Missouri River September Fishing Forecast 2020

Rolling into September 2020 and Covid Free in Craig Montana. All good here as we welcome Autumn with cooler daytime highs, today only forecast to reach the 60F mark. The nighttime lows are not dipping below the 40F point yet, but it Isi certainly coming soon. Time to wear your light puffy in the mornings and begin to add Bailey’s to your coffee.

Want to update your wardrobe for all things fishing? Headhunters is your clothing destination. Just shop in Craig!

Autumn may be my favorite time of year. Hell with the Trico’s and the daily frustrations. I want crisp September mornings, the leaves committing to their annual pigment transfer, and autumnal pace that we so dearly anticipate in downtown Craig.

It’s all good my fishy friends. We start thinking about swinging flies, stripping brown flavored beasts from the shorelines, a fall fly conundrum in the tiny BWO Pseudo deal, the want and often delayed BWO emergence (the real ones, not that microscopic chartreuse bug), and the often un-real nymph bite. September is a special time here in central Montana. Fewer anglers, casual dining at Izaak’s nightly, IPA’s on Headhunters porch, and again the ease of daily fly flicking daily mechanisms.

Breathe deep. And, again.

To the stats man. I will aimlessly wander late in this article I’m sure. Getting my head right after jamming myself into the 7 train coming home from Flushing Meadows/NYC. There are fewer people here in Cascade as I write this article than on one train. Yep.

Missouri River September Fishing Forecast 2020


As good as it gets in September. Average temperatures come in at 73F for a daily hi with 45F allowing for comfortable evenings. 5 days of rain say the stats. Yes, bring raingear. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and the larger ones can bring hail, downpours, wind. Raingearis good for keeping that ip off during the morning fishing session. First light at 6:15 with last light at 8:32. Of course all of the figures will fall with the shortening of daylight.


Wet wading? Most are. Water temps are also agreeable at 65F as the peak and falling to 61F as the sun sets. Flows at 5K-ish. But this year probably below that mark. Currently at 4080cfs with water temps hovering about at 65F. They will remain the same for the month. Rarely do we see large movements in water this time of year. They water managers got this in the bag. A known amount of water in the reservoirs above us and consistent water levels are common in September.


Weed levels are about a 6 on the 1-10 scale. Some large islands and mats will keep the wade fisherman guessing. Weeds in the water column can be considered as bad to those unfamiliar with then Mo River and the hurdles it provides for you the angler. Weeds will diminish somewhat during the month. We expect the weeds to continue for another month, or longer. And then some years…


Trico’s: The Trico continues through the month. Btu they are not strong this season and the fish are not fond of them either. Maybe  a better reaction next year. Book your trips today for 2021!  The best fishing is above Spite Hill. For the Trico deal. Daily hatches will keep you interested. Not a ton though. Spotty. Some areas of water do not produce as many as you would think. Be prepared to wander for a bit as it is not like the Tricos of the early July and August period. Nope. We are on the back end of the party. But we are still partying man. Just not as hard or as often. The Trico hatch is maturing I guess? Small spinners, techy small, painfully small patterns can get it done. Try the sunken Trico for more consistent hook up rates. If you dare.

Pseudo’s: Yes. Also painfully small. Best pattern of these small frustrating flies? A sz. 12-16 Parachute Purple Haze. Honest. Fish it. Hatching through the month into October as well. A must have for your trip out to the Mo. Both the techy Trico along with this chartreuse colored madness fly can get a few to hand for the who like to challenge themselves. Headhunters has the Best Flies Under the Big Sky…including all of the tailwater technical fly patterns procured by Scumliner here in downtown Craig Montana.

Terrestrials: The biggest game of August was the hopper. It will be again this month of September. Have a good selection of foam and beyond. You know foam can be recognized as the season progresses. Try some old school para-hoppers for a change of pace, and look for those wise old brown trouts. But the colors that have been strong are pink nd purple. Tan and yellow coming on strong. Red? Orange? Maybe. BE creative. Change you hopper at the same cadence you would your streamer. Ants? Yep. Cinnamon. Red. Flashy yes. In the film? Of course.

September Style

September Nymphing: The r August report is not as encouraging. Tougher nymph bite than normal. It may continue into this month as well. Dam nymphing which is historically epic has been somewhat slow. Yes a few fish are caught up there but not like the the circus it can be this time of year. So some are nymphing the am at the dam and hopper fishing the pm.

Weight flies, PT knock off like the S & M, Little Green Machine, Little Green MO, Zebra’s, Magic Flies, RS 2’s, Glass Beaded hobbies, Zirdles, Cray’s, with the October Caddis Pupa on the horizon along with the BWO onslaught. So heavy in those small and technical mayfly patterns that our fish love.

Deep in the morning and short for the afternoon. Use split yes, or not if you want to keep the weeds from attaching to another portion of your leader. A heavy tungsten fly up top, followed by an unweighted pattern can work.

Swingers: Getting ramped up for the month ahead. The inside bends which are generally weed free are the swinging pastures you may like to find. Smaller streamers including leech patterns can be a good start. You can get into a good Pseudo hatch and swing up a couple as well on your lightweight Trout Spey Rod. Lots of soft hackles at the shop for sale. By far the widest selection of softies in the canyon. Bar none. Come in for rigging suggestions as well. New spey lines in as well to complete the fly fishing industry’s leading Trout Spey selection. 

Lodging and Dining: Izaak’s open Wednesday thru Sunday 3-9. The Trout Shop has been open for dinner Monday and Tuesday nites and occasional weekend nites too. Shotgun Annie’s in WC open nightly.

Headhunters has lodging options galore. The popular Craig Trout Camp has 5 cabins that sleep 2, and 2 that bed 4+ nightly. All super cool and local! All kinds of river houses as well. Cabins in the woods? Yes we got them. Hotel like rooms that sleep 2 as well starting at $125/night. Big and small, we got them all at www.CraigLodging.com

Headhunters Fly Shop Autumn Hours

Headhunters Fly Shop and Guide Service open daily 7am-5pm. Call us at 406-235-3447 for up to the minute fishing report, shuttles, WiFi, cell service, the friendliest and funnest fly shop staff on earth, rental boats, an amazing amount of Missouri River specific fly patterns, truly the finest, most, best selection and honest spey info from guys and gals who actually spey fish here, a lot, often…not the pretenders out there that carry the gear, but don’t know shit…in Trout Spey Fishing Gear and so much more here in Craig.

Call 406-868-5473 and speak with our booking team if you need lodging and guide trips!

We love September. It’s real, real, nice. Without the killer dry fly fishing. What til October for that!



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  • I WAIT

    Sitting on the edge of trout stream I am waiting…the color of the blue sky mirrors my wife’s concerning eyes radiating compassion, concern and kindness…the quietude broken by a speech perhaps lecture being given by a blackbird wearing its Sunday orange vest…I feel the warmth of the spring sun spreading over my aches which come from 53 years of simply being…not to be outdone, the blowing breath of wind sends small seeds, tufts of grass, and a yellow mustard colored flower into the timeless run of water my eyes are drawn to like a young child spying a candy colored apple in a storefront window, and I wait… the water as always is the draw the thing , the captivating object of my child like attention… how does something so clear hide from sight the living jewels within it… And I wait …minutes run together, then an hour becomes two … and yet I wait… the scene remains set with only the visiting formation of clouds now framing my picture having changed ; all else remains constant … and I wait… suddenly I realize “it” has happened, as it always does, and my wait is over…it floods over me like a friendly virus making contact without notice silently taking hold without my ability to note its initial presence… my fears, my thoughts, my concerns past and present, they are all lifted from me… they are not taken they are not suppressed nor diminished in their context of importance , intensity or ability to paralyze me, they are simply lifted from me and replaced with the peace and calm of nothingness… the voices of the birds ring louder, the octaves imminating from the riffle in front of me turned up and I hear the Impact of those hidden jewels breaking the surface of rushing water ….

  • Big browns in the skinny gravelly stuff …. I ain’t gonna wait!

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