Trip Report Exit 234 - Montana


Active Member
Rogers Pass - still cold

Fishing day No. 1 at Holter Dam, yes it was busy. Flows were about 11,000 cfs. In my limited experience, with flows between 11 kcfs and 12 kcfs, there isn't much "wading".
I met up with three friends in Missoula, we spent the night and the next day headed up highway 200. The Blackfoot was flooding (as was pretty much every river I saw in MT) with a huge mud load and conifers complete with their root wads. Boats? Busy.
Little Prickly Pear Creek - all the boats on the river moved "river right" downstream of this confluence. Upstream, at least both river right and river left offered opportunities.
Upstream of Little Prickly Pear I'd fooled a number of fish on size 18 zebra midges; downstream of the bridge and the confluence it seemed the midge lost its effectiveness. The guide suggested a red bead head sow bug. It was a very good suggestions and worked well for me.

I know, the fish is out of the water. But it was a nice brown and I needed one quick hero shot. I figure the fish was about 18 inches.

After two days fishing the "Holter" drift, my friends and I wanted something different so we suggested the canyon. We launched at Stickney to cloudy water with about 3-feet vis. That was enough. The guide pointed out "Spite Pinnacle" (interesting name). The fishing was very good for us in this drift.
I'm told there are some 6,000 fish per mile in this section of the river. That's a lot of trout. The river needs to produce a lot of food for that many fish. No problem. We saw rafts of midges that at times were maybe 20 feet square and at times appeared to be more than a half inch thick. How many bugs are there? I'd guess enough.
I fished the MO last year at the same time (May 1 - 3), flows were about 7.5 kcfs as opposed to the 11 to 12 kcfs we had this year. Day two last year was absolutely epic: lights out fantastic, mind boggling...... I landed 30 plus trout on that day. This year a dozen fish per day. Still smiling. You Montana guys have some fantastic fishing. The rivers are food factories and fish heaven.
When you spend eight or nine hours in a drift boat, "potty" breaks don't usually allow privacy. Some guide had a little time on his hand (Stickney vault). I thought it was pretty funny.

We rented a really nice house about 15 minutes out of Craig. I booked the place through Headhunters in Craig: great little shop with staff who know their stuff.