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.
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    Ponds and Reservoirs

    If you don’t have a boat, now is the best time of the year for shoreside success.  The last week of April looks to be really good with prospects extending well into May.  Some fish are on the spawn, some are done, and some are still in the pre-spawn mode.  There are always fish that are willing to eat your flies.  Don’t think that if you don’t see cruising fish, there are no fish to be caught.  Get your flies a little deeper and you might just find lots of willing players.

    Creeks and Smaller Rivers

    Most waters have risen in the past week.  Temperatures in the 70s followed by rain will do that.  Now, snow is in the forecast again.  Colder temperatures might provide some brief opportunity before the next melt cycle kicks in. Streamers like the flash n’ grab have been deadly along with rubber leg stoneflies.  A black and or brown, #4 or #6, double bead stone drifted along the bottom is hard to beat.

    Missouri River below Holter Dam

    I was on the river this past Sunday and enjoyed some good fishing, but now the flows are cranking up.  As I write this, the water is well beyond 11K.  The baetis were about to pop, but now they may have been swept away.  In any event, nymphing is going to be in fashion for the foreseeable future.  Scuds, sows, and worms are the mainstay along with a variety of jig nymphs.

    It’s going to be busy up high on the river for the next month or so. Anglers from around the state come for the springtime opportunities on the MO, meaning it is one of the only reliable, floatable, fishable options in the region.

    Missouri River below Morony Dam

    I’ve heard of a few pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass taking flies.  We’ve got you covered with flies, leaders, and info if you want to tackle the lower river.

    Smith River

    Water was in good shape for a few days as the floating season kicked off.  Then a surge of runoff hit.  Now snow is coming.  There may not be great fishing for a while, but great fishing is coming.  If you have a permitted trip planned later this spring, check out our Guide to floating the Smith River. Then stop in for your flies and supplies.  We’ve got you covered with camping gear, bear fence, and bear approved coolers.


    Fly Fishing 101-Learn to Fly Fish-Free Introduction Classes Saturdays @ 10 a.m., April and May For More Information: Please contact Great Falls North 40 Fly Shop, (406) 761-7441

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