Category Archives: travel
On some random steelhead river in Oregon. Green for St Patrick’s Day! The entire NW is this color.
The fella in this image is swinging with little success. Love the coastal rivers and the 100 shades of green. Just awesome. Sometimes the fish crawl on the line as well.
Rain, ferns, moss, slippery rocks, spey rods, gloves, warm hats, lots of casts…then repeat.
A patient mans game with rewards looming out there somewhere.
Lots of casts, swinging…then repeat.
Exploring is always fun. New rivers and new friends. Fellowship is certainly part of the game, the experience, the fun.
How about a trip to the Missouri this year? If you have not been here it is a good year to come. Great early season midge hatches will precede the baetis, the March Browns, the caddis, the drakes…
If you have been here for years and years why not try a Blackfoot River Trip to break up the fun. 3 days on the Missouri with one on the Blackfoot? Why not. Big bushy flies for cutts, bows, browns, hybrids. Beautiful country as well. See the other side of the Rockies in fat Headhunters Style.
Ask about the Dearborn as well. We are the local experts on this freestone river. Late May into June is the time frame. Dovetail this float into your trip as well. A long canyon like excursion that is sure to not only excite your fish flavor buds but your wilderness photo fanaticism as well. Call anytime for information on both of these fabulous rivers in our region.
If you want to fish a river like the one above, we can recommend guides like Jeff Hickman @ Fish the Swing for a 2 handed trip to remember. You like to learn about Spey casting and some of the intricacies? Take your knowledge one step further with Jeff on a winter swinging steelhead trip.
If you want to explore your Missouri River option this summer take some time and look at the calender for your summer dry fly trip. The center months of summer fill early, like yesterday, so if you need lodging or a specific guide now is the best time to secure those dates.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrate responsibly this evening…
Finally back in Craiglandia after a trip to our winter hang in the lower Florida Keys. As usual, guide Ben Hardy is spending the winter chasing fish around the flats from Key Largo to Key West.
Ben is living with his buddy Florida guide Gabe Nyblad who guides every day… and every night! Gabe is a tremendous source of fresh seafood, and thanks to his hospitality I enjoyed as much Blackfin Tuna and Stone Crab as I wanted. That alone was worth the trip. Thanks Gabe. (Call the shop if you want Gabes contact info)
Right before I arrived, Gabe, Ben and some others filled the fridge with Tuna. Here’s Ben with a beautiful one ready to be seared.
Ben and I spent several days fishing the Everglades, a trip neither of us had ever done but had long wanted to. It was a great time in a beautiful place, and while the weather didn’t cooperate for Tarpon fishing, we found tons of Snook and Redfish through a combination of blind and sight fishing. You can see a nice Snook Ben nabbed at the top.
We camped in Chickees along the way, elevated platforms that made camping practical and comfortable. You need to reserve these before you launch – but cannot reserve them more than 24 hours in advance – which makes logistics a little difficult. You are only allowed to stay one night in each Chickee, another logistical hitch.
After the Glades adventure, we headed back to the Lower Keys. The weather had been cool while we were gone, and we took a very windy day off from fishing. We ran a few errands in Key West, including a trip to The Angling Co., a great fly shop owned by Nathaniel Linville. This is a great shop and I highly recommend you stop by if you’re in the area. Tons of Simms gear, Tim Borski artwork T’s and a great selection of fly tackle for the salt.
The last day the weather turned and Ben and I leisurely headed out to hit the incoming and look for Permit. We had some great shots at big ones, but I couldn’t close the deal. I did manage to find a couple of packs of big Bonefish, which made for a successful day.
The only way to finish off a trip to the Keys was a trip to the best restaurant I know of, the Square Grouper on Cudjoe Key. We were joined by old friends Scott and Jane of Sightfish Charters, and also ran into our buddy, Montana guide, and film maker Lance Gleason and Florida guide Justin Rea, guys we often see in Craig. Our old friend Lenore Baker was in charge of the bar at the Grouper, and it was great to see her as well. A great evening.
You should head down to the Keys this winter and look up nay of these folks for a great time. If you have any questions, give us a shout.
Ben Hardy and I spent the last few days exploring the South’s greatest wilderness. We were looking for Tarpon, Snook, Redfish and whatever else we could find swimming around in Everglades National Park.
We loaded up the Lostmen with extra gas, not enough ice, a little food and a lot of water and completed an approximately 120+ mile trip through the swamp.
Our accommodations were the “Chickees” used for backcountry camping. Elevated platforms that you put your tent on and tie you boat up to. Think of a fixed dock that is 12 x 12. Not luxurious, but its too tall for the gators to climb up on.
Gators? Yes, we saw hundreds if them. Interesting creatures that are attracted to surface flies and lures.
We were really hoping to spot a Swamp Ape but didn’t. We think we heard one however.
Super cool trip in a place I’ve always wanted to see. The weather wasn’t perfect for Tarpon fishing – tough light and a little cool – but we managed to catch a bunch of Snook and other species.
Why not fish the Blackfoot River on your next Missouri River trip? Many traveling anglers fish/stay for 3-5 days fishing only the Missouri River. While the Missouri is the crown jewel of Montana, the best technical dry fly fishery on earth, you may as well jump over the Continental Divide and visit the Blackfoot River too!
Or, why not fish the Blackfoot on your summer visit exclusively? Food for thought? Maybe, and why would you do that? A change of pace, discovering new water, or just to mix up your fishing routine.
Fish the Blackfoot River this year
Many of you know the Blackfoot as just one more of Montana’s fantastic Blue Ribbon rivers. It is a great freestone that runs about many, many miles from the west divide to the college town of Missoula.
We are graced on our staff a couple of fly fishing guides who cut their teeth fishing and guiding in the Missoula area. Peter and Nick are both really familiar with the Blackfoot and enjoy popping over for a day or two or three to their old stomping grounds. Kurt is also well versed on the Blackfoot River putting in lots of time on the oars across the divide.
So while the Blackfoot River is not our bread and butter, it is certainly worth the short drive to a resource where you not only catch several species of trout, you can toss bigger, bushier, floating flies that any angler with aging eyes can see!!
A Freestone River with fantastic scenery
Expect to fish in a beautiful canyon with big tall pines on a classic freestone. Riffle, runs, and pools hold rainbow, cutthroat, brown, cut-bow, and bull trout. While the numbers per mile do not replicate the Missouri’s overwhelming populations, there are plenty of fish in the Blackfoot River. Dry fly fishing is the preferred method over here for most of the season, nymphing and streamer fishing are both very productive.
The reason we like to fish the Blackfoot River is the opportunity to throw huge floating flies like the Chubby Chernoble, Salmon Fly Patterns. Anything with foam and tons of deer hair lashed onto the hook shank. Yep, flies you can see!
Blackfoot River has lots of Hatches
Hatches include the aforementioned Salmon Fly and stoneflies, Drakes, Sallies, Spruce Moths, Mahogany’s Trico’s, tons of caddis, PMD’s, grasshoppers, ants and a few that we certainly don’t have on the Missouri River near Craig. The fishing is not nearly as technical or difficult as the Missouri River. If you like casting at banks, cliff lines, beautiful seam lines with large attractor flies coupled with outstanding scenery you will love the Blackfoot River.
If you like the nymph game you will be relieved that large PT’s Hare’s Ear’s, and Prince nymphs are the norm here. Lots of split and double beaded stones suspended below a bobber will net you several fish out of those great long rambling riffles.
Dries, nymphs, and streamers too
Those of you who are into big articulated steamers and flies as long as your arm, then you too will like the Blackfoot River. Get out of the boat and explore deeper tailouts with your favorite beastly streamer flies.
We start fishing the Blackfoot River just as run-off is receding generally around the middle of June. If we have lower water years a few guys sneak over earlier in the month. By the time July arrives we should be able to fish it during your Missouri River stay or just book a Blackfoot only trip. The Blackfoot fishes well into the fall as well. You may enjoy this under fished resource nearly any period of the fishing season.
You may like to try the Blackfoot River out this year. Add it on to your fly fishing trip to the Missouri River or make it a stand alone trip. Call the shop if you need additional information about this wonderfully scenic & fishy resource just across the divide.
Ben Hardy holds a nice Deschuttes River Steelhead he caught while fishing with Brett Matula and Ben McNinch. Looks like fun. Ben and Ninch are hiding out in a tent right now on a remote Steelhead river looking for more.
Team Headhunters is slowly returning from the “End-of-the-year-Steelhead-lollapalooza”. We didn’t catch many fish on the Deschuttes, but we all had a great time. We would all like to thank Amy Hazel at the Deschuttes Angler for hooking us up with flies and info. Great shop. Stop in when you’re there.
Sara, Julie and John are back in Craigtown. Mark and Ninch should be back next week. The rest are chasing fish, visiting family and resting after a long summer.
We missed the big storm, and the snow is melting quickly today. Fishing should be great, and we’ll be out there in the next few days looking for the last BWO’s of the year and swinging Mozuri Minnows on 2handers.
If you need lodging in Craig, the Craig House is open “Inn Style” this winter. That is, “by the room”. You’ll have that great kitchen and great room to cook meals and watch football on the big screen. If you have a group of 4 or 6 you can rent the whole thing. Or you can rent it by yourself if you hate people. That’s what I would do.
Remember that Izaaks is closed, and many of the other Canyon options are open 4-5 days a week. Call the shop with any questions about lodging or food. We are open all winter from 8am ’til 6pm.
Lots of new stuff in the coming week. Stay tuned…
We love the fall fishing here on the Missouri. For many, it is the favorite time of the year. The golden sun, the turning leaves, fewer anglers. A time to get together with old friends and share a few casts.
Not to mention the browns, the baetis, and the bullshit.
Now we are headlong into the September fishing month and it is fishing about how it should for the conditions, water level, water temps etc. Mostly nymphing here on the Mo during September. The weeds will bother you below Craig until you get through the canyon, and then they miraculously disappear. Sort of. They will let you toss big hoppers down low with out too much pain.
As we leave this dry fly vacant month and move into October you will find lots of opportunities for all your fly fishing style pursuits.
Many days you may not know what to do. Do you toss streamers until your arm falls off? Do you stake out a flat and wait for the inevitable BWO hatch. Or do you put the feed bag on and pound on nymph fish until your fishing partner cries wolf?
Your choice. Or, the best of all worlds…do all three!
Streamer Junkies Unite
Streamer Gang will throw the big junk until the cows leave home. The kind of angler who waits patiently
chews his fingernail off in his tying dungeon through the nymphing month tying articulated or just small and diminutive jewels dreaming of the un-godly brown trout thrills in October and November.
The weeds have left, for the most part, and he is free to chuck & duck dawn til dusk. And they do. Searching for anything that may inhale or chew on said streamer. These guys get enjoyment from watching the fly disappear in the trout’s gnarled jaw. Preferably an old and grizzly kyped dude.
Long floats with longer leaders will have the streamer faction fishing all month long. We will see an influx of out of work out of area guides spend some serious time here on the Missouri. While our guides are fishing and guiding into the November time frame., these freestone guides are done on their rivers and waiting for the winter season to arrive. They will fish the Mo, hunt the uplands, and drink a few cold ones along the way. We welcome them
smelly trout bums to our fine resource and enjoy learning, chatting, and having them buy a few rounds in Joe’s during the nightly roundtable.
Joe’s has a fireplace for you to warm your toes. Behind the bar they got the elixir to warm your heart, and head.
The fall is terrific with fewer folks and river-wide fishing availability. Some fellers even cast and blast. Just sayin’, good stuff happens in the fall months of October and November.
The later you can stand to come, often the better. Then you can insure the evidence of Baetis and reduction of pressure. November can be shit hot. Shhh, don’t say a word, ya hear.
Dry Fly Fanatics | Blue Winged Olives
October and November on the Missouri River can be real, real, real good. But, keep in mind the weather and the wind and the skies and the bugs and the moisture and the water temps and the air temps must be in cahoots with each other. The planets do not have to be aligned, but it does not hurt.
While the rest of your friends may want ot put up some numbers with the nymph rig, you on the other hand like to fish like a real gentleman and cast to rising fish. Well, good on ya. We like fellows with dry fly integrity. The fall is your last hoorah before the spring midges show. And you are here to get it.
The BWO’s come off in the afternoon. Generally. And, not everyday. But when they do, get in your fav locale and dress that dry line with Mucilin and toss some sort of emerger, parachute jobby, or cripple for afternoon dee-light.
The olives are one of the better hatches here on the Mo and there is a quite large contingent of skilled anglers who prefer this time of year and have the patience of Job. Sometimes you need it. Waiting for the emergence can be cold, and lonely. Hang tight man, it will come. Maybe.
The Baetis can run into the moth of November. Actually it does show well until Turkey Day on most years. We are looking for a cool September to get the Blue Wingers out of the water and move upstairs so we can participate in Olive Love.
Side Note: There exists a small faction of Soft Hacklers too. These guys are skilled and sneaky. You like the swing? Cast softly, drift softly, swing slowly, and get tuned in to the soft tug. Hold on. Smile. This is really a fun pursuit and you should try it. you may like it. Shoot, it may change your life…quit your job, buy a shitty old drifter, and move the the megatroutopolis of Craig Montana.
Nymphers encouraged to participate too!
Of course the nymph fishing is good in October & November. It is always good here. The two months in this conversation can prove to be just awesome here. Many nymph in the morning and dry fly in the afternoons. Or streamer fish, then dry fly fish. You get it.
It does take the morning to get the BWO’s going as they need sun penetration to get their little dark bodies moving around.
Fish in the deeper channels in the am. The historic trough here is fantastic. Get in the center and enjoy. You still can fish the hard banks if you wish and they are productive. But, keep in mind the food is bank to bank so some, a ton, like to live in the center. Always give the center, or off the banks a few boat lengths for continued nymphing success throughout the fall months.
Fish the secondary shelf as the bugs begin to move into the shallower arenas. The 2nd shelf line is damn good approaching the noon hour and many guides go short for the remainder of the day. Outside nipple to hand is the preferred technique. A couple pinch-ons and you are on your way. Fish either a Tunghead or not. Just depends on skinny you like it.
Don’t fly too close to the sun. Or dare you? The piggy browns like the skinny shit too!
Presenting the fly to the target audience is always the trick whether dry flying, stripping or sinking your bait. An important reminder is although we think we know where the fish reside, and commonly we do, remember to that tossing a nymph into slack water just because you saw on erise…is not effective. This is true for all 3 trout flicking disciplines. There are situations that are not perfect for a streamer too. Like weedy areas.
Think about how to be the most successful. And, if you don’t care about catching trout, disregard the lastly preseneted info.
Flows, H2O Temps, and Weather
We are currently resting a comfortable 3250ish daily river flow and that should continue through the winter. Rarely do we see the flows fall below the 3K margin, but it has happened. Not for many years, those in the mid 2000′s, have we had to endure lower flows than those currently exhibited.
We are experiencing our lowest water level since 2008. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Should be a great fall with good baetis water temperatures and very nice and stable fall river flows.
The weather? Oh, who knows. Mother Nature is in charge and we do not even hazard a guess as we are generally wrong. So, pack everything and what you don’t bring you can just buy while in downtown Craig. We would like a cool, overcast, moist but not soaking precip, and calm preiod starting now and ending on Black Friday. That should suffice.
Izaak’s and Joe’s both open for your food and drink needs. Warm up at either or both as many of us do in the latter fall. Short days and long nights await you here this fall. You’ll enjoy it.
Trust me, I’m a guide.
The fall season is upon us and while we enjoy a long summer here we are encouraged through the hints of Autumn here in Montana. Could be our favorite season. Shorter days and outstanding fishing keep us busy until Thanksgiving.
Guided trips available into November and enjoy the fantastic fishing along with fall solace on the river.
Give the the Booking experts a shout at the shop if you need any additional information or hatch frecasts, current wind levels, the right flies to tie, or just to explore our fly fishing dulled minds. We are here for the long haul, for the trout, for the fall, for you the Missouri River Angler.
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Best family destination in Florida.
$1 to access the dock, $2 buckets of bait.
Toss them to the roaming Tarpon and enjoy.
You gotta see it to believe it.
Check out this web cam of underwater feeding Tarpon.
This is no April Fools deal. You’re a fool if you don’t visit while in the neighborhood!
Missouri River Flows
Great Falls Intl Airport, MT
Last Updated on Jun 19 2013, 11:53 pm MDT
Current Conditions: Fair
Wind: SW at 17mph
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.