This is a great time of year to be on the Missouri since the summer crowds have not shown up yet and the fish are on the surface to a variety of hatches. In April, fisherman can expect to see midge hatches so thick that floating carpets of the insects drift downstream that are as big as school buses. On cloudy days especially, the grey drakes will also hatch en masse and fishing a size 12 thorax drake with a size 14 Griffith’s Gnat (for a midge cluster) can be deadly. If you’re like some of us (who will remain nameless), you’ll have a blast throwing weighted streamers into the pods of rising fish, slowly stripping them back to the boat, and, on average, taking the biggest fish from the pod.
While we don’t spend a ton of time on this river during mid summer due to crowds, the fishing can be amazing. Heavy hatches of caddis and hoppers keep the dryfly action going, and on the days when the sun is keeping the fish at bay, a tandem nymph rig will almost always get it done. Moonlight floats or wadefishing trips during the summer night (literally the middle of the night) can be a memorable and productive experience.
If you can tear yourself away from the action that’s typically taking place in the Missoula area this time of year, the Missouri has the potential to fish big. Blanketing hatches of mahogany duns, tricos and blue winged olives will make the dryfly purist happy, while streamer fisherman will enjoy being on the river at one of the most productive times of year.