We’re still in Trout Spey season on the Missouri, and the swing bite remains good. As the weather and river slowly warm, the fish continue to get more active. The Rainbow trout are spawning right now in good numbers. It’s pretty easy to spot reds in and around faster 2-3 foot deep water. A sure sign that it’s springtime. Stay off those reds please!
If you’re heading out to swing the Missouri, I’d recommend a Skagit head with 2 or 3 sink tips. You’ll likely need more than one tip right now. April is the month that the constant changing of tips drives me mad. But you really need to match your tip to water speed and depth right now. Super important. You’ll find fish in deep, slow tanks in the morning, and faster broken flats in the afternoon. And everywhere in-between. I’ve caught some browns recently in shockingly fast water. And the fish you find in the speedy stuff will smack just about anything.
For flies, I’d stick with medium stuff (buggers, leeches, etc.) and the larger flashy spring streamer patterns in white, olive/white, yellow and flashy (Montana Intruder). No real reason to swing soft hackles right now. Midges are hatching, but that’s about it. The fish will be gorging on Leeches, scuds and fry/bait right now. Anything “Egg-Sucking” works great.
Specific flies I’ve been swinging include Kure’s Micro-Zonker, Pig Pen Leech Black and Purple, Olive and Grizzly Wooley Bugger, Montana Intruder, Pine Squirrel Leech Back, Thin Mint and Stinger Sculpin.
Wade fishing is the ticket right now, with no commercial shuttles available on the river. I don’t think this a bad thing if you’re on the swing. Fish slow and thoroughly, and switch tips before you switch flies.You’ll learn a lot more about the run, the fish and the river when you can’t just jump in the boat and drift on down to the next run. Going through a run twice always educates.
The water temps are still in the mid 30’s, so I don’t expect much change in the fishing for a few weeks. Once they get up into the low 40’s, the mayflies will get active. When that happens we will see a big change in flies, presentations, etc.
April is a great month to swing all kinds of rivers in Montana. It’s pre-runoff, so the water is low and clear. Perfect conditions to go explore some new water with a two-hander. If I were headed out to a typical Montana freestone, I’d just go with a big nasty streamer and look for a large Brown Trout. They can be kinda dumb right now if you show ’em the right bug. Depending on the size fo the river, I might roll a light tip with a weighted streamer.
And make sure to check that the river is open! Not all of them are.