Montana is pretty much synonymous with trout. You probably already knew this, given you’re currently reading the website of a regional digital fly-fishing magazine, which is about as niche as things could possibly get. But forget for a second all the fun cutthroats, big browns, and energetic rainbows swimming in Montana’s waters, and let’s focus on something else Montana has: bass, carp, pike and other warmwater species that will readily take a fly. Yes, you read that correctly. Not every fish in Montana is a trout, and not every angler in Montana focuses solely on trout. There are other options.
There are places throughout Montana that offer up some pretty excellent warmwater fishing—places where the carp eat dry flies consistently, the bass smash streamers, and you can sneak in some other fun species such as crappie or pike. Most of these places are going to be lakes and reservoirs, so you aren’t going to be having the Classic Montana Experience® by chasing these guys, but then again I haven’t heard of too many people having the worst day of their lives floating around on a lake all day. (Drowning victims excepted, of course.)
Watching a carp eat a dry fly is like watching a small child try to drink from a straw. It’s usually entertaining, somewhat messy, and doesn’t always work out the way we all want it to. But every now and then, it works like a charm, even if it appears to happen in slow motion. It’s as close to saltwater fishing as Montana will ever get—at least until the oceans rise and Bozeman becomes the next Los Angeles. And let me be the 14,729th person to tell you both of those things are well on their way to happening, especially the Bozeman part. Seriously, tell all your friends to move to Idaho or something instead.