SUMMER is in full swing here in Craig and its certainly feeling like it. Our flows have finally decreased to semi-normal flows at around 5000 CFS, opening up plenty of wade fishing opportunities throughout the entire stretch. The weather has been HOT and DRY for the most part. We have seen very little rain in the last month besides the odd shower here and there and this trend looks to continue. Water temps are averaging about 65-67 throughout the day, sometimes reaching the 68 degree range. Morning till noon is the best time to find pods of rising fish. The fishing slows down a bit in the afternoon, especially on the hotter days. The key is to get out early before the water and air temps warms up and, once it does heat up, look for fish in the fast, shallow riffles, drop offs, and any other tributaries feeding cooler water into the Missouri.
TRICOS have been consistent in the early morning til about noon and have had some outstanding DRY FLY opportunities during the spinner fall. We have been getting plenty of fish to take small spinner imitations in the mornings & evenings but mostly on the upper stretches of the river. Remember, when using spinners, you want to place it right in front of the fish. PMDs are still around, but we aren’t seeing the heavy hatches we had earlier this season. During the day, look for sippers in back eddies and along the banks and focus on consistency. CADDIS are here and there, but their numbers aren’t exactly causing the fish to key in on them specifically. We do have some caddis eaters throughout the day, but look for the larger caddis hatches in the evenings.
I really like a size 20 rusty spinner if I’m seeing spent mayflys, and a D & D cripple if I’m seeing active hatching PMDs. Its always a good idea to throw a dropper on if you can manage it. I like a pale RS2 emerger for my dropper but have also had success with a CDC captive dun or a yellow WD-40. If you’re fishing along the banks with some brush or rock walls, particularly the lower sections of the river, a CDC caddis imitation should do the trick, I’m a big fan of Lance Egans Cornfed Caddis for those trout.
Nymphing is still probably the most efficient way of getting into fish but its proving to be trickier with all of the weeds starting to come up off the bottom of the river bed. We suggest sticking with the size 16 mayfly patterns like the rust bodied green machine, Hogan’s Military May, Hogan’s S&m, Radiation Baetis, Two bit Hooker, and the Psycho May. Also try some caddis nymph patterns such as the Tung dart, Hare’s ear, and the cased caddis Czech nymph. Fish these nymphs in the fast, shallow water running about 3′-4′ to the bobber from the top fly and adding a single size split shot to get it down. If you’re not ticking bottom, you may not be deep enough, and try adding an additional split shot.
If you have any questions about any flies or techniques, stop in either one of our shops in Craig or Helena, and we can help dial you in to what’s happening on the river.
Stay fishy my friends.