Missouri River trip

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by matalpa, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. I have wanted to fish the Missouri around Craig for years. I have a few days at the very end of this month and will be there with my one-man boat. I am hoping for some hatches, but will be content to throw streamers all day for browns, too.

    So, anyone want to school me up on 3 or 4 of the best day-long drifts, who to use for shuttles, where to stay (I am not going to have camping gear) and where to eat?

    Also, is Halfbreed rapids a big deal, or just something to be aware of?

    I am not looking for any secret spots, but if you want to pm me on this I understand.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  2. On a normal water year like this one, most of the rainbow spawners leave the mainstem of the Missouri and head up into the tributaries somewhere around the middle of April. They'll return in a few weeks. You can't fish the tributaries until the 3rd Saturday in May to protect the spawning.

    I don't know what a "one man boat" is, but if you're talking about anything where your feet are dangling below the surface, I'd stay away from Half Breed and Hardy rapids. They are really no big deal otherwise.

    You'll find browns the end of April but the population is much less than the 'bows. The bigger ones are normally taken with streamers, although the largest brown I've ever seen taken from the Mo was on a #18 Lovebug. It was taken right behind a film crew with Kurt Gowdy and son. They'll likely be some Baetis and lots of midges.

    One day Floats
    -- Dam to Craig
    -- Craig to Mid Canon
    -- Mid Canon to Mountain Palace
    -- Mountain Palace to Pelican Point
    -- Pelican Point to Cascade (long slow float. If you've got a north wind, don't do it)

    There are 3 full service fly shops in Craig (population 30) but no gas stations. All do shuttles. There's also two shops in Wolf Creek where there is a gas station.

    Eat at Issacs in Craig. Breakfast at the Trout Shop in Craig or the Oasis in Wolf Creek.

    -- There's many common chains in Helena ~ 40 miles to the south of Craig
    -- All 3 shops have lodging
    -- If you want to do something besides chuck streamers to elusive browns or nymph for Whities at the end of April, contact the Rocking Z Ranch just south of Wolf Creek and ride a horse for a day through some great country. They'll also feed you and provide lodging. After the small streams open up (May 18th this year) they've got a great trout stream going through their ranch.

    I often plug this place because visitors will get a true Montana experience as well as the fishing. I have no vested interest in this ranch, but I do respect and like them very much. They will treat you like family. Actually, much better than family.

  3. Contact these folks:


    They can hook you up to lodging, shuttles, conditions, etc.; always camp when I'm there so no intel on the rooms, but they appear to be decent. I may be there at that time, although if it's crowded (and if the olive hatch is on it probably will be), I'll probably head elsewhere. Have fun, catch a bunch.

  4. Spent 4 Days fishing around Craig last year. We stayed at the Trout Shop Lodge and enjoyed the accommodations, and you cant be being right in the heart of town! Also if your looking for a guide go through HeadHunters. Our guide, Ben Hardy did a exceptional job. He worked his butt off all day and we hooked fish on Streamers, Nymphs and a couple on dries.

    I cant say much about floating in a one man boat, but im sure youll be ok. None of the river looked to sketchy for that! Have a great trip, looking forward to a report once you get back
  5. I spend a week in Craig every year. You're overthinking it! The river fishes well throughout. Day one, start at the dam and fish to Craig. High water, low water- it doesn't matter: that section will treat you right. All other days, talk it out with whichever fly shop is going to do your shuttle and weigh your options.

    I'm a fan of Crosscurrents fly shop. Chris is the best and his shop is my favorite in town. I've always stayed in one of the accommodations they rent out. They're all very nice and comfortable. http://www.crosscurrents.com/Home.html

    For your first time to Craig, definitely find accommodations in town. You'll probably want to spend some (or all) of your time at Joe's and Izaak's, so having a place in town eliminates the risk of drinking and driving and it's just fun to stay in town. It's a true fishing town and worth experiencing!
  6. +1 for Isaacs-great food and fun atmosphere! I've used Headhunters for guides, always with great results. Trapper has good information on floats. I had my best day ever last October on the Mid Canon to Mt Palace float. Sometimes getting away from the Dam to Craig float gives you more solitude. Also, Dam to Craig requires some upstream rowing to repeat drifts through productive slots and knowledge of the bottom contours really pays off on that drift. Lower down the river is more readable for a first timer. You will love that place! Rick
  7. Trapper said it all. Hard to disagree with my buddy Rick but my experience at Isac's was awful, I'd never go back. Burned the medium rare steak to black charcoal and then told us to eat it and don't bitch.
  8. You made a good decision on the Missouri, in my opinion ( and many others) the best river in the lower 48 for Trout fishing. Your gonna want to hit up the guys at Headhunters for lodging and flies, shuttles and fishing assistance. There the best shop on the river, but the other two are not bad at all. Lodging in Craig is kind of expensive, but theres a couple cheap motels in Cascade ( as few miles out of Craig towards G-Falls) that will do just fine. As I'm sure you've heard the closer to Dam you are, the more fish and more people. Three drifts I would reccomend are the Dam to Craig or Wolf Creek to Craig, Craig to Mid Canon and, Pelican to Cascade (you'll want that streamer rod down there). Before you go I'd reccomend you get some 12 foot leaders and practice your reach cast into the wind. You'll need it. I've heard more then one person in Craig say that more large browns are caught in the Spring then the Fall, so you chose a good time.
  9. thanks for the info, everyone!
  10. It seems Isaak's changes hands most years, so you might want to give it another go if your experience wasn't that recent! This year, I think it's the same owners/management as last- I'm looking forward to having their smoked chicken wings again!
  11. I fished it yesterday. It was great.

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