The chillier weather has heated up the action on the MO. We’ve seen some classic spring weather here the last few days, and it has corresponded with more bugs, more risers, and more tight lines. The flows are declining slowly, with runoff looming in the distance. The MO is currently running at 4880 CFS. Cool weather for the next week should keep the river nice and steady for the short term. Baetis hatches are the mainstay, with March Browns coming off sporadically. It’s a great time to get out and knock the rust off before summer dry fly fishing arrives in full force.
Missouri River Brown Trout

Dry flies The dry fly bite is an afternoon or evening deal under sunny skies, though it can get going earlier if we have steady cloud cover. Baetis are the ticket for the majority of fishing that are rising steadily, though there are a few midge eaters here and there. The fishing can get technical, and I would certainly throw some cripples and emergers for the smarter fish. In the lower river, fish will look for March Brown patterns off the banks over likely dry fly water. Blind fishing a March Brown pattern along the edge of the river is always a highlight of spring. Now is a great time to find some big browns on a #12 or #14 pattern.

Missouri River Rainbow Trout

Nymphing– The nymph action continues to pick up as the fish slowly move out of their winter lies and into faster runs. 4.5’-6’ is a great depth to start at depending on the water you’re targeting. Look for a mixture of slower current and depth, though I’d experiment within some faster runs as the day progresses. The fish are on their usual May medley of Baetis, sowbug, midges, and worms. I’d lean on a Pederson sowbug or sowbug as the lead fly and then rotate through some Baetis patterns until I find the flavor of the day.
Streamers For a certain breed of angler, it’s always time throw the big bugs. For the rest of us, there’s spring streamer season. The bite is often dependent on a certain amount of cloud cover. The classic Sparkle Minnow checks all of the boxes for a May streamer. It’s big (but not grotesque), it sinks like a rock, and it puts out a lot of flash. Mix up your retrieve; the fish don’t seem to be locked in on anyone rhythm right now. Within the last week, I’ve had successful days ripping the fly off the banks like a bat out of hell, but I’ve also found times when the fish want the streamer low and slow. Try new things- that’s one of the chief attractions of the long fly game.
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