Big Sky Montana
I again returned the Missouri River in Montana for a few days of drift-fishing during late-summer/early fall of 2019. The guiding and bedding was provided by Wolf Creek Anglers; 2-3 miles from Holter Dam. I'll return in 2020; August 29 to September 6.
Below you'll find my journal entries...roughly UNEDITED. So please enjoy the gist of the fly angling we experienced and disregard the grammar, absence of sentence structure and my obsessive dots. Generally, I'm not a compulsive "fish-counter" but I include numbers in these entries to give a perspective of the tempo and "drift" of the fly angling.
9/11---Our nation's "NEVER FORGET" day
Holter Dam to Craig: We indo-fished in the rain from 9AM-1PM; not really comfy, but we were prepared with the right clothing and stayed warm. It cleared to over-cast/drizzle in the afternoon. The productive fly pattern was a #18 or 20 Black Zebra Midge (silver bead), with a 6' drop to one BB shot. We netted good-sized RainBows in the 16"-18" range; strong, deep-bodied...some with 3-4 high aerials, others with long, first runs. There was one 12" Brown and a 15"-16" Whitey. No numbers but enough to keep us interested...guessing me at 8/5 and Bob at 12/8; approximately 20 hook-ups and more than a dozen netted.
9/12---“Sunny today with a high near 71. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 5-9 mph in the morning”
Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickley Creek: Our "slowest" day. As in past years, we meet-up with the day's guide in front of the WCA fly shop at 8AM, and on the water 9AM-5PM...me guessing 8/7 (hook-ups/netted); all RB's in the 16"-18" range and one brown at 13"...all were jumpers with the exception on one thick, 18" RB that made head-long, pull-downs attempting to bury itself in the rooted, waving, bottom weeds.. Bob hooked about ten and boated 6-7..so the boat cumulatively hooked a dozen-and-a half and a dozen were brought to hand.
The Wide MissouriWe saw Tricos in the AM until 11; no trout were slurping them at all. Throughout the day we saw sporadic “one & done” bulging trout chasing emerging Brachycentrus caddis ("Grannoms") at/near the surface; Productive patterns were #16 Green Machine, #20 Black Zebra Midge and a #6 Crawdad pattern; a short drop of 4 feet to the upper fly, no lead under old school, stick-on Pulsa indicators…ideal for shallow-water, indo-fishing on the LT!
The weather cleared today. It was balmy, low-70's with mostly clear skies, and occasional puffy cloud and mild breezes with...very comfortable.
9/13---"A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly between 3PM-5PM. Increasing clouds, with a high near 75. South, southwest wind 7-12 mph increasing to 16-21 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph."
A non-fishing day; a grand tour of watersheds of Little Prickly Pear Creek and the Blackfoot river east of the town of Lincoln Montana. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the orientation for future alternate fishing when not drifting the Big Mo.
The Blackfoot River...of the "River Runs Through It" fame
53 Grizzly present in this one valley!...we turned around
Dearborn to Prewitt: umulatively, guessing 40+/24+. Sub-surface in AM & dries in afternoon (minimum 3/4 of count) …sunny skies & gusty winds…RB’s 10”-“18”, Browns to 17”…one small Whitey…9 mile drift...Indo in the AM with a #16 Frenchie, at "outstretched hand to outside nipple" drop to one BB...dries in the afternoon, #14 green-bellied Elk Hair Caddis and #16 Parachute Black Ant. most ate the latter by a wide margin.
Bob with a typical Missouri Rainbow
Mid-Canyon to Pelican Point...30/20, missing many takes...The smallest brown and biggest Brown of the trip, a dink at 5 inches, along with two decent Browns at 17" and 20"...both ate a #12 Black Fat Albert (my favorite southern Chilean Patagonia dry fly). Otherwise most of the surface-eater trout ingested a #12 Parachute Ant. The morning's best patterns via indo-fishing was a #14 Red Copper John and #16 Green machine...on a short drop, 4' indo to one BB shot.
Several fish hooked played the "grass-release" routine mentioned in the 9/12 report. Once hooked the trout dives for the bottom, attempting to bury themselves in huge matts of both floating and rooted aquatic vegetation. eventually, the weeds slide down to the trout's mouth and unhooks the trout!
Bob with one of numerous hook-ups on the "lower" water
vistas and uncrowded conditions