Why Wade Fishing is a Good Teacher

Why Wade Fishing is a Good Teacher

Yes sir Wade Fishing is a Good Teacher. A great teacher indeed.

Many Missouri River anglers are boat centric. A big resource with lots of water is served well with a drift boat. You can see and fish so much different water in any given day with a boat. The Missouri River is made for drifters.

But is a drift boat the best way to learn this massive waterway? Yes and no. While you get to know more water do you really understand the complexities and intricacies of said river?

I mean intimately. My answer is no. You don’t really get to know the entire story until you get your boots on the ground.

Dry FLy Flat
Flat surface with undulated bottom

The surface of the Missouri River is relatively flat. Some riffles, runs and pools but the grand scheme is flatness everywhere. Some can get confused and intimidated from the vast size of this river. I fully understand. Just driving alongside the river while enveloping its width will make your fly fishing  mind swim in confusion.

The first thing you want to do is break down the big river into small river components. As mentioned above there are riffles, runs, and pools. And lengthly flats. Wide too.

The second activity to learn is to walk the banks and get in that river. Walk and wade. You truly get that first hand knowledge of the subsurface Missouri River topography by wade fishing. Undulations and buckets along with weed mats, weed shelf lines, and diminutive mid river seam lines are all locations for fish holding.

Knowing where the bugs hatch and where the fish hold on any given day or light condition is imperative for continued river knowledge and Missouri River growth.

This vast resource is a great wade fishery.
This vast resource is a great wade fishery.

Wade fishing can accelerate this process. Just getting out walking the banks and railroad tracks getting a vantage point above the river can be beneficial too. Steve B. arrived about 10 years ago learned the river quite rapidly with this technique. He spent at least half of that first couple years fishing the Missouri not fishing the river. You would see Steve peering through brush, walking the tracks, and standing up in the boat just learning about the texture of this giant river.

Then Steve got out of the boat and walked around knee deep for a couple years implementing his already expanded river knowledge. The result is as expected. Steve caught a bundle of trout. Big ones too. Watching trout while learning the subsurface river structures gives you an unfair advantage. We’ll take any of those advantages as an angler. We need ’em. The fish are wild animals and while we win a few battles through out the day the trout usually win the war.

The upshot of this article to day is that getting out and enjoying the river ankle to waist deep will not only improve you as an angler though advanced river knowledge you will get a bit of exercise as well. A double win for you the angler.

Guides, including myself, get trapped inside the drift boat and getting out and just fishing a run or two on your own can add to your learning curve. I should do it more often. It is a goal for me this fall. Get out more. Get out often. Walk the banks again. Learn the subsurface structure as it does change subtly over time even without big water events.

Boat owners in general are trapped with the comfortable confines of the boat. Get out and get active. All of the bank anglers know a little something about their favorite waters. They may know it better than the floatation device crowd.

So which way are you gonna lean? Inside or outside. Wet or dry.

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1 Comment.

  • I love the perspective, Mark. Were I somehow able to live full time somewhere near Craig, this sounds like a great way to earn a Ph. D. in Missouri River Angling. Maybe I won the PowerBall last night and can finally move back to Montana and enroll at the University of Craig. 😉 For those us still working on our GED, The Mo is a somewhat mystical and, I’m not afraid to say it, intimidating water. How would someone who only visits The Mo once or twice a year do this?

    Obviously, it seems like the most efficient approach would be to find a guide who could take you to some likely high-value wading water. Float and anchor, then get out and wade for a while? Do you get many (or any) folks who ask to do this?

    If someone wanted to try a day of wading on their own, would you recommending driving between various access points or renting a boat to anchor wade? (I’m hoping the answer involves float-anchor-wade-toss-repeat…)

    Thanks for the thoughts. Here’s hoping you find some success with that goal.

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