Dry fly fishing on the mighty MO has picked up noticeably! With lower flows than we have seen in weeks (7410 cfs), our fish have been up on the surface and enjoying a smorgasbord of midges, Baetis, and March Browns, with the March Browns largely popping off in the lower river. Dry fly patterns include March Browns in 14, Flash Cripple Baetis in 16-18, and the ol’ reliable Parachute in 18-20 (grey and olive are the two primary colors). I have worked through a couple of tricky fish here and there, but (sigh of relief) most of the rising fish seem pretty agreeable. Longer leaders, 4/5X tippet, and a drag-free drift should get the job done.
The drop in levels has also opened up a bit more room for wading anglers, although our fingers are crossed we will get a little lower still. Wading is possible right now but perhaps not yet ideal. Some fish are still getting swung up along the banks, so feel free to get some more mileage out of those two-handed rods. Patterns on the swing include Olive Urchin Buggers, Skiddish Smolts , and the omnipresent black Wooly Bugger. Others are hucking streamers from the boat in low-light conditions and finding some choice browns on the prowl. I’d lean toward the Sparkle Minnow and Doc’s Articulator in smelt and purple to get the job done.
Of course, nymphing is still the bread-and-butter on the river. Sows, scuds and Baetis nymphs are all crawling around down there. 5.5-7.5 feet under the indicator should be the ticket, with enough weight to keep the flies down and over maximum trout snouts. Scuds/ sows are running around size 12-16, with most of us leaning largely on 14s. The Baetis nymph flavor of the week is a Green Machine in 18, but don’t discount Two-Bits and Micro Mays in the same size. The X-factor subsurface has been the worm; it seems the fish have looked for it more in the dirtier water below tributaries, but it can be deployed as a change-up if the fishing has slowed with the usual suspects.
Swing by either of the shops in Craig or Helena and we’re more than happy to give you the latest info and a free cup of coffee. Craig shop is now open at 7 A.M for all of you early risers out there.

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