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> > Montana: The Missouri

Martinlf has attached these 2 pictures to this report. The message is below.
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Missouri Brown
Missouri Brown
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Trico Rainbow.
Trico Rainbow.
MartinlfJuly 30th, 2021, 6:31 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
I’d heard from Troutnut Matt Hanist, and others, about recent brutal conditions on the Missouri: high winds, heat, and low water. So I had low expectations for my fishing there, especially after the fantastic luck I’d had in previous days. But luck held, and thanks to great guides such as Jeff Jennings and Matt Hargrave I had some excellent fishing on the Missouri.

I had a hint that Jeff was a great guide even before we put the boat in the water around 6:00 am. Another angler approached us and told Jeff he'd been looking for him, but didn't have his contact information. He then recounted a trip where Jeff clearly went above and beyond under difficult circumstances to insure that the guy had a good experience. He looked at me, and said, "You've got a great guide for the day." Before he left, he made sure he had Jeff's contact information. Soon after we put in at Holter Dam we were into fish. Jeff showed me how to cast and mend for indicator nymphing and I noted how he would back row to keep the indicator drifting smoothly. I’d never fished much with an indicator, and with Jeff I saw how a guide can manage a boat to maintain the perfect drift. It takes attention and effort, and Jeff's skill made it pay off. After boating several fish, including a nice brown, Jeff spotted a rising fish. I'd told him about tying flies for the trip and he looked through my box and picked out a PMD spinner and one of my Tricos. I almost couldn't believe it when the fish ate the Trico. But we soon boated that fish, one of more to come. I could not have been happier. The Trico pattern is one I developed for picky Pennsylvania fish on a local spring creek, but I didn't know if it would work sized up for Western trout. We fish them in size 26 and 28, but for the Missouri I used a stouter hook in size 20 and 22. Jeff had me try a variety of methods all day, including hopper fishing. I finished the day tired, but happy. My first day on the Missouri exceeded all my expectations, and Jeff was largely responsible for my success. He's also an excellent photographer. I hope to fish with Jeff again, next year, and in years to come.

The next day Matt Hargrave and I headed out early, meeting at 6:00 a.m. We actually had cloud cover and some rain to start, and Matt loaned me a pair of rain pants as we pulled on rain jackets and waited out the showers. For someone who knows the river well, or under ideal conditions, it might work to fish without a guide, but I very much appreciated the ways both Jeff and Matt insured my success. Finding a rising fish, then picking through my flies, Matt also selected the Trico pattern, again trailing it from a PMD. Another take on the Trico, and another fish netted. All day Matt set the boat up perfectly again and again to allow me to reach rising fish. We had a great day, sharing stories and fishing strategies. One of his stories in particular indicated to me how much he values his experiences with anglers. He has a regular who likes to use Euronymphing methods from the drift boat. It’s not especially productive, but Matt goes along and enjoys this angler’s determination and interest in fishing outside the box. Then they’ll switch to indicators for a while. He clearly values this client and their time on the water. Early in the trip I felt like Matt was more of a regular fishing buddy than someone I had a financial relationship with. But he was an expert guide: he knew exactly where to find rising fish, and where there were none, we nymphed them up. Like Jeff, Matt was a master at keeping the drift productive by controlling the boat. Other than a little mending I did, it was Matt's skill that put fish in the boat when we were nymphing. Matt and I have exchanged a few messages since I returned home, and I’d fish with him again, any day. If you’re planning a trip to the Missouri, PM me, and I’ll have some other tips that may make your trip a good one.

While at the Missouri I stayed at Wolf Creek Angler, and I’d highly recommend it as well. Jason, the owner, set up floats, and did everything possible to make my stay enjoyable. He has also followed up after my trip in very helpful ways. The cabins at Wolf Creek Angler were comfortable and cool, offering a respite from the summer heat. And they are reasonably priced. The fly shop is well stocked with anything a fly fisherman might need for the Missouri or other nearby rivers, and the shop manager Zack, is helpful and personable. I’ve been in touch with Jason since I returned home, and he continues to provide helpful information. The Wolf Creek Angler website also offers a wealth of information, including photos of the cabins and the kind of fish one can find in the Missouri. See Matt Hanist’s previous report on the Missouri also offers information. I’d like to thank Matt for all the help he gave me in planning this trip. It was invaluable.

More Montana fishing reports above and below; scroll up or down. Many waters in Montana are now shut down or on “hoot owl” restrictions due to drought and heat. Fires and smoke are often up the road. Climate change is affecting the West, and if we don’t get it under control great trout fishing there may become a thing of the past.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
PartsmanJuly 31st, 2021, 3:51 pm
bancroft michigan

Posts: 420
Thanks for the updates Louis, beautiful pictures and maybe someday that would be a trip of a life time. Just curious but what rod do you find the most useful out west? Maybe not a brand, but line weight and action. I’m looking at a new 6 wt. I have a couple of loomis rods a 4 and 5 I really like. The 4 wt. is the nrx + the 5 is nrx lp. Really different actions but I like better than anything else I have.
MartinlfJuly 31st, 2021, 5:12 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
Mike, for the bigger rivers I fished an old BT rod that is a 9' 5-6 weight. Gretchen and Al Beatty sold them years ago, but don't have them any more. It's a medium fast rod. I'd think the Loomis 5 would be fine for most rivers. For the spring creeks I fished an old Sage 9' 4 weight SP. It's a bit softer, as I was using 6X tippet. Everyone has told me to fish what I'm comfortable with, and that seemed to work. This was really a trip of a lifetime for me, as I stayed two weeks, having cancelled on a trip last year. I doubt the boss will allow that again anytime soon. Don't hesitate to be in touch if I can be of assistance. Matt Hanist (Westbranch) really knows Montana.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WbranchAugust 2nd, 2021, 8:54 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Matt Hanist (Westbranch) really knows Montana.

Over the last half century I have spent at least 2.4 YEARS fishing in Montana.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
AzariyAugust 12th, 2021, 6:56 am

Posts: 1
Wow! Fantastic

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