MISSOURI RIVER, MONTANA

Tuesday, May 30, 2000

It's been five years since I fished the Missouri, but I'm back on the tail end of a Hamp Camp. Terbo and Jolly were kind enough to join me on this float trip.

We rented a drift boat from the Missouri River Trout Shop and floated from Holter Dam down to the shop in Craig.

The rain, which had threatened all day, began before we could launch the boat but after our drop-off left. Nothing left to do but go for it. In addition to the rain, the wind picked up making cast very difficult.

In fact, the wind was our biggest enemy. For a large part of the trip we had to row madly just to make our way downstream. It didn't help that we had rented the big General Lee, but that big boat would stay in place or even float upstream if we didn't put all our effort into the oars.

For the first couple hours, the weather was okay and that's when I landed my colorful 15" rainbow. I also had a couple other good hits during this time, and Jolly landed a magnificant sucker.

I had hoped for an incredible day of fishing, but had to settle for an incredibly windy day. We saw virtually no hatches and very few rises. For the last hour or so, the wind made it impossible to cast.

We had a great dinner and a couple beers at the restaurant in Craig. After that, we drove to Bowman's Corner where Jolly entertained the staff with a few games of pool. Then we made the drive to Missoula, getting into town around 11:00. I left for GR the next day.

 

Sunday, September 17, 1995

Joe and I headed out for probably our last fishing experience together. Another great day as far as weather goes, but the fishing was off. I landed one hard-fighting 15 inch rainbow and had another big trout hooked. Joe had two hooked, but landed none. A lot of them were eating something just below the surface but I couldn't figure out what it was despite changing flies numerous times.

 

Saturday, September 16, 1995

Redwood and I headed out to across from Pelican Point in the early afternoon. Very little breeze, sunny skies and a nice temperature. I forgot to pack my waders so I waded in my shoes. It was a little chilly, but bearable.

Caught two browns and four rainbows. Most were about 12 inches, but one was bigger and I took a picture of myself with it. I never measured it. Also took several other photos. Used a hopper with a bead head dropper again. Mostly they would go for the bead head.

Sunday, September 10, 1995

After a somewhat dissappointing week of fishing with John and Paul Singer, I wanted to catch some trout. Took Redwood back across from Pelican Point.

I again met Joe there. He had been fishing for a few hours and hadn't caught much &emdash; he soon left. I got a few hits using a parachute hopper with a bead head dropper but didn't get anything. Then it rained for awhile and I sat it out in the car.

After the rain quit, the wind was much less severe. I moved downstream to the slower section and started geting lots of hits. Landed five rainbows between 10 and 21 inches. They fought hard and long. Mostly they were hitting the bead head, but they'd also go for the hopper once in a while.

Today was one of the better days I've had fishing this summer. It really made up for last week.

On my way out I met an older guy named Doug Iverson. His brother owns the land here and lives in the house nearby. He was friendly and asked about the fishing. As a measure of good will, I helped one of his fishing companions get unsnagged from the river bottom.

Saturday, August 26, 1995

Took Redwood down to the river for a few hours in the afternoon. Met Joe there. He had caught 5 small ones early in the morning, but nothing lately. After he left I fished up and down the bank, only getting one on the hook. Pretty windy and warm today. Hardly saw any rises. Slow fishing day.

Sunday, August 21, 1995

Woke up about 8:00 and drove back to where I had fished before. No luck at all despite being a gorgeous day &emdash; no wind, no clouds, warm. Stayed until noon and drove back to Great Falls.

Saturday, August 20, 1995

Redwood and I headed out to the river around noon to fish all day, spend the night and fish the morning. Hot, cloudless day and lots of wind. The gale finally let up after sundown.

In reverse fashion, I caught seven trout during the wind and none after. The hottest spot was a where we fished a lot last year. Right across from Pelican Point it was slow. The biggest was a 19-inch rainbow, the smallest was 10-inches. Two of the 7 were browns. Seems to be more browns of catchable size in the river this year.

As I was packing up my gear, a guy near one of the still water areas called me over to look at a fish that had beached itself by his feet. It looked a lot like a salmon &emdash; hooked jaws, silver sides. It certainly wasn't a rainbow, brown, brook or cutthroat.

After talking to Jack, it probably was a salmon/rainbow hybrid that escaped from Holter Lake. Saw lots and lots of birds. Spent the night parked next to Sheep Creek and slept to the sounds of highway traffic and the rushing water.

Wednesday, August 9, 1995

The Mission Mountains trip continues. Jim, John, Jennifer, Redwood and I drove from Ovando to the spot across from Pelican Point. I let them fish mostly, I was pretty sunburned and tired. The fish were surfacing, but we weren't catching any. I had a couple of strikes, but was out of luck. Just after sunset, we were all exhausted and headed back to Great Falls for a late dinner at Tracy's.

Friday, August 4, 1995

Back to the same spot as before. A guy at the Orvis shop said the trout were really concentrating on caddis, so I started with that.

I think they changed their preference at the last minute. Didn't get any strikes with the caddis, but did get several strikes with two different PMDs &emdash; one a parachute, one a non-hackle type. Landed one 16-inch rainbow. Very strong fish, will probably be a very big trout one day. Nice weather, warm, a little breeze and sunny.

Sunday, July 30, 1995

Began fishing in the early evening across from Pelican Point. A little bit of wind, nice cool temps and the water had gone down 2 to 3 feet. The river was even clear. A few surfaces around 7:00, but by 8:00 they were surfacing everywhere.

Caught a 10-inch brown and an 18-inch rainbow on an elk hair caddis, and then a 16-inch rainbow on a PMD well after the sun had set. Once it got dark, the fish could not be spooked. I would cast to them over and over, setting the hook when a trout would surface in the general area of my fly. Had lots of other strikes and hits during this couple of hours. Had enough action to keep me changing flies frequently.

Sunday, July 16, 1995

Don Serido and I floated from Stickney Creek to Pelican Point this afternoon. He borrowed a Scanoe from a friend of his and we began around 4:00. The paper said the water was as high as it's been all year. For the past couple of weeks the water released from Canyon Ferry has been down, and it's affecting the rest of the river.

Hardly saw any rises along the way. In addition to the water being high, a strong wind blew into our faces most of the day. However, it was warm and sunny and the beer was cold. Only stopped at two places to fish. Each time it was because we had to pee.

Did stop at the Dearborn Inn for another 6-pack. Fun day. Half Breed Rapids was a thrill. Big waves, water flowing over boulders and into our canoe. We weren't quite ready for them and we floated directly over a few of the few boulders that I've never, ever seen covered by water. Landed at Pelican Point around 9:00.

Sunday, June 25, 1995

Here's what's so frustrating about the Missouri. I went back to the same place the next day, in the same weather, used the same flies, and didn't get anything. A couple of hits and one one the line, and that was it. Still lots of activity.

Saturday, June 24, 1995

Hadn't been along the river for a few weeks, so I was ready for a full day of fishing.

Began at Dearborn where I caught a very large whitefish, but didn't see much of anything else. Lots of sun though, so I waded in my shorts and Tevas. Moved up to Spinely (??) Access where it was very flooded. Couldn't even drive in. In fact, I saw a large whitefish swimming up the gravel road. Did catch an 8-inch rainbow on a tiny PMD. Watched an eagle soar around he rock outcropping across the river.

Went up to the cow chip access, but there were too many people and too many mosquitoes. Drove all the way back to Cascade to try the Sheep Creek access. The high water and some construction along the road make the area look a lot different. Didn't see much upstream, so I went across from Pelican Point.

Finally hit the motherload. All along the bank, trout were stacked up surfacing for caddis. I hadn't seen caddis anywhere else on the river. There were still some mayflies, but tons of caddis.

Hooked about ten and landed two rainbows and one brown. All were big, at least 15 inches, and fought very hard. Made the reel sing repeatedly.

Had to switch between three different kinds of caddis flies because they kept getting soaked. Stayed until 10:00. Wild roses were out everywhere, very nice.

Friday, June 2, 1995

Beautiful weather for the past week. Sunny, warm, with just a few clouds.The river was still high, but about a half foot lower than before at the Dearborn. Fewer trout were surfacing this evening. The water had cleared up considerably and I could see the bottom wherever I waded. Didn't catch anything but didn't fish for a long time.

Friday, May 19, 1995

Went out right after work to take advantage of the great weather. The water was even higher than before at the Dearborn. Saw a few surface but not nearly as many as last time. Hardly anyone on the river.

Saturday, May 6, 1995

Fished upstream from a Craig a bit. Nothing really surfacing. Water was about as high as I'd ever seen it. Very murky water &emdash; it's been raining all week. Nothing hatching. Later went to the Dearborn spot, and the fish were surfacing like crazy. It was nearly dark so I couldn't tell what they were eating. Need to go back soon.

Saturday, April 22, 1995

A little bit of scattered rain today but mostly nice and calm. Fished just upstream from Craig on that side of the river. Caught a big whitefish right away using a size 18 bead head pheasant tail. It was a dropper from an equally small parachute adams.

When I first got there, the fish were surfacing. Soon after catchng the whitefish, they stopped. Didn't wait around for them to change and drove further upstream to where the side channels were. Fished in them a bit.

They are knee-deep and rippled practically throughout. Didn't see anyhing surface in them. Just above the channels many fish were surfacing in the calmer water of the main river. It wasn't too deep to wade. Caught a rainbow right away but it threw the hook when it leaped. Getting tired of barbless hooks. Easiest way to get here is to just follow the railroad track.

Sunday, April 16, 1995

Fished across from the Dearborn and caught nothing. It was surprising because there were lots of mayflies and gnats out, and there was no wind. Saw only a few surface.

Drove further upstream to the Cow Chip access above Craig. At the head of the big eddy there were several fish surfacing. I don't think any of the nymphs or flies I had were small enough. Waded quite a ways further upstream and at one point lost track of Redwood. I finally saw him running along the road as cars whizzed by him.

Saturday, April 15, 1995

Hardly any wind today, and the mayflies began hatching. Still, hardly anything rose around the Sheep Creek area. Took a drive further upstream to where the diversion reenters the stream. Finally caught a nice rainbow by using an olive flashback.

Sunday, April 2, 1995

In Great Falls the weather was great. But across from Pelican Point the wind was a killer. Never saw anything surface. Did see lots of geese, ducks and a few eagles and hawks. Took a nap along the river bank and watched a dozen geese watch me as they floated in the river.

Saturday, April 1, 1995

Windy and warm today. Fished across from the Dearborn for a while and caught one. Moved further upstream to scout new areas. Lots of people out and I had Redwood so I ended up along the road that leads to Holter. Still many people here, but too early and too far away to turn back. Didn't catch anything, the fish were real spooky and spread out. Redwood chased gophers endlessly.

Sunday, March 12, 1995

A warm, windy day. Fished across from the Dearborn River today. Used a bead head with an indicator. First caught a nice whitefish and on the next cast, a big rainbow. Moved to a couple other spots here, but got nothing.

I went upstream along the recreation road to Craig and then took the dirt road further upstream. Drove quite a ways looking for new spots. Didn't see any, but tried a spot I had been at before. Saw a dead buck half submerged in the shallows. Algae coated its head and antlers.

The wind let up a bit to make casting easier and I began to see a few rises to the flying midges. The river seemed a bit higher than usual &emdash; maybe snowmelt from the warm weather.

Friday, February 24, 1995

Worked half the day to fish the warm afternoon. Definitely above 60° today but very, very windy. With all the wind, it really wasn't worth putting a line in the water. I did fish for a while but also napped on the bank for about an hour. Watched Redwood chase Canada geese from the shallows.

Saturday, February 4, 1995

Met Joe at the Sheep Creek area. Very warm today &emdash; near 60° &emdash; yet little wind. Neither of us saw any trout. We did see a sucker in a shallow area far up around the bend. We were even able to pick it up with a net. This shallow area has lots of spots that look great to fish &emdash; it's actually pretty close to the highway.

After Joe left, I stayed to fish the twilight. I began to see a few rises with 15 minutes of daylight left and actually had one on my line. It leapt into the air and threw the hook from its mouth.

Saturday, January 28, 1995

Back to the same spot again. Sunny, hardly a breeze and about 40°. Redwood really enjoyed running around.

Couldn't catch anyhing, couldn't see anything, so I took a nap. After napping, walked upstream about a mile to scout for fish. Didn't see a thing until walking back. A back channel was frozen over (hardly any ice anywhere else) and as Redwood and I walked over it, I saw a school of fish swimming underneath. Not sure if they were trout or whitefish. There were at least 20, all about a foot long.

As I was getting ready to call it a day, the cows moved in and watched disinterestedly. I've noticed a bald eagle hanging around here lately. It usually sits in a tree directly across from the big hill at Pelican Point. Watched it circle overhead several times. I hoped it would take a fish from the river since that would give me a clue as to where to fish. Also saw what looked like an immature bald eagle in the area, but it could have been a large hawk.

Sunday, January 22, 1995

Again around Sheep Creek. Tried a lot of spots today &emdash; from the first access nearly up to the bridge. More people out than I would expect, but the weather was very nice for this time of year. Didn't catch a thing all day.

 

Related Info

BACK TO FLY-FISHING IN MONTANA
HOME