State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16

State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16

State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16

Bringing you the State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16. Headhunters is the information source on the banks of the famed Missouri River. Keep it tuned here for your daily bite of trout information, education, and trout fishing entertainment.

So how are we doing as we move out of the meat of summer into the Autumn period in central Montana? In one word? Good. Nearly great. Could be great. Certainly better than we have been sitting in years past.

It could be a lot warmer. The water temps could be higher. The weeds could be far worse. And anglers could be complaining about shitty sub-par fishing results.

And we have none of that. All good here on the Missouri River in Craig MT.

USGS.06066500.82404.00010..20160809.20160816..0.Missouri River Water Temps

Water Temps: Currently 64F. Could be way up there at the 67F or 68F range. But it is not. July is the warmest month here in Montana so the water temps are reasonable and below average.

This can only mean that the September water temps will be good too. Unless we see some unseasonable air temps and higher than average night time air temps in the month ahead. Which is very possible. But, we are leaning towards good days and nights ahead.

Daily Air Temps

Running the gamut from above historical average to below historical average. Looking good as we move from August to September. Look at the long term forecast. It is encouraging.

If we have these cooler nights we cool the water temp down and we see the result as better more consistent fishing. IT is true. Fish like water temps in the 53F-57F range. That is their favorite zone. Let’s get into that in September. Keep those 85F and windy days at bay. Let’s make 2016 one of those Septembers to remember.

State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16

Missouri River Water Flows

Not low. Not lower than average. Not lower than we like. About where we could expect for this time of year. The rest of Montana is in a world of hurt. We certainly feel for those rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, reservoirs that are in tough shape. It hurts us too. We feel for the fish, the wildlife, the folks in the tourism business…the entirety of them, it, etc.

State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16But we are not low. We are average. The 3 large reservoirs above us do a great job in harboring water for the summer, for the fall, for the spring.

In the recent past we have seen water levels in the months of august, September, and October dip well below the 4K benchmark. Much below 4000cfs it really seems low. It feels low. It is low. Water flows in the 3K range are not too good for trout. For Whitefish. For Carp. For anglers. For Elodea Weed. For anything or anyone.

So we are encouraged by these late summer early fall flows on the Missouri River. The triangles not he graph to the right are median daily stats for the past 70 years. A large sample size. A bit skewed because the flow regimen changed in ’83 to protect the fish. But, we can still use the chart anyway. Above 4K is good. Below 4K is bad.

We can expect the flows to remain strong throughout the remainder of the summer. And we are thankful for that. The fish are too.


Not bad at all. Some stemmy stuff on the outside bends. Some weed growth off of the bank in some areas. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being what we witnessed two years ago, and even last year…we are coming in at a 3. Yes a 3.

We do not have that stringy gooey light green flavored shit inundating the water column as we have in the past.

State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16Why? Who knows. But we are getting handle on the situation with the research and water sampling being done by the Upper Missouri Watershed Alliance. You too can help with your annual $25 membership. Why not. You fish here, why not help the organization get some baseline information about this amazing resource so you and your kids, and their kids, can enjoy the unmatchable Missouri River.

So we do not have the weed issues we have had int he past. At least this year. Fish up and down the river all the way to Cascade with confidence that the weeds will not push you closer to the bottle.

There are some weed growth areas like near the Dearborn Boat Ramp, in some back eddy’s, and some other areas…but not an issue for your daily float or wade fish journey.

Nymphing has not been awful at all. No complaints from guides, anglers, floaters, et al. Nymphing has been real good as far as the catch rates go. No more cleaning your flies off after every third drift. It is all good in this fishy neighborhood.

The streamer anglers are on board too. The strippers are getting after it early as the weeds are not an issue. And the swingers? Coming out early this season. No need to wait until October, Or even later. Come on out and bring the big stick.

Missouri River Autumn Hatches

Trico’s about done. But they may hang on a bit longer. How long? I don’t rightly know. But last year we had good numbers into the latter weeks of September. I do not think it will go that long.

The little tiny BWO’s will make an appearance shortly. Last year we had our first big hatch around Labor Day. Could happen again this year. They run until Thanksgiving. The Pseudocloeon is a bug that drives most of us mad. You can come witness for yourself. It is fun, maddening, mega hatch.

September leads us off into the fall period. Starting with the tiny olive and then coming in with the biggest caddis of the year the October Caddis. The Trichoptera Dicosmoecus is not all that prolific. The best way to catch the fish on this bug is by fishing the pupal form. A soft hackle or a pupa is the key. But many have success fishing the dry as well. The most common fly is a size 12 Stimulator. This pattern developed by Randy Kauffman is the most common and can be quite effective.

The biggest event is the Blue Winged Olive. The 16 and 18 sized BWO’s include the Baetis Tricaudatus and the B. Bicaudatus. These start always later than we would prefer. Look for them in the middle of the month of October. At the earliest. But with cooler than average water temps we can, and have, seen them as early as the first week of October.

Headhunters Fly Shop & Guide Service

Headhunters Fly Shop & Guide Service open daily. Our crack staff is standing by daily from 6am til 9pm. Fall hours will be here after Labor Day. Then we will be open 7am til 8pm all the way through the end of October. Then…? Probably winter hours 8am til 6pm daily. The only day we are closed is Christmas Day. The rest of the fly shops in town and the canyon are either closed or go to limited winter hours, days, etc. Headhunters does not close. We roll right into our second season here on the Mo. The Spey Season.

Trout Spey is a big part of our game and we love the 5 months in-between the single handed season. Look for many more posts, fly rod reviews, trout spey fishing reports, and much more as we get closer to the second season here in Craig.

Remember that we have FREE Trout Spey Clinics all winter long. More on this as we get into November.

Lots of opportunities to fish this fall. Our guide staff is on site until the bitter end. But since they live here on the river they do not go too far in the winter. Fully staffed until mid November. The shop staff does shrink in November by one member. 11 Headhunters full time winter staff, excluding guides. We do this trout fishing gig full time, 364 days a year.

Feel confident in getting guide to show you the river this fall. Our Headhunters Advanced Fly Fishing School is all booked up for both the 1st and 2nd sessions. Think about getting on board for 2017 if you think this is something you want to be involved in.

So a ton to look forward to in the future. Fall is a great time to be on the river, to wander Craig, and to eat well @ Izaak’s of Craig MT. is your lodging resource for all things nightly rental here on the Missouri River. 20+ rentals from right here in Craig, riverfront, large and small. We got it all on this lodging site. Call the shop for any additional info or questions.

Stay right in town with any of our 7 local lodging cabins. Then you can walk to the shops, the the bar, to the restaurant, and of course to the river. Craig is awesome when the leaves turn red.

All good here on the MO!

A not too rambly blog today about the State of the Missouri River Craig Montana 8.26.16. Things are all good here on the MO! Good water and air temps, good flows, good times, good bugs to come, good lodging options, good guides, and good clean air for your fall visit to the Missouri River.

Give us shout and let us help answer any additional questions you may have. We love to talk about trout!





BWO's, Callibaetis, Fall, Fly Shop HOurs, Hatches, Temps, Trico's, Trout, UMOWA, Water Flows, Weeds,
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    August 26, 2016 8:53 am

    mark, have you seen an increase of anglers since the Yellowstone closure?

    • No not really Cliff. A few, very few. Not as many as we anticipated. At all? I think most have cancelled completely. Speaking with the Yellowstone guides we know, they are really quite bummed out. But understand the health of the river always comes first.

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