Fly-fishing Georgetown Lake

Evening on beautiful Georgetown Lake, west of Anaconda MT.

“Hey, you want to come fishing?” My wife and I were at the Farmers Market in Butte a couple weeks ago and I saw my old friend Geoff Gallus, where he was holding down a table getting voter registrations.

Geoff is one of those people who live the outdoors, and sometimes gets paid for it, as he’s a licensed fishing guide, though he hasn’t been doing much it recently. He has also been a ski instructor at Discovery Basin. 

Geoff explained that he keeps a boat up at Georgetown Lake and he’s been having a lot of fun fishing the “traveling sedge” hatch. 

The traveling sedge is a large caddis and the adult form of the insect is known for not just floating on a lake’s surface but it also runs across the surface, creating a little v-shaped wake. On a peaceful evening, a good hatch will get trout excited. He said, “Those trout are kind of like a (deleted area high school name) graduate. Not too smart but pretty athletic. They go nuts over these caddis.”

I suggested a couple options and we agreed on an evening where I’d meet him at the lake, and then spent an afternoon tying up some elk hair flies to imitate the big caddis, or caddis horribilis, as one friend called them.

We were having a kind of nice day but in the afternoon a breeze came up and about the time I was heading to the lake there was a bit of chill in the air. While it was still around 80 degrees, on a hunch I grabbed a polarfleece vest and warm windbreaker jacket, along with a pair of blue jeans in case it was too cold for wearing shorts.

I’m glad I did because it was about 20 degrees colder at the lake and there was more than a bit of chill in the air. Geoff cranked up his boat motor and we headed for a sheltered bay, avoiding the whitecaps out in the main body of the lake.

We got into the bay and we could see some rises along a shoreline. Geoff shut down the kicker and dropped anchor, though with the wind we immediately started drifting across the bay, dragging the anchor.

We started fly-casting to the waters and while we didn’t actually see any rises to insects, some fish were paying attention to our imitation bugs, as we’d get some tugs and momentary hook-ups. A couple times Geoff had a good-sized trout on his line but they slipped the hook.

Geoff had his eye on some shallow weedbeds just off a small island but it didn’t work well, as we were more exposed to the wind and we quickly drifted away.

In the meantime, a couple more fish teased us and I finally managed to catch a 10-inch rainbow trout.

I encouraged Geoff, who was getting more bites than I was, to catch a decent sized fish. “Come on, Geoff, catch something. I need a story!” 

He gave me a strange look, asking, “A story?”

“Yeah! I always need a story. Let’s catch something.”

It was starting to get late and the sun was setting, so our time on the lake was getting short. Finally, Geoff did latch onto a trout that stayed on. The trout put on a good fight, demonstrating that a fish that doesn’t have to fight the current in addition to a hook and line can make things difficult for the angler, as it threatened to wrap the line around the boat motor and the anchor rope.

Geoff Gallus and feisty Georgetown Lake rainbow trout.

Geoff finally boated the trout and I got a photo—and my story. 

It was almost dark when we got back to the dock and unloaded the boat, and after several hours in the wind I felt pretty much frozen—an unusual sensation for mid-August.

The traveling sedge hatch should continue well into September, so a trip to Georgetown Lake would be a great option for some evening lake fishing.

My advice is find an evening when the wind isn’t blowing.

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