Fly Fishing Adventures

Epic Day Fly Fishing The Missouri River, Near Craig, Montana

Epic Day Fly Fishing The Missouri River, Near Craig, Montana

Spring in Montana can be very interesting to say the least as far as weather goes.  Our family took a little trip to Missoula to visit our daughter and spend Mother’s Day in the mountains.  We have been checking the weather for the past 10 days, and expected rain.  The weather apps were telling us 80-90% chances of rain for the duration of our trip.  Well…we sure didn’t see much rain at all for the four days we were there.  We experience some snow, some beautiful sunshine, and some heavy winds, but barely any rain.  


I was excited to book the Monday after Mother’s Day with my good friend Jake, AKA, @missoulaflyguy, and we planned on driving up near Craig, Montana to float The famous Missouri River.  We spend one day last May on The Missouri, and got into some great trout.  This trip was even more amazing.  We met at our hotel in Missoula at 6am, and headed out of town.  The drive was fantastic, we saw numerous herds of Elk, Big Horn Sheep, and Mule Deer.  We pulled into Craig, Montana around 8:30.  Craig is the classic definition of a trout town, including around 4 fly shops, 4 bars, maybe around 10 houses and cabins, and a church.  

We headed out of town, and put our float boat into The Missouri around 9:00.  It definitely wasn’t as crowded as last year.  I remember around thirty boats launching last year, and this year there were three.  I began rigging up fly rods.   For this trip I brought three combos.  My traditional double fly rod case holding two El Jefe Six Section combos in 6 & 8 weight as well as an extra El Jefe four section six weight.  I will not come to Montana without an eight weight for throwing big streamers.  This trip, I wanted to bring a couple of nymphing rods so we can have a dry and dropper as well as a two fly nymph rig set up to switch when we need to without re-rigging.

Jake loves fishing a chubby Chernobyl up top with his favorable rubber leg stone fly nymph he calls “The Turd” as our dry and dropper.  He also expected a solid beittis hatch on the water today, which are a pretty small bug so our nymph rig was set up with two bead head beittis flies.  We found a giant four or five inch articulated brown streamer to arm our El Jefe Eight weight and were good to go.  

We were recently started a partnership with Scientific Anglers to distribute their products, so I was excited to spool up our El Jefe Fly reels with Scientific Anglers Mastery Fly Line.  Scientific Anglers makes incredible fly line.  

Last year when we fished the Missouri, Jake and I were shut out before lunch.  This year, we would remedy this and hook into some rainbows about ten minutes after launch.  Today was going to be a good day, I had a feeling!

We caught rainbows right away on the beatis flies as well as the turd.  Fish were leaving the dry along on this trip.  Basically, every run we fished, we would hook into something which was incredible.  Around 10:30, we started hooking into some larger fish in the 16-18 inch range.  These fish were hot, they fought super hard, and it was common to have them jump four to five feet out of the water multiple times.  It was incredible.  

Jake mentioned that we had a lot of river to cover and we would need to keep moving.  It’s pretty amazing that if we wanted to stay and hit some of these runs for 15-20 minutes, we likely would have pulled 6-8 fish out of each one, but we stuck with one fish per hole.  

The scenery along this float, which was called The Canyon, was incredible.  I really enjoyed hitting some of the same stretch of river we floated last year.  It was fun remembering some of the spots we caught fish last year.  Check out our blog from last year, I’m sure some of the backgrounds will look similar.  

Right before lunch I decided to pull out the Eight Weight El Jefe and toss that giant streamer across this large slow moving section of water.  Within three or four casts, a decent brown took an aggressive swipe at our fly but didn’t get hooked up.   That’s a great sign for sure!  Four or five casts later, a larger brown bumped our fly, circled back, and inhaled it.  It was on.  This big brown leaped out of the water three or four times putting on an incredible fight before entering Jake’s net.  We knew this was a big brown, but our eight weight took care of business.  We took a quick measurement to find that this beauty was just over 22 inches.  Wow, incredible fish.  A couple of photos, and slow mo video of this fish swimming out of the net and it was fist bumping time!  I love streamer fishing, there is nothing like watching these big predators destroy a big streamer 10-15 feet from the boat.  

After breaking for a quick lunch, we kept moving down the river and continued to net solid fish in the 18-20 inch range.  After lunch we caught more brown trout than rainbows including another solid 20 inch beauty.  This brown ate our size 16 Beattas fly.  It was a pretty cool hook up, Jake wanted me to put the fly between these two large rock sticking out of the water, and El Jefe delivered.  Moments later, the indicator went under and it was on!  Catching multiple browns over 20 inches makes for an epic day for sure.  We didn’t keep track of the total number of fish in the boat on this incredible Monday, but we know we landed over ten trout in the 18-19 inch range, and two over 20 inches.  Simply incredible.  

The Missouri is an incredible river, and if it’s not on your list, it should be.  I’d love to introduce you to Jake, but I recommend getting something on the calendar at least six months in advance.  As you can imagine, good guides like him book up pretty quickly.  

Until next time, tight lines my friend!


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