The swing-bite has been inconsistent this fall. I blame it on inconsistent weather and inconsistent flows from Holter Dam. Mother Nature dictates the weather, and continuing construction on the spillway at Holter Dam Is affecting the flows. The flows have been erratic, and so has the fishing.
There have been a few great days, some OK days and some really crappy ones.
Last Monday, Beth Langell, Whitney Gould and I guided a wonderful crew of women from the Bitteroot Valley and experienced some very nice fishing. For most of the crew, it was their introduction to Spey/trout Spey. The fishing was pretty good, and the river seems to be acting like we like it to in December.
We found fish in deep tanks and in shallow flats. Leech patterns were key, both on floating and deep presentations. And bigger fish were plentiful.
If you’re heading out to swing the Missouri later this week or weekend, I would recommend the following:
- Lots of fish in softer water resulting in gentle grabs. Lighter rods are preferred, and a 3 weight is ideal to protect lighter tippets and get better hook sets. Let them eat it. You can set the hook too quickly!
- I’ve been using 2X – 4X tippet. Lighter than many would use, but I’m getting more takes when I use lighter tippet. You’ll definitely have a few breaks-offs if you try and use 4x with a fast 6 weight or bigger, so match you tippet to your rod.
- Leeches and bugger are the best place to start when choosing a fly. I like the Black Pig Pen Leech, the Fruit Roll Up, and Pine Squirrel Leech. Old School buggers are also good. If you’re in the shop ask for a bugger called “Beth’s Britches”. For most of the fall, I’ve done better with non-beaded buggers.
- Look for those deep tanks with consistent depth and a slow flow, but one that gives you a solid swing. Soft, salty bottoms are a good sign. We always recommend “twitching” or “jigging” the fly, but make sure and use the appropriate amount of action for the patterns you’re using and the water speed. Fishing a flashy, big streamer in faster runs and you should give it some sharp action. Slower flows with leeches or soft hackles requires more subtle and natural movement.
- Look for flows to be on the drop for the best fishing. Days when the flows jump up have been tough.
My standards rig has been a floating SA Spey Lite Scandi with an intermediate sonar leader in shallower, softer water. In deep tanks, A Skagit head with a Sonar type 2/type 4 tip has been the most productive. You don’t need to go real deep unless you’re fishing fast and deep water. I have not been focusing on that stuff, but a persistent angler will likely find a big Brown Grout or two in that stuff.
Hopefully the fishing will stay good, and possibly get even better in the next few weeks. Water temps are low and the days are short, so we suggest choosing shorter floats (if you are floating) and fishing the water thoroughly.