For the first time in a long time, the Missouri River is under hoot owl restrictions. This means that the river’s closed to fishing from 2 PM-midnight every day. It bears repeating that the fish need your help this time of year. Fight ‘em quick and let ‘em go without taking them out of the water.
Nymphing: The nymph bite has been solid in the mornings, with swirl lines and shallow flats holding The grass is around, and it’s in some of the nymph lanes fairly thick. Shallow riffles and fast water in general are your best friends out there right now. Quick plug: barbless hooks shed grass a lot better and also come out of the fish (or your ear) much more easily. Keep in mind that knots, weights, etc. are all grass collection points. Most folks are nymphing a combination of large junky attractor nymphs (Zirdles come to mind) with a small Trico pattern off the back. Zebras, small Two Bit hookers and little Green Machines are small-bug essentials this time of year. For the least amount of grass, head south to the dam. For the most boats and angler traffic, head south to the dam. Weight is optional at this point, but don’t be afraid to mix some in for the fast heavy water. You can also find a few fish in shallow water hanging a Zebra Midge off the back of a chubby or grasshopper pattern.
Dry flies: Tricos rule the morning and then hoppers will drive you to a 2 PM finish. The Trico fishing has been quite solid, with an early start a big part of the equation. These fish have seen a lot of flies at this point in the season. Throw a reach cast. Throw a good one. Take your time and don’t let the fish know you’re there trying to catch it. They’re tough out there, but they are there. Hopper bite has been pretty good, depending on your eat:hookup ratio. Slow hooksets win the day. I find I hopper fish best when I’m not lazered in on the bug. Zone out a little, you’ll land more fish. Hoppers are fantastic on 3X too, which means you can pull fish in quickly and then let them swim off.
Other bulletins: Looks like the hoot owl restrictions have reduced angler traffic, but please be mindful of the health of the fishery. Stop at 2 PM, if not before. Sunscreen and sun protection are key this time of year. Bring plenty of water and be ready for some smoky haze out there. A Buff is a great idea. Fight, handle, and release fish as quickly as possible. Use a no-touch, quick-release tool for removing flies, like the Snively “No Spook” or a Ketchum Release. With the warm days and the higher water temps we’re opening earlier. Shop hours are 6-6 for a while. Free coffee and semi-intelligent shop banter guaranteed.