Missouri River Fishing Update
Greetings from Prewett Creek on this second day of May 2018. Thankfully it’s not snowing as I look out the window this morning as I can just now see the first hints of light creeping into the canyon walls out the back door. The mornings and nights here are quiet while the days are as unpredictable as the spring weather. The fishing has been solid the last few days however and that is why I am here instead of someplace else!
Last week ended with a significant push of dirty water out of the Dearborn and Little Prickly Pear. The dirty water also brought a winter’s worth of debris screaming into the otherwise placid Missouri River. Water clarity on the Missouri deteriorated quickly below Craig, which resulted in packing dozens and dozens of boats into the upper portion of the river. Needless to say, it wasn’t real awesome up here last Friday and Saturday. However, the water ran a bunch of folks out of here last Sunday and the fish have started to settle into their spring runs and high-water haunts.
Here at midweek, we are looking at improving water conditions throughout the Missouri River between Holter Dam and Cascade. Cool nights have brought flows down a bit in the main tributaries so the debris has been greatly reduced and the water clarity is improved. Dam releases from Holter Dam have also been increased, resulting in more clean water in the system which helps minimize the dirty water impact from the main tributaries as well.
You can forget about wade fishing and boat fishing should be reserved for those with some experience on the oars. Although the Missouri is an easy river to row in general, these high flows require one to pay closer attention than usual as trouble can happen quickly.
The fishing continues to be mostly centered on nymphing with typical spring patterns like Sowbugs, Scuds, and San Juan Worms. My typical nymph rig consists of 2’ of 20-pound fluorocarbon as a butt section with one end looped to the fly line and a tippet ring on the terminal end. The leader section consists of 3’ of 3X tippet followed by 4’ of 4X. The lead fly varies, but has tended to be a natural sowbug pattern in a size 14. I then add another 12” of 4x tippet off the eye of the lead fly and typically run a bright colored scud or sowbug as the dropper in a size 16. I use a non-toxic Dinsmore weight in size AB as the primary weight for this rig, placed about 12” above the lead fly. This highly effective nymph setup sinks much quicker than a traditional tapered leader and allows the angler to fish a much more manageable length of leader in this high water.
Expect the fishing to continue to improve in this Holter Dam section over the coming weeks, regardless of water levels. High water will challenge the traditional angling techniques, so be prepared to hone your water-reading skills and to think “outside the box” when it comes to presentations. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (#finsandfeathersbozeman) for daily updates from the MO this spring. Contact me, Toby Swank, if you would like to book a day or two with myself or one of our guides in the next few weeks for a guided fly fishing trip on the Missouri River this spring.