Missouri River

Missouri River Fly Fishing Guides – A Rising Trout Tide

The Missouri has risen from the depths of Whirling Disease and low flows in the early 2000’s to currently having over 7000 trout per mile. Yes, they are quite large. It has emerged as an outstanding fishery that has shaken its historical tendency for inconsistency by sheer trout numbers. The hatches were equally super charged with high water years of 2008-212. Currently we are enjoying the golden years on the Missouri river with strong flows, large trout populations, and massive insect hatches.

Missouri River Fly Fishing Reach – 45 Miles of Dense Trout

The fly fishing section of the Missouri begins at Holter dam near Craig Montana. The Missouri River, the Mighty “Mo” as our fly fishing guide staff calls it, then flows north east to Great falls Montana. The Trout fishing is great until the town of Cascade Montana when the cold water effects of the bottom release Holter dam start to diminish and carp and bass take over. In the upper 12 Miles the Missouri river winds through hayfields that are under permanent Conservation easement without any home development. At the mouth of the Dearborn river it transitions into a tight Canyon river until it spills through Sheep Creek Rapids at Prewett Creek and becomes a wide shallow eastern Montana plains river all the way to the mouth of the Smith River at Ulm. The Missouri is the breaking ground of geography of the Rock Mountains to the Breaks of Eastern Montana. This stunning change is what Lewis and Clark dubbed the “The Gates of the Mountains” on their westward journey through the Rocky Mountains.

How a Missoula Fly Fishing Lodge Fishes the Missouri River

We are located 2 hours from the Missouri river. Although that sounds like a long drive we consider it a homewater for us and we guide hundreds of anglers each year on the Missouri River. We mainly provide guided fly fishing float trips on the Missouri River in May, early June, and October. We feel that those are the most productive times for fishing with the least amount of crowds. July is a great month as well, but with what Missoula has to offer then we feel we’ll leave it to the fly fishing guides that live in Craig Montana and we’ll stick to the raw solitude Missoula has for the Mid Summer. On Missouri River trips we prefer to have a multi day booking that puts us in the truck for the drive over only once or have our guests fly into Helena or Great Falls and our fly fishing guides will meet them in Craig. The Missouri is a very different experience than Missoula, not better or worse, just different from its aquatic biology and tailwater style fishing. If you want some new water to try out we would be happy to put together a Montana fly fishing itinerary for you on the Missouri River.

A Missoula Montana Fly Fishing Guide’s Perspective on Missouri Hatches – Olives, Caddis, and More Blue Wing Olives

May on the Missouri River – Post Spawn Rainbows Feasting

7000 fish per mile piling in off the spawn in May with no weeds in the river to cloud your bead head drifting freely is a recipe for huge numbers of hooked, broke off, and landed heavy trout. The Missoula Freestone Rivers of the Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River, Bitterroot River and Rock Creek will be coming in and out of shape as we experiences stages of run-off so May is a busy time for our fly fishing guides on the Missouri. The Weeds are non-existent and the fishing is utterly consistent. About half of the fishing on the Missouri River in May is straight nymph fishing but we do get sporadic hatches of Mother’s Day Caddis and Blue Wing olives. By late May the dry fly opportunities go up immensely. Montana Weather – Highs in the 60-70s Lows in the 40s

June on the Missouri River – PMD and Snotty Pods

June on the Missouri usher’s in more dry flies with the PMD immergence which transitions this river to more dry fly opportunities. There are very few easy rising trout on this river and its notorious reputation for bringing up picky sippers is warranted. If you want to take the Missouri river trout consistently on the Rise your dry fly skills will be forced to improve. If the little fly game becomes more frustrating than fun a couple hours sticking fish under a strike indicator will get your confidence back up. Montana Weather – Highs in the 70s, Lows in the 40s

October – November on the Missouri River– Great Blue Wing Olives

Little Flies, ridiculously tough risers, and hoping for bad weather to blow the hatch up bank to bank. This isn’t for everyone but if you groove on razor’s edge risers in tough weather then this is heaven. It’s that good. No glowing description here, just hardcore fishing with little dries. You know who you are. We would love to guide you on the Missouri River. Montana Weather – Highs in the 50s, Lows in the 30s

Missoula Montana Fly Fishing Guide on Missouri River Conclusion

For us at Missoula River Lodge we like the Missouri at times. It is an asset that can save a Spring trip if our Missoula Rivers get sideways on flows. That insurance policy is a great safety latch to help us fish everyday in May. The numbers of trout are outstanding and reliable, but after run-off clears in late May in Missoula we fish the river sporadically on requests. We show up again on the Missouri in late October and early November for the final goodbye of the Blue Wing Olives in the Rocky Mountains. For a Missoula Fly Fishing guide the Missouri is a river that we see in intensive ranges, but she really never leaves our thoughts.