Missouri River hopper fishing

My personal favorite thing about this time of year is the quiet weekdays. While the quality of the fishing might not always match up with peak season, the overall quality of experience on a slow day is great. It’s nice to have a quiet ramp and a big, wide river ahead of you with just a few fellow anglers on it. The fishing itself is typical of late August, with some Trico spinners in the early morning giving way to the odd hopper eat or four overtop the weed beds. The grass is something we always contend with this time of year. Stay patient, stay focused, and you’ll find clean lanes to fish. Saturdays are still busy, but recreational traffic should drop off here pretty soon with the onset of September and cooler weather.

Dry flies: Tricos are on early, and they’re still a touch sparse. Look away from the pods of little splashy fish (which are a dime a dozen in the upper river) and focus on the rogue fish sipping under bushes. Those are usually your bigger fish. Other than that, ants and hoppers are the deal. I’d coach anyone looking to throw a hopper out here to adopt what I term the “streamer mentality.” By that, I mean come prepared to cover water and commit a serious percentage of your fishing time in order to find success. Much like streamer fishing, a lot of hopper fishing comes down to confidence in your pattern (you won’t find me out there without some sort of royal-colored bug in the box) and a positive mindset. The MO doesn’t give out hopper eats willy-nilly on a normal day, though it is glorious when it happens. It does kick out some big fish that eat the fly in a variety of interesting ways, and that’s good enough for me. Hit the seams, hit the riffles, and hit the mid river flats. Anywhere with some depth, cover, and current is hopper water.

Nymphs: The upper river is nymphing very well. Lots of fish up at the dam, where the water is colder and less grassy. The classic Zebra midge in black is a killer this time of year. Any small dark fly fished deep on the mid river nymph runs should produce up there. Don’t expect to have the dam to yourself this time of year, but if everyone cooperates and is courteous, there’s more than enough space. Elsewhere, the crawfish bite has been good enough in shallow riffles, rock gardens, and other areas where the mini-lobsters like to crawl around. Drop an olive mayfly nymph off of that and you should be good to go. Going weightless over the really grassy stuff is a good play to keep in the playbook, especially if you’re down below Craig.

Other bulletins: Take care of the trout this time of year. It’s not crazy hot, but keep them low and in the current if you can. Masks are still required in the shop. Free coffee is still on in the shop. Our hours are 7-5, every day. See you out here!

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