Big Missouri Brown Trout

Gotta let ’em out of the shop every once in awhile.

Yet again, we’ve had an early shot of winter. The roads have largely been plowed clear as of this writing, but use caution tomorrow- the mercury here is dropping into the single digits tonight. The ramps are usable (sort of). A quick rundown of where you can/can’t put in in the upper river: Dam- eh, Wolf Creek Bridge-looking pretty slippery, Craig-sure, Stickney-I wouldn’t, Spite- yes. The upside this go around is that I can confidently say the fishing has turned on. It took a little while, but if you’re looking for the classic MO fall 1-2 punch of Baetis and streamers, step into the ring. October is shaping up to be an epic month out here in the hamlet of Craig. The scenery is stellar with some sugar-white snow on top of the Big Belt mountains. The crowds are largely elsewhere. Waterfowl are migrating to the river for a bit- why wouldn’t you do the same?

The dry fly fishing has been a mix of technical and exciting. The bugs are still a sometimes-tricky concoction of Pseudoclon (ugh) and Baetis (better). Study the color of the predominant bugs and roll from there. Cream/yellow is a sure sign that the Pseudos are on the loose. If those tiny devils are around, I’m often resorting to a teeny cream emerger behind a bigger dry. For bigger Baetis, I’m a fan of the Snowshoe Baetis in an 18-22, or the Smoke Jumper Baetis in the same sizes. If you want a hatch-breaker option, go for a bigger Parachute Adams in grey or purple. Try a 14 for that deal.

Spite Hill on the Missouri River

Spite Hill in the latest snow storm. That’s me, looking at a pod of rising fish. I forgot to put my rod in the shuttle vehicle.

The nymphing remains a solid bet. Target tail-outs and runs with surgical precision. Lots of flavors ofZebra Midges working on the upper river. Down lower, Pheasant tail variations (Frenchies and such) with caddis pupa are getting eaten. The Zirdle thing has fizzled, for now. The sowbug has reentered the mix, especially as a heavier first fly.
The streamer bite has been a welcome respite from cold fingers, light tippets, and fly changes. The water temperature is (finally!) at 53 degrees. One trend I’ve noticed: the fish are not super tight to the bank. Hunt runs with current and a touch of depth. No need to overthink the flies; Sparkle Minnows, Thin Mints, Doc’s Articulators, and Kreelexes will get the job done. Rip ‘em and pause ‘em. Go for bigger flies if you dare. It’s a great time of year here on the MO, and we hope to see you out enjoying the river!

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