Great Falls, Montana Fishing Report 11.08.18

montana fishing report

Missouri River

We recently had a dose of winter.  Our first major cold snap with several inches of snow.  Don’t be alarmed.  Fall will return, and the fishing should remain be pretty darn good.  Just be prepared for chilly conditions.  Get your hats, gloves, and warm weather gear organized and ready to roll.  If you need anything, we got you covered at North 40 Fly Shop. We’ve even have heated socks and heated gloves to make your cold weather fishing super enjoyable.


As the water cools and natural food choices are reduced, your nymphs become high probability targets.  Natural colored scuds and sows paired with mayfly nymphs and the ever-effective zebra and tufted zebra are the primary players.

Dry Flies

Last week in mild weather, and despite strong winds most of the time, the dry fly fishing was stellar.  Fish were strung out along the river edges, sucking little baetis morsels like it was their last meal.  We will see how well the hatch hangs on after our latest cold snap, but we expect to find continued dry fly opportunities for another couple of weeks.  Bwo cripples and emergers are where it’s at.


It’s definitely streamer season and you can toss them on any given day and expect some level of activity.  If you are not pulling fish from the banks, don’t be afraid to look deeper or change your target zone.  You can find fish willing to take streamers from the same water where you’d choose to nymph.  Mid-river flats and buckets can be key targets.  Fish where the fish are.

Trout Spey

It’s go time!  We like to call this swing season and there are several ways you can enjoy the game.  If you want the micro swing experience, string up that little 2 or 3-weight with an integrated floater or Scandi head and long tapered leader.  Then tie in a brace of soft hackles with a larger one up front and a little one in the back.

If you want to swing larger streamers for the possibility of a savage grab, outfit a 4 or 5-weight with a Skagit head, some T-8 and three feet of #12 leader material.  Tie on something like a sculpzilla, bald eagle, Montana intruder, jawbreaker or any other tempting mid-sized morsel.


Reports of kokanee are coming in from Holter Lake shorelines.  Small red streamers like the blood balanced leech or a red mohair leech are a good place to start.  Kokanee will also take nymphs like a red copper john.  Go catch a salmon.  You might also encounter some really nice trout.

See past reports from the Great Falls region here, or click here to view all northwest regional reports.


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North 40 Fly Shop got its start in Great Falls, Montana when a couple fishheads snapped up a pile of closeout items and offered them for sale on a single pegboard wall. Today, we offer the largest selection of fly-tying materials in the area, along with a broad range of high-quality rods, reels and lines, plus gear and apparel, from dedicated fly-fishing specific brands. We spread our love of fly-fishing through fly-tying classes, spey claves, and community outreach, and run our shop with this motto: Beginner or expert—you’re welcome here. We love Montana and are proud to call the Missouri River our home water. While we always keep our finger on the pulse of the mighty Mo, we are surrounded by many other great rivers, streams and lakes and offer insider tips on these waters. Beyond Montana, we host destination trips to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Christmas Island and Belize.

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