Great Falls Fishing Report

We get it—Big Sky Country offers some of the best trout fishing options in the West, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the Great Falls area you get a crack at what many people would call the very best. That’s the Missouri River for you—major dry fly possibilities and, always, the opportunity to land a beast on dry, dropper or streamer. But the opps don’t stop there—many small streams offer great fishing for rainbows, browns and cutthroats, and the area lakes, including Canyon Ferry, Pishkin, Hauser and Holter—to name only a few—kick out big trout, plus walleye and pike. The only problem you may have while fishing around Great Falls is deciding where to fish.
  • Missouri River

    “Are the fish biting yet?” This is a routine question I get almost daily this time of year. Of course the answer is yes. Knowledgeable anglers know they never stop eating. Do you stop? Drilling down, the questions should be what flies are working, at what depths, and at what times during the day. While we don’t have all the answers, we are here to help and can provide suggestions, point out productive flies, explain rigging options and so forth.

    Ice Out

    If you are heading to Holter, we’ve got lots of flies to get you in the game, starting with the extremely popular balanced leeches and balanced squirrels. The best color is a variable thing and can change hour to hour. Purple has been a recent favorite. The blood leech is always a solid choice. Sometimes olive/chartreuse is the ticket. Black is often a good place to start. If in doubt, fish two colors at once. The fish will tell you what they like. Word is that ice is finally breaking free of the shorelines along the Front and up on the reservation. The challenge will be getting to the water, as roads are going to be soupy for a while. By next week, I expect we’ll have some news.

    Nymphing on the Mo

    Last week was rife with turbulent weather and bouncing flows. Not great for consistent fishing patterns. Things may settle a bit, but who really knows for certain. The best thing going is that it is finally spring and you can get out there and fish without freezing your tender bits off. That alone makes it worth going.

    As the waters rise, lengthen those leaders, look to the inside turns, fish the big seams and so forth. BWO nymphs are active. March Brown nymphs are viable too. Scuds, sow bugs and worms are always a staple. On my most recent outing, I did best on a size 18 Darth Baetis. My partner was getting them on a pink Ray Charles. We fished the same water. Go figure.

    On the Streamer Side

    Pounding the banks is always going to produce a fish or two, but it can be hit or miss. Just like with nymphs, the fish show strong preferences for certain sizes, profiles, colors, depths and water character. Retrieves are also important. If you can match all the variables, the fishing can be very rewarding. I like the challenge. We’ve got lots of streamers in all sizes and colors. Stop in or give me a call if you want to talk specifics.

    Trout Spey

    Wading opportunities change and evolve as waters rise, but there are always going to be some prime places to swing. I found a nice seam at the lower end of an island recently. My buddy nymphed through it without a touch. I followed him up with a 10-foot sink-tip and quickly found a handful of players, all eager for a Mini Montana Intruder. In my boat, the trout spey never goes away.

    Dry Flies

    Still waiting. A few fish up on midges here and there. BWO’s are nearly ready. Just need the temp to bounce up a few ticks. Melting snow and ice kept that from happening last week. This week should be different.

    Upcoming Events

    May 4th and 5th - Trout Spey Clave on the Missouri River (Mid Canon FAS)

     Click here to see past Great Falls reports, or here to view all northwest regional reports.