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

01/09/09

Fly Fishing Missouri River, Montana - Part 2

The first time we fished the Missouri River we were headed to Great Falls to pick up my
son-in-law at the airport the following day. He came to fish with us for a week. The
afternoon before he was to arrive, I stopped to fish the Missouri River just below Holter
Dam. We parked at an access site on the east side of the river and walked down to the
stream. Within a few minutes of walking along the river in an upstream direction towards
the dam, I notice a large swirl just inside a grass line out from the bank about thirty feet.
I proceeded to sneak up to the bank and into the water for a few feet to where I could
get a good cast at the trout. It continued to rise during the time I took to get into
position. I cast whatever dry fly I had on at the time (I don't remember) and the trout
didn't take it. In fact, it swirled taking another bug on the surface just after I picked the
line up. This same type of thing went on for a few more cast until I ran the trout off
beating it over the head with my leader.

In just a few more minutes I noticed two other trout feeding in the same general area. I
again worked my way into position. Meantime, I had noticed a lot of Spotted Sedges on
the water and I had changed to a brown Elk Caddis. The same thing happened. The
trout ignored my fly and yet continued to eat bugs of some type from the surface right
before my eyes. This time one of the fish was fairly close to me and I got a good look at
it. It was big. Probably at 18 inches or maybe even larger. I begin to get a little nervous
and slowed down to make a perfect cast to it. The large trout did not take the fly.

I changed flies about ten times and cast to those two trout and several others I found
feeding before I stopped to take the time to try to determine what the trout were eating. I
put my skim net over my landing net and caught what was drifting in the surface skim.
There were all types of mayfly spinners, caddisfly pupae and caddisfly adults that had
died. I continued to try different imitations of the mayfly spinners I found but I did not
hook a single trout that afternoon. It really upset me. It continued to try until it was dark.
I left very upset at myself and very determined to return there to get even with the river.
I couldn't go back with my son-in-law. I had to take him to where it was easy to catch
trout, not play with large fish in a spring creek like setting. He was just starting to learn
to fly fish and he would never catch one that way. It wasn't until we returned him to the
airport at Great Falls a week later that I got a second chance at the Missouri.

His flight left during the evening and we stayed in Great Falls that night. Early the next
morning we returned to the exact same place I was unable to hook a trout, or I should
say, even get one to pay attention to my fly. When we arrived at the river about 9:00
AM there were large clouds of Tricos over the water. I began to wonder if that is what
the trout were eating the week before but then I realized it wasn't or I would have caught
the spinners in my net. So, at least this time I figured I would at least know what they
were eating. Continued tomorrow.

                                                                                                 Copyright 2009 James Marsh
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