Fly fishing in the spring is an experience like few others. There’s something truly magical about sitting on a body of water waiting for fish to bite while winter is yielding around you to the sun’s warmth.
But as beautiful and captivating as your surroundings may appear, make no mistake; fly fishing in the spring can be fraught with challenges. And it’s largely because the seasons are in the middle of transitioning.
As such, you need to pick your spots wisely. The minds here at FRDM have scoured the continent in search of the best places to go fly fishing in the spring, ensuring that you can spend more time on the water and less time looking for it.
Just about everyone hip to fly fishing knows that Montana is a premier destination. More specifically, Montana’s Bighorn River is home to one of the state’s superior fly fishing locales. What makes these waters so appealing to many fly fishers is the consistent environment.
But don’t let that give you a false impression of what’s in store. Bighorn River itself is anything but consistent. The currents that make up this water are conflicting in every sense of the word, almost guaranteeing that your skills will be put to the test.
Bighorn River is known for its large fish. Brown trout, for example, average nearly 15 inches in length. Rainbow trout, on the other hand, average about 16 inches. You’ll even find impressive hatches in Bighorn.
While it’s ideal for fly fishing in the spring, the Bighorn River stays this way throughout the year. As such, you can come here any time you like (as long as you don’t mind braving the winter elements).
As one of Oregon’s premier fishing locales, the Deschutes River is home to some of the finest trout you’ll have the pleasure of coming across. Not only that, but you’ll be blown away by just how much river there is for fly fishing in the spring.
Providing a staggering 200 miles of water, the Deschutes River offers plenty of fishing spots to keep you busy. Once you arrive, you will have three main sections to choose from. The upper section is what travels through the Deschutes National Forest and is rife with rainbow and brown trout.
But if you would rather try your hand at steelhead and a mix of trout, the lower portion of Deschutes River is where you want to go. In fact, Lower Deschutes offers the best place to go fly fishing out of the entire 200-mile river.
Spring fly fishing and the South Platte River go hand-in-hand. What puts this destination so high on the list is its consistent fishing conditions. Due to its natural formation and flow, the South Platte River is often warmer when other bodies of water are still loosening from winter’s cold grip.
This helps keep the fish active and ripe for catching with your fly. You’ll want to shoot for warmer weather if you wish to get the best results from a dry fly, however. Otherwise, imitation midge, eggs, and worms work just fine.
While South Platte River travels through its share of private land, you’ll have access to 14 miles of public waters.
The Olympic Peninsula is well-regarded for its lush rainforest and breathtaking scenery. Throughout this massive landscape are small tributaries and the legendary Hoh River. There, you will find native rainbow trout that are prime or fishing.
Steelhead are among other popular picks, ensuring that you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. Chinook are equally robust, which you will find to be highly productive – just in time for fly fishing in the spring.
If still water is more to your liking, Beardslee Lake is another ideal spot to try your hand. Even better, its rainbows get to be quite large, giving you all the more reason to visit Olympic Peninsula.
Northern California, specifically San Francisco’s Bay area, is an essential destination to anyone looking for a great place to go fly fishing in the spring. If you’re unfamiliar with spring weather in Northern California, prepare yourself for warmth and rain.
You’ll want to make sure that you pack plenty of protective gear to guard you against the elements. That said, fish activity is often high as a result, giving you the perfect reason to plan a trip to the Golden State.
Smith River is home to plenty of steelhead, with Spey casting remaining the most used method of fly fishing in this location. You might want to consider getting a local tour guide to show you around, as the large area and all that you can do may prove to be a bit overwhelming for some.
Another reason why Northern California is such a great pick is due to its close proximity to Nevada, where fly fishing is incredibly popular. One thing is for certain: you’ll find more than enough to scratch your spring fly fishing itch.
Here, water flows from the deep of the Bull Shoals Dam, creating the perfect cold-water habitat for fly fishing trout. It’s interesting to note that the White River was at one time a must-do destination for exceptional bass.
However, it has since become home to cold-water trout. As such, you’ll find a plethora of cutthroat, wild brown, brookies, and stocked rainbow trout awaiting your discovery. Whether by boat or on the bank, the White River is one of the best places for fly fishing in the spring.
And since there is such an eclectic collection of trout here, you’re sure to leave with more than one fish story.
If you’re experienced in spring fly fishing, you know how erratic the weather tends to be. If you’re a newcomer who is still learning the ropes, you’re going to want to do your due diligence in packing the proper gear to help you combat the wet conditions that you’re bound to run into.