As a Western Montana fishing guide, we all get the willies when we are headed to the big river, the Mo. We’re super stoked to get a chance at the big rainbows and killer dry fly possibilities, but we are also nervous as hell that we’re gonna get our asses kicked! This river can be brutal sometimes, challenging everything you have to make good casts and see the fly, let alone landing the heavy duty fish the Mo puts out consistently.
Fortunately for Chris and I, our group of four were up to the task and the Missouri river smiled upon our efforts. Caddis, PMDs, and a smattering of little mayflies peeled off the water from early morning to late evening, providing lots of visual targets for our fishermen. Many years guiding the Bitterroot and Big Hole with these guys, we wanted to show them what Montana dry fly fishing can really be like: huge rainbows sipping sub16 dries in shin deep riffles with finger burning runs after the set!
So thanks to our diligent fishermen and to the spirits of the mighty Missouri for giving us a great trip. Everyone stuck a few great fish and held in there when the going got rough, something one must power through on every Missouri trip. See you all next time!
A phone call this previous winter set this trip in motion: six guys from Texas coming to fish Montana with us, staying up the West Fork in a secluded vacation rental. Chad, Chris and myself picked up the gang early the first morning to see what we’d gotten ourselves into. Right from the start, these guys were a hell of a group to fish with: good humored, good friends, easy learners, and awed with our pristine mountain environs. Sometimes us guides can take for granted the sheer beauty of our workplace, and groups like this remind us to look around and appreciate the scenes we’re floating.
With three days scheduled to fish the Bitterroot, we decided one day upstream on the West Fork, one day on the mainstem, and the third an audible depending on the previous two. Day one took us deep down the upper canyons throwing mayflies and caddis bugs amongst the boulder gardens. With fast water pockets and rapids throughout, the cool waters fished very well throughout the day. Our group learned how to adapt to the quick mountain water these trout live in, dialing in casts and mending like mad to draw fish to their dry flies.
Next day we toured our group down to the main river. After a day of ripping down the canyons, the main Bitterroot was a welcome sight with long smooth glides and easy fishing scenarios. Put a good cast and mend out there and let ‘er go! Long drifts equal big fish in the right spots. With afternoon temps soaring over one hundred, we swam as much as we fished later in the day. As Redfish fishermen, these Texans are accustomed to high temps and cooling off in the flats, so hourly dunks were the norm.
After our third day up the West Fork again, our now dialed in fly fishermen took advantage of many opportunities they missed the first day. With a couple days of guide beatings under their belts, many spots inaccessible became easy casts and a slam dunk fish on. This is one of the huge advantages to multi-day trips, and a joy for us guides to witness, as our customers get better and better day after day, making for great fishing and easing our jobs each day. So thanks to this group from Texas, you were a blast to guide and spend time with on the Bitterroot River, and we hope to see you in Montana once again someday.