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Updated: Oct 18, 2020

As summer typically comes to an end in Montana, we ride that warm weather like a surfer rides a big wave. By mid-August the extreme heat of the day is starting to give way to the longer nights. The mornings are already cool, but just enough to let us know that summer is coming to a close. Montana is not known for dramatic or long fall seasons. If we are lucky, there may be an extended warm spell that last through mid-October, giving us a glimpse of some fall colors. Just as we begin to feel like most New Englanders, (IE thoughts of cider and pumpkins and fall colors) we are usually slapped down to reality with our first winter storm of the season. This is normal and in some ways can trigger the best fishing of the year. If you are a large fish hunter, this is the time and season you dream of but it comes with sacrifices.

Fall fishing is such a small window of time. It is crammed with so many possibilities and variables, that one must prioritize. Then there is the weather, this time of year the cold fronts, the low pressure and the river levels change constantly. Most of the fish are on the move now. Only the focused and dedicated anglers are consistently successful. For example, you might be chasing big browns spending two months only to get one or two shots at a truly huge fish. Whether you are chasing browns, or steelhead, or coho, it is hard not to become distracted. The mind wonders and you think that the grass is greener on the other side. Your feet are freezing in a cold river, your fingers are so numb you can't hold the line. You begin to doubt why you are even there in the first place. You must also be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice. Dedication, luck and blind faith are key elements to success.

Still if I had only one season to fish, this time from late September thru early December would be it. Sure there is a lot of chaos and uncertainty surrounding the fishing conditions but the possibilities and opportunities are endless. There is a sense of real importance as the colder nights grow longer and your senses and instincts become heightened. It is time to get dialed in and get your game on. This is the season where every fish counts a little more and the missed opportunities haunt you until next season. It comes and goes so fast.

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