On the Road – Missouri River Fishing

image of Missouri River Fishing Brown Trout

Missouri River Fishing in May

We love our freestone streams around Missoula, but we also readily look forward to May when we make the drive over Rodgers Pass for some Missouri river fishing.  We spend most of the month on this awesome tailwater.  It has become one of our favorite times of year during the Montana fly fishing season.  There is a lot to love about the Mighty Mo.

Large Trout and Lots of Them

The Missouri river boasts large trout populations.  Some years the counts have approached 8,000 trout per mile.  This year it’s closer to 4,500 trout per mile on the upper stretches, but the real kicker is that the average size is a legit 17-18″ with several chances at 20″ class trout each day.  Venture a little further down river and you will find more of a mix in age classes, but there are some giant brown trout lurking that can provide you with the fish of a lifetime.  These are all hard fighting, line-ripping wild trout that can leave you with a sore forearm by the end of the day.

Variety is the Spice of Life

For a tailwater, the Missouri river has loads of variety both in the insect life and the styles of fishing available.  Of course, nymph fishing is the most consistent way to find trout on the Mo but there is even variety with that.  The safe bet is deep nymphing in the classic lanes, but short leash nymph rigs in the shallows produce some of the biggest trout in the river.  Streamer fishing is effective and there is almost always dry fly fishing to be had in May too.  There are loads of midges, blue-wing olives, march browns, and caddis that all hatch during the month.  Anglers can search with dry/dropper rigs, headhunt for rising trout, or just prospect the likely water with a dry.  Some days I wish we could 4 or 5 different rods rigged up because every technique would produce well in the right spot.

There’s really no place we’d rather be during May, and for the rest of the month you will find us over on the Missouri fishing the greatest tailwater in Montana.  It’s not too late to join us!