Missouri River Fishing Report 7.6.17

Like a switch, Missouri River conditions have changed.  Many anglers complained about the high waters in May and June.  Now it’s July and the water is down and will continue to drop and warm up.  The tradeoff is weeds.  Lots of weeds are floating in the water column again.  It’s a hassle, but if you want to get fish to eat your flies, you’ve got to keep them clean.  Sometimes a little water slapping will rip them off and temporarily solve the problem.  Just don’t do it over the fish.

The current flows below Holter Dam are holding above 6000 cfs.  Water temps typically fluctuate several degrees upward each day starting in the low 60s and moving to the high 60’s moving down the river toward Cascade.  Hopefully, the current heat wave won’t push the temps over 70 and trigger hoot owl restrictions, but that is a distinct possibility.

Want to know what the river is doing? Check flows here.

The good news is fish are eating on top. PMD’s are hatching throughout the day.  There are a variety of sizes from #14 all the way down to micro.  While PMD’s are still import, the Trico is gaining prominence.  There have been some big Trico clouds forming in the mornings when the wind lets them aggregate.  Soon afterward, the spinners fall to the water.  When the wind blows, however, they disappear like smoke.  We’ll be talking more about Trico’s very soon.

PMD's on the Missouri? We tell you when and how to use them here. 

Caddis remain important for the dry fly enthusiast.  There are several different caddis out there ranging in size from #14 down to #18.  A size #16 TFP Hi-Vis Spent caddis is my go to, but if that does not work, I start trying alternate patterns.  CDC patterns like the Cornfed Caddis can definitely work.  Sometimes a #16 Buzzball will get the job done.  Sometimes a Translucent Emerger is the ticket.

Looking for the perfect pattern? Here's a selection you can order from us here. 

The best thing to do when you find steadily rising fish and they refuse your first attempts is to try them with several patterns.  If you can crack the code, you should get some eats.  Just be prepared that when you move to a new group of fish, you might find that you need to start the process over again.

Sometimes…you pull a fly out of the box and it’s the ticket, but it was your only one and you lose it on a hot fish.  Then you can’t remember what it was and you try to explain it to me and nothing we find is quite right.  If it’s your only one, take a picture before you lose it and next time, buy three.

The runoff crowds have left and the Missouri River is wide open again.  During several recent floats in the past 5 days, traffic has been very light in the Canyon and fish have been up where they should be.  Grab the sunscreen, cover up with a buff and load the cooler with ice and cold beverages.  Fish early and siesta in the afternoon.  If you still have juice, get out for the last hour of the day.  The fish are waiting.

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I fly fish to live (25+ years guiding). I live to fly fish (obsession). At the age of two, I captured my first Bluegill in Southern Michigan. Since then, I have never stopped looking into waters for fish. My first wild trout came from the waters of Glacier NP a few years later. I spent much of my youth chasing fish in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and throughout central Canada. I went to Alaska in 1989, where I met my wife, started a family and spent 26 seasons guiding anglers. Great Falls and the North 40 Fly Shop are now home base. Stop by and lets talk fish, bear encounters or even my experience with Bigfoot.

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