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I’m seriously considering a trip to the Missouri in November. Hoping to fish 3 or 4 days. My plan is to fly into Helena or Great Falls and fish on my own. Not really looking for a guided trip. If anyone has done this I would appreciate some advice. How is river access, tackle choices, etc.
Thanks
 

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We fish that river summer and fall. Lots of easy access- you can also rent a drift boat in craig ( on the MO) at the trout shop and drift- find a good run /anchor get out and swing. Olive or black wooley booger has worked best for me- I have used a sage 1- 11'6" 4 weight unless its windy( which ic can be on the MO) then I use a sage 1- 12' 6" 5 weight

From Helena you are about 30-40 minutes from Craig.
 

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I’m seriously considering a trip to the Missouri in November. Hoping to fish 3 or 4 days. My plan is to fly into Helena or Great Falls and fish on my own. Not really looking for a guided trip. If anyone has done this I would appreciate some advice. How is river access, tackle choices, etc.
Thanks
Tons of access for the wade angler, especially at fall/winter flows. I'd say just find a spot and go to town. There are lots of trout, like thousands per mile, so you can usually assume some are seeing your fly. As water temperatures drop, they move into more winter water, i.e. slow and deep. If you aren't getting grabs in the swingy, trouty water, find some buckets and slow tailouts. Leeches and minnow patterns tend to work well. Scandi or Skagit setups. Fly movement is usually good, either pulsing or rod tip action. Have fun!
 

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Those look like tasty trout candy :smokin:
Good luck on your trip and it would be cool to see some photos of the river and landscape .... a few fish photos thrown in would be nice too :)


Mike
 

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Fished a stretch above Holter Dam at Land of Giants Friday and had fun. Took a 12'3" proto I developed and just rolled and the 270-grain skandi line worked great as did a 270-grain skagit. Fishing was ok, not as good as years past. But there were some bruiser Kokanee this year. Rainbow trout averaged 20" and two went 24." Saw several of the monster browns (trust me, you wouldn't believe the size) breach but in ten years have yet to hook/catch one. You won't find them that size on the Craig stretch, but you will find easy access and willing trout of 16-18." That olive fly with an 18" dropper nymph or soft hackle will work. Talk to Jerry at The Trout Shop in Craig if the fishing's tough going.

BTW, I built the rod, one of several iterations, to be the ultimate Montana trout spey and I wasn't disappointed. Going to start commercial production soon.

Tight Lines From Yellowstone Country.
 

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I’m seriously considering a trip to the Missouri in November. Hoping to fish 3 or 4 days. My plan is to fly into Helena or Great Falls and fish on my own. Not really looking for a guided trip. If anyone has done this I would appreciate some advice. How is river access, tackle choices, etc.
Thanks
There is a ton of access, and not only that MT makes is extra nice with “river access” signs everywhere. Yeah, I know they didn’t do this for us so much as for wealthy landowners, but it still makes it a great place to simply explore on your own. There are also many simple “car camping” campsites built right on the river along with a few more developed ones. I’d bring all the groceries you expect to use as there are slim pickings close by.

For near Craig - As is usual for tailwaters the average fish size starts largest at the holter dam and slowly gets smaller as you go down river. If you want to get oriented the boat launch and campground area just below the damn (river left) can be swung from the dam many hundreds of yards down river. It’s not the sexiest looking spot but if you use a lot of sink tip you can find some truly epic trout in there. Another “get oriented” spot might be the bridge right behind craig. But there are just tons of spots, and tons of fish from the dam down for miles and miles. If you like exploring you should be in heaven. :hihi:
 

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We fished between Craig and the dam for 2 1/2 days. There is almost unlimited access to the water in this stretch. We explored several access points and did pretty well for not really knowing the water. The first afternoon we came across some very large fish feeding on midges in slow water. We were not really rigged for that scenario but Robert managed to hook an enormous rainbow that straightened his hook while trying to land it. I swung up a 20 inch brown right at dark.

The next two days we worked around a good sized island and caught a fair number of fish. The smallest rainbow was 18 inches and the largest 24 inches. We were suprised at the absence of small fish. We both averaged about 5 fish a day. The middle of the day was pretty dead with bright sunshine on the water. The last half hour of daylight was really good as the fish fed aggressively on a shallow flat downstream of the island. We found that the fish preferred flies in the 2 inch range and had no luck with larger intruder style flies. We were fishing 12 foot ARE rods that Robert rolled up, casting lines in the 200-230 gr. range. I used 200 gr commando with 12 feet of T-4 and a 230 grain scandi with 15 foot mono leader.



In retrospect it seems like the best way to really explore the river would be to rent a drift boat and float from run to run and get out and cast. Trip was a lot of fun. I don’t know how our success rate stacks up against other fishermen but I was satisfied. I will definitely go back.
 

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I don’t know how our success rate stacks up against other fishermen but I was satisfied. I will definitely go back.
Great fish! Definitely a good trip from my perspective and I go a lot. I ended up bailing on Sunday with the high wind warning but may head over this weekend.
 

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For anyone else thinking about making this trip: Lodging is an issue this time of year. Also groceries are pretty scarce. However, there is an abundance of fly shops.
 

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Great fish! Definitely a good trip from my perspective and I go a lot. I ended up bailing on Sunday with the high wind warning but may head over this weekend.
I think that big brown and the 24’ rainbow they got would have put the trip over the top for me all by themselves!
 

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For anyone else thinking about making this trip: Lodging is an issue this time of year. Also groceries are pretty scarce. However, there is an abundance of fly shops.
Yeah- Craig, Montana is a helluva town, eh? More of a place. Craiglandia, as they say. And those rainbows are just different, such solid fish.

Sounds like a great trip to me!
 
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