Fly anglers wait all year for the month of July. At this point of the year, everything necessary for a successful day on the water aligns and anglers find themselves consistently catching fish. Gone are the days of runoff, minimal hatches and unpredictable weather. The dry fly bite begins to heat up and anglers finally have an opportunity to show off their skills.
As you begin to plan your trips to the water, here is a list of seven rivers you should fish in the month of July.
1. Yellowstone River – A Fly Fisher’s Destination
If we’re being honest, the Yellowstone could be on the list of best rivers to fish for several months of the year. This massive body of water that flows through Montana and Wyoming has everything that an angler would want. In July, the water levels begin to decrease due to minimal runoff and its true colors begin to show. You’ll have access to pocket water, seams and pools.
Wade fishing starts to improve so all types of anglers are able to hit the water and see what they can find. The west is the place to be for fly fishing in July. Beautiful mountain views combined with quality fish puts a smile on every angler’s face.
In the Yellowstone, you’ll find rainbow, brook, brown and cutthroat trout. In July, you can start catching these on dry fly patterns, but streamer fishing also improves as the temperatures rise. The fish often dive deeper into the pools so a baitfish streamer near the bottom is always enticing.
Where to Fly Fish on the Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone river stretches over 692 miles so there are numerous places you can choose to fish it. Depending on the aesthetic you’re after, you can be a bit more picky. The portion between Gardiner and Carbella near Yellowstone National Park is a great option. The dry fly hatches during July are impressive and wade fishing isn’t too challenging. Work your way up from the Carbella access and see what you can find.
Access the Yellowstone here: https://goo.gl/maps/J1HDxoUS4PJ4E3yM6
Recommended Flies to use on the Yellowstone River
In July, the most entertaining way to fish is using dry flies. You’ll find success using a variety of dries including Elk Hair Caddis, Salmon Flies and Golden Stone Flies. Yellow Stimulators, Hair wing Yellow Sallie and Yellow Rolling Stone’s should also always be in your box.
Terrestrial fishing also begins in mid-July. Larger hopper patterns are going to do the trick. They fall into the water off of the vegetation near the banks. These are especially useful later in the day. No fishing is more fun than hopper fishing!
If you choose streamers, use Wooly Buggers and Marabou Muddler’s. These are both great choices that have proven to catch fish.
Fly Shops near the Carbella Access point:
- Angler’s West Fly Fishing Outfitters is a great choice for anyone looking on information on how to fish the Yellowstone. The shop also offers guided trips for anyone trying to learn the ways of the mighty Yellowstone. It can be an intimidating river to tackle so it’s not a bad idea to hire a guide for your first trip.
- Knoll’s Fly Shop is also another great choice for anyone searching for local knowledge on the Yellowstone. They have all the tackle and equipment you would need for a successful day on the water.
Fly Fishing Gear for July in Montana
While the temperatures are going to hover around the 70s and 80s in Montana in July, it’s not uncommon for it to hit 90 degrees. Also, you’ll be in the sun for most of the day so a performance fishing shirt, a buff and sun hat are necessary. You will also be able to wet wade depending on your comfort level with cold water.
For equipment, you’ll want a 6-weight rod with 3 or 4x leader and lighter tippet. Depending on the type of fishing you are doing, you’ll also want to have a few reels spooled with floating, sinking and weight forward line. That’s the beauty of the Yellowstone in July! You never know what is hitting.
2. Gros Ventre River – Fly Fishing in the Shadow of the Teton’s
The Gros Ventre River outside of Jackson, Wyoming is a pristine trout fishing river. The clarity combined with views of the Teton Mountains are something every fly angler should experience. In the Gros Ventre, you can find cutthroat, brook and brown trout. You’ll also catch Mountain Whitefish on a regular basis.
Where to fish on the Gros Ventre
There is a nice amount of access on the Gros Ventre River. You’ll have a chance to fish close by a town or out amongst the wilderness with no one around you. One of the more scenic portions of the river is near Upper Slide Lake above the town of Kelly. You can follow Gros Ventre River Road until the end and continue hiking along the river if you would like.
Access the Gros Ventre here: https://goo.gl/maps/YisL4rnxVrDXe4Xb9
Recommended Flies to use on the Gros Ventre
By the time the runoff concludes, the Salmon Flies begin hatching. These are great to use in both emerging and dry patterns. Also, use Parachute Hopper’s, Elk Hair Caddis, Black PMX, Golden Chernobyl and Stimulators.
If you’re interested in streamer fishing, Wooly Bugger’s along with minnow and baitfish patterns will produce fish. If the dries are hitting, stay away from the rest of the flies in your box. You wait all year for the dry flies, so use them.
In the upper portions of the river, you’ll see both pocket water and deep pools. It requires technical casting and patience, but the aesthetics are gorgeous. Even if you don’t catch fish you’ll be happy to be outside.
Lodging and Fly Shops near the Gros Ventre
Grand Teton Fly Fishing– Located in Jackson, Grand Teton Fly Shop has knowledge on all of the rivers in the area. It offers guided services along with all of the equipment you may need to have success on the river.
Gros Ventre River Ranch– The Gros Ventre River Ranch is located in Moose, Wyoming and offers all-inclusive fly fishing adventures. It also has stocked ponds and two miles of private access to the Gros Ventre. A six night stay will cost you around $2300.
What to pack to fish the Gros Ventre in July
July in Wyoming can be hot. The high elevation combined with open spaces lead to a warm day on the water. As a result, you should be sure to pack breathable shirts, a buff and a sunhat.
For a rod, you’ll need your 5-weight with floating line. You’ll want to spend the majority of your time dry fly fishing. Bring 3 or 4x leader with 5x tippet to help you stay hidden from the spookier trout.
GUIDE TIP: Bring polarized sunglasses on all of your July fly fishing adventures. The clear water leads to great sight fishing opportunities so be sure they’re packed and ready to go.
3. North Platte River – A Fly Fishing Miracle
Colorado’s portion of the North Platte River is a must visit for any fly angler in July. It’s a wild trout river with beautiful scenery. You’ll find rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout spread throughout this blue-ribbon river. You can fish this river via a boat or wade fishing. The variety of water combined with amazing hatches make July a must for a trip to the North Platte.
Colorado has a lifetime of rivers to fly fish. If your looking for where to go, check out this article – 14 Best Places to Fly Fish in Colorado. If your in the Colorado Springs area read this article – Where to Fly Fish in the Colorado Springs Area
Where to fish on the North Platte
There are a wide-variety of places to access the North Platte in Colorado. One area that is always going to produce fish is the Northgate Canyon. Located near Walden, the access points near the Northgate has room for drift boat launches as well as perfect spots for wading. As you enter the canyon, be careful of the trail. It can be a bit treacherous so be sure you are properly equipped for a long day of hiking and fishing.
Flies to Use on the North Platte
There are several flies you should include in your box when you hit the North Platte. First, you need to be sure you have RS2’s, Elk Wing Caddis and Pat’s Rubber leg flies available. These are always going to be successful.
Also be sure you have Prince Nymph’s, Wooly Bugger’s and Hares Ear nymphs as well. You’ll need to use these when you’re fishing the deeper pools and pocket water.
Fly Shops near Walden on the North Platte
- North Park Fly Shop in Walden is a great spot to learn more about fishing Northgate Canyon. They offer guided fly trips as well as the necessary flies and equipment you need to have a successful day on the water. While it’s a little ways away from any major town, the Orvis endorsed fly shop is one of the most well-respected shops in the state.
- Kirk’s Flyshop Grand Lake is another must visit for those wanting to tackle the North Platte. The employees at the shop also have a strong understanding of other fisheries near the Rockies. They offer guided services as well as the rods and tackle you’ll need to fish in Colorado.
What to bring to fly fish the North Platte in July
Like most of the other locations on this list, you’ll want your warm weather gear for fly fishing the North Platte in July. The water is cold so wet wading can feel refreshing, but make sure your upper body is well protected. The sun rays at the higher elevations can burn your skin very quickly.
For gear, you’ll want your 6-weight rod as well as a few different types of line. Weight forward and floating line are going to be necessary on the North Platte. You’ll want to participate in the dry fly bite, but before the hatches you can throw streamers and nymphs. Enjoy the versatility the river has to offer.
4. Kennebec River – One of Maine’s Finest Places to Toss a Fly
The Kennebec River in Maine is a perfect escape for anglers looking to get away from the July heat. This beautiful 150-mile river is split into both the East and West portions. The portion that flows through the Upper Kennebec Valley is widely known as one of the best trout streams in all of the east. In the Kennebec, you can catch landlocked salmon, brook, brown and rainbow trout.
The Kennebec provides angler with seclusion and the opportunity to try numerous types of fly fishing.
Where to fish on the Kennebec
There are several portions of the Kennebec that are unique. As a result, anglers can experience different types of water and be more selective in how they want to fish. If you want pure fly fishing water, go below the Shawmut Dam. There’s a three-mile portion of it that is fly fishing only. It holds large brown trout as well as bass. Access is plentiful along this portion.
Flies to Use on the Kennebec
Stoneflies are the dominant hatch during July. These are wonderful flies to use, but Spotted Sedges and Light Cahill’s are also solid options for anglers. By July, the terrestrials are in full swing so be sure to pack your ant and beetle flies.
If you want streamers, the Yellow Marabou Sculpin is a smart choice. Also, Wooly Bugger’s are always going to find fish no matter what time of year.
If you’re targeting the salmon, use egg patterns or egg sucking leeches. These are best caught in the fall, but it’s not impossible to catch them mid-summer.
Fly Shops on the Kennebec
- Kennebec River Angler is a fly shop that offers guided trips for anyone interested. These trips will cost $450 per day for one or two anglers. They’ll put you on both salmon and trout as well as equip you with all of the necessary materials.
- DuBois On the Fly Bait & Tackle is another shop that Maine anglers should visit. It’s a small outfitter, but the knowledge the employees have is impressive. They offer fly fishing classes as well as all of the equipment you’ll need for a successful day on the Kennebec.
What to Pack for July fishing in Maine
The average temperature in July in Maine is 78 degrees. The Kennebec is a great river to wade so be sure you have the proper footwear to stay safe in the water. If you want waders, wear the lightest pair you have. A hat, buff and sunglasses are also necessary.
You’ll want your 5-weight with 3 or 4x leader and lighter tippet. These fish can be spooky and are used to seeing flies. As a result, you’ll need to be accurate with your casts and be as inconspicuous as possible. Read the river before you pick your spot and practice your casting before you begin fishing.
5. Kenai River – Big Fish and Sore Arms!
Alaska in July is any outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The warm temperatures, clear skies and active wildlife are enough for people to schedule annual trips. For anglers, the trout fishing in July is wonderful. The locals call July the “flesh hatch”. Salmon carcasses are thrown into the rivers and the trout have a feast. These fish are hungry and willing to eat.
Where to fish on the Kenai River
Access is plentiful along the Kenai River. You’ll likely meet anglers from all over the world during your July trip due to the quality of fishing. However, the river is large enough that you’ll have ample opportunity to find seclusion. Centennial Park is a great place to start on the Kenai. It gives you a glimpse into the river conditions and you’ll have the chance to branch out from there.
Flies and Tips for the Kenai
Many flies you choose to use on the Kenai will work for both the salmon and trout. If they’re large and look like food, both fish will hit them. The first pattern every angler should use is a String Leech. Another great option is the Flesh Fly. These two flies in July will catch you quite a few fish and both are simple to tie.
When fishing these streamers, many anglers recommend dead drifting or swinging. Check out this article on how to fly fish for salmon for a more in-depth review on different techniques. These techniques will also work for rainbow trout!
GUIDE TIP: Patience is the name of the game when fishing for salmon. You’ll see these fish feeding, but it’s important to stay patient and let your flies do the work.
Fly Lodges and Shops for the Kenai
- Kenai River Lodge– The Kenai River lodge is a wonderful place to stay for your trip to Alaska. The service is top-notch and the guides have mastered the Kenai and all of its quirks. It’s been around since 1947. Be sure to at least make a visit on your way up to Alaska.
- Kenai River Drifters Lodge is another legendary lodge that offers guided fly fishing trips and quality accommodations. The guides will help you learn the ways of the Kenai and teach you enough to prepare for another trip to Alaska. Fly lodges are especially helpful on your first trip to Alaska. These rivers can be intimidating, but the guides provide enough insight to make them manageable.
As a special mention Riversong Lodge is the PERFECT one-day getaway. Convenient flights out of Anchorage can have you on the water in 45 minutes. Hey, plus tell Walter (Lodge Owner) David said Hi.
What to Pack for Fly Fishing in Alaska
Depending on the type of fishing you’re doing, you’ll need different equipment. If you’re targeting salmon, be sure to use an 8 or 9-weight switch rod. The trout can be targeted with a 7-weight, but it’s always smart to have too much power compared to not enough. For leader, you’ll want 0 or 1x salmon leader. These are a bit longer and have more power to handle the large fish.
In my article, Best Places to Fly Fish in Alaska, I also provided details on what gear is needed for all the fly fishing opportunities. Check it out
Be sure to have enough flies packed as well as sinking tip line. Many of these fish peruse the bottom and want to feast on the eggs and flesh that are lower in the water column.
Also, weather in Alaska is always questionable. Be sure you have adequate rain gear, waders and warm weather clothing. There’s nothing worse than losing time on the river because you’re cold. Waterproof is the name of the game in Alaska. You won’t regret the investment in quality rain gear. Check out this article for the best fishing hats to wear in the rain.
6. Salmon River – Quality Cutthroat on a Fly
The Salmon River in Idaho is a gorgeous river that flows through the Sawtooth Mountain range and holds impressive rainbow and cutthroat trout. There is also a Steelhead run in the fall that fly anglers love to take part in when the time comes.
Where to fish on the Salmon River
The Upper Salmon River has numerous quality access points. The Bureau of Land Management does a nice job of keeping the land in top condition to provide anglers and boaters an enjoyable experience. You’ll be able to access the river at the Lewis and Clarke monument and hike a ways along the banks to hunt for fish.
Flies to Use on the Upper Salmon
Pale Morning Dun’s are the most popular hatch in the summer. Also, Spotted Sedges and terrestrials are great options for flies in July. Fill your box with these three patterns and you’ll have success on the Upper Salmon. If you see fish rising, be sure to throw the dry flies and fish Wooly Bugger and crayfish pattern streamers during the non-hatch times.
Fly Lodges and Shops
- Salmon River Tours is a great place to stay on your next trip to the Salmon. The lodge offers guided tours for anglers to all portions of the salmon river to target the trout and steelhead. The trips are all inclusive and accommodations are quite satisfactory. You’ll learn the ways of the Salmon River and have the opportunity to improve your angling skills.
- Shepp Ranch also offers guided fly fishing tours along the Salmon River. It’s a remote lodge that has numerous creeks running right through the heart of it. The variety of fishing combined with quality accommodations make the Shepp Ranch a great place to visit if you’re looking to fish the Salmon on the fly.
What to Pack for July Fly Fishing on the Salmon
Like many western states in July, the temperatures can be warm and the sun is powerful. As a result, you should be sure to have proper clothing to protect yourself from the overbearing sun. Also, polarized sunglasses and hearty wading shoes will keep you comfortable for the entire day.
For equipment, bring your 6-weight rod to handle all the sizes of fish you will catch. Also, sinking and weight forward line are necessary to pack. You’ll need 3-5x leader with a bit smaller tippet if you’re planning on fishing with dries.
7. Bighorn River – Big Water and Big Sky Fly Fishing
The Bighorn River flows throughout Montana and Wyoming and is another must visit for any fly angler looking to escape in July. You’ll find brown and rainbow trout all throughout this river and be able to experience one of the most exciting dry fly hatches in the country.
Where to fish on the Bighorn
Access the Bighorn near the Afterbay Dam at 3 Mile Access point. You can shore fish as well as wade fish. If you have a drift boat, this is a great place to drop in and make your way down stream.
Flies to Use on the Bighorn
If you can, fish dries. Midge patterns in size 16-22 along with Adams flies are always going to work. For nymphs, use Scud flies, San Juan Worms, Pheasant Tail Nymphs and Zug Bug’s. For streamers, be sure to use Muddler Minnows, Dirty Red’s and the Bighorn Special.
You’ll need to time the use of your flies to the hatch. If it’s pre-hatch, use nymphs and streamers and as soon as you see fish surfacing, bring out the dries.
Fly Lodges on the Bighorn
- The Bighorn River Lodge is a great spot to visit for anyone interested in fishing the Bighorn. Due to the limited access it offers, a private lodge is great due to the knowledge the guides have on the area. They’ll put you on the fish and provide valuable insight for your next trip to the Bighorn.
- Forrester’s Bighorn River Resort is an Orvis Endorsed lodge with qualified guides who are always going to put you on fish. They accommodations are top-notch and you also have the opportunity to book a hunting trip with them as well.
What to Pack for July Fly Fishing on the Bighorn
Sun protection is the name of the game. The wide-open area and warm temperatures are beautiful, but also dangerous. Be sure you’re properly equipped with performance shirts, a sun hat, sun screen and sunglasses. You can easily wet wade so a nice pair of sandals or wading shoes will help you be comfortable.
For a rod, bring your 5 or 6-weight. This will handle any size fish and give you the power to hit all of your casts. Bring both floating and weight forward line to ensure you have the variety to catch fish. 3 or 4x leader with 5x tippet should be able to handle all of the fish you are catching.
One More Cast in July
Fly fishing in July should be a no brainer for any angler. The beautiful weather, clear waters and hungry trout are tough to pass up. You’ll have a blast exploring the above-mentioned rivers and ample time to try your hand at catching a trophy.