In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Montana Trout Unlimited (MTU) will be hosting several Youth Conservation Day Clinics at various locations around the Montana in the summer of 2021, instead of our normal overnight camp on Georgetown Lake. Our one-day youth clinics will emphasize conservation ethics and also provide young anglers with a solid basis in basic fly fishing skills in a safe, distanced, outdoor setting.

MTU’s Youth Day Clinic curriculum is grounded in the 4 C’s of good trout habitat: Clean, Cold, Complex, and Connected waterways. Using habitat and conservation as a starting point, attendees will learn the basics of trout biology, how to read the stream and find fish, and how MTU helps to conserve, protect, and restore Montana’s coldwater fisheries.

Students will be introduced to fly casting and tackle, learning other important skills like knot tying, line management, how to land and safely release fish, and more. The day concludes with some real on-the-water fishing time to practice what we learned. While a single day is much less intensive than a 5-day overnight experience, we’re confident that we can reach a wider circle of young anglers and give them a good basis to start from in a one-day format.

We hope to host five one-day sessions in different communities. With a group size of 10 students in each session, this will allow us to reach at least 50 young anglers and their families across the state this summer.

DATES and LOCATIONS: We will be hosting 7 clinics at various locations around Montana. Contact your local Chapter Coordinator to apply.

Date Location Specific Location Chapters Chapter Coordinator Contact Email Contact Phone
6/11/2021 Wolf Creek Little Prickly Pear / Wolf Creek Missouri River Fly Fishers and Pat Barns TU Shalon Hastings 406-461-8585
6/12/2021 Billings Rocky Mountain College/Fishing Pond Magic City Fly Fishers Lyle Courtenage 406-671-0572
6/13/2021 Lewistown Big Spring Creek Snowy Mountain TU Candy Bowman 406-366-0956
7/9/2021 Kalispell Pine Grove Pond FAS Flathead Valley TU Dan Short 406-250-5064
7/10/2021 Hamilton Hamilton River Park Bitterroot TU Charlie Harris 434-962-6055
7/11/2021 Phillipsburg Ranch at Rock Creek Westslope TU and George Grant TU Laurie Lane and Chuck Stokke

7/16/2021 Livingston/Bozeman Glen Lake Pavillion Madison Gallatin TU and Joe Brooks TU Lynae Axelson 406-274-1997


WHO SHOULD ATTEND: We accept 10 young people per clinic, ages 11-14 for each session, keeping group size small. All fly-fishing equipment is provided by MTU or anglers can bring their own rod and reel if they’d prefer. Parents are also welcome to attend and volunteer. MTU seeks to provide opportunities for youth who may not otherwise have the capacity to experience fly fishing and scholarship opportunities are available. All attendees must bring a face-covering and practice CDC guidance and COVID safety protocols.

TUITION: Chapter dependent. Scholarships are available. Contact your local chapter for more information on fees.

MTU Conservation Youth Day Clinic Rough Schedule and Curriculum

Instruction 8am – 4pm, sack lunch at 12pm, 4pm – 6pm – open fishing with volunteer supervision.

8am – 8:30 am – Camper Check-in

8:30am – 9am – Introductions, safety talk, and overview
Create cohorts for the day’s activities matching up kids with a head volunteer

9am – 10:30am – The Aquatic Food Web

Learning Objectives

Anglers should be able to answer.

  1. What do trout eat?
  2. What are some trout predators?
  3. What flies imitate the various food sources?


  1. Three main types of aquatic insects – mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies
  2. Stages of insect lifecycle and how they emerge
    1. Mayflies – Nymph, Dun, Spinner, Egg
    2. Caddisflies and Midges – Larva, Pupa, Adult, Egg
    3. Stoneflies – Nymph, Adult, Egg
  3. Minnow, crayfish, sculpins, scuds, terrestrials and other food sources
  4. How Flies Imitate Trout Food
    1. Dry flies
    2. Nymphs
    3. Streamers
    4. Wet flies and Emergers
  5. Trout predators
    1. Ospreys, eagles, herons, otters, bears, pike, other trout, etc.
    2. Thinking about predators helps you be a better hunter and angler
  6. Clean water is essential to for insects and trout – the first of the 4C’s!
  7. Activity – Aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling and identification

10:30am – 12pm – The Four C’s and Finding Trout

Learning Objectives

Anglers should be able to answer

  1. What are the Four C’s of good trout habitatHow do the Four C’s influence where trout can be found in the river?
  2. What is Montana Trout Unlimited’s mission and how do they improve trout habitat?


  1. The Four C’s : Clean, Cold, Complex, and Connected
    1. Clean Water
      • Essential for trout eggs and the food web
      • Humans and animals can damage water quality through mining, logging, overgrazing, and pollution.
      • Trout populations are highest where water quality is good
    2. Cold Water
      • Water temperature is vitally important to fish and anglers
      • Affects O2 levels which affect behavior: feeding, activity, and spawning
      • The ideal range (55-65F for bows/browns, colder for cuts and bulls)
      • Springs, shade, deep water, and other thermal refuges
      • Water quantity and Hoot Owl issues
    3. Complex Habitat
      • Rivers are dynamic and change regularly
      • Trout like places where they can rest but are close to the current
        • Rocks/Pockets
        • Logs
        • Shelves and bars
        • Undercuts
      • People sometimes attempt to control rivers by making them less complex, which is bad for trout.
    4. Connected
      • The importance of tributaries and open rivers
      • Trout migration and spawning and rearing habitat
      • Using this knowledge to find trout all year long
  2. Restoration and Conservation
    1. Montana Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect, and restore Montana’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.
    2. The 4C’s Guide our mission to conserve, protect, and restore habitat through stream projects
      1. Clean
        1. Bank stabilization
        2. Road/crossing relocation
        3. Strong clean water standards
      2. Cold
        1. Willow planting (shade)
        2. Water leasing
        3. Irrigation efficiency
        4. Pools
      3. Complex
        1. Restored river channels
        2. Large woody debris
      4. Connected
        1. Culverts
        2. Dam removal
        3. Fish screens
    3. Activity – Stream journal sensing exercise. Spend 15 min by the stream using your senses. Write a short journal on what you notice and share it with the group at lunch.

12pm – 1pm – Lunch – Share journal exercise, Table top activity, Fly box share, Knot tying

1pm – 3pm Fly Fishing Tackle, Casting, and Technique

  1. Setting up tackle and your rod and reel;
    • Rod: blank, butt, tip, grip, guides, reel seat, keeper
    • Reel: holds the line, drag
    • Fly line: what we cast – tapers and weights
    • Leader: clear mono that connects line to the fly
    • Tippet: the last section of leader
  2. Knots
    • Leader to fly – Improved Clinch knot (and nonslip loop)
    • Leader to leader – Blood knot and Surgeons’ knot
    • Leader to line – nail knot and nonslip loop
  3. Fly Casting – Demonstration and Casting Drills
    • Grip
    • Back cast and Forward cast – Potato on a fork, paint on a brush, tap drift tap
    • Path of the rod tip – line not arc
    • What not to do – don’t break the wrist, don’t drive the wrist down (arcing)
  4. Line Control and Mending – most important
    • The Hook/trap method
    • Always pull from behind your rod hand
    • Mending just means moving your fly line after the cast is made – DRAG BAD
  5. Hooking and Fighting Fish – get them to play “the fish” for each other
    • Hook set – lift quickly, the “Reverse Karate Chop”
    • Use your hands to control the fish before trying to reel in
    • Play the fish quickly
  6. Landing the fish and photos
    • Always take care of the fish!
    • Keep them in the water if possible, even for photos
    • Use a rubber landing net or wet your hands
    • Use barbless hooks!

4pm – 6pm Open Fishing with Volunteers

  1. Approaching the stream – not scaring trout!
  2. Dealing with drag – line control and mending
  3. Casting for specific situations and conditions – roll casting