When I meet folks here or friends contact me from NZ, invariably the question arises ... Whats different about the fishing?
I think I'll actually start off with whats the same?..Because there are many similarities between locations and these amount to amazing experiences. Spectacular scenery, friendly locals, lots of variety (rivers, streams, stillwaters, tailwaters spring creeks...), incredible access, fun fishing!
Differences? Well... the many different types of trout and other species which are available to the angler here 45 North is very cool. I am excited to head into the hills near Bozeman later this summer to chase Golden trout and I get a massive buzz watching the voracious way cut-throats attack a big dry.
As with the fish, the wildlife on stream is nothing short of being in National Geographic! Deer, eagles, massive sandhill crane, beavers, skunks, moose and of course bears! I must admit to being a little naive with the large mammals as in NZ there are none (except for deer but they are extremely shy and to see one bankside would be very rare) Just last week when Sue and I went for a quick fish on the Madison - I nearly walked into a young moose bull. I believe we both got a fright about the same time and gratefully he moved away from us. What amazing creatures but not to be trifled with! The stories I've already been told about mother moose and their calves will keep me more vigilant as I wander around the forests.
There are no snakes in New Zealand and now that spring is here and many of the migratory birds are returning North, I realise in NZ we have constant birdsong. The large raptors - eagles, osprey.. and other fish hunters, keep the super shallow water (45 North) free from large feeding browns although the trout will move to the edges to feed on the huge salmon flies and the terrestrials as the weather warms.
In New Zealand we would generally be stalking fish. This is perhaps one of the primary reasons folks travel from near and far to fish. To sight a big brown right on the edge, throw a bushy dry, have him lift slowly to inhale your fly and then blast all over the pool in a full rage! The fish are sometimes so shallow their fins might be out of the water. Having a great guide or fishing partner with a great pair of "fish spotting eyes" makes all the difference!
In Montana generally, fishing is blind or to rising fish. An ability to read water and understand the hatches is a key skill and the fish numbers are much higher. The number of waterways is mindboggling and I can't wait to explore further. To be told some rivers here have fish counts of several thousand per KM is incredible! What a contrast to some of the rivers in NZ where you might walk 5 kilometers and see 10 fish!...
I am really loving exploring and learning more about my new home. Yesterday and last Wednesday I enjoyed wonderful midge fishing to rising trout. Fishing size 18/20 dry flies was a treat and oh what fun! I then brought it home with a few fish in heavy water which ate a size 2 stonefly. What a cool contrast and a treat to fish flies I'd never really used back in NZ. Even "simon's uglies" were a bit small at size 8 to imitate the stoneflies....
Moving to Bozeman and enjoying the new is so much fun. I've met so many incredible people, they have welcomed me to my new home and taken me to some amazing places and water. I havn't been able to walk past any of the cool flyshops which are everywhere here in MT and they are like Aladdin's cave for fly junkies!
Same same but different..... Incredible fishing opportunities and wonderful people. Great scenery and amazing access. (Montana has some of the best access laws in the US!). I'm able to fish several times a week and now that spring is here and in NZ the season is wrapping up... It'll be my turn to send fun fishing reports to my friends and to encourage them to some over to Montana for the "endless summer"...
"Carpe diem does not mean fish of the day".... (Anon)