What Time is the Best for Fishing?

What Time is the Best for Fishing

Montana has been a living paradise for fishing. When you come across the crystal-clear water in Missouri river or pebble-filled brown trout streams, fishing can be hard to resist. What time is the best for fishing? It’s a tough question that many newbies or even expert anglers put forward.

Well, it’s not quite easy to answer with a specific time-frame. At least, I have faced this question quite a lot of times and couldn’t answer with a single sentence. If I could, I would end up answering – ‘It depends.’

Why? It’s because everybody has different goals. You may be targeting to fish as many as possible, or planning a competition with your friends, or you are just into the mood of relaxation and don’t bother how your fishing bucket weighs. You will find different timings based on your type of fishing target.

Another reason why the ‘Big sky state’ allows you to fish at different times is that the rivers and lakes do not offer the same stream at a given time. At a specific time, some rivers may be at the peak, while some others may be dirty with snowmelt.

Montana can open the door to fishing with a variety of water sources like rivers, large lakes, mountain streams, tail waters, meadow streams, Freestone Rivers, alpine lakes, etc.

Again, if you are a fan of some particular type of fishing, then it all comes back to square one. You need to choose a time that suits your type of fishing.

The Best Time For Fishing

The reality is, you can find one river or another is peaking at a certain point in time. Let’s say in early May, Yellowstone River and other large rivers have explosive hatches, while mountain streams are not just perfect for fishing.

The weather here can vary from month to month during the year, which heavily influences the fishing preferences.

If you are planning for fly-fishing, then you can pack your fishing gear in the following seasons according to their merits.

April to Mid-May

When spring arrives at Southwestern Montana, the river and lake water start getting warmer, and the insects do become active. You can see the rainbow trout are breeding and multiplying – the PERFECT time for fly fishing.

The water temperature can vary from 50F to 60F, so you can comfortably fish without any issues. During this season, a certain type of caddis hatch at a great rate. This brings fish from different locations, and you are off to go!

Mid-May to June

This is known as the run-off. From Mid-May to a few weeks onwards, the snow starts to melt, and the rivers get dirty. Finding a clear water source to fish may seem not so easy. At a given time, many rivers can be dirty with snow-mud, and some others may be clear.

Remember to use stronger leaders and larger flies when you fish during this period. Bigger flies and much stronger leaders can mean greater success.

Some tail water rivers such as Missouri or Beaverhead River don’t get much affected by this run-off. You can always fish in the crystal-clear water of these rivers.

July to Early September

This is the peak season for fly fishing in Montana. The weather is fairly consistent. The best thing is, from June to early July, you can see an exceptional hatch of Salmon fly. This is a delicious attraction for the trout, and it just cannot have enough of this food. Plus, you can see great hatching of golden stone and some other caddis flies.

The day you hit the jackpot can be the best day of your entire fishing life. From July to August, during the hot days, if you throw bigger flies and foam flies, you may be in great luck!

It is very likely to bring in some trophy trout on this hot summer season at the bank or mid-river on the Missouri River.

September to October

During this season, another type of stonefly hatches. It is a bit different than the early season hatch. Typically these stoneflies hatch at night time. Using some of the big-sized of these attractors can mean a party time for the trout.

A blue wing olive hatches in early October, which are different than its springtime breed. In many of our western rivers, these olives draw trout in large numbers.

With 6-8 rods and using big streamers in quest of some trophy brown trout can be very challenging, yet rewarding as well. This can give you the fishing experience of a lifetime. Don’t get scared or surprised if some fat brown trout tries to eat off the fly and break down your rod.

November to March

This wintertime may not sound very appealing when it comes to fishing, but you can make the best out of it if you want. When the temperature is just above 30, you can actually have great fishing. Choose the warmer part of the day, usually between 10 am to 2 pm. This is the window when you feel warmer and more active.

What you can see is midgets dominating this period. Although the trout are not very keen on having a playful mind in this season, still you can enjoy great fishing if you choose to go slow and thorough.

The major rivers are still open. If you are in the right mood and the weather condition is not bothering you that much, fishing in this time at the rivers can mean a great experience. The cool, calm, and noise-free environment lets you relax like never before.

What is The Best Time of The Day for Fishing?

What is The Best Time of The Day for Fishing

Choosing the best season for fishing is a great step for fantastic fishing. Again, finding out the best time of the day to go fishing is extremely important, as well. What I have seen from my experience, choosing the wrong time of the day can ruin your fishing experience altogether.

I will break down the time of the day into 4 parts and explain what type of fishing suits to what part of the day.

The Early Morning

If you are fishing in summer or late spring, fishing early in the morning can give you a lot of benefits. The low light and low temperature of early morning is a great combination for fishing. In this season, the temperature rises quickly and very annoyingly during the daytime, right after the sunrise.

Escaping that period, fishing early morning means comfortable temperature and a cool breeze. Besides, fish that see well in low light can be some of the primary prey for you at that time.

Flying insects are often seen pretty active in the summer early mornings. Do take advantage of it to get some trout easily.

Early morning means fewer people around you. This saves you the competition you may fall in. No shouting, no screaming and noise pollution – Just you and your fishing-life.

From Late Morning Till Early Afternoon

Okay, this period of the day is the hardest of the time to fish. The sun rises above, and the temperature gets higher every minute. The heat forces the fish to sink deeper into the lake or river in search of cooler water.

You can hardly find any fish on the surface level, and it is also challenging to go out fishing in such heat without having any shade on or any arrangement to cool yourself off.

While it’s generally difficult to fish at this time of the day, the scene can change if there is overcast weather or a rainy day. Wind or cloud or mild rain will cool down the temperature and give you the comfort you need to fish. The fish can also sneak up a few times, and you are in luck buddy!

Interestingly, if you are fishing in winter, this period is the best time to fish. The hot rays of the sun will warm up the environment – allowing both of you and the fish to come out to warm yourselves up.

The Late Afternoon

The late afternoon period resembles the early morning part of the day. It is cooler, more deeming, and a comfortable condition. You can easily fish in this time as the temperature cools off again during summer, late spring, and fall.

Remember, the late afternoon period works reverse compared to the early morning. While in the early morning, we see the temperature rises every minute; in the late afternoon, it is the complete opposite. The heat will cool down every minute, and the fishing opportunity will be lower accordingly.

The best time is to fish before the sun sets, and there is still light, be it deem in nature. You can also catch predator fish as they tend to hunt down at low light.

The Night-Time

The time between sunset and midnight during scorching summer can be very productive for fishing. The cooler temperature will allow the fish to become more active and lively. If you can overcome the lighting factor somehow, you can be in luck to catch some predator fish at night.

Fish can stop their activity as the night prolongs due to the significant drop in temperature. So it’s better to keep your eyes on the watch and temperature level.

A moonlit night can be the best time possible to fish. The fish will have a clear vision of your lure, and they often tend to come to surface water. You can make the most out of this.

Along with the timings of fishing, you should also make a thorough study of the fly fishing gears so that you can be equipped with all the required items. Keep in mind – this will always help you whenever you go fishing.

Alternative Fishing – Kayak Fishing

Having ample numbers of lakes and reservoirs in Montana, you can always choose kayak fishing. You can get on your Kayak and head towards lakes full of brown trout, mountain whitefish, yellow perch, and many more around Montana.

One of the best places for kayak fishing in Montana is the Clearwater River. It is near Seeley Lake – which connects a series of lakes. Enriched in different varieties of fish, you can find fishing there an amazing experience!

Further Reading: Fly Fishing Checklist

When Is The Best Time For Kayak Fishing?

When Is The Best Time For Kayak Fishing

Like fly-fishing, Kayak fishing is also a fishing experience that you can enjoy any time during the year. It’s super enjoying during stable spring, and cooling when it’s summer. With the best protective suits and necessary warming gears, kayak fishing can also be your favorite timepass during winter.

Irrespective of seasons, you must consider the following weather issues before you jump into the lake or river with your kayak for fishing.

Thick Fog

While most of us would think it to be something that could be dealt with easily, fog can ruin your fishing experience. A most common scenario in winter does not look common when a thick layer of fog can easily make you lose your track and get lost. If you are kayaking in a river, losing track may cost you time, energy, and sometimes – your valuable life.

Heavy Wind

Heavy wind can create bumpy waves, and you may lose control over your boat. It’s not unnatural for a light boat like a kayak boat to float upside down due to strong wind. You may think another time before going for kayak fishing when there is heavy wind outside.

Heavy Rain

You will eventually end up wet while kayaking and certain rainwater don’t add anything more to that. However, heavy rain can cause your kayak to tremble in a bumpy water surface due to rain. To add to the worse, if the temperature is down, the combination of cool rainwater and chilling weather can be deadly.


It is never a good idea to go out kayaking when there is lightning. It is self-explanatory why. However, if you are already kayaking and heavy lightning starts, take cover and return to shore as early as possible. Never forget to keep your fishing rods laying down on the boat so that it doesn’t attract any thunder all of a sudden.

Where to fly-fish and Kayak-fish?

Montana is blessed with breathtaking landscapes, rivers, and lakes. While most of the rivers and lakes are majestic and beautiful to look at, some reservoirs are amazing hubs for fishers. Here are a few rivers you need to look-out for, if you are into real fishing business (Not literally!).

Madison River

With a great flow of 183 miles, Madison River is one of the most epic rivers here in Montana. Ideally, in every mile, there resides a thousand trout – which makes Madison River a very dear place to fishers.

Yellowstone River

It is known as the longest free-flowing river in the US. A river with 692 miles of flow, surely deserves that title. Throughout the upper Yellowstone River, you can discover an abundant amount of trout to fulfill your fishing taste.

Clark Fork River

Don’t confuse Clark Fork River with Clark Fork of Yellowstone River. It starts its journey from Silver Bow Creek and mixes up with Trout Rivers like Blackfoot, Bitterroot, and Rock Creek, etc. It is one of the richest rivers with trout in Montana. According to the fishermen, the trout of this river are some of the hardest fish to catch! Pretty much exciting info for those looking for adventurous fishing.

South Fork of Flathead River

Looking for adventure plus fishing? Presenting you the South Fork of Flathead River!

Found in northwest Montana, it is one of the most remote rivers in Montana. If you want to make it to the upper reaches of South Fork, you may need to consider walking on foot. This sacrifice pays off. The South Fork of Flathead Rives is home to the cutthroat fishery and bull trout.

When Is The Best Time For Ice-Fishing

As I said earlier, Montana is a fishing-kingdom for the fishing enthusiast over the calendar. Over the year, you will find multiple places for a relaxing fishing episode.

The freezing winter is no different from other seasons. Even if most of the lakes get frozen and become piles of giant ice plates, these frozen reservoirs become some of the best places for fishing. Ice-fishermen from around the places gather around these frozen lakes. The entire frozen season turns into a lively celebration for a long time until the ice starts to melt.

That being said, there are certain parts of the day during these freezing seasons when you can make the best out of your ice fishing.

Rising And Setting Time of The Moon

This may sound weird at first. Trust me; it did to me as well when I first came to know this. When the moon is rising or setting – fish tend to be more active than normal. So, you get two times in a day when the moon is up and down.

You can schedule yourself for ice fishing for one or two hours during these two windows and maximize your success rate.

Early Morning

Although it may appear to be challenging to go out fishing in the early morning of the chilling winter, ice fishing can be promising during this period. The fish tend to be relatively active and look for food early in the morning when the sun is yet to shine bright. Expert ice fishers suggest that you should stay overnight at the lakeside and drill hole before sunrise. This way, you won’t miss a flock of fish for sure.

Where to Ice-Fish?

As you know, when to ice-fish, it’s evident that you should know where to ice fish as well. You don’t just go fishing wherever you see reservoir-water getting frozen, do you?

Several places around Montana are quite popular for ice-fishing. Here are a few places you can pay a visit to sooth your ice-fishing temptation.

Lake Flathead

This lake is on the west side of the Mississippi River. Covering a distance of over 197 miles, this lake is one of the largest lakes of Montana. The clean, fresh water of Flathead lake makes it a perfect place to fish to hang out. Although the lake doesn’t freeze quite often, you can still fish around several shores along the lake’s side.

Lake Canyon Ferry

This lake is a great dwelling place for trout and walleye. You can access to this third largest lake of Montana from Helana easily.

Hyalite Reservoir

In the southern part of Bozeman, the Hylite reservoir is found. It’s a great lake to catch yellow stones, trout, and cutthroat species. It freezes completely when the year is about to end.

Georgetown Lake

Surrounded by the grand Anaconda, Georgetown lake is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in Montana. It is situated in the western part of the state and reserves a variety of fish and water-creature.

Lake Hebgen

Along the western part of Yellowstone National park, you can find the Hebgen Lake. It’s a large lake to entertain the appetite of ice fishers that expands more than 15 miles. The water freezes the period from December to May. The lake is very close to public land, hence very easy to access.

Note: Make sure that you have proper knowledge regarding tying your fishing knot otherwise you may not be able to get the real deal when you go out for fishing.

Final Thought

You don’t need to wonder why fishers are really into Montana when it comes to fishing. I mean, look at the natural inheritance Montana is just blessed with.

So the question ‘What time is the best for fishing?’ can kick-start a great discussion if you know the fishing culture of Montana. As you have seen here in this article, Montana welcomes the fishing enthusiasts to fish all day long, 365 days of the year. Does that mean you can fish ‘anytime’?

Hmm. That can be a tricky answer. The reality is, if you are just someone who is just curious to catch a few trout and feel happy about it, you can go fly-fishing on summer days. If that’s not who you are, and planning to catch some biggies, head towards the Clark Fork River with your Kayak boat and accessories just before sunrise in cooler seasons.

See, that’s how diversified the answers can be! If you are a traveler and you are willing to visit Montana with your buddies, you may be asked in reverse – when are you coming? If it’s winter, the best time may be during the warm hours at the pebble-rich mountain streams. If it’s summer, then you have a whole lot of options to hang out with your fishermen friends while fishing at the same time.

The best time for fishing varies from season to season and different periods of the day. In this article, I have discussed everything you need to know about the best time for fishing. Next time you plan for fishing, make sure you bat an eye on this article to make the most out of it.

That’s all from me today! Tell me what you think. Share your next fishing plan with me.

Let’s see if we are on the same page! Happy Fishing!

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