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Fly Fishing the Missouri River in Montana

5 out of 5 (3 ratings)

Missouri River summary

Missouri River is a fly fishing location in Montana. This destination has an elevation of approximately 5600 feet. Please view the pinpointed location for Missouri River on the Google Map to the right. If you'd like directions to this destination, please click here for directions (provided via Google Maps).

Missouri River reports

CrossCurrents Flyshop (CrossCurrents) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: The wind and unsettled weather has made for tougher conditions to fish. When it's let up, we've been doing well on nymphs and streamers with the pink stuff working best. Pink Lightning Bugs, Pink Scuds and the Firebead flies also catching plenty of fish. Streamers are okay but they will pick up when the water warms up just a bit and the fish really start chasing the flies. Right now, we're fishing streamers pretty darn slow. Below Hauser is really starting to go. There are lots of rainbows up there and there are LOTS of anglers up there of all stripes. Go their with Pink Scuds and Firebead Rays and lots of patience. Please don't walk on the redds and handle those fish carefully. I'm not going to condemn anyone for fishing over those spawning fish because most are hatchery originated trout to begin with so it's not like your beating up wild fish spawning in a tributary. (03/31/11)
Fred Telleen (Mysticfish) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: The weather was like spring and the wind was moderate. A perfect winter fishing day. The water is cold and of course the fish are slow, but still managed to move several to streamers on the swing or slow retrieve. (01/26/11)
Brian McGeehan (bmcgeehan) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Upper Missouri Fishing Report
Trout fishing is too good on local rivers. The carping will get better as flows drop...probably best to wait until August to chase the
golden ghost. Late September and October will produce huge trout coming up from the lake.
CrossCurrents Flyshop (CrossCurrents) reported - 2 - Good fly fishing: Great fishing on nymphs (you gotta love "the worm" in Spring) fair on dries and fair on streamers. The dry fly fishing will be improving if we can ever shake the cold temps we've been experiencing for the last few weeks. Water temps are still in upper 40's by the dam. When they get in the mid 50's, the dry fly action should be excellent! (05/25/10)
David Smith (troutmonkey) reported - 1 - Excellent fly fishing: Fished the Holter to Craig section yesterday 4/27/10 and it certainly did not disappoint. Nymphing was great all day and landed over 20 fish. I fished SJW tied with red midge larva lace for top fly and a pink low profile scud for bottom. I think eggs would also work very well right now. Fish seemed to be mistaking that fly for an egg.

There were lots of BWOs coming off all day long and clouds of them right before dark. I fished until about 7:30 PM when the hatch really started picking up. Unfortunately the rises were few and far between yesterday. I was only able to land a couple of fish on dries. I think the full moon has the majority of the fish feeding top water after dark.

Look for a rainy, dark day after new moon for your best opportunity at dry fly fishing.

A size 16-18 baetis tailed with a size 18 griffiths gnat will cover all bases on top.

Streamers will also produce a few fish right now and may be your best option for float fishing in higher winds. I had a few pulls on a burnt orange bunny leach, but didn't land any fish on it.

If you're nymphing, I'd stick to the section below wolf creek bridge. The fish from the bridge downstream toward craig seem to take flies more readily than the more heavily fished dam section. (04/28/10)
David Smith (troutmonkey) reported - 1 - Excellent fly fishing: Fished for 2.5 days and landed 35 fish in that time none under 15 inches. The highlight of the trip was definitely Tuesday, when I fished dry flies all day in a blinding snow strom. Fish rose to Baetis for 3 hours and midges all day. At times it was difficult to tell which fly was mine on the water, as there was a thick film of bugs everywhere. During the day the fishing was a bit technical with perfect presentations being a must to land midging fish. At one point I landed a brown trout that I'm certain is the largest brown I've ever landed at about 22 inches. If you really want to catch a brown in this river I recommend going below Wolf Creek Bridge toward Craig. Although now there seems to be more Browns close to the dam, they're probably starting to follow the rainbows for the spawn. (04/17/10)
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Missouri River descriptions

Brian McGeehan (bmcgeehan) wrote - Large Tailwater (10/12/10)
Rich Hayes (TRATD) wrote - We have access to the Missouri River. Water levels are consistently controlled by dams upriver from us. This is a good destination for begginners/intermediate/advanced fishermen. Weather is excellent from mid May through the end of September with weather being good for fishing from April through October. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks did a survey recently reporting over 1000 pounds of fish per mile .. right in front of our door! (05/17/10)
Dry Fly Outfitters (Dry Fly Outfitters) wrote - While great fly fishing can be enjoyed all year long on the Missouri River here in Montana, it really starts to heat up with the weather in the spring. Warmer temperatures in April and May bring Midge and Baetis hatches which offer a nice challenge to those willing to use size #20 or even #22 Griffiths Gnats or Adams. If you’re not into tiny dries, spring is also a good time to throw big streamers for big browns. It’s not uncommon to see a handful of 24” or so Browns caught on the Missouri in the spring! If you want a chance at a true hog, it’s definitely worth the trip!

Action really picks up on the Mo in late May or June when the caddis start coming off. This is truly some of the best dry fly fishing the state (or any state) has to offer. Most forms of caddis in the #14 - #18 range will work, including Elk Hair, CDC’s, and Goddard’s.

The famous Missouri River Trico Hatch generally starts up by mid July, another great opportunity for dry fly enthusiasts. Around that time the hopper fishing starts up as well, which is some of our favorite fishing. You can leave the light tippet and tiny bugs at home and just get after it with some large foam bugs. They’re easy to see, fun to follow, and offer trout an irresistible temptation when passing overhead. Foam bug fishing is just plain fun!

Nymphing is pretty much always productive on the Missouri, and can really come in handy when conditions aren’t great for dries.

No matter what your preferences are as a fly caster, there’s definitely something for you on the Missouri at some point in the year. Feel free to give us a call if you have questions on when to come to Montana, we’re always happy to talk. (04/05/10)
CrossCurrents Flyshop (CrossCurrents) wrote - One of the largest and most easily accessed rivers in Montana is the Missouri River. The mighty MO' is certainly a trout factory! Three reservoirs in a row make this tailwater fishery have a constant water flow and stable temperatures from day to day. Amazingly fertile, with prolific hatches of mayflies, caddis flies, and midges, the Missouri is a 365 day river. You'll see fish rising just about every day of the year. Take a float trip down the Missouri and you'll know why it made such a powerful impression on Lewis and Clark during their great expedition.

During the summer, caddis and mayfly hatches are so prolific that it looks as though there is a mini blizzard over the river. This river is known for its excellent dry fly fishing. But it's also amazing when fished with emergers. or small bead-heads as a dropper behind a dry fly. The MO fishes fantastically in the “shoulder” seasons of Spring and Fall with Baetis and Midges for dries and big, ugly streamers! That’s when some very big fish are caught!

The Missouri lends itself to the heated debate of "Row vs. Wade" because it is so perfectly suited to angle from both a drfit boat (or other water craft) as well as wade fishing.

With an adult trout population (Rainbows and Browns over 10") around 4,000 per mile it's not too hard to figure out why the Missouri ranks up there with many people's favorite places to fish!
-crosscurrents.com (03/12/09)
Andy Idema (aidema) wrote - The Missouri River is located in Western Montana and is admired by fly anglers for its prolific hatches. A diverse population of insects make it a great dry fly fishery for browns and rainbows. (08/07/08)
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Missouri River businesses

Shop Guide Service Lodge School (Classes) Travel Rods Manufacturer
The Ranch at the Dearborn
206 Cooper Drive
Cascade, Montana
311 Bridge Street
Craig, Montana
Lodge Gallatin River Lodge
9105 Thorpe Rd
Bozeman, Montana
Montana Angler Fly Fishing Guides
76 Lucille Lane
Bozeman, Montana
Guide Service classicjourneyoutfitters
4034 O, Shaunessey
missoula, Montana
Guide Service Osprey Outfitters Guide Service & Fly Shop
1963 North First Street
Hamilton, Montana
Five Valleys Fishing Company
2140 S.13th W.
Missoula, Montana
311 Bridge St.
Craig, Montana
Guide Service Montana Hunting and Fishing Adventures
870 Sleeping Child Rd.
Hamilton , Montana
Guide Service mike agee
2010 8th ave
Helena, Montana
Montana Troutwranglers
508 W. Central
Bozeman, Montana
Guide Service Fin Fetchers Outfitting
Great Falls Montana
Great Falls, Montana
Guide Service Gallatin River Lodge Guide Service
9105 Thorpe Rd
Bozeman, Montana
Guide Service Chris Miller's Off the Shelf Outfitters
16 Riverside Dr
Livingston, Montana
David Payne Outdoors, LLC
1160 Yuri Road
Helena, Montana
Yellowstone TroutScout Outfitter
801 East Lewis
Livingston, Montana
Guide Service Jack C. Mauer
516 Chickadee Lane
Victor, Montana
Other Montana River Outfitters
515 Recreation Rd
Wolf Creek, Montana
Dry Fly Innovations
383 W Bloomington Dr
Meridian, Idaho
Osprey Oufitters Guide Service & Fly Shop
1963 North 1st Street
Hamilton, Montana
326 N. Jackson St.
Helena, Montana
Mystique Fly Shop
1440 Airport Road
Kalispell, Montana
Other Tightline Outfitters
PO Box 154
West Yellowstone, Montana
Other Jacklins Fly Shop
105 Yellowstone Ave
West Yellowstone, Montana
Montana Troutfitters
1716 West Main Street
Bozeman, Montana
The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop
401 S. Orange St.
Missoula, Montana
Madison River Outfitters
117 Canyon
West Yellowstone, Montana
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Missouri River comments and ratings

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garrett munson (gmunson)
It's all done for the season - sub zero this morning seals it. Except for a little nymphing and small midge hatches, it's time to hold our breath until March when the river will awaken again. (1/19/13)
Matthew Patterson (mattyp)
March? Some of the best fishing I've had over there is in January and Febuary. There are actually some nice stretches of weather, good enough to sleep in a tent. Throw a big sanjuan and trail a zebra midge. That river never sleeps. (1/19/13)
David Smith (troutmonkey)
I'm planning a trip down there within the next week or two. I'm waiting on some materials to tie the standard super tiny midges, warriors, blue tungs, rojos or blood midges, etc. <br><br>Got any other suggestions. I've never been on the MO, spend most of my time on the Flathead with the occasional beaverhead/bighole run. (1/19/13)
Matt Hanist (wbranch)
David, January surely is not an ideal time to fish the Missouri. I have a friend who lives in helena who fishes it about once a week in the winter as long as the air temperature is 40 degrees or more. At this time of year you will want to be fishing small nymphs and midges, and scuds, #18 - #22. Dress warmly. (1/19/13)

Missouri River questions and answers

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1 questions
Sam Wike (loop)
Well I don't really have any specific rivers to report...it just bothers me that this is a fly fishing site and there is no Montana reports...I can say that the Missouri, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison, Ruby, and the Boulder are all fishing well...and the Big Hole, Smith, and Beaverhead are pretty dirty water right now (2)   |  Reply

Member videos of the Missouri River

Tim Jackson (timmyv) posted this video on 08/12/15
24 inch rainbow
Missouri River rainbow. Montana. Video including the release.
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