The combined flows of the Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson Rivers form the Missouri River near Three Forks, MT. The Mo, as it is known locally, picks up numerous tributaries and travels through a series of reservoirs before it emerges from the base of Holter Dam near the tiny town of Wolf Creek, Montana. From there downstream to the town of Cascade the Mo is nothing short of paradise for fly fishers (one of our buddies calls it Fly Fishing’s Disneyland). Its character is that of an enormous spring creek with broad, quick riffles separated by long, tranquil flats. Its flows are normally gin clear and support prodigious populations of fat and healthy rainbow trout, brown trout, and mountain whitefish. The Missouri commonly attracts more experienced anglers who are drawn there by the large trout and incredible dry fly fishing opportunities.
Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions an angler might find single risers or pods of large, surface oriented trout eating midges, PMD, Baetis, Pseudocleon, or Callibaetis mayflies, several species of caddis, damselflies, yellow sally stoneflies, or a variety of terrestrial insects such as hoppers or flying ants. We are talking about the potential to fish over groups of 30 to 50 big trout, all feeding on top. During non-hatch periods the Mo offers dependable nymph fishing as well as some highly technical dry fly fishing opportunities. The Mo is also one of the great streamer fisheries of Montana. When weather and water conditions are favorable the river will produce explosive streamer fishing. Trout like to eat them here and the river yields both big rainbows and even bigger browns, which can usually be fooled into eating standard stripped fare like a good old Woolly Bugger. The Mo is a terrific road trip option for those based out of West Yellowstone, especially during runoff on the Madison.