I’ve been guiding up on the Missouri all of the month and it’s been both productive and interesting being on the same stretch of water just about everyday. One of the best things about guiding in southwest Montana is the diversity of the waters around Bozeman – spring creek one day, float a big river next, wade a small stream the next and so on. The Missouri has been a river that has attracted me for nearly 20 years now and May is my favorite time of year to fish it by far. Everyday is a little different this time of year as water conditions and trout activity seems to change a little each day. Although this is primarily a nymphing time of year up there, it’s been pretty hard to beat in terms of quantity and quality of trout this year so even the most ardent of “anti-bobber” anglers generally come around pretty quickly.
Flows have pretty much doubled since I first arrived in Craig around May 1; which makes for some changes in tactics and re-distribution of trout throughout the river. I’ve gone from fishing pretty standard spring rigs of sowbugs, eggs, and midges on 9′ leaders and slightly weighted to 12′ leaders and heavy flies in the last week. Identifying the holding water as flows increase is really the key to getting good numbers of trout during high flows on the Missouri. I’m always looking for slower water that is moving downriver (rather than large eddies and pillowing water) along bank structure. The fish are still in the same general areas, but they definitely move into very defined feeding lies throughout the day and finding these makes the difference between a few fish and dozens of fish.
I’ll be up there another couple of weeks before focusing my attentions closer to home once the rivers down here start to clear – hopefully the Madison starts to come around by mid-June. I don’t expect to be on the Yellowstone until late July or early August. So, until then I’ll be chasing trout in high, but clear, water below Holter Dam. Shoot me an e-mail if you’re coming up and I’ll let you know what’s been going on. FYI – I update the Missouri report pretty much daily and tell it how it is so check that too.