Missouri River Dry Fly Fishing Report April 26th

Missouri River Dry Fly Fishing Report April 26th

This is a dry fly fishing report. Nymphing is great. Streamer fishing and trout spey is hit and miss. 

Un-real dry fly opportunities in the past month. Continues to get better. Water temps along with current river flows and the total lack of the dry fly contingent has lead to truly a fabulous event here in central Montana.

I believe the best dry fly spring in 15 years. I remember when John and I first opened the shop driving around in spring afternoons. We did not have the business that we have now. Craig did not have the number of spring anglers that we witness today. We were kinda bored int he afternoons and chose to go look a rising trout with a couple barley pops for direction. I remember looking over dry fly flats from the road and counting the number of pods rising to midge and BWO emergences.

I believe the best dry fly spring in 15 years.

Great dry fly year(s) of 2008, 2009. The spring Midge & BWO in conjunction with the late spring emergence of the March Brown and Mother’s Day Caddis. Both occur in short periods of time, length  2 weeks at best, and bring the big boys up to the surface. We are experiencing the same thing this annum. In spades.

Spent the previous 3 days with DFO addicts advocates from Montana and my head just about exploded. Honest. Fish rising all day long. Repeat for effect and reader understanding. Fish rising all day long.

Most nymphing boats off at 4 or 5 pm. BWO’s come off in numbers, not the pre-hatch tease, at 4pm. Midges, again, all day long. A fantastic start time for the DFO sect is 10 or 11. Noon, is fine. 4pm for a late afternoon after work sesh? Yessir.

Most nymphing boats not fishing the thin flats. If those nymhpers get too close you and will not respect your 100′ of water, skip rocks at them.

I’ve always been under the impression that if you drift a nymph for 12 miles, fish lots and lots of productive nymph water from a boat, you should let the lowly dry fly angler have that 100 feet. That fella or gal did not encroach on any of the 11 miles plus 5270′ of your drift. Nope. Not once. Respecting your, nymph anglers or streamer strippers,  water comes with the responsibility/maturity to respect the dry fly anglers infinitesimal portion of the water column up and down, left and right.

You drift 63,360 feet/12 miles downriver, and you cannot give up 100 measly feet, man?

So, my ask is that the boaters, of any kind, give that 100′ to the dry fly angler. You must not be a very good nympher if you gotta fish that guys 100′ section man. Really, you cannot back off for 100 feet? You gotta run yer boat through the dry fly anglers 100 foot section and when the angler asks you to respect that short distance of water, you pretend that you are mute? And just drift through that anglers water, because?

Yeah, generally no answer to that kind of behavior. I say shame on you, the boat nympher who does not respect others small, very small piece. You drift 63,360 feet downriver and you cannot give up 100 measly feet, man? Is the other 63,260 not good enough? I encourage those who are angry reading this right now, that you may fall into the category of angler I am speaking about here on this rant from Raisler.

Lots of times the dry fly angler does not say anything to boats or the other dry fly angler who steps into another anglers arena. But, I bet we know what he is thinking. And is not about cotton candy and smiles. Yes, he will remember you. Definitely not for your rowing prowess.

The dry fly angler rarely, but of course there are occasions when the wade/dry fly angler, is acting inappropriately. We, me, and most have said and done the right thing. I have yelled, I have been wrong, many times. Yep. The key is to not repeat those behaviors. To learn about respect, the code of anglers, and understand that this river, the Mo, is a vast place. 100 yards wide and 35 1/5 miles of fishable water here near Craig. It is not like small stream situations when and where you may have to bring a boat near a person angling. The key here is to communicate with the wade angler or anchored boat etc, and stop above angler. You can speak with that human, and both parties can make a plan to execute the pass. Easy as pie. A simple 90 second conversation will leave both parties in a good place. Try it. Open your mouth and speak to others/anglers on the water. That way, this way, we can all enjoy Mother Nature and all that this river brings to our communal fishing conscience. 

Dry Fly Anglers should respect other dry fly, or otherwise, anglers water as well. Yesterday did have a boat park within 60′ of me. I did not say a word. Boy, I wanted too. But, wisely chose not too. Then boat and 3 anglers moved directly downstream of angler/us 45 feet. Then stepped out and began angling. Instead of encroaching on those anglers, yelling, or any behavior that would be considered inappropriate we chose to leave and let that boat have the 100′ reach wise were standing in.

I found best way to attack, is to leave. Then my back does not tense up. I found conversation in some situations leads to swearing and intense back pain.

Is it ignorance? No, I do not believe so. Is it disregard for others? Is it fishing with blinders on? Is it a statement of I don’t see you, I am blind, I don’t GIVE AF about you and your experience. It is all about me, not you, and get the hell out of my spot, man. I don’t care that you were here first. It is where I want to fish, and I’m gonna fish here and pretend you are not here. Yes. How would the angler(s) that encroached, feel about us posting up 45′ below him? I suspect it would not go over very well. That angler, boat, just made the rules. 45′ below another angler is the distance that that boat, angler is comfortable with. Would it be cool if I did the same thing, repeating the actions of that angler? Posting up 45′ below him and his boat?

I suspect the mute angler, who had forgotten how to speak to other anglers, even within normal talking voice levels, would suddenly have been blessed by the fishing god(s) and be suddenly cured and learn how to see, and learn how to speak, pretty quickly. Like a Miracle! That move by me, repeating his placement of boat/behavior would go over like a Lead Balloon. A Led Zeppelin. Crash and Burn. No survivors.

Remember, there are so very few dry fly anglers, that you do not have to crowd anybody, at all, ever. As an example fishing dry flies on Hemingway flats, 2/3 mile long, there are opportunities to let each angler or boat have plenty of room. Two boats parked on the flats. Mine, and another boat within speaking distance. A long cast away. Fish rising top to bottom. No reason to encroach on other anglers 100′ of dry fly space. Get up earlier if you want a specific spot, or just respect other anglers waters. Pretty simple.

Kind of, The Golden Rule of Dry Fly Fanatics. 

OK, rant over. Dry Fly Report follows…

BWO patterns include any cripple you like, CDC emegers, Duns. Parachute Adams a fine fly for the BWO. A wing with dark or light colors will show in the various light conditions. We love the cripple. Headhunters has the dry flies to effectively rake in the dry fly game.

Baetis later in the day. May have stated above. 4pm. Some earlier. The best period is after most of the boats are off the water. The best regions? Pretty much the entire river for both BWO and midge assaults.

Midge all day long. Dawn til beyond dusk. Insects moving around skittering and making you crazy on the surface. Good drifts near fish is the casting and drifting plan of attack. Those midge feeding fish will commonly move around a bunch, laterally, longitudinally, and otherwise. Most productive approach is to make good drift near fish. Just because the trout arose in a locale, does not mean it will repeat its position/rise location.

Midge Patterns? Clusters. Real life midge in sizes 12-28 on the water. Single midge as well. A simple Parachute pattern will suffice. Whether it be midge based, or mayfly based, it has seen success as of late on this Mighty Missouri River. Buzzballs, this authors favorite fly pattern is king. Created by Gary LaFontaine, for this river, for this fish feeding behavior, is a good choice. Griffith’s Gnat always a great pattern. George Griffith created this favorite pattern of many. A true 12 month producer on spring creeks and tailwaters around the world. Lots of cluster patterns will work. Fish the one you love! If that does not work, change the fly. Single Midge posted patterns working well, as well.

March Browns and Mothers Day Caddis on the horizon. Love the canyon reach for these sporadic seasonal insects.

How is the fishing? It’s as good as you are.

Again, we here at HH of Craig try not to exaggerate, oversell the fishing here on the Mo. Some would argue we do everyday. I disagree. The fishing report is a representation of our guide staff, non guided anglers in and out of the store, and me, Mark Raislers personal/guided days information. I don’t make it up. Am I a perpetual optimist? Yep. Take that with a grain of salt. All of it really.

So I will say it out loud, state it loud, knowing full well that I am speaking to the smallest percentage of anglers here today. Exponentially more nymphers, streamer anglers, than dry fly anglers on this particular river, here in Montana.

The spring dry fly fishing is as good as it has been in 15 years. Yes, guide trips available for those dry fly anglers. Nymphers too, we still got your back, but today speaking to the dry fly gang.

Yelling at me today for this post will fall on deaf ears. 95% of Mo River anglers nymphing, a split of 4% stripping streamers of swinging trout spey flies and rods, the smallest percentage; 1% dry fly fishing.

Again, I have done dumb shit and I apologize, guides of ours have done dumb shit, you probably have done dumb shit. How we move forward speaks louder about us than our actions in the past. Learn from our mistakes, as a community, as a band of anglers. Do the right thing, next time. That is how we show progress, learning, maturity, growth, respect, understanding of the outdoor environs we so love.  It how we can all enjoy the resource, the experience, the Mighty Mo and rivers in your neighborhood.

We can all enjoy Mother Nature and all that this river brings to our communal fishing conscience. 

So now you know what the current dry fly fishing is like. The dry fly report for April 26th. In one word?


DFO, Dry Fly Report, Raisler Rant Included
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  • Patrick Newby
    April 26, 2024 8:00 pm

    Thanks for the great rant Mark!

  • Simply the greatest DF Report EVER… You had me at Good Drifts Near Fish
    In Craig 5-1 …. Hope Hear Laughter

  • “I found best way to attack, is to leave. Then my back does not tense up. I found conversation in some situations leads to swearing and intense back pain.”
    This is good advice, Mark. Like you said, it’s a big river. There are other flats downstream. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and move on downstream. De-escalate the situation. Take the high road. Be Zen-like. Above all, don’t let the jerks ruin your day by creating conflict and tension. That’s the last thing we want when out on the river. Peace and tranquility are far more important than catching another couple of fish.

  • We were wade fishing Lahti’s a few years ago and a boat pulls in right behind Diane. Couple of guys get out to fish and she asks them if they knew the Mo was the longest river in the US. They just looked back clueless, mute.

  • Barry Walker
    April 27, 2024 6:58 am

    Great post Mark, thank you.

  • Steve Roberts
    April 27, 2024 7:09 am

    Great rant! Thanks for promoting courtesy.

    • We all make mistakes. Courtesy is the best way out. Nad, heals our misgivings in the past. The high road, is always the best, road. Thanks Steve.

  • Red Boat Mark
    April 27, 2024 7:14 am

    Just came down with a bunch of weird symptoms; better let my boss know…

  • robert divine
    April 27, 2024 7:51 am

    I have always been mystified that one of the most revered destinations for trout anglers, hosts some of worst fishing behavior that I have ever experienced. Not the Pink Flamingo splash and giggle crowd. Mature and newbies alike, that just gotta get close because you are netting fish, and they are not. here’s a pro tip Sparky. Learn to cast. It’s not the spot, it’s the presentation. There is probably nowhere on this river where you are not a couple rod lengths away from a fish. you don’t need mine.

  • Thanks for the comments.
    I am currently dry fly fishing here for several days.
    Have dry fly fished only here for over 30 years.
    Live in Bozeman, come fish here numerous times during the year.

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