Above – One of our favorite summertime residents, Dick Davis, shows off a healthy Brown he caught fishing with guide Jeff Parker below Hauser.
While we are still in the mid-summer doldrums, you would have to say that fishing is improving on the Missouri River. Warm weather is still in the forecast, but we’ve had a string of cloudy/smoky days that have been keeping the heat at bay and the fish rising into the afternoon. Are they easy? No. But they are there.
Nymphing below Holter Dam continues to rack up some big numbers. Shallow rigs thrown into pods of risers are effective, and deeper rigs used for prospecting are producing as well. It helps to know exactly where, but there are a lot of fish from Holter to the Wolf Creek Bridge. Go find them.
Below Wolf Creek you will want to stick with the weight fly or Czech nymph, but go with another caddis pupa or mayfly off the back. Finding the line and the right depth is important. Shallow can be the key. By shallow I mean measurements in inches, not feet.
Flies should include Purple Weight fly and Grape slushy, Zebra Midges, Czech Nymphs and Sow bug imitations. For shallower rigs we would use a thin mayfly pattern like a Miltary May or skinny PT. RS2’s and WD40’s are working as well with the old-school crowd.
Hopper fishing is ok to good. Not great. Moments of greatness have occurred for those who pick the right float on the right day and hit it early. By early I mean early. Afternoons can be tough, though a little breeze can help. Unfortunately, we just don’t have many hoppers this season. That’s good if you’re a farmer, but bad if you like to farm Big Browns.
If you go, a wide variety of colors and patterns are working. For the most part, bigger stuff is working best. Secret colors of sharpies are being carried around to add the right tone to foamies. Viking fans know what I’m taking about.
Technical dry fly fishing is beginning to last into the afternoon on cloudy or hazy days. That’s a good thing. There is no “one fly” that we can advise you to use. Trico’s and Caddis are the primary. Ants, buzzballs, cluster patterns and rusty spinners are also in the mix. House & Lot anyone? Yes, you will catch a fish on that as well. Downwing CDC mayfly patterns are also very effective, though many would argue that nothing is very effective right now.
Also effective are 90 foot slack-line casts from moving drift boats, on the money, on the first try. Easy for me to say from the keyboard.
Streamer fishing – yes, streamer fishing – is also working for those willing to invest the time into figuring out the spots, flies and retrieve. Hint: ignore the banks. They’re full of weeds and not full of fish. Most anglers won’t deal with the weeds.
As things cool and the nights get longer, the fishing will only get better. The Blackfoot is fishing well right now, and that is another option in the area.
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