Fall Fishing Report 2020

Wednesday November 4th Fishing Report

Wednesday November 4th Fishing Report

Another winter storm lurking out there for the latter part of the week as we continue to see non-seasonal warm temps coupled with the ubiquitous sun inspired winds.

And that is how it has gone this fall. That has been our pattern. Unfortunately. 2020 is a strange one…

Of the three fall weather patterns, Blustery Sunshine, this is my least favorite. Wind and sun. No bugs. That is the worst of the three.

The other is the Ice Locker. Like last year. 8 snow storms in the September-October period. Lows, as low as ZERO! Bugs yes. Lots no. And then they would come on the big sun bright days without the fish responding. That is the curse of the too cold, too snowy, too much winter, too early version of fall.

The other is the Baetis Bonanza. Calm, overcast, moist, and buggy. And even when this weather pattern is locked in, we only get 4-5 of those perfect days. Sometime those days come in November, not October. Will they still come this November? Well, only time will tell. I for one am crossing my fingers!!!

As for the current fishing report I will break it out into discipline short reports. I don’t know what the future holds but it will be just fine. Lots of anglers out there fishing! We love it. Election Day saw lots of boats shirking the daily events and fishing. A better option, post voting, than reality. Mostly is.

The joy of fishing commonly is that once you step into the water, launch the boat, or leave the driveway towards the river, not the office…the brain begins the healing process.

Water Temperatures at 47F. Good for BWO’s Good for fishing.

Water Levels at 3250cfs. Lowest in nearly 2 decades. Too low? No, nope, no. 2800 cfs is the federally mandated low water level. In the early 2000’s we saw it a couple times fall below this mark. The river is a living creature and it is always fun to fish new environs finding slots, pockets, slow and faster waters here and there. Learning is fun.

For those of you who have not fished the Missouri River at this level think about the deep green lanes, the edges that are deeper, and on your dry fly flats, walk out further man. Rising fish like skinny water. Nymphing fish like skinny water. Streamer fish like skinny water. Or hire a guide. The fish live in the same spots truly. The appearance is just a bit different.

Wednesday November 4th Fishing Report

Dry Fly Anglers

Not too good man. No bugs. Too much sun. Too much wind. Do insects emerge and come off in these conditions? Oh yeah. They spend about 1.7 seconds on the surface drying their wings before flight. Sun and wind decrease the time on the water exponentially. Fish son’t have much interest in chasing insects that leave the surface moving into the fish heavens. Trout do not fly that well.

Overcast and calm days ahead with light snow falling will bring more smiles to the dry fly fellas. Until then either tie flies, or tie on a bobber.


Sow bugs. Scuds. BWO patterns. That is the diet at this point. And will be for another month. At that point just put those insects away til spring and continue to fish the sow, scud, worm, and pink selections.

Deep in the am, short in the afternoons. Yesterday most of the fish in my boat came on the short leash. 2′-3′ from bobber to bottom fly. Total length. Center river flats and shelf lines. Weed shelves. The road less travelled. Most boats were hugging banks. Most were not hooking fish in the high and bright sun tethered to light winds.

As the sun left the water the fish did respond. Most were off the water at that point, but the fish got really interested in the sow bug. Trout do not have access to Headhunters selection of sunglasses and cannot squint. Fall feeding fish like dark skies. Conversely summer feeding fish are comfortable in sunny conditions. Seasonal is what the fish like. Winter fish like deep holes away from the sun. Spring fish like to eat when the water temps rise above 40F. Fall fish like seasonal conditions including snow, leaves falling into the water, overcast skies, bugs emerging, etc.

The deep rig is 4 1/2′ to 5 1/2′ from bobber to split. Find deep center river slots and dunk it. IF that does not work either change flies, change depth, or change water. But the former are better than the latter as there are only two types of water in the lower flows.

Streamer Junkies

Quite a few of these guys around in November. Guides from around Montana and beyond out here camping for a week or longer. They like to toss the streamer until their arm falls off. Not too many hero stories with the conditions as such.

Fall favorites include the black leech, brown and yellow, gold, white, and olive. So all of them. If your shit don’t work, change it.

Most of the nymphing and dry fly pressure is focussed above Mid Canon. So if you like solace, hard banks, and interesting streamer water, fish lower. You will find some down in the canyon reaches.

Good shadows too. Deep slots, insides, outsides. As always, come by the shop for tips, suggestions, the Best Flies Under the Big Sky.

Intermediate lines or dry lines will suffice. Some are dredging too.

2 Hand Trout, TROUT2H, Trout Spey, Swingers

Decent. Scandi lines are the most common in the fall here on the Mo. Shallow water means shallow runs.

A normal tapered leader is common along with light sinking leaders. No need to get too deep yet. Water temps do not require you to find slow as molasses waters yet. The fish are in the moving water, slots, troughs, buckets, and such. A really fun time to be not eh water swinging a pattern you love.

The patterns are changing daily but we always love a Carey Special, Gartside’s Sparrow, Closers, BWO soft hackles, Skiddish Smolts, Sparkle Minnows, Thin Mint, Kreelex, and the like. Come by and chat a bit before heading out. We always have the latest on the Trout Spey game.

Headhunters is the Exclusive TROUT2H Gear Shop on the MO, the best stocked in Montana, we have the World Class Staff to back it up!

Lots of killer gear at the shop from Loomis, Orvis, Sage, Echo, Anderson Custom Rods ACR, RIO, Scientific Anglers, OPST and more. Tons of tips, leaders, tippet rings, and accessories to fedd your passion. More TROUT2H gear in stock than all the rest put together! Honest. Call us first.

If you want the information/education from the folks who actually fish with Trout Spey Rods, lines, and flies then you already know that HH is your source for all things swing! No pretenders here. Nope. 

Guided TROUT2H trips out daily. We have experts ready to guide you and teach you the ways of spey. Our focus is trout based. Our focus includes catching fish while learning. We are not teaching steelhead techniques. No. We fish on a unreal trout river. We are interested in passing the education on to you so you can catch trout. Trout techniques are the focus on this trout filled resource.

A great Trout Spey Gear Guide written by Scumliner here!

Our lead Trout Spey Guides include Whitney Gould, Mike McCune, John Arnold, and Beth Langell. Others are well versed in TROUT2H as well but this crew is our top shelf gang!

Our focus is trout on the two hander. 

So if you want to get better book a trip today for November and December. Our two best months for swinging. The above guides have availability and love teaching new anglers, experienced anglers, and those who want to learn about this discipline for catching trout.

Just want to learn about the gear, the nomenclature, and taking the confusion away? Yes, a guide trip will leave you in a better place.

Call if you are shopping for a two hander or want to match a line with your existing rod. We have the answers here in Craig.

Weather this Week

Headhunters Fly Shop and Guide Service Mantra

While we were closed yesterday Election Day as the entire balance of the staff fished together, fishing community, we are OPEN daily 8am.

We are rarely closed here in Craig. When the weather hands us conditions too unsafe for travel, we close for the safety of our employees. When the gravity of the election, of the pressure, of the current insanity of American life is such, we close for the Election.

We support our fly shop staff with full-time schedules, gear perks, health insurance, living wages well over the minimum wages most pay…not seasonally, but all year long. Pretty hard to answer your trout fishing question(s) when nobody is here on site or to answer the phone. So, for you, for the staff, for our own trout fishing passions, we are open daily.

We look at the fishing business as a full time job. We are not a hobby shop. We are open daily, even when the traffic is lighter than optimal for the bottomline. We are in it for you the customer. Not only for the cash register. We understand that some of the winter times are slow, the fall, the early spring. But we see, enjoy, the entire picture. All the factors. A multi-faceted approach that we have always adhered to. We take these decisions seriously understanding that the implications reach beyond the bottom line. Community. Big Picture. Headhunters is, and has always been committed in supporting the fishing community. Us, you, them.

Headhunters Mission: Entertainment, information, education, conservation, and customer service

Many fly shops closed for the season, the restaurants too. But we here at Headhunters fish everyday. Even yesterday. Headhunters is the only Missouri River fly shop open all year long, all week long, daily here on the Mo. Online store open 24/7. Our happy OPEN sign greets you as you enter Craig. Our long time fishy staff ready to help you today, and everyday.

Shuttles. Gear. Gloves. Hand Warmers. 12 month Lodging. Guide Trips. TROUT2H Gear Galore. Sale Items. And FUN at HH of Craig.

Call the Trout Hotline @ 406-235-3447

BWO, DFO, fishing report, HH of Craig, Junkie, November, Nymphing, spey, Streamer, Trout Spey, TROUT2H, Wednesday November 4th Fishing Report
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1 Comment.

  • Thanks for the great day. I enjoyed it very much, and learned a lot. See you next year.

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