flyangler

Missouri River, MT - July 4-11 - Pre-Trip Discussion & Trip Report

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I offered a trip report two years ago from my Missoula trip and that was reasonable well received so I thought I would start another for upcoming trip to the Missouri River.

 

This will be a week-long trip to the Mo with float days for the 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10th. July 4th and 11th are travel days from Ft. Lauderdale to Salt Lake City and then Great Falls. Renting an expensive small car in GF ($950 for a KIA Soul hamster car) and staying in Cascade MT, right on the banks of the Mo. This is a trip hosted by Al Caucci whose trips I have used in the past. I am going alone this trip, no sons or friends.

 

Five days floating the Mo with Al's group of 8 that includes at least one day doing the jet boat deal on that 4 mile stretch of the Missouri known as "The Land of the Giants". I have not fished this section of the Missouri before, my prior trips to Montana have centered around Missoula. While the cutthroats of the Missoula rivers are often cooperative, the rainbow and browns (no cutties) of the Missouri are supposed to be bigger on average, wiser and tougher to fool with poor casting and drifts. I could have repeated the Missoula deal this year again, but I wanted something new and more challenging. 

 

I added sixth floating day at the front, on the 5th, just myself and a guide. That will be before Al's group gathers that night at the Yuca Bend lodge. That is my solo day to get all the kinks out (have not thrown a 5wt in two years), try to shake my "saltwater hook set", make some mistakes with the Mo's picky trout and, with much luck, capture the elusive rising trout photo similar to the one in my avatar (from Nick Price, not me). Without a boat partner, I can indulge all my whims that day on trying to capture light in the bottle. 

 

I will post more as the time for the trip approaches but did want to point out that this is going to be an above average water year for SW Montana which should be good news for the freestone streams. Hopefully they can avoid the low water, high temp Hoot Owl restrictions that become a challenge in late July through August. Since the Mo is a tailwater, not such an issue there, which is essentially the area south of Helena. Note that the Bitterroot basin, which I have fished several times in the past out of Missoula, is at nearly 600% snowpack vs its historical average. If they get a couple of days of very high air temps, that is going to make those rivers a torrent of melted snow water. 

 

Feel free to ask planning or other questions if you desire. Caveat: I am neither the best trout angler nor the most widely traveled. For those who have "been there, done that" a multiple of times, my apologies in advance if any of this is newbie-ish or naive. Feel free to correct as needed and appropriate. 

 

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I have post several other discussions related to this trip but I will concentrate the actual trip discussion here. 

 

 

 

And from the photography forum: 

 

Edited by flyangler

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Sounds like a great trip. Have a blast, and don't be shy with the reports or the pictures! 

That snowpack map is the best news I have heard all week. I am going out to West Yellowstone with a couple of my sons to visit my parents at the end of July (because that's when we can go). The boys are not avid fisherman, but they will indulge me, and it would be a shame to not get them to fish the evening rise on the wade section of the Madison River at least once or twice. 

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48 mins ago, Nicky Da Fish said:

I applaud the self control it will take to put the rod down to snap pics of rising trout. Sounds like a great trip.

Nicky, why are you so nice outside the PG? 

 

Anyway, yeah, self-control will be a challenge if there are snouts breaking the surface. From what I have read, there are times when the trout will work in pods of a dozen or more fish with several or more of them coming up at the same time. How does one not run a dry fly or cripple down that seam when that is happening? It will be a challenge for sue....

 

....which is why I HAD to book a solo day and do it at the start of the trip. Solo means I don't have to worry about a partner who might not want to indulge my quixotic desire to capture that image. To do it right will require finding an active feeder, anchoring downstream, getting out, hiking back up, get stealthy and set up the camera. And then wait for the right rise. No bystander will put up with that, unless after 10 minutes he gets a shot at running a fly past the same fish. And that will be done, just not on Day 1. 

 

And if the hatch is not on and the snouts are not coming up, well, I will just have to throw dry/dropper on the new indicator rod and try to catch me a 22" brown.....

 

I plan to take quite a few photos on this trip, with less emphasis on hero shots, more about the place, the fish, "fishing" and the trip.

 

Also, taking photos of your boat partner and sharing with him/her is one way to "buy" patience from them. I like getting prints done on aluminum and sending them to folks, gives them something to remember, and brag about. 

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Having a photog in the boat is a nice bonus for any fishing partner. Looking forward to hearing how the trip goes, I'll be in Missoula around the same time.

 

I never shoot first in the PG.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

28 mins ago, Nicky Da Fish said:

Having a photog in the boat is a nice bonus for any fishing partner. Looking forward to hearing how the trip goes, I'll be in Missoula around the same time.

 

I never shoot first in the PG.

Andros, 6+ years ago. Delivered this image to Gerry as a life-sized framed print. That version was more dynamic, this is the unaltered iphone image. 

 

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And this one went to our guide Alvin and is hanging in his Andros home to this day I have been told. Again, this was punched up for a bit more drama in the printed version. 

 

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Edited by flyangler

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I am creating a new rod for this trip and designed specifically for throwing dry/dropper or indicator/nymph rigs. Based on a 10’ CTS Affinity X blank, this will be paired with a blacked out Waterworks reel and SA Anadros Nymph line. While it could throw dries, I really spec'd it based on my prior trips and what I see as a better configuration. 
 

I don’t spin cork and I wanted to keep a black theme with this build. As I researched graphite weave grips, it became apparent it would just look like any of a number of commercial rods. So as I did with my THOH build, I sent the blank off to Bob Meiser's shop in Oregon to have Nick work some lathe magic. But before I sent it I saw some of his acrylic work and I had to get me some of that love. So I found a crazy acrylic insert for the ALPS skeleton seat and sent it off to the PNW. 
 

The rod is now on the way back and it looks like Nick did a really good job, though I won’t see the rod until Wednesday. Based on photos and video he sent, it is pretty much what I wanted. Before he spun it Nick called me to discuss the length of the butt grip, letting me know that it would be a bit longer than I specified. It was a function of the acrylic rings, the need for some rubberized rings and my wanting him to bury 3/8” of the seat's thread. 
 

What I am not loving is the apparent profile of the front grip in the video. At that stage it looks more like a straight profile than the modified full wells (ie Scott Radian) that I had specified. But in the small length you see in the finished photo, it looks thinner and profiled. Nick is off fishing for a week so I can’t ask and will have to wait to see it. Will a straighter profile make a functional difference? Don’t know yet. The diameter I specified is larger than most factory rods so perhaps I won’t miss the swell. 
 

That all said, I am really groovin' on the acrylic inserts and the gloss finish. 


I did not place the guides prior to shipping for a couple reasons. Will do next weekend and then I have to get the rod wrapped and finished before I leave on July 4th. 

 

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Edited by flyangler

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Recall those snow pack updates above, showing 150%+ of historical averages? Well, this is what happens when that melts. SIMMS IG account video showing a metal bridge being washed down a river by these above historical flows. 

 

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This is some serious chit. Videos of entire houses flowing down river, until they get to a bridge. Not an issue for my trip to the Mo, but this is bad for so many people and businesses. 
 

86136EFE-1DBC-420F-AAAE-067A05A77CE2.jpeg.0a7f9fc71efcf1696ffc39e1bc78c038.jpeg

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2 hours ago, flyangler said:

This is some serious chit. Videos of entire houses flowing down river, until they get to a bridge. Not an issue for my trip to the Mo, but this is bad for so many people and businesses. 
 

86136EFE-1DBC-420F-AAAE-067A05A77CE2.jpeg.0a7f9fc71efcf1696ffc39e1bc78c038.jpeg

Saw that today too, bozeflyworks has some crazy footage as well. Hope that folks out there make it through ok. 
Sierra snow pack was pathetic this year, we are in drought conditions here, yet they keep bumping the flows up on the local tail water after keeping it low for salmon and steelhead. Makes no sense. 
 

Enjoy your trip and stay safe. 

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Damn, that's nuts. Looks like Holter Dam is around 5,500, I don't really know what typical or ideal flows are on the Mo but hope conditions hold up for you. Is this runoff, a ton of rain, or both? My Missoula folks said it's been like Scotland around there, cold and wet, so runoff hasn't even peaked yet. They actually got snow at elevation over the weekend.

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Crazy right?!!?! I understand it was heavy rain in the mountains fueled by snow melt.


Flurries in West Yellowstone this morning! 

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I just talked to my son who lives in Bozeman and guides primarily on the Yellowstone.  He spent the day stacking sandbags in Livingston.  Armstrong's and DePuy's are both flooded out.  

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Fly : I know you have the ability to write, it would be something to put your travels together for us to read . 
 

Why not soft hackle mention ? 
 

safe travels & tight lines 

 

FYI Catskills has been excellent this season = 42 days in 

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More IG posts from Montana. The videos are worse than the stills.
 

Good explanation in second image. i recall looking at those early 2022 snow pack maps and almost none were over 100% then, how quickly things can change….
 

3850DD71-79BE-4D04-B92E-F7068AB4C013.jpeg.2fd2ed8b735beff73929331f067be35a.jpeg

 

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