No Fish. No Bugs either.

No Fish. No bugs either.

A common wade fishers belief. That there are no fish below Craig. I do understand that the upper is classic wade water and that the wade fish opportunities are not as prolific downstream…but having said that, there are some ways.

Attention: Those who like the honesty thing should stop reading right here and tune in again tomorrow where the tone may be more amenable to those who like fantasy land shit.

With the water higher than we have had in 2 years in July, remember the 4 yrs of high water? Let me remind you of ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11. Remember those high water years? With the water higher than we have had it in 2 years there is some disappointment from some Mo River visiting anglers that these flows of 6800cfs have ruined the river.

Well let’s look at some facts first before we come to rash conclusions based on emotion.


Check out the graph from Sunday morning and look at where the triangle is. That is the historical average. It is based on 68 years of evidence. So we are higher than the last umpteen, 68 to be exact, years. Yes. By a couple hundred cubic feet per second. I challenge you to show me on a ruler how much difference 250cfs is in real height values. I believe it would be in the less than 1 inch range. The difference between 3000cfs and 9000cfs is 18inches. True.

  • Flows July 5th 2014: 6800cfs
  • Flows July 5th 2013: 2800cfs
  • Flows July 5th 2012: 4300cfs
  • Flows July 5th 2011 23000cfs
  • Flows July 5th 2010: 22000cfs

Want me to keep going? The flows are normal. Well, no…just over normal. About 300cfs over normal.

Check out this chart from the inflows @ Toston and see what history tells us. If you do not like charts, I don’t as I am a failed History Major, then let me explain. The flows are and will come down. If you look carefully at the triangles, historical average, you will see that in one week we should be at a water level of approx. 6K cfs and the following week you will see a flow average of 5K cfs.

No Fish. No Bugs

See. Perfect.

As for the bugs. Not as many hatching as we would like. Mother Nature gets to choose the insect quotient.

Here is the hatch report for Sunday July 6th 2014.

Upper River above Craig Montana

PMDs daily. Pretty anemic hatches the last 3 days. Water temps got ’em down? Maybe. The flows? Probably not. Mother Nature? certainly. They will come back. Remember the BWO resurgence in early June? The latest we ever had them. Bugs are funny. They are a mystery too.

Caddis. Not too may. Although a trout will eat when presented on a platter. Or first cast.

Trico’s. Not yet. Maybe today.

Mid River

PMD’s. YEs. Some days a ton, others not as much. Crips, emerges, spinners. Good spinner falls can be had anywhere anytime here on Montana’s Missouri River.

Caddis. Lots and lots. We do not see the caddis emergence like clockwork like we did way back in the day. Pre 2000. So be ready for a caddis event anytime any day. Spents and sunken caddis work well on the mid river sections.

Trico’s. YEs. Towards the bottom. Or even the middle. Shoot, as I write the males could be coming off here in Craig. BE here is the plan. Here in Craig.

Sally’s. More and more daily. No big punch yet. The trouts love them subsurface and occasionally on the top too. But for us here on the Mo is is mostly a subsurface fish catching deal. Again, all these big events are tied to water temperatures. The flows up and down I guess could have fouled things up. But, who knows and maybe.

Lower River

PMD’s. Same as above. Sometimes good, sometimes not. Let’s hope they come back but the science behind is? While I have heard lots of speculation, as we fishers love to spin a tale, yet no conclusive evidence to make me believe any of it. Give me some evidence, precedence, substance and I will bend an ear. Until then I don’t believe the hype.

Caddis. Yep.

Trico’s. Could be.

Sally’s. Sure.

The other big bug. If you are reading this at home you are too late right. Maybe next year.

The water temps here below Holter Dam are holding a daytime average of 61F. Believe it. They drop to 58F at night with nighttime air temps hovering around 60F.

So that is the skinny for all you folks out there in cyber fish land.

Higher water? It is not higher than average fellas. Maybe putting fish off, maybe not. I don’t believe that is the case at all. One fishers opinion.

Fish below Craig? Nope. Don’t go below Craig Montana. Go to the Dam everyday. It’s good up there.

Bugs upriver? About as many as everywhere else except there are more below Craig as I write this very storied blog. Tough for that certain sect that does not believe that you can fly fish below Craig.To that sect I say…“You may not like it. Stay on the upper for sure.”

So as Mother Nature strings us along this wonderful dry fly month of July, just remember that these are wild fish on a not so wild controlled water release system that we are so very lucky to live and work and recreate on and around. We love it so and it is not always perfect. It just is not. If you like lots of bugs, go to the Fork. Their problem is no water and not many fish. Everybody has got problems. Look beyond them and go out and enjoy the river.

That is the Sunday Missouri River update brought to you by the friendly honest folks at Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig Montana. The World’s Funnest Fly Shop and your Missouri River information magnate.

Open daily @ 630am and open late til 9pm. Later this coming week we may go earlier.






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