For thirty some odd miles below Holter Dam, Montana’s Missouri River winds its way out of a high mountain valley, into a beautiful canyon then northward through grasslands and rolling hills. Spring on the Missouri River just might be our favorite time of the entire year – the river traffic is quiet and the fishing is pretty darn good. The low altitude of this river allows it to fish much earlier in the fishing season than most rivers in the West. Beginning in February, we see the first hatch of the season – Midges. Sometime in Late April and on into May, March Browns and BWOs emerge. Some years the BWOs will hatch through the first week of June. In low water years, caddis and then PMDs, hatch out in huge numbers creating a dry fly paradise that can be as good as it gets for any serious dry fly fisherman. Prior to the hatch, fishing the riffles with a dry and a dropper produces great angling as well. As always, nymphing with a two fly rig is a great way to fish – all day long. Casting big flies, streamers that is, also produces some fantastic angling opportunities during the spring months of April and May. The Missouri is known to be a technical river and drag free drifts are a must at all times. However, teaching an new angler to catch trout on the Missouri is one of the most enjoyable parts of our job. From 2008-2011, the Missouri experienced high flows from good winter snow pack. These higher flows normally start around the first week of June and then subside by the first week of July. At flows above 6000 cfs, the dry fly fishing is limited and trout prefer to eat subsurface. Last season, 2012, the Missouri river never really blew out during run off and was fishable all the way through June, the same thing occurred in 2013 as well. The months of July and October 2013 showed us some incredible dry fly fishing and the large pods are back. For now, it’s entirely impossible to know what the flows will be like for the 2014 season. Stay tuned to our blog/fishing report for up to date snow pack reports.
We generally fish 8-10 hour days and like to get on the water early, around 8 am or so. From late June, through Mid-July it can be advantageous to hit the river at sunrise and fish till about 3 pm. Having a rental car allows you to fish the evenings as it does not get dark until after 9:00 pm during June and July. As for some grub…… Izaak’s Restaurant in Craig will be open once again in 2014. The Missouri River Inn, across the street from the Prewett Creek boat ramp, has some incredible food as well, check out the homemade deserts, they are to die for. The Oasis Cafe, in Wolf Creek, has a few changes for 2014 and we look forward to Courtney’s new ideas. Check it out, you’ll like it.
We spend the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October on the Missouri River. BSA has several Missouri River guides who live on the river year-around and guide over 120 days each season. While angling and guiding, we are based near the quaint little fishing village of Craig, Montana. Most of our clients fly into Helena or Great Falls, rent a car and spend between 2 and 5 days fishing below Holter Dam on the Missouri River. Some folks fly into Bozeman, fish the Madison or Yellowstone for a couple of days, then hit Missouri for a few days. There are numerous places to stay up and down the river, in and around Craig and the town of Wolf Creek is just 5 miles away. Big Sky Anglers can help visiting fisherman arrange lodging for groups of 2 to 20 anglers…..big groups are welcome, but planning time is required. There are hotels in Cascade, Montana just 20 minutes north of Craig as well. As a last result, Helena and Great Falls will accommodate your lodging needs.
We offer a Fishing and Lodging Package for the Missouri if you would like us to arrange your lodging. Once you pick your dates we will help you book your fishing residence and fill you in on the details for your trip. The guide rate is below and the cost of lodging is based on your needs. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay $90-265 per night for 2 people in a cabin or motel room. If coming with a group of four or more we recommend one of the many houses available to rent in the area. Most of these rent for $265-500 per night.
Now is the time to start planning your trip as lodging is limited and books up way in advance.
Guide Trip Rates for the Missouri River 2014: $475 per day for 1 or 2 anglers and includes flies, rods, reels, lunches and drinks.
2014 Forecast – While the 2014 season is a longs ways out, there are a few things that we can tell you with certainty. Much like this season and last, with 8000 trout per mile in the upper seven miles, the fishing will be fantastic. The rainbows are averaging 16+ inches and the amount of larger browns and rainbows in the Missouri River is truly amazing. These are the years that will be talked about a decade from now. This season’s stream flows were below normal and it’s highly doubtful that we will endure this once again. Snow has already began to accumulate in the headwaters of the Missouri River so keep your fingers crossed for a wet winter. Without a doubt, the Missouri River is getting busier and busier each year – the word it out. Spring and Fall, think April-May and late Sept and October, are great times to visit the river with less anglers around. Please feel free to give us a shout and we’ll help you plan a trip of a lifetime.