Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

01/08/09

Fly Fishing Missouri River, Montana - Part 1

The Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers form the Missouri River. Even during
drought years, the Missouri River is huge. During the wet years when there is a heavy
snow pack, the Missouri River is bigger than huge. It is the only stream I know of in
Montana where a drought year possibly provides an advantage to anglers. If it were not
for the four dams along the upper part of the Missouri, it probably wouldn't have many
trout. The reservoirs are deep enough to provide cool the water during the summer. It
flows through wide open country at a rather slow pace excepting the spring runoff
period. By the way, the spring runoff varies the Missouri considerably. It is not easy to
pinpoint what will happen from year to year. It flows from the water melting from several
large mountain ranges.  

There are probably close to a hundred miles of the river that could be called trout
water. Although there are trout throughout the river and lakes, the section below Holter
Dam is the area that provides the best fishing. There is over thirty miles of good trout
fishing in this section. It has a good population of both brown and rainbow trout. This
area of the river is not exactly a secret. It is very popular not only for fly anglers but also
for recreational use.

The stream is more like a huge spring creek than a river in terms of the way the water
flows just below the dam. It flows smoothly for the most part. You will see all types of
water craft on the river ranging from tube floats to larger boats. It is a very popular area
to drift for anglers and those that just want to float down the river to relax. It also offers
great fishing from the banks on both sides of the river. Access is very good in most
areas. Some of the river is fairly easy to wade, especially during low water years.
However, It is rather deep in many places and cannot be safely waded in those areas.
The thing that makes it a prime fishing destination is the fact the trout are large. There
are large rainbows and browns and unlike many tailwaters, they will take flies from the
surface quite often.

There is a short section of canyon just below the dam. Downstream of that the river
flows into a broad valley. Farming takes place on both sides of the river. The first three
miles of the river below the dam flows very slowly. Below the Wolf Creek Access it will
begin to pick up speed. It then flows into a canyon section and gets fast, so depending
on where you fish it, the water can flow smooth and slow to fast and turbulent. Fishing is
very good all the way to Cascade. Below Cascade it leaves the mountains and flows
through the huge Montana Prairie. It slows down and gets warmer during the summer
months in this section. The rainbow population greatly decreases. There are some
brown trout as far down (down meaning down river - the river flows in a northerly
direction) as Great Falls, Montana.
Continued
                                                                                                  Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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