Dick Magill Chronicles: Missouri River Bycatch
Anglers flock to Montana’s Missouri River from all over the world in order to experience trout fishing nirvana. In all honesty it’s the very reason I find myself living in downtown Craiglandia. I am a trout bum of sorts, but the thing is I really just like catching fish on a fly rod. Any kind of fish.
As many of you already know, there is a large abundance of Rainbow and Brown trout between Holter Dam and Cascade Montana. There is also quite a few other fish species that call this stretch of water home. One of the more popular fish to target outside of trout is the Sander vitreus or Walleye.
It’s a large nocturnal predator with sharp teeth and excellent night vision. They are also one of the most delicious fresh water fish on the planet, making them one of my favorite species to target on the Mo.
A few weeks ago I was fishing with a few good friends form the Tahoe, floating from Holter Dam down to the Wolf Creek bridge. We started the float nymphing and boated a few trout. We then decided to get out and throw the spey rod for a bit just to probe the waters. Nothing. Not even a bump after fishing for a solid hour.
We got back in the boats and made the transition to streamer fishing as the sun was starting to set. The fishing was just good enough to make us take our time and then the inevitable happened. We got caught out in the dark.
In the several years that I have called the Mo home, I have yet to fish when it was this dark.
The stars were out in force as we threw streamers with reckless abandon into the inky abyss.
The steamer of choice was Kelly Gallops #4 Black Sex Dudgeon fished on Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan I/3/5. We were floating in about six or seven feet of water when it happened.
On a steady retrieve my line came tight just as if I had snagged the bottom. I set on it just in case and to my surprise a fish started to run. It was clearly a giant bending a Sage X 790-4 down to the handle as I struggled to lift it from the depths.
The fish kept dogging to the bottom of the river and making me think it was the biggest brown trout in the state. It finally tired enough to get it in the net and we couldn’t believe that we landed this monster.
As I went to get the streamer out of its mouth, something wasn’t quite right though. This fish was not the same shape as the familiar trout. At first sight it was too dark to make out what it was. After getting some light on it, we discovered it was a large Walleye. I was stoked because it was the largest walleye I’ve ever caught.
With only a few hundred yards left in the float, we rowed off and headed home. Walleye was definitely added to the menu creating Montana surf and turf finishing an epic evening shared with good friends on my favorite river.
Ed Note: Thanks Dick for the latest entry. Looking forward to your next adventure out there. I guess I missed the call for Surf and Turf?