It's as good as you are...

It’s as good as you are…

Today’s Missouri River Montana Fly Fishing Report is as follows…

It’s as good as you are. Simple and true.


The yearly statement about your skill level and how it correlates to your catch rate. John and I were talking about this concept on the porch a couple evenings ago. And it rings true every year this time of year extending into and through August.

We are of course speaking about the dry fly end of the spectrum, but can certainly be applied to the nymphing game as well. If you rock your own boat and row it down the river this is certainly true. You gotta know where the fish live and feed. Then your angler, the feller in the bow, must execute the drift properly and let’s hope you have a grip on the trout bait of the day. Then you can find success.

But back to the original question and answer. Q: “How’s the fishing?” A: “As good as you are.”

What does that mean? It means that the insects are doing their part. Hatching daily, somewhat predictable spinner falls, and rising in/at consistent locations. It means that you are required to do your part. Cast well, drift better, and set the hook.

Those anglers who cast better, drift better, fish better catch more fish.

No offense intended to those anglers who do not posses the upper level skill sets. That is not we we intend by this post. Lots of parallels in other sports. Those who play more basketball score more points. Those who ski 50+ days a year are more comfortable skiing steeper terrain. Those who either practice casting and/or fish more often catch more of our late July finicky freely rising trout. Just that simple.

A few tips that can improve your experience here on the Missouri River for the remainder of the summer include…

    • Approach the fish gingerly and with care. It is the time of the year when your anchor needs to be deployed quietly. No stomp and splash actions please. Those fish will vanish quickly.
    • The high and bright sun puts the trout in a defensive mode. Wen it is sunny, predators from above can spot fish easily and the trout instinctively are aware of the danger. A presentation that drags over the trout can put them down.
    • Make a couple practice casts beside the fish first and get yourself into a successful situation. Measure the line you need, understand the drift, and then make that first presentation.
    • There is no rush. the fish are feeding. You do not have to get in there fast. Haste makes waste. It truly does. Approach the rising trout with a plan and execute it. It is not a race to see has rapidly you can get rid of those sipping trout.
    • Use a reach cast or the proper cast for each situation. Generally a slack line presentation of some sort should be employed. That is what the practice casts next to your target are good for. Understanding the drift before your present the fly to the fish. I have always said that 99 of 100 dry fly casts here on the Missouri River are reach casts. That means more than 1 in a row. That means 99 of 100. The fly has to be drag free nearly all of the time so those who continually drag the fly over across and around the fish cannot expect to have the fish eat the fly. So commonly we are using a dead bug pattern like a spinner. Spinner are dead. Dead flies do not swim. IF the fly is dragging violently you cannot blame the fly pattern. The only one to blame is?
    • Practice casting at home. Those who see their casting instructor, or just pull the fly rod from the tube a few times before the trip…catch more fish. The conversion rate is much higher.
    • If you are approaching the trout on foot…walk quietly. They are wild animals and suspect the worst. They may not go down, but they are aware of your presence. If you are approaching via boat, anchor a ways away and sneak up on them!

Just a few reminders for those who love to stalk rising trout. Do yourself a favor and practice a few times before coming. Casting wildly in-between rising trout does not qualify as practicing. Enjoy the river and enjoy this time of year. It really is fantastic dry fly fishing. Kind of as good as it gets. Really.

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  • Spot on! The fishing has been A++

    Keep up the good blogs guys.

  • Steve Zerza
    July 24, 2014 2:30 pm

    If asked “how is the Missouri?” (for fishing the dry), my answer is: it will make you better.

  • Really miss u guys and ur hospitality 🙂
    Hopefully next year …..


  • Great post…fished the river last week and had a great couple days…great numbers and size…heard a group say how the fishing was horrible. ..weeds…very few fish feeding…etc…they need to read your post

  • I believe that is out of Revelations isn’t it? Spent our Sunday service on The Joe. Great post Mark!

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