Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing Report

Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing Report

Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing Report

Here we go headlong into the month and the Missouri River Fishing is holding up nicely. A few really great points in this report along with a few summer realities mixed in for good measure. Headhunters Fly Shop in downtown Craig brings you the most up to date blog and fishing report on the planet with the Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing Report.

Dry Fly Report

Trico hatches off the charts. Un-real spinner falls daily. The past couple days it was a 9, not a 10. Is it because of the cooler daily air temps or have we left the “10” period? Don’t know. I do know that the bugs have been coming strong daily for 6 weeks now. On great Taco hatch years we see the hatch run into 10-12 weeks. Will we see that kind of hatch this year. I tend to think so.

The dry fly pressure is pretty light. With the nymphing gang hanging out near the dam the dry fly reaches are eerily desolate. That is good for the DFO’s on this dry fly ditch. I have had several days where I only see a couple other dry fly boats or wade anglers. Lots of pod fishing happening out there. Lots.

The fishing is as good as you are. If you are a great slack line drifter, you can catch them all. If you are not, you will have plenty of opportunities for improvement.

Today’s learning moment is as follows:

If you are not hooking the dry fly rising fish it is your fault. It is not the fish. They are eating wildly on the surface. Viciously, really. It probably is not the fly either. It is your drift. So, if you continually witness the fish not eating your fly, repeatedly, it is your drift.

Continuing to present the fly in the same manner without the trout responding should send you a clue. That clue is that YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR DRIFT. Repeating the same behavior with the same results is why more anglers do not catch more fish. The fish make the ultimate decision. Same drift, same result. Same drift expecting a different result…you know the famous quote by now man.

If your fly line is not mostly above your fly you will not catch them. If you like to have your line beside the fly, you will not generally catch them. You will know when you do it right, the trout eats the fly. Slack line drifts are imperative. If you have 45′ of line on the water for a fish that is 22′ away, you are doing it wrong! Honest. 

Trust me, I’m a fishing guide…

Flies that work for the dry fly enthusiast include Taco spinners, double winged spinners, Quig’s Cluster Midge, Buzzball, Stalcup’s Cluster Midge, CDC Cluster Midge, Pearl Butt Trico Spinner, Sunken Trico Spinner, some smaller caddis patterns, skittering caddis, an ant and so forth.

Longer leaders do help. I am throwing a RIO 12′ 4X with a few feet of 5X dangling off of it. Single fly most of the time. But the double fly deal works.

Approach like a pro if you like to catch more. Don’t blow it on the first few casts/drifts. Prep, practice, understand the drift, the rise form, and then go in for the kill. They are feeding, not a rabbit style race, the turtle always wins man.

Wolf Creek, the dam, and Craig are all great dry fly starting points. If you are wade fishing there are lots of flats accessible from the road. Be respectful/smart on the road attack. Don’t park in front of gates, in fields, or blocking an entrance, or another vehicle. Seen some bad, non-thinking vacation style heads out there. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Mostly on the wade fish parking situation. Just because the gate is open and you can drive to the river does not mean you should!!!

Nymphers Unite

Most of the nymphing contingent is fishing near the dam. It is damn good too. Lots of fish up there and those fish like to eat the fly. Small techy Zebra’s, thread midges, sunken GTrico’s, lots of mayfly knock-off’s that you have seen reported for this river for years.

They include the Little Green Machine, Two-Bit Hooker, Zebra, Red Headed Step Child, Indigo Child, Little Black Mo, S & M Black, and. a ton of other hip flies. You gotta come into the shop for the last minute kick ass fly buy. Our fishy staff will set you right.

Crawdads, worms, and Rubber Legs will get you through the afternoon.

Fish deeper int he mornings and shorter int eh afternoons. Or fish short all day long. 7′ all the way down to 1′. Your choice. One of the great things about trout fishing is that there are lots of ways to get the job done. Choose the one you like and get after it.


Some two handed game out there. The weeds are coming. The past couple days they have been noticeable. Find a nice inside slide and swing it. New Trout Spey lines coming in this autumn. The new OPST Integrated Smooth is in stock. Come put one on and look for that tug. More lines and such coming soon.

Current Missouri River Conditions

Flows are holding in the 4K range. At press time we see below that the flows are 4530cfs. Great flows for this time of year. Historically a bit lower. We love the higher water flows. I’ve heard some mis-information and ignorant bloggers out there preaching something completely different. Not true. More water is always better on our resource. More oxygen, more water, more happy fish.

Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing ReportThe water temps are lower too. The overcast skies and gentle rain today helps. In years past with the summer air temps being quite high we have seen water temps in the high 60’s reaching the 70F mark occasionally.  Just not the case this season.

Missouri River Monday August 20th Fishing ReportOne of the reasons that the fishing remains stellar include the two charts above. Couple that with the lack of fishermen on the river gives us fishing that is really good. Great. Fantastic. Light traffic. Around the state the traffic is also light with the higher water this spring lasting well into the summer.  Some have forgotten to get the fly rod from the closet this 2018 fishing year. And that is OK. That means if you are able, you should fish one of our very special Montana fisheries. Get some when your neighbor is cleaning his garage…Aha. Hah. Awesome huh!

The weeds have arrived. The stemmy ones have began to sit on the outside banks. Sometimes difficult to fish those good looking hard banks. the canyon is fishing well, but there are some weed issues down there for sure. The dam is clear, clean. The lower river usually does not have the weeds that the middle 3/5’s has. Below the canyon into the Hardy area and beyond can be remarkably clear and clean. Do a quick drive to see if that is something you are interested in floating. It can change daily.

Headhunters Fly Shop has your back

Open daily. Earlier than the rest and open later than the rest. Your before and after hours fly shop. Fly bins full. We do not play the we are out of it game here at Headhunters. We know what the hot flies are and 7wt orders the appropriate amount!

Come in for flies, shuttles, guide trips, the best and most varied lodging options including 8 Craig Trout Camp Cabins on site for your downtown Craig lodging experience. Nicely priced and the most popular properties on the entire river, the the canyon, and beyond. Come see why Headhunters is the goto fly and lodging destination on the banks of the Missouri River. The entire package is what you get when flying with us in Craig.

Check us out here on this very website for the information, education, and entertainment you need delivered to your desktop or handheld device daily. The only daily info you can get on this river…that’s a fact Jack.

We will see all of you at the shop in the near future. Come by for a shady spot on the porch apres fishing. We’d love to chat fishing with you!

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  • Thanks again, Mark. Say, you have so much excellent information to impart, why don’t you put it in book form? I’m sure you would sell thousands of copies. Maybe check with Chris Cauble, Riverbend Publishing. He lives just below the Dearborn FAS. If it’s not a book that fits his mold, he still might have some advice on who might be interested in publishing it.

    • Have talked to Chris about a book. Seems like I would have to get a divorce post writing of the first, or second. So, at this time it does not seem like too good an idea.

      But thanks Tom. I have thought about it.

  • Give that boy a Headhunters hat! Nice fish Max.

    • Hah! I like it! The comment. Max said he gave his last Headhunters hat to a gal-pal. Smart Max, very smart. Those cats up there at WCA are cool. I see fellas wearing HH hats up there all the time! Thanks Gary!

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