various fly fishing images

A Thoughtful Approach to Montana Fly Fishing

Brant Oswald Fly Fishing Services offers expert guiding and instruction on the trout waters near Livingston, Montana

What sets me apart from other outfitters?

  • Experience - 30+ years as guide and fly casting / fly fishing instructor
  • Teaching ability - schools, classes, and instructional guided trips
  • Communication skills - clinics and professional programs for fishing clubs and shows
  • Specializing in "hatch-based" fishing on Montana's spring creeks and tailwaters
  • Intellectual, thoughtful approach to angling
  • A complete experience - fishing, Montana scenery, birds and wildlife, good conversation and good food

Brant Oswald

Brant Oswald

I am a teacher at heart, and my job is to share the knowledge I've gained over a lifetime of fishing and teaching, whether in a class or on the water with a guide client. I share my love for spring creeks and sight fishing with clients on the well-known spring creeks of the Yellowstone's Paradise Valley - Armstrong, Nelson's and DePuy's. Floating the Yellowstone gives anglers a chance to fish a big freestone river and to see local wildlife and learn local history. If you would like more formal instruction, consider joining me for a class or clinic. If your booking requires additional guides, I'll make sure they meet my standards of expertise, teaching ability, and good humor.

To get a better feel for me and my services, take a look around the site. Reading a few articles or a blog post might give you a better sense of my approach to fishing and guiding. Or just contact me directly if you have questions or want to discuss a class or a guided trip.

2016 Season Update

A new year's beginning offers the opportunity to reflect on the past year and to look toward the things that lie ahead. Looking back, I must admit that I made promises last season that I didn't keep. I really did hope to provide more new content in the form of blog posts and new photos on the site, but other commitments often take precedent.

The most important thing in my business is serving my clients, so there is a long list of things that come before my writing projects. I am thankful for the opportunity to guide on the local spring creeks, as I usually start my guide season in February or early March, and my last booking this year was in the week of Thanksgiving. So the "off season" does not provide that much time for extra projects.

I know some guides now treat their job as a 9:00-4:00 enterprise, but I am proud to be "old school" in that regard. My clients know that I am willing to fish with them early and late when conditions warrant it, and I don't buy my flies in a shop or pick up my lunches from a deli. It is rare during the guide season that I am not tying flies or prepping lunches by 5:00 am, and after a long day on the water, I am usually catching up on e-mails or tying more flies to the sound of snoring Labradors. 

Believe me, I am not complaining about being busy, but it does limit my time for other projects. But, for the first time in 6 years, I am not traveling to New Zealand this winter, so I have committed myself to more writing and photography in the next few months. Let's see how I do.  

2015 Season Report

After a huge snowpack in 2014, last season ran to the opposite extreme. One of the realities of climate change is that extremes in weather and water conditions will be the norm in coming years. We had good early snowfall last season, which kept snowpack numbers very favorable through the middle of winter, but we saw very little precipitation after the first of the year. Starting the runoff period with a minimal snowpack, we then saw record high tempertatures at the end of June, and a lot of us were fearing the worst. Water temperatures on the Yellowstone were peaking around 70 degrees for several days, not far from the threshold that requires state officials to impose afternoon fishing closures. It looked as if we might be facing complete closures on local freestone streams by midsummer and that fishing guides would be signing on to fire crews rather than rowing their drift boats.

On July 5th, the first of a series of summer cold fronts blew in. We went from temps in the high 90s to a day when my two young clients from Florida were nearly hypothermic after spending the cool blustery morning in waist deep water on Armstrong Spring Creek. We continued to get periods of cool, showery weather through most of the summer. Flows on the Yellowstone were very low, but water temps were never an issue after mid-July, and fishing was pretty consistent–at least as consistent as the moody Yellowstone ever gets. 

On the Paradise Valley spring creeks, the late June PMD hatches were superb, but after the weather cooled in July, the summer hatches were somewhat sparse. I'm not sure if this was tied to weather, but more variability in hatches and fish behavior forced guides and anglers to be more imaginative in their approach. I am pleased to say that experience and familiarity with the spring creeks meant my clients were often admiring fish in the net when others anglers were grumbling or leaving early.  

As I write this just after the first of the year, a handful of early storms has the snowpack in the upper Yellowstone drainage just under normal. The El Niño pattern has been sending lots of rain to the West Coast, but a lot of the storms have been tracking around us so far. But I know from long-term experience that worrying doesn't affect the weather. It has been snowing lightly all day as I write this, so let's just hope for enough moisture to provide reasonable flows this summer.  

As always, I would encourage folks to consider planning a spring trip to Montana. The pre-runoff period between mid-March and early May is some of my favorite fishing of the year. Weather can be unpredictable, but the spring creeks, area tailwaters Like the BIghorn and Missouri), and private lakes provide dependable water conditions when freestone streams are high for a few days with low elevation runoff. And it's not all nymphs and streamers in the early season–spring hatches offer at least some dry fly opportunities on most waters in the area.

Here's to a hopeful and happy new year for us all. I look forward to sharing time on the water with old friends and new faces in the coming season.

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