While over on the Missouri River last week, I saw several pods of rising trout. Even now, the weather forecast on the Mo’ looks to be warmer than average and the fishing should be pretty good.

In the Missoula area, cold air has settled in the valleys rendering fly fishing impractical and futile.


I just took a look at snowpack numbers from around Montana; just out of curiosity, time-wasting and boredom. There’s definitely some snow in the high country, but there isn’t much at lower elevations. Yeah, yeah, it’s way too early to make any real predictions but I was bored, and my computer was on. Most guides would have been searching something more more deviant and perverse. But not me.


There is some good fishing to be had around the state of Montana. Yes, there are some major fires burning and there are some hoot-owl restrictions in place, but the fishing is good and the crowds are gone. Also, the weather has been cool enough that the hoards of inner-tubers have dissipated. It is likely that they are home patching their tubes in preparation for next summer. I still contend that the daily inner-tuber is among the lowest life-forms on the planet. So there.


Its been good up there! We’re still playing around with terrestrials in the afternoons. Tricos have been getting stronger each day and the moths are all but gone. Look to bigger dries (nocturnal stones are out) in the morning, and then move on to hoppers/ants/beetles. The size 12 and 14 p.t. is a good bet for a dropper. The water is low, but cold.

We’ve been running boats on the lower river. The Superior area is brutally smoky, so go elsewhere. Foam in purple and pink has been good. The 12 prince will help out in the afternoons. The water is warm so plan to revive a few fish. Ants and hoppers, along with the purple    haze, are good bets. Play the outer foam lines.

We’ve been down on the lower river a bit this month. Slender black buggers fished deep will get fish in the a.m. and the hopper will get it done in the afternoons. There are plenty of stone shucks at the water line so bring your foam stones. We found that the twitch has been key to getting fish up. Look to the heavy insides and the messy outer seams. There hasn’t been a reason to tie on a nymph!

Its a bit weedy. Thats nothing new. If your a nymph dork, then the dam is the place to go. Lower on the river you can toss smaller hoppers and ants, after you mess around with the morning tricos. The hopper bite has been spotty, but it will continue to improve over the next four weeks. Fishing a dropper isn’t futile, but it will prove frustrating with the weeds.

Missoula, Montana Snowpack, Streamflows< Precipitation Forecast March 8, 2017
The fly fishing rivers of Montana should be in good shape this year, as there is ample snow in the high country and more falling each day. Yes, we’re all sick and tired of gray and drizzle and cold. Yes, we’re all ready to jump back in the boats and poke around on the Bitterroot, looking for a few risers willing to smash a dry. But for now, we’ll hang tight and watch the final death throes of what has been a LONG winter.

So here it is:
Current Montana snowpack:

Current Montana stream flows:

Precipitation outlook 2017 (from NOAA)

“Forecast confidence is moderate for eastern Oregon and western Montana.

Long-term drought continues across the high Plains of eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. A slight tilt the odds for above-median precipitation is forecast for this region from March through May. 30 to 40 percent of annual precipitation typically occurs during this three month period. Based on these factors, drought removal is forecast.”

So it all looks fairly good for the upcoming season. So there. Now go nymph.


Montana Fly Fishing Reports for 3/6/17

It’s still a bit dirty from the rain this weekend. The upper Clark is looking better as far as water quality, but as the ice walls melt they will sling tons of COLD water into the system. It’s still winter in much of the western half of Montana. Go nymph in front of the Double Tree- it’s the best “locals only” spot in the valley. Try San Juans, Eggs, Double Bead Stones, Rubberlegs and Princes. I heard from several local anglers that the #12 Pillow-Biter was far and away the best bet. Fish aren’t moving far to chase a streamer at this point.

The fishing is good on the Missouri River right now. You should be able to get it done throughout the entire system, so don’t feel like you have to go row around in circles at the dam. Work the slow stuff with the good old amex, pillow-biters, rainbow czechs, clown-pounders, black zebras and maybe even some hot-beads. You can always fish the margins with a dry/dropper and pick off some nice fish. You can pull smaller streamers slow and low and get a few whacks. Think small and brown/olive/black.

Do you want to build a snowman? The Creek is fishing well at this time, but it’s definitely still winter. There will be some nice rainbows beginning to head up for the spring spawn. Double nymph rigs are still the way to go with San Juans, Double Bead Stones, PT’s, Russin River stones,and Princes all getting eaten. Deep swinging streamers below the riffles will get you into a few nice fish. Black or Brown buggers are great colors this time of year for streamers. Just watch out for ice shelves giving way when you’re walking around.

It’s still winter in western Montana. Skwalas aren’t out. As long as you see flat-brims with bandaged knuckles, you can rest assured that the snowboarding is better than the fishing.
We’ve seen a few nymph’s under the rocks, but you won’t see an adult until things warm up. It’s all about nymphing right now and getting your bugs down and into the right water. S.J.Ws and Rubberlegs will make you feel like a real angler, whilst remembering that the best Thingamabobber color is pink. Always use pink! Keep your bugs slow and low. We also really like a black zebra and a red Larva-lace midge, as you will likely see oodles of midges on the nice days. Capnia and Nemoura will probably begin to show up soon. It can’t hurt to have a few bugs in your bugs that imitate these early stones.

It’s the same story on the Blackfoot River- cold, and wintery. Look to the winter water to find the bulk of the fish. It’s the same recipe as the other rivers.

Big ol' Montana trout caught whilst fly fishing!Here’s the scoop from our last newsletter:
There’s a cure for cabin fever…
Book a spring trip today!
Typically we have good dry fly fishing by March 15 on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork. Great fishing is happening now on the Missouri. Give us a call to talk about last minute options for your spring fishing.
Here are some links about what the conditions look like for 2017

Snow Pack/ Snow/water equivalency:
Montana Streamflows:

For all of you fishing junkies who appreciate Montana’s incredible stream access opportunities- They are continually under siege. Here are a couple of great groups who’re fighting to keep public lands open to all of us:

1,000 public land advocates pack Montana Capitol: ‘Keep your hands off our public lands’


giant rainbow whilst fly fishing in Montana
It was a great year!


Thank you to all of our clients who fished with us in 2016.
See you soon!


In spite of the low water levels on the Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Bitterroot, 2016 proved to be a great season for our anglers and our guides. We began our trips on February 6 and will be finishing our guided trips next week, on November15th!
As I write this, our 2017 schedule is beginning to fill up. So if you’ve been waiting to lock in some dates, it might be a good time to that.
Here are the reports for the last few weeks:
Missouri River: Midges and some baetis. Frankly, the weather has been way too nice for the dry fly fishing to be killer. If you go to the Mo’ look to the zebra in 18 and 20, sow bug in 18, small green machines… If you have trouble stop in at the Trout Shop. If it actually gets cloudy and cold we should see some righteous dry fly fishing.
Bitterroot River: The flows are up due to the rains from a few weeks back. That, and the fact that the ranchers are net pulling every single drop out of the river anymore.
I don’t think you’ll be waiting in line on the ramp. Small buggers, purple haze 16,18 to the few risers that you’ll see. If you just can’t stop nymphing try the good ol’ P.T. n 18, Zebra in 16,18 and the SJ worm. But, please, just STOP CHASING A BOBBER DOWN THE RIVER. How is it that thingamabobber fishing is the new default?
Blackfoot River: Cold! Need more info than that?
Clark Fork River: There should still be some baetis around. Buggers in brown and black should be working, as should smaller princes and p.t.s. If you are willing to walk a bit, find a soft piece of water, foam hole, etc. and you’ll be able to pick off a few risers in the afternoons.

Hooray for climate change!

October 30, 2015

As I write this, fish are still being caught on dries on Missoula area rivers. Baetis are a daily occurrence on the Blackfoot, Bitterroot and Clark Fork. October caddis are gone, but the midges are out. Think about starting late and fishing until dark. If you’re a waterfowl geek, take along a shotgun and drill a duck or two. If you want to tug a wet fly, look to Rock Creek. The browns are horned up and looking to attack! There is basically no traffic, so you should feel free to take your time and pick each run apart. It looks like the weather is going to hold for another day or two, so get out there and catch a trout on a dry fly. Also, if you want to nail a pike pike on a fly, then this is a good time. Big northerns get greedy this time of year, and if you know where one lives you can catch him.

The outlook for the winter is either optimistic or dreadful, depending on which source you choose to consult. The Farmer’s Almanac says that things will be warmer, milder and drier than normal. NOAA says that we will be wetter and milder than normal. Whatever the case, the rivers are brutally low and we will need a significant amount of snowpack to rebound. When I look at the flows on the Blackfoot and Bitterroot in particular, I am shocked to see how little effect closing all of the irrigation ditches had on volume. They are still very low, and at these levels brutal cold and anchor ice would be highly detrimental. Hopefully this rainy cycle will continue a few more days. I noticed yesterday that the Jocko was very swollen and very muddy. Good news! However, both weather forecasting sources agree that the summer of 2016 could very well be hotter and drier than normal. That’s great news if you’re a locust or a Syrian refugee, bad news if you’re a trout or penguin. It is what it is…


Another perfect day…

September 14, 2015

RFO 11We weathered another fire season, put up with hoot-owl restrictions that went on far too long, tolerated gaggles of mouth-breathing inner-tubers, and caught oodles of big trout on dry flies. The Clark Fork was, and is still , very good. The Bitterroot flows were pathetically low, due in large part to irrigation demands for the acres and acres of alfalfa grown for cow fodder. In other words, EAT MORE BEEF. Maybe we can reduce the numbers of cows on the planet through mass consumption of their tastiest parts. The Blackfoot fished really well in spite of the low water conditions. The inner-toob boobs did little to enhance the ambiance, save for the innumerable empty beer cans littering the stream bed, the single lost flip-flops that appeared as though they were put there by Flip-Flop Appleseed, and the inability to park a Subaru Outback in an orderly fashion. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re an inevitability.

So the current report looks like this:
Blackfoot River-rubber legs brown, purple prince, czech nymphs, if you’re going to be a dropper dangler. Purple haze, smaller hoppers, October caddis patterns late in the day, if you want to actually use your fly rod to cast. We love the smaller white Coffey fly if you want to pitch a streamer.

Bitterroot River- The trico fall has been good, but I’d bet this is coming to a close. Choose a good mayfly pattern when you grow weary of casting to sipping trout. Like that would ever happen. Hecuba are out but they are out but there aren’t many. In the right spots, the fish will be on them. Peep show, P.t., purple anything.

Clark Fork-Hoppers are still on the menu. Purple haze 14 will get it done, even as a searching pattern.
We’ve been throwing straight dries, but I’m sure the usual dropper suspects will work. White streamers have been good early in the day. Fish them light and keep them high enough to see the takes. It’s more fun that way.

Rock Creek- Word has it that the fishing has been good along it’s entire length. Big Goddards, purple haze, light colored Wullfs, small Adams. Check in with Deb at Trout Bums, as she gets good daily info from other anglers.


Missoula Skwala Fishing-Almost,almost,not quite…

March 12, 2015

Missoula Skwala FishingI managed to test float a new fly fishing guide this past week. It went about as expected; in, out, too fast. Overall, not bad. We can shine him up. I fished a dry, as did Mike the Meatman, and we caught a few. The eats were confident and the weather was perfect. There were plenty of 100% banks that I can now call 99% banks. But it was good enough. It’s March 12 for Pete’s sake! If you’re gonna make a day of it look to the upper and middle reaches of the Bitterroot. A single dry will work if you just leave it on your line. Look to the slower banks for solid dry fly grabs.  Actually, it would be better if all of you local floggers just stayed home. Isn’t there still enough snow for some knuckle-draggin’? But seriously, if you go put your hat on straight and leave the Gopros and tweets in the truck.

Earlier this week I also got into a fender bender with a driver on one of Missoula’s beautifully planned streets. Judging from the massive Power-Bait decal that was blocking his sight-picture, I can only assume that he was bait fisherman.


Missouri River fly fishing has been sick

January 27, 2015

Missouri River fly fishing has been sick

Missouri River fly fishing has been sick! Think pink! Find the slow water and fish deep-ish. The weather over there is tropical and it would be a great time to scratch the itch.  You can fish from the dam to Prewett with no trouble.  There are some ramp-ice issues at Pelican. Small, darker streamers fished slowly should turn out some fish, too. GO!

The Clark Fork and Bitterroot have been decent, but it’s still winter.  Small stone nymphs, sj worms, princes-You know, the usual stuff. We haven’t been on the ‘root, but we’ve heard some stuff.  It’s great that for the next month, while the water is super low, it will be getting pounded by bobber-jockeys. That should really help the dry fly fishing later on. Watch out for soft ground at some of the Bitterroot accesses. It’s so sad when those Tundras get bogged down to their axles. The good news is that you can Gopro/Youtube the tow truck extraction, with some catchy music and cute captions.  Hooray for Tundras and film festivals.  They’ve given the angling world so much!

I guess I might have a touch of cabin fever.