Ants & Beetles

Photo by John Flannery

Conventional wisdom says use an Ant or Beetle as soon as you see them crawling around. Not always true in Missoula! With so much food hatching in the Spring and early summer, it takes a dedicated trout to select an ant or beetle! Think about it. Salmon fly or ant? Not much of a choice.

Ants and beetles become more important as the hatches dissipate. As the water drops and the river’s biomass depletes, ants and beetle become more important. As terrestrials, they enter the water sporadically. Look for shore-based coverage like grassy banks and trees to provide a steady flow of terrestrials into the water. A breezy day will certainly bring more ants and beetles to the water. You’ll find these insects entering the Blackfoot River, Rock Creek, the Bitterroot River and the Clark Fork River wherever overhanging foliage is found.

Aquatic insects like mayflies are naturally hydrophylic, meaning they shed water and float. Ants and beetles don’t have that advantage! That means the fish are very accepting of a sunken ant or beetle. That’s an excellent strategy for fly fishing ants on scorching days when you haven’t seen a rise. A little lead, and the ant is exactly where the trout wants to see it.

Additional Ants & Beetles Resources