Missouri River Fly Fishing
It’s official folks: the MO has entered its late-summer phase. Early on, early off floats rule the day right now, with the morning Trico fall and a midday terrestrial bite providing the highlights. PMDs are still coming off in ever-smaller numbers, but the fish seem to be happy to snack on the odd Rusty Spinner in the drift. The crowds are waning (save for Saturdays- yikes) and the river is entertaining. August can be hot, dusty, and grassy, but it can also bring beautiful sunny days full of big, hopper-eating brown trout.
Dry flies: The Trico pods are around on some days in the upper river. Tricos are coming off in the mornings, but wind and weather will play a role in whether or not the fish eat them. Spinners are the absolute go to for this hatch. It’s imperative to fish them fly-first with a good dead drift. I like to have around 12’ of leader as a starting point with a combination of Trico and Rusty Spinners in #18 and #20. Hopper fishing allows us to get away with bigger bugs and stouter tippet, both of which make it easier to get the fish in the net quickly and safely. Quick aside on that subject: keep in mind that lower, warmer flows can stress our trout. Try to keep them in the water as much as possible. Anyhow, I like leggy hoppers that have pink or purple bellies. The ever reliable Chubby Chernobyl will also get the job done, and we’ve got ‘em in all sorts of sizes and flavors at the shop here in Craig. Both hoppers and ants also work as effective hatch-breakers; go ahead and throw terrestrials at sipping fish if they’re not eating a standard dry. The caddis can play that role as well, and you definitely shouldn’t hit the river without a bevy of CDC caddis options.
Nymphing: The grass has started to rear its head, especially in the lower river. This takes away some of the standard nymphing lines and moves a lot of our focus to mid-river current lines. Lots of folks are getting into fish at various depths right now, but all successful days follow a similar formula: they find the current and they stay in it all day long. This is a great time of year to fish a big bug-little bug combo. I like to roll a tan or natural Zirdle up top with a Psycho May or a Frenchie behind it. I’m using a B or BB depending on what depth I’m fishing. The short leash rig is a good one to have on hand as well. That’s best on days with a strong amount of bugs on the water, which helps keep the fish on the shallow flats and seams you need to hit with the short leash. Love bugs, zebra midges, and Military Mays are great under the Palsa pinch ons we lean on for short leashing.
Streamers: Sheesh, it’s pretty grassy out there for that. Inside bends if you must.
We’ll see you out here at the shop or on the water! We’re open every day from 7-6 with friendly, knowledgable staff and free coffee.
2 Responses to Missouri River Fishing Report- 8/7/20
  1. Comment *Hi Henry, we will be out again to Craig the third week of September. Question from your recent blog, what do you consider a short leach nymph rig and what are love bugs and Palsa pinch? All the other patterns we are familiar with. Look forward to seeing you next month. Gene and Jane McKenna

    • Gene, Short Leash Nymphing is where we set a small indicator (like Pinch-Ons or the 1/2″ AirLock https://www.crosscurrents.com/product/air-lock-strike-indicators/) 2′-4′ from our nymphs and we usually don’t use any extra weight on the leader -just the beads on the fly. Luv Bugs are a pattern developed here on the Missouri by a now retired Guide, Trapper Badovanic. It’s a great Baetis or Midge Pattern. We have them tied here locally and will get them up on our website in the near future. Look forward to seeing you in September!


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