Great Falls, Montana Fishing Report 11.29.18

montana fishing report 12.15.17

Missouri River

We’ve had lots of wind and mild weather.  This time of year, if it warms up, the wind picks up.  When it cools down, the wind usually eases up a bit.  This coming week, it will be cooling.  Colder, but less windy.  If you get out, you will probably find some cooperative fish.

Swing Season

Water temperatures are falling below 40 degrees now and won’t move up again for a long time.  It’s the cold season and that means fish are shifting to their winter holding areas.  Swinging flies is arguably the best way to fish these softer waters.  It’s certainly the most fun.  Balanced leeches, small Clouser minnows and a host of other bugger type flies are effective.


Once the water drops below 40 degrees, the fire bead nymph becomes a hot target.  The hot spot seems to draw the attention of lethargic fish and move them to eat.  On my last outing, hot orange beaded flies produced all the action.  Our favorite pattern this time of year is the skurp.  Anglers also find plenty of success with the fire bead Ray Charles selection.  Add a zebra or tufted zebra midge off of the fire bead and you are good to go.

Dry Flies

Midges remain active all winter long and a few trout always seem to target them.  If you can find some soft water zones where midges are collecting on the water, you will likely find a few trout sipping them.  It’s all about hatch volume.  If enough of a hatch occurs, you can target individual fish.  If not, you will likely find the fish slowly cruising.  It can be difficult to present them a tiny fly, but it can be a fun game.


Whether you choose to present your streamers with a two-handed setup or a single hand outfit, you will want to slow things down.  Keep your retrieves moderate to slow or swing your flies in moderate to slower currents.

Stop In

Lots of great Simms gear on sale right now along with new waders.  The coffee is always on and we speak fish.  Fly tying too.

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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