I just returned from a long overdue fishing binge in Montana with good friends, Ben Brennan and Mike Patron. We managed to slip away from the wives unscathed and journeyed north to start the trip on the Missouri River near Craig, MT, this is a very well known tailwater emerging from the Holter Dam in Wolf Creek, MT. I have only fished this river in late October and in general it has always treated me to some of the finest "technical" dry fly fishing around. Technical just means small imitations of BWO's and midges(#18-22) combined with lighter tippets, demanding drifts and "hot", picky rainbows! The overall feel of this river is that of a giant spring creek(3500cfs) with long slow glides and bottoms mostly covered with aquatic vegetation-an insect machine! Our weather was a mixed October bag of warm, overcast wind on the first day then colder gusty winds on the second and lastly a cold calm snowy day... our final day was our best with steady snow and temps near freezing all day- Pod mania! Rainbows and browns scattered on flats and banks sipping and rolling all around... it was surreal, especially since we were one of two boats on the entire river. If you have never experienced a fishery like the "Mo", make sure it is high on you list and go during the off-season, traffic is very high there mid-summer.
A Jefferson October Double!
Our final day after exploring the MO landed us just south on a river not too many ever get to fish or have that much to say about, the Jefferson River. This river is formed by some of the most acclaimed rivers in all of Montana, the Ruby, the Big Hole and the Beaverhead. Our knowledge of the river before launching was minimal... in fact, it was hard to get any report on this fairly large freestone stream not far from Bozeman. We had always heard low numbers but chance for true trophies existed. Well, we went for it and had good streamer fishing near mid-day in long slow runs. The water was very cold, high and off-color. When we started we actually thought it could end up being just a nice float with a few beers... but we were persistent with the streamers and figured out quickly that all the trout were not asleep yet. Slow retrieves with sink-tips caught the fish and some were nice, no hogs this go-round but I aim to return. Nice river with no crowds... my kinda place!