Our Rivers

Jefferson River Fishing in April

Jefferson River Fly Fishing in April

As the icy cover melts away, the Jefferson River, which is fed by springs, wakes up from its slumber.

The Jefferson drains a huge region of Southwest Montana, so the early season water conditions change quickly with upstream moisture and snow melt. Cold water temperatures and fluctuating river flows keep the Montana fish unsettled, making for inconsistent trout fishing throughout the spring.

Jefferson River Hatches in April

With April water temperatures still quite cold, consistent insect activity proves sparse on the Jefferson. Yet observant anglers note intermittent midge clustering, small blue-winged olive, and March Brown mayflies present on warmer afternoons.

April Skwala hatches are sporadic but will provide a few days, each year, of solid early-season dry fly action for anglers floating the Jefferson River

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro-Tip:

The Jefferson River fishes can fish very well early season using Annelids (Aquatic Worms) and Skwala Stonefly patterns. Targeting areas with the most oxygenated water like at drop-offs and large seams. We like to use a Sparkle worm in either pink or red and a Restless Stone in a Coffee coloration with a 5-5.5ft length of leader.

Fly Fishing Techniques for April on the Jefferson River

Standard early season approaches centering on dead drifted nymph rigs and swung streamers prevail on the Jefferson. But as the spring’s first 70-degree days arrive, the focus also shifts to drifting midge clusters, emergers, and dry/dropper rigs on current seams next to structure.

Nymph fishing with tandem nymph rigs under a strike indicator will find fish in deep trout pools and gentle current seams. Stonefly or San Juan Worm patterns with a small searching nymph for a dropper - like a Beadhead Prince or Lightning Bug – are standard patterns for Jefferson River fishing in April.

Experienced anglers fishing with large, articulated streamers in yellow or white will consistently move a few large fish when river levels are stable or dropping. Cold water temperatures keep the trout rather lethargic, so big number days are rare.

Our Jefferson River Fly Box for April

Jefferson River Fishing Trips in April

The Jefferson River is a favorite among our seasoned team of Bozeman fly fishing guides. However, the river fishes inconsistently at any time, and more so in the spring with constantly changing water conditions.

There are many other choices near Bozeman for guided Montana fishing trips in April. The Madison and Yellowstone Rivers offer more consistent fishing and can also provide solitude this time of the year.

When Jefferson River conditions - in April - are stable with good water clarity and steady flows, we will present the river as an option to our most experienced visiting anglers. The fishing tends to be “boom or bust” on the Jefferson River, so it is not always a good choice for most anglers.

Fins and Feathers Guide Service has over two decades of experience guiding Montana fly fishing trips around the state. Our Bozeman fly fishing guide service is available for Jefferson River fishing day trips throughout the year, but we do recommend these trips for anglers with previous fly fishing experience.

Reservations for a Jefferson River fly fishing trip can be secured online, via e-mail, or by calling us at 1-406-468-5019. Contact Us to discuss customizing a multi-day Bozeman, Montana fly fishing trip that could include a day on the Jefferson for your group.