March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

The first thing that most anglers ask on the phone is if we are gonna have high water. The second question is if we will have low water. Then the third is if we know when the PMD’s will come.

The only answer we definitively know the answer to is the latter. The first couple? We can guess. Mother nature is a cruel & nasty girl and she will not let us know until it happens. Not before.

…March is a wet one. So is April, May and June. But the wet season starts in March. Historically. And that Mother Nature lady is showing us that it is indeed March.

So we answer those folks on the phone with this statement, “Who knows if we will have high or low water this year. We do know it has been wet and looks like it will be wet for the near future.”

Missouri River March Water Flows

Missouri River March Fly Fishing Forecast

Faxogram. Read General Comments section

The water managers up there at Holter Dam, tucked away in some concrete laden office with a tiny 40 watt lamp, looking at a damp desk coaxing the slide rule into coughing up some sort of extrapolated formula that tells us…that we will have a flow of at least 3800 cfs the remainder of the month because of inflows and elected continued wetness.

That’s what Stephanie Micek is saying in the faxograms from the United States Department of the Interior. Official info. Not fake news. Although sometimes even the Bureau of Reclamation guess wrong.

Higher water this spring means the water guessers anticipate better than average precip for the next several months. A not so good start in the hills above for the early winter session with at least average snow from there on out has many hoping for the best. With the wet season ahead of us and the Snotel site showing us good water values in the Missouri Headwaters, good numbers in the Gallatin, and great figures in the Madison drainage.

More water. More snow. Fish like more water. More oxygen. More habitat. 

More is better.


Not as much water as the river historically held this time of year. Or even all winter. 5K-6K was common not 20 years ago. But, times have changed. The water management style has changed. My understanding of the current policy centers around “better safe than sorry.” Do we agree? We are certainly not educated hydrologists. Row boat guides? Yes, we got that part.

Missouri River March Hatches

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

Missouri River Montana Holter Dam Flow Projections March ’17

Midges. That’s it.

Look for more and more on the water as the month moves onwards. Will we have a strong midge hatch? Boy I don’t know. Let’s hope so. We will let you know after it happens. Just like any decent reporter. I’ll tell you exactly how it went down. In April of course.

We have not and a dandy in a few years. So, maybe our time has come.

BWO’s in April. Not March. So sorry.

A few Skwala’s around. But only a few. Maybe late in the month. Smart to have half a dozen in your box. Fooling a big spring brown trout on a surface bug is awful fun man. Blind it out there and stare at it.

But the BWO nymph is active in the month of March. Flirt with it until she gives you the nod. Then rock her world. A common conversation in Joe’s Bar any March afternoon standing close to the fire goes as follows:

Angler: Hey fella, you a fishing guide?

Bearded Millennial: That’s what I tell my parents.

Angler: Whaat’d ya catch ’em on today?

BM: Gaudy pink patterns & baetis nymphs. Threw at a couple sporadic splashy feeders with an Adams, but no success.

Angler: But I didn’t see any BWO’s flying around? Are you sure?!?! BWO nymphs? You look kinda young to be a tenured fishing guide.

BM: Whadaya mean?!?! I’m 47. I’m a wanna be Millennial, man. If you do what you love it’s not work. That’s how I keep my youthful appearance. And Mr. Angler Dude, that mayfly lives and morphs subsurface for an entire year before it briefly inhabits (emerges and hatches) our atmosphere. Insects are quite active below the watery barrier staging for their flashy moment in our airy environment. Of course you didn’t see them, they don’t hatch for another month.

True story. Think about what is to come, before we see it. gh fish it. Caddis, Mayflies, Stoneflies. All acquatic insects.

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

Missouri River March Rainbow Trout

If you don’t want to get hung up on all that entomology stuff or learn about how to nymph in March, just fish a pink fly. Pink is strong through the month. Worms too. Sows. Pink and grey patterns.  Don’t forget fruit flavored beads adorning the heads of the fly.

Midges too. Zebra’s, fancy gilled midge patterns too. They work.

As for dries. For the midge lovers. Try a small Adams, a large Adams, Griffith’s Gnats along with several derivation we have int he store. Posted, poly winged, those crinkly rabbit posted ones.

You can also hand-twist a small Zebra or a small black soft hackle up soft runs and do well. t least you will feel a bunch of them, those sneaky rainbow, sniff and peck at the fly.

Streamer Junkies like March. Water temps warming and the fish more active. They will chase a few flies beginning this month. More in April, and May is on fire. Water temps begin to move noticeably in March. Currently 37F-isn and the temps will move upwards to 40F if not beyond as we cross over the first into the second quarter of the year.

March signals the first time all winter/spring that you can give your fly some stripping action. Jigging is still quite popular but the slow strip is effective. Caught a few the other day with a young stud outta Helena stripping it faster than I would have…and he caught a couple bigger fish moving the fly.

With that in mind the swinging crowd is out there getting it done. A perfect month with some solace left. Come by the shop or call any one of our two handed staff for the answers to questions you may have. Demo any line or rod in the store for FREE. Stop in and see what all the buzz is about.

Montana March Weather

Cold and shitty. Bring warm clothing.

Wool socks, base layer, insulated pants, waders. Base layer upper, wool sweater, puffball, Gore-Tex jacket, warm hat, lots of pairs of warm gloves. Handwarmers. Schnapps. Hot coffee. Hot soup or broth. Heaters.

You know, that kind of stuff. Looks like we had our early season warm period over President’s Holiday Weekend.

Missouri River Headhunters Spring Special

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

Craig Trout Camp’s Rainbow and Brown Cabins $125/nt Downtown Craig MT

March 15th begins the $350 Guide Trips from Headhunters in Craig. The Spring Professionals get it going for you with discounted guide trips and cheap lodging. Call today for enough info to choke on. Also check out for lodging options. Kelli and Julie are handling reservations not only for the highly popular spring special but also helping you out with your Montana summer plans too.

Put a guide trip or two together, a couple nights in downtown Craig, all for under a grand. Under $500 a head for a fun filled fishy weekend. what a perfect way to get your trout season rolling. Bigtime! A winter busting weekend getaway for those in Calgary, Spokane, Bozeman, Kalispell, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and beyond.

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

There you have it folks. The March update. Hope that was enough info. Pretty much all truths. While this author has not been here as long as some, he has been here longer than most. This info is based on longevity, research, and  experience. We hope that you like this daily blog and look forward to seeing you again this spring, summer or fall. Let us help you learn more about this incredible resource, the Missouri River. Check out our education opportunities on the homepage right sidebar. Steelhead schools, Trout Spey w/ Mike McCune, HH Advanced Fly Fishing School on the Mo in October, private casting lessons, and more. Come join us!

Headhunters is your education source for the hallowed waters of Missouri River Montana.


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3 Comments. Leave new

  • sweet nice job it’s hard for people to figure out only mother nature knows we simple humans (fishing guides outfitters) can only make educated guesses based on experience and years spent out and about it is what it is and will be what it will be our job make the best of it beer is good and very good (better) without a warm weather glove on!

  • Word. I agree A.J. Well said! And, yes, I do understand that speak.

  • The weather sure to be cold but it’s worth the effort, look forward to getting out there