Category Archives: Missouri River
June is coming. Not until we endure a couple more weeks of this fantastic May. Scumliner and Ninch love this month. Why? Because it rules, that’s why. Lots of dry fly action around the river for the remainder for the month. Lots. Then June arrives.
June has lots of dry fly action too. Could be my favorite month. But then there is April, October,….
Top 10 June Moments
- Dead calm early mornings. Caddis Swarms nightly.
- Blind Caddis fly fishing in canyon.
- PMD’s. Squeeky’s favorite fly.
- Buzzball’s all day long.
- Caddis in you nose, ears, on the water, in your car…
- Warm weather, sun, and green-ness abounds.
- Not too many folks. Yet.
- Dry Flies. Love dry flies.
- Yellow Sally’s. The get rolling and keep on rolling. Better hatches the last several years. This year? Gotta be here to know.
- You drifting down the Missouri River.
Come out and make your own June memories. Enjoy a Top 10 June Moment. Or several. Check them off as you go…
Drift away at work today with an image of our great Montana trout sucking on your fly.
It’s all about energy. Obviously, any living creature has to make more from the calories in food than the effort it takes to find and catch it. You couldn’t afford to walk a mile if the only thing at the end was a peanut. Trout can’t afford to fight fast water for midges.
So, if you want to find fish, it’s critical to keep this energy model in mind.
Trout Feeding Efficiency Model
During the winter, there’s not much food available. Besides the occasional scud and sow bug that can’t be relied on, the only hatches are midges. Damn small midges at that. So the trout end up in places where they will expend very little energy – hugging the bottom in deep slow water holes where there’s very little current to fight and just enough flow to bring them some food. If there’s a big midge hatch, it may be worth it for them to try for a few extra calories by hitting some clusters on the surface in relatively slow slicks and scum lines.
Input must exceed output for all living creatures to survive
If the fish are small, it doesn’t take as many calories for them to chase food, so that’s why you’ll sometimes see nothing but small fish rising. The big boys are below eating pupa in slower water. And, if you do see the big guys on top, it’s in the best water – slow, but in scum lines and eddies that concentrate the small midges.
A big fish’s rise form is different. You usually won’t see that splashy rise that little fish can get away with. Big fish rise very efficiently. Often it’s just a sip. If there’s a lot of food in the drift, they’ll hover, tilt and gulp. Often they’ll concentrate on cripples and emergers in the surface film. That takes less energy. Fewer calories out; more calories in.
Things really get cooking on the Mo when the caddis start popping. These bugs are pretty big and there are lots of them, so the trout can get more calories faster by feeding in faster water. They’ll move into shallow, choppy riffles and runs. Even then, the best fish will set up shop in the best spots.
They love seams where they can sit in relatively slow water and pick bugs out of the faster water that’s bringing them by quickly. They also like the slow water close to the bottom. Even in fast water, the water next to the bottom moves slowly. Big fish sit there and pick off bugs that sweep quickly over them. Drop offs are great.
Some of the best fast water spots of all are the saucer-like depressions in shallow riffles. Big fish sit in these deeper spots in the shallows and many anglers miss these spots. Look for small areas of relatively calm water in the riffle, give it a try and hang on.
The bottom line is that when trout are feeding (and those are the ones you’re looking for), where they are depends on the number and size of the bugs they’re feeding on. Within those areas, look for seams, drop offs, rocks and depressions where they can stay in slow water close to the fast water that’s bringing the food.
Keep the Trout Feeding Efficiency Model in mind not only while dry fly fishing but while nymphing too. The fish are only where the food is.
All indications are that JUNE will be THE MONTH on the Missouri River this summer. The Missouri River June Forecast looks real promising. Fantastic. Mind-blowing…just plain awesome.
With our lower flows this spring and the lower snow pack we understand that the runoff will be light. That is what John and Mark believe as well. Mother Nature seems to be cooperating and the angler in us likes that. Will there be enough water to get us through the summer? Of course, we got a dam.
Yes, no run off values in the 20K mark. More like the 10K mark for a short time. Can anyone truly know? No. But, history proves a great teacher and we will not see higher flows than that. Maybe a few days in the 7-8K range? Speculation, educated speculation at that.
The water managers peak the Canyon Ferry reservoir beginning the 4th week of June and that gives all the interests down stream water for the summer. Us too.
So, seems like a safe move. I believe it is. June is Squeeky’s favorite month, and Scumliner likes it too. He is a huge fan of May, and this May is proving to be a great one. What makes a good June is a good May. The bugs this month are right on track for the unbelievable June hatch run. Honest.
What we are seeing now are a few Yellow Sally’s, a few caddis, quite a few March Browns, plenty of BWO’s and Midges…a bug factory producing record numbers. the forecast looks good.
“The Missouri River future is so bright I gotta wear shades”
Missouri River June Forecast
In the past several years we have had higher than normal JUne fishing periods. July too. Lat year was lower, this year lower yet. So, the water forecast is proving to be low. What does that mean for hatch cycles? Well in one word, perfect.
June was great in the early and mid 2000′s. Fabulous in fact. Then the high water and many were spooked out of June. It is my favorite month. I love PMD Brown Trout that eat the fly. I have always believed that June is the month when you can catch the big brown on the dry fly.
Light fishing pressure too. This year with the internet information readily available? It will fill. Our guides have room and so do our lodging hosts. We got space for you. The reason for the lull is the past. Erase those high water memories and get out a gallon of Gink. Dry shake too.
June Hatch Forecast
- PMD’s begin about the second week of June. I always state that we first see them the 4th, 5th, or 6th and they get really rolling about a week later. Bring a pile of spinners, crips…The fish get dumb on this bug. Real dumb. If you like bank feeders, PMD’s were made for you.
- Caddis flies are every where as well. July is the big month for this bug, but June gets better every day with the advancement of the Caddis Army. Bugs in your ears, in your shirt, in the wiating trout mouths. Who does not love a caddis hatch. We sure do.
- Yellow Sally’s too. Find them in the canyon eating on top. These bugs become more prolific every year. This June? More I suspect.
- Brown Drakes. You like giant mayflies?
The lower water will be outstanding for the wade fisherman as well. Easy access and lower flows mean good times for the bank angler. See us for the coolest and hatch matching flies and leaders, dry shake.
Trico’s come in July. Grasshoppers come in July. The crowds come in July.
Discerning dry fly anglers come in June. Or those who can sneak away for a dry fly vacation. How about you? Can you sneak away?
This is just another tease and information blog about the upcoming June. We are damn excited about it and cannot wait. But we will muddle through the marvelous May we are having content with March Brown, Baetis, and Midge fishing daily.
The 2013 year has been above expectations and continues to impress. Keep it here for more information about the upcoming summer, lodging avail, guide actions, BBQ’s, flies, gear reviews, the updated and honest fishing reports, rental boats, shuttles…everything you need for the Missouri River.
The Missouri River June Forecast is off the charts good. Give us a shout if you need additional information or would just like to bullshit about PMD’s, Caddis, Sally’s….
June will be epic this year. Low flows, famous hatches, and you?
Lots of new fresh life around on the Missouri River this May.
Not only are the Geese toting around their goslings, our Osprey and Eagles are readying the nest for young too.
Scumliner has given us a rundown on the hatches that we are seeing daily. The grassy hills are green, albeit temporarily, and the weather is warm.
We have seen new boats gracing the waters of the Missouri River and we at Headhunters are no different. We have new rental boats from Adipose Boatworks in Helena MT and they look sharp.
We see lots of friendly retuning faces here on the river and will we see your shiny face here in the shop? We like to meet new faces and we welcome all of you to our great resource. We like to keep you folks informed about the upcoming events and this weekend is a good one to attend.
7th Annual Craig Caddis Festival and BBQ Cook-Off Saturday May 18th. Come out an see not only your favorite Headhunters gang but get your feed bag on and try lots of good BBQ fare!
Missouri River Fatties
The Missouri is big water and it breeds big, strong trout. If you are new to the Mo’, you may be surprised. Even if you’ve had some bonefish or steelhead experience, there are some twists to landing fish out here that make it tough. In fact, when we’re dealing with big fish in perfect conditions – 60 degree, fast, oxygenated water with a few weeds around – we often have to go to Rodeo Rules. Eight seconds, a few jumps and you can count ‘em.
There are a few things, though, that will help you land these big boys. Here are the Glassen’s Ten Commandments for Landing Missouri River Fatties.
1. Learn to tie good knots!
Notice that I didn’t say “learn good knots”. All the standard fishing knots (clinch, blood knot, surgeon’s knot, etc.) are pretty good. The important part is learning how to tie them right every time. The most important part of knot tying is understanding that knots slip before they break – they actually generate heat on that slip. So, it’s critical that you pull them up tight and minimize slip. Jerk them a few times! If it doesn’t look right, believe me, it isn’t. Cut it and try again or you will lose the next big fish.
2. Use Strong Hooks
If you’re a tier, make sure you’re using strong hooks. If you’re buying flies, look for strong hooks. With today’s strong tippet material, it’s easy to straighten (or break) hooks. And, after every fish you catch, lose or miss, check your hook and see if it’s “sprung”. If it is bent, the temper is shot and bending it back won’t help. You will lose the next big fish.
3. Use Big Hooks
If you’re a tier, consider using a standard shank hook rather than the size smaller 1x long hook. You’ll land more fish. Most of the time, you don’t have to use the really small stuff to catch fish. I believe that at least 40% of the fish I land are on size 12 or larger flies. I seldom use anything smaller than an 18 if I can help it.
4. Use Sharp Hooks
Check the point of your hook every time your fly catches on the bottom. Run your finger tip over it to make sure that the point isn’t bent. If it is, sharpen it or change the fly. If you want to land big fish, this is not a good time to be cheap or lazy. If the hook isn’t sharp, you won’t get a good “set” and, if you don’t get a good set, you usually won’t land the fish.
5. Use Strong Tippet
Personally, I never use less than 5x on the Mo’ and that’s only for size 16 or smaller flies. I fish 5x down to 22’s and that’s about as small as I ever go. Most of the time, I’m using 3x and 4x. Learn how much pressure that tippet will take before it breaks. It’s more than you think.
6. Check your tippet
Run your thumbnail over the tippet. If you feel nicks, change the tippet. If you find wind knots, change the tippet. The best knots in the world won’t help if there are nicks in the tippet. Compared to the money you spent to get here, a few feet of tippet is pretty cheap. The fish you break off will be the one you didn’t want to.
7. Get A Reel With a Good Drag
You can read a lot of fly fishing books that say that “a fly reel is just used to hold line”. That advice doesn’t apply on the Mo’.
8. Get the Fish on the Reel
As soon as you have control of the fish, get him on the reel. Learn to hold the fish with your forefinger while feeding line under tension to the reel with your pinky. Reel like mad and get the fish on the reel.
9. Properly Adjust Your Drag
Now that you have a good reel, use it. Crank up that drag pretty high and don’t change it while you’re fighting a fish. You want it set pretty high, but you don’t want to tear the hook out. You do want the fish to run (and tire) — but not too far. Very few good things happen when a fish is way into the backing. So, up to a point, more drag is better. Play the fish hard. Make him work all the time. Get his head up and net him. Don’t play a fish gingerly. Play ‘em like you’ve had one on before.
10. Get Your Rod Tip Up
Hold your rod tip high. Nothing good happens if the fish gets close the weeds, rocks and snags on the bottom. I’ve heard the advice about keeping the tip low and working one side of the fish hard, but most of the time that doesn’t work for me. I think that the more line you have off the water, the fewer floating weeds get caught on your line. Weeds on your line are the biggest problem landing fish in the summer and fall. Keep a good bend in the rod and let the fish work against that. Never give the fish slack. Keep constant pressure on the fish.
Finally, be of good cheer. Everybody loses fish — particularly on the Mo’. There are more out there and you were going to let him go anyway. And here’s the best part: I’ve lost a lot of women and a few jobs that I can hardly remember, but I remember every big fish I’ve lost. Every one of them….
Continued restoration on the banks of the Missouri River.
We have always called this spot ’3 post fence’…then later ’4 post fence.’
Squeeky Oar Lock caught his first 20″ brown on a Wooly Bugger there many years ago.
Thanks to FWP, the fly clubs on both sides of the Mo. Pat Barnes TU and Missouri River Flyfishers for their continued support.
Soon news about the restoration of Prickly Pear at Sieben Ranch. Restoring some Rainbow spawning habitat.
Keep it here for everything Missouri River. Your information source, Headhunters Blog.
Missouri River Flows
Great Falls Intl Airport, MT
Last Updated on May 21 2013, 10:53 pm MDT
Current Conditions: Fair and Breezy
Wind: East at 21mph
Used Drift Boat For Sale
Used 2005 EMR with trailer, Cataract Oars, anchor, new rope, new NRS rowers seat. Trailer just rewired and hubs packed. Used hard but still in good shape. $4000 OBO. Call the shop.
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They’re Just Sayin’
- Richard 45 wt on Project Healing Waters Missouri River via Erie PA Excursion
- Murray on Project Healing Waters Missouri River via Erie PA Excursion
- Kevin Hospodar on Project Healing Waters Missouri River via Erie PA Excursion
- Bob Glassen on Trout Feeding Efficiency | How far would you walk for a peanut?
- Squeeky Oar Lock on Missouri River Montana Fishing Report 5.19.13