Missouri River September Fishing Forecast 2023

Rolling into September 2023.  All good here as we welcome Autumn with cooler daytime highs, today only forecast to reach the 80F 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.


Missouri River September Fishing Forecast 2023


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 64F as the peak and falling to 61F as the sun sets. Flows at 5K-ish. But this year probably below that mark. Currently at 4800cfs with water temps hovering about at 63F-ish. 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 5 or 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.They have been quite strong through the second month of Trico hatches. Better than average for certain. Book your trips today for 2024!  The best fishing is above Spite Hill. For the Trico deal. Daily hatches will keep you interested. It is not the middle of July so keep that in mind as you proceed for the daily spinner fall. Some areas of water do not produce as many as you would think. Be prepared to wander for a bit. 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, meaning largest, 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: Strong for the month. Historically one of the top 3 nymphing months. The fish are hungry, and often on the bite. Zebra’s, Frenchie’s worms, and any small mayfly that is dark and you like and sinks.

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. The Tap House and Stonefly Cafe open daily. Check them for daily hours. WIth the advent of autumn, they are opening later int he day, except weekends I believe. Call for the up to date hours.

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. 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 today 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!



Autumn, Bugs, dry fly, Fall, Headhunters Fly Shop, nymph, Terrestrial, Water Flows, Water LEvels, Water Temps
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