Missouri River October Fishing Forecast 2023

Missouri River October Fishing Forecast 2023

Bring on the cloudy, wet, and fall weather that we just love in October. Let’s not wait until November. We do want it in November as well but the October time frame will suit us just fine. But we are looking for the perfect day as described below…

Overcast, damp, raining, and cool.


So get out your low light sunglasses and several pair of gloves along with your dry fly boxes and be fish ready for those relatively rare perfect fall days when they occur.

As I write this rainy morning in Craig Montana reminding myself to get my rain jacket into the boat. And that streamer box! Raining the last couple days brings us into the right fall mood!

Yeah, the days to remember include 45F, calm, moist, overcast, with a mega BWO hatch @ 145pm. Be here for the 4 or 5 days that can happen in October. Last year we got about 10 of those. The year before? Like 8. 3 years ago less than 4 or 5. 4 years ago we got none. None.

We had quite a few nice Autumn days this September.The last couple weeks have held some very nice days including a couple downpours. Streamer and dry fly anglers alike value the grey skies. Reminiscent of those Autumns and Fall days that you remember. That you yearn for. That you just love!

The coming weeks hold fall-like weather. Good news!

Dry Fly Anglers love the Fall

The bigger BWO’s have not shown themselves, yet. The water temps need to fall a bit before we will witness the larger olives on the water. A few larger October Caddis flying around.  So we have a lot to look forward in the next 2 months!

The little baby BWO’s the damn Pseudocloeon have been showing up. Pretty good yesterday in the afternoon on the upper river. Sign of them on the lower reaches more common as the bugs generally start not he lower and move upwards. The last couple weeks were riddled with tiny olive hatches. Good action when they occur. Can be maddening at times.

More around for longer on the water during rain events. There are plenty coming off daily in the sun but they do not stay as long on the surface as their wings dry out and they fly away. Most believe that baetis hatch better on overcast and moist days. But do they really or do more become crippled and knocked down than they do on sunny warmer days? You make the call.

We love the cripple here on the Missouri River for the fall period. CDC, Poly Winged, or old school with a hair winged post will suffice. The one you can see is a great idea. Dark posted on dark days along with brighter posts for sunny and harsh lit afternoons. The Smoke Jumper, any of Harrop’s CDC Posted including the D&D and the Last Chance, Quigley versions and the Limestone Cripple, and the Poly-Posted dun or black posted derivations like Nymen’s DOA, the Storm Chaser, and many more. Lots of options are in our always full bins here in downtown Craig.

Headhunters open daily @ 7am
Headhunters open daily @ 7 am

Fall Nymphing on the Missouri River

The Nymphing Cult loves this time period as well. Great short and long rigged nymphs will work. Go any depth you like. Go long with a split shot at 4′ for a total length of 6′. Two flies. Two small ones, a big and small, or even two large flies. How about the short leash. Good times in the afternoons. Wait to see the smaller Pseudo pop and shorten up. Length of 3′ or less from Palsa and no split. Try a small Thinga-ma-bobber, the popular screw capped Air Lock Jr. for shorty success. Or try our newest wool bobber product! It is just awesome with the short leash program!

Flies for the fall. All of the PT variations including all the hits from the last ten years. LGM, Two Bits, Mercury RS2’s, Micro-Mays, Indigo Child, Purple LB’s, Pearl LB’s, S&M’s, Military Mays, Red Headed Step Child, Mercury PT, Zebra’s, and more. Czech’s, Sows, October Caddis Pupa’s, and worms will round out your nymph fly selections.

Streamer Junkies Unite

How about those streamer anglers? Get the flies in the water and strip them. Sink tips along with the dry line of your streamer choice for this lower water level streamer fishing. You can certainly get by with the dry line but the intermediate tip will help. Some even like a deeper sink tip for dredging the center of the river as well. Those who have the Missouri River channels figured out get some fish that others never address. Slow and low as she goes. Do it, try it, and you may be rewarded with a few that never get touched.

Missouri River Fall Fishing Forecast
Missouri River streamer caught Brown Trout

Headhunters Fly Shop has a wide selection of sink tips in stock for both the two handed and single handed anglers. We are the fly line source on the banks of the Missouri River. And a no harm no foul fly line guarantee. You don’t like it? You can switch it, trade it, refund it. Anything you want . We will get you set up with the right line period. A ton more in store if you need anything strange. We got it here in Craig. Give us shout if you have any questions.

Some single rig a fly, some double rig it. Try a big steamer pattern chasing a smaller streamer fly. That rig can get it done. We like heavy tippet to the fly. No 3 or 4X for us. Big and tough. Chuck it and duck it. If you want to get the fly to sink faster you can also try a VersiLeader from RIO. Add it on to your dry line and change the game that way.

Want to integrate a tippet ring. A swivel? Come by and chat with the shop gang and they will not only help you find an appropriate stretch but help you with the hot flies of the day. We have 2mm and 3mm tippet rings as well as some swivels in stock!

Flies? As the readers of this blog and the anglers of the Missouri River already know we like the flashy stuff. We love the flash. Coffey’s, Kreelex, and Skiddish come to mind. Arnold’s Stinger Sculpin, Buggers of ten variations,  Clousers and Marabou Clousers, leeches, and some of that wacky Galloup stuff too. Thin Mints, Sparrow, Carey Specials, tons of mayfly and caddis soft hackles, and much more.

Missouri River Weather, Flows, and Water Temps

We talked about the weather up top. Variable is the answer. Be prepared for any weather from sunny and 75F to  terribly cold and 25F. Rain and snow and sleet common as well. Gore-Tex is a good thing to have.

Water flows look like they should hold at this upper level for the fall. 4000cfs currently. Much better than the low flows we have endured the previous several fall periods. When she gets to the low 3K range the fish do not have as much freedom.


Water temps in the perfect range too. The Big Baetis bicaudatus and tricaudatus are coming. Below 60F this morning. A good temp. Trout love that 54-58F range. They run, and jump, and fight, and love it!

See you in October or November?

The fall is a fabulous time to be here on the Missouri River. We do understand that there are lots of fall activities to keep you busy. Fly fishing the Mo is one of them. Come by and see us if you are win the neighborhood. We will point you in the right direction.

If you would like to book a cabin or a guide trip give us a shout @ 406-235-3447 and our crack booking team will get you all lined out!

Dry Fly Fall Fishing, Dry Fly Fishing, November, Nymphing, October, Streamer fishing, Streamer Fishing the Mo
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  • Sleepless in Seely
    October 2, 2022 4:07 pm

    How do you actually pronounce psuedocloeon? –I know everyone calls them psuedo’s but, that just left me under the impression they weren’t genuine baetis. lol.

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