While technically not a hatch, the mouse fishing in Montana can be some of the silliest fun you can have with a fly rod. There is very little more exciting than enticing a huge trout to come up and eat your mouse imitation! All it takes is a thick leader, a mouse pattern and the willingness to head out when most people are heading to bed in Montana!
When And Where To Fly Fish Mouse Patterns
The mouse fishing is best in the middle of summer, from mid-July through August. It’s a night thing, and most Missoula mousers will start using a mouse as the last hatch ends for the day. Its effective on every river in the Missoula area, Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River, Rock Creek and the Bitterroot River. The bigger tributaries like Monture Creek, North Fork of the Blackfoot and many others also boast decent mousing. As light fades at the end of the day, work your mouse tight to the banks, and try to give it some action without moving it away from the shore.
Once full dark has arrived, it pays to change tactics and start running your mouse through the shallow tail outs where big, nocturnal Brown Trout set up to feed. The big Browns have moved there to minimize their energy output while feeding. Vary your presentation, sometimes casting downstream and moving your mouse across the current or cast upstream and fish it like a downstream streamer- just a touch faster than the current. Listen for the rise. You don’t want a slashing rise, you want a sipper. A slasher is a fish that has to attack the mouse to eat it. A sipper is a fish big enough and crafty enough to take your mouse like a mayfly. You’re chasing sippers!
Why We Love Fly Fishing Mouse Patterns
We can’t say that Mousing is the most effective way of fly fishing in Montana. Not every fish recognizes the mouse as a viable food form. But the trout that do recognize mice tend to be very large! And that’s the allure of Mousing, while you probably won’t catch a lot of fish, the ones you catch will be well worth talking about! Make sure you have a camera and a net, because here’s a good chance you’ll need them!