good numbers in January. I don't fish winter runs often, but if I did I would count the Olympic Peninsula rivers (Sol Duck, Hoh, Queets) high on my list of must fish rivers. Just like summer runs there are many other good winter rivers, but these are shorter rivers close to the ocean. Winter fish are very water level related, here today and gone tomorrow, as river levels go up and down quickly with the rains, very unlike summer run fish.

    Sounds like a great adventure. I grew up chasing great lakes steelhead, but now there's nowhere I'd rather be than knee deep in an eastside river like the Deschutes or Clearwater from mid September to mid November. Who knows maybe we'll run into each other this fall.

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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Deltona, Florida

    Default Re: Help with trip planning

    Google Earth and

    Use Google Earth to follow the roads you want to take. (Interstate vs. "surface" roads, etc) You can trace a path all across the Country.
    When that path crosses a waterway, or gets near one, write it down. Then go to and look it up. You can read reports, get access information and check out licensing fees for each State.

    Do the research ... you'll get better results than asking a group of people, most of whom don't even live near your path.

    Or plan the path, then find out who lives near it and get specific information on the area.

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