The dry fly fishing has continued its upward trajectory! For whatever reason, it seems we’ve found a lot of brown trout in the net recently-not that we’re complaining. We are praying the flows stay low enough for us to get in more casts at rising fish before higher water shows up. It is currently raining buckets here in Craig, and that looks to be our short-term weather trend. Personally, I’m not too discouraged by the forecast. Hard rain will often keep the Baetis from showing up to the party, but a gentle mist can encourage them to hang around. The same bug medley is playing out over the upper MO right now- it’s mostly Baetis with the March Browns accompanying them in the lower stretches of the river below Craig. There are hints of caddis farther down as well. Starter dry fly kit remains the same- a Baetis imitator in 16-20 on 5X, with a March Brown worth deploying strategically as needed. Popular flies include Flash Cripples (16-18) and Copper Haze (12-14).
The nymph bite out here has been stellar as well. Cloudy days really seem to give the bite a boost. Most of us are deploying some sort of sow-to-mayfly nymphing setup. Standard starting depth of 5′-7′, but as the day progresses, our fish are moving up in the water column. Try shortening your depth if that red-hot morning bite has gone cold. Tailwater sows and the odd fire bead should suffice for a sow pattern. For the Baetis, I’d tie on: Green Machines, Pheasant Tails, Micro Mays, Two Bit Hookers from 14-18 are the ticket. The aforementioned rain will ensure the Wire Worm re-enters the subsurface mix out here. Throw it in dirty water below the tributaries and see if you too can join in on the brown trout bonanza. And I must say that I’ve seen a lot of crayfish milling around recently, which can only mean that Zirdle season is coming. If you’re feeling adventurous/experimental, I’d throw a few as a change-up.
Streamer folks continue to find some willing fish off of the banks and backs of gravel bars. Streamer fish seem keyed in on the pause in the retrieve. Fish are absolutely tanking streamers after the stop. Hot colors are copper, olive, and white. Sparkle Minnows, mini Dungeons, Kreelexes,and Galloup’s Butt Monkeys are taking care of business off the banks. Some serious toads are caught with streamers at this time of year, so don’t be afraid to go out and chuck some of the biggest flies in your box.
We’ve got all of the goods you need for a great day on the river, so stop by in Craig or Helena for a warm (and free!) cup of coffee, some shop talk, and helpful pointers. See you on the water!