Missouri river montana

Missouri River Montana Fly Fishing

The Missouri River is a trout factory. It originates at the confluence of three renowned trout rivers: The Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson, that all converge at nearly a singular point. The famed section of the Mo’ begins at Holter Dam. From the dam the water flows east and provides over 30 miles of high-quality trout fishing as the river meanders east through Cascade.

The Missouri River provides twelve months of angling opportunity, including some of the finest small bug dry fly fishing in the West and epic days of nymph fishing. 

Madison River Fly Fishing | Montana River Descriptions by Wet Net Outfitters

The Missouri River provides twelve months of angling opportunity, including some of the finest small bug dry fly fishing in the West. Big water, big fish.

When To Fish The Missouri River

Like most of our angling opportunities, the Missouri River earnestly awakens in mid to late March and starts producing some great days of nymph fishing as well as sporadic opportunities to catch fish feeding on midges. As April brings in warmer water temperatures we see an even bigger uptake in fish activity, while they are all still stacked into the obvious, winter holding lies. As April turns to May, the rainbows seek to spawn and feed heavily on the tail end of the spawn to replenish body condition. This coupled with movement and concentration of fish in the system provides some of the best fishing of the year…

I have spent a substantial portion of my guide career guiding spring creeks and tailwaters across Montana. For me it is a big experiment. Take an idyllic environment with stable flows, optimal pH, and a huge biomass and the result is a fishery that can produce epic days of fishing. In my tenure I’ve had innumerable drag out sessions of fishing, with the most notable days centered around Missouri River fishing. Quantity of fish and size/duration of hatches have long been the appeal to anglers to experience tailwater fisheries. Without a doubt there is no better place to target numbers and size of trout than the Missouri River in May. When the rain clouds roll in, anglers fear not as we typically observe a substantial BWO hatch that has the ability to bring every fish on the river up to the surface, even the true leviathans cannot resist these early insect hatches. Midges and March Browns (yes in May) can provide exciting and productive dry fly opportunities.

As June rolls in, the Missouri River fishing peaks with the emergence of the PMD’s and caddis. Anglers of all skill levels can appreciate the quality, top to bottom June fishing on the Missouri. Even on windy days, I have had excellent dry fly sessions with clients. Should insect activity on a given day end early or fail to start, anglers can rest assured that the fish are actively feeding river wide below the surface. For the dry fly aficionado, there is no better time to experience a PMD hatch than June on the Missouri.

July, August, and September see significant aquatic vegetation growth that can complicate the subsurface fishing, while the Mo’ might be worth checking out, we turn our attention to the wilds of the freestone fisheries in greater southwest Montana.

In October we make a return to the Missouri River which experiences the same optimal water temperatures we see in May and June. There are certainly some insects around and anglers can expect a mix of techniques to be employed. Later in the month as water temperatures move ever cooler, we break out the spey rods and swing the seemingly endless runs that characterize much of the structure on the Missouri River. We continue to fish the Missouri in November and even December in warmer years.

Get in touch

Thank you for your interest in fishing with Wet Net Outfitters. Montana’s a special place – we can’t wait to share it with you.

The team at Wet Net Outfitters is always happy to talk fishing. Whether it’s about current fishing conditions, the flies we tie, or the trip of a lifetime, please don’t hesitate to email, call, or text.

Call: (406) 690-1819

Email: pierce@wetnetoutfitters.com

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Our Rivers

Read through detailed reports of the rivers we typically fish with our Wet Net Outfitter clients. Whether you’re looking for big river float trips, iconic spring creek wade trips, or secluded small creek trips, we can help facilitate your bucket list fly fishing adventure.