Back to Hebgen and Quake Lakes

by | Aug 1, 2018 | hebgen lake, quake lake

July 30 – August 1, 2018 

July 30, 2018

fly fishing Hebgen Lake

It hits Granny and I equally hard when August 1st comes around.  Summer seems nearly over.  Its dark earlier.  Coffee mornings on the back porch require a fleece again.  It’s scary how fast summer, years and life is going by.  That’s why we felt that despite wanting to stay home and relax on our first days off to ourselves in nearly a month, we had to take off on one of our old annual trips.  We left Monday night with the blue bathtub for Montana to fish Hebgen and Quake lakes.


July 31

gulper fishing hebgen lake

Hebgen and Quake have a special place in my heart.  I first fished them with my dad in July of 1982.  The place was as wild as ever and we experienced trout fishing like I hadn’t heard of.  Today fishing is still amazing and we started Tuesday morning off with Hebgen Lake gulper fishing (gulpers are the rising trout early mornings on a lake).


Hebgen Lake with Jeff CurrierThe unfortunate start to our fishing was that we over slept.  This isn’t like us but a big moon kept us from getting proper sleep while camped.  Furthermore we were really tired.  We didn’t get on Hebgen until about 6:15 am.


gulper fly fishingWhen days are hot (and they are now) it’s best to be on Hebgen before sunrise.  This is when lots of big rainbows are enjoying the cool water surface temps while sipping the first hatching midges and Callibaetis mayflies.  When we got out on the lake it was already happening.  We were late!


fly fishing lakesI managed to fool two beautiful rainbows in the first fifteen minutes.  Granny wouldn’t put down her coffee and watched expecting the fishing to last.  But when the sun rose at 6:30 the fish nearly stopped.  Over the next few hours neither Granny nor I landed another.  It was nice out.  We got some more summer but the fish dove deep for cooler water.  Hebgen gulper fishing was over for the day before most anglers left their beds.


Quake LakeWe left Hebgen around 10 am.  Other than yogurts in the boat we skipped breakfast so we were starved.  We headed for the overlook on Quake Lake for dogs and a beer.  When finished it was too hot to waste time fishing so I cleaned the Exploder, rigged for the late afternoon on Quake and we napped.  We sort of did what the “All American” does on a day off and it was kind of nice.


fly fishing Quake Lake with Granny CurrierWe launched on Quake Lake around 3 pm.  It was hot and windy.  This is normal for the time of day and I motored to the far end of the lake near the Madison River outflow where there’s protection from the wind.  We fished hard for the first two hours and found a few fish but very few.  We did more relaxing, beer drinking and snacking.


Jeff Currier and YetiI sincerely expected the slow afternoon of fishing to explode to rising trout everywhere as evening set in.  When we drove past Quake on Monday night there was a caddis hatch of dreams.  While driving I could see fish rising everywhere.  But Tuesday night it never happened.  Quake Lake was a ghost town so we went from beer to wine.


Granny CurrierYou can’t sip wine with your wife without a nice dinner.  Around 8 pm while still hoping for a hatch Granny busted out the Coleman and made us a grilled salmon and zucchini dinner to die for – right from the boat.  I say it all the time – “It aint always about the fishing”.  Tuesday’s fishing was slow but will go down as one of the top days of summer nonetheless.


August 1


Earthquake Lake MTEarly to bed early to rise.  We hit the back of the truck around 9 pm last night.  In the wee hours of morning we had some rain.  For me the pattering on the Exploder roof helps me sleep deeper than ever.  At 5:45 am in the drizzle we were up and well rested.  While I launched the boat Granny pressed the coffee.


Although the fishing is still great in the Quake Lake area like 36 years ago on my first trip, it doesn’t feel the same.  There are tons of anglers these days and lines of camper traffic clog the highway bordering the lakes and Madison River.  Sadly, it’s vehicles you hear as you fish rather than nature.  But at 6 am on Quake Lake it’s incredible and I get a true flashback from when I was a kid.  Granny feels it too and once to my spot we cherished our coffee and reminisced.


Jeff Currier and Quake Lake MTIn morning I always fish where the Madison River enters the lake.  Big rainbows and browns settle here during the night.  At sunrise they anxiously await the first hatches to drift into the lake.  Granny and I were tied to a tree next to a run where trout always rise.  Despite being a few years since we tied to this tree, the fish kicked off as always and soon I was hooked up.


Jeff Currier fly fishingI was using my 4-weight Winston Air.  The ideal rod for turning over a long 12’ 4X leader and a tiny dry.  My dry of choice is a standard Pale Morning Dun, one I in fact tied years ago.  The fly was devastating on the first few rising fish of the day.





brown trout

Granny and I hooked six nice brown trout on dries before 9 am.  We could have stuck a few more from that spot but though we were on a big lake, some rookie anglers with a boat arrived and literally anchored a long cast away from us.  Not only was this a shocker for bad etiquette but in their sloppy boat handling, anchor dropping and simply being overall noisy people, the fish spooked.  In order to keep our sanity we left the spot.


Quake LakeA storm rolled in around 11.  It went from calm to wind and thunder but no rain and luckily no lightening near us.  These little squalls can further excite the brown trout.  I rowed the lake edge and Granny plunked two dry flies at once on edges of weed beds and at the base of trees.


flyfishing with Granny CurrierHer big dry fly was a Chernobyl and she caught one fish on it.  But hands down it was the flying ant that did the damage.  She landed three nice browns on the ant.  Enough that at 2 pm we reeled it in before a real thunderstorm hit and called an awesome weekend.


Granny Currier brown trout fishingAnd a great weekend it was.  One where we almost stayed home to relax and get some things done around the house.  I’m glad we’re sort of irresponsible adults because we can get things done this winter but we can’t fish the lakes in winter.


It’s back to Blackfoot Reservoir for some Friday fishing.  Then – get ready for another crack at marlin on the fly all next week!  Stay tuned. . . .


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!