Catch That Sound


With the cloudy, drizzly and calm weather predicted for the weekend I drove to the Missouri (M0) river anticipating a hatch of BWO’s. And presto, just like that, the little May Fly appeared. In spite of their teeming numbers a lot of the flat water sections I frequent year after year were void of rising trout. It was hard to believe the fish weren’t sipping on the tiny flies collecting in the more gentle/quiet areas of the river. They should have been on them like kids on candy!


blue winged olives and perfect raindrop circles

I watched and waited but little happened. So eventually I went for a walk and hunted, and found some good fish in the Mo’s broad riffles, or more specifically, at the tail end of these sections where the riffles started to flatten out/expire.


brown trout caught on dry fly

Most trout in these spots were focusing on emergers. This is usually the case. I saw many anglers wading right through these sections, never noticing the sometimes quite intense feeding and multiple fish. I’ve done the same in the past. It’s very easy to miss these fish with the grey glare that exists on such a wide river. Riffles also camouflage/mask any sort of surface disturbance made by trout. It can make spotting more challenging. Experience has taught me that if I just stand still and watch (when bugs are around) often I’ll see signs of feeding trout: bulging water or boils, or other subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, surface disturbances. Listening carefully can also save the day as some trout will break the surface and the odd one will occasionally eat on top. I often hear them before I see them. Once you catch that sound, you can then intensify your visual search.


Although most fish were caught in the riffles and some tail-out spots on large pools, early in the day and then late I picked up a few good fish eating duns on the more enjoyable classic flat water sections. Most trout were caught on a Klinkhammer (body dangling below surface) style fly: dry/emerger. The best brown refused all my surface offerings and was hooked sight nymphing. The nice thing about this time of year is that if you see a fish moving water there is a chance it might be a brown trout as many of the river’s rainbows are still spawning in feeder creeks, and thus are absent. I catch some of my nicest browns in the Spring. Some rainbows were around as the photos show.

The Mo is an incredible sight fishing river. I hope to return in May or June… and Catch that Sound!


I stayed overnight at Wolf Creek Angler, in Wolf Creek (great name for a town). Basic lodging and manageable price. They also have an excellent little fly shop.

last bwn

brown trout caught sight fishing with nymph





craig bar

Joe’s bar




rainbow on dry fly





Some favorite photos from the past several years…


Favorite tree


favorite license plate


river trial

favorite river trail



favorite trout on trico



favorite sun


pic nic far

favorite picnic bench



favorite riverkeeper



favorite sheep herder



favorite brown on dry


patriarch of valley

favorite patriarch of valley


last day in bradenton 2014 april 18 056

favorite peanut shack



favorite porch



favorite reel



favorite riverside burrito place



dragon fly

favorite bug shot



favorite net shot


last day in bradenton 2014 april 18 071

favorite address


bradenton 3 2014 032

favorite pier

Late August

Getting back into a fishing groove wasn’t easy after a two-week absence. A lot changed while I was away. There have been river closures in my area: low, hot water. Most are now re-opened. My favorite sight fishing river is still off-limits. The smoke-filled skies have made spotting trout difficult (reflection) and the hatches have changed and are quite sparse, which is not unusual for this time of year. Fall blows (wind) are also underway.

hike to river

walk down to river

I spent a couple of days on a river (tailwater) I used to fish a lot but haven’t in recent years. It holds some great trout but not a lot of them. When you go there you have to be prepared to get skunked as the river can be quite fickle. It can be a frustrating place, which is why I generally see few anglers there. Often it seems void of trout. However if you “hang in” and put in your time, it can be quite rewarding…sometimes! Rivers like this can be quite special. They’re a challenge. If they were any better or easier, anglers would be all over them. Since they are not easy people tend to go elsewhere. Therefore, on many days you can have the place to yourself.


brown trout

I saw a couple of young guys fishing it the right way. Their backpack vests suggested they were out for a full day and they were covering a lot of water with their black Lab…working pool after pool.


Most people who fish it seem to cast over one or two pools with a streamer and then go home. They either hit a home run or strike out…the latter usually being the case. In good grasshopper years you can switch from a streamer to this big bug and have some exciting angling. This hasn’t been one of those years even though it has been hot and dry. After run off some fly fishing guides float the river with their clients as there is enough water. Once the water level drops the rafts disappear and angling pressure is minimal as visitors who pay to fish generally don’t want to walk far.


brown trout

I learned several years ago that this tailwater fishery (bottom release from a dam) can have some good (not great) small fly hatches which can get the attention of some sizeable fish. It was one of the few local waterways I was seeing some bug life on and the occasional riser, so past experience taught me to stick with it.


smoky sky

The river meanders out on the prairies way down in a coulee. From a distance you wouldn’t even know it was there. To fish it you have to walk a lot of steep hilly terrain…it’s all up and down. The holding water (pools) are often a quarter to half mile apart, sometimes further, so you have to cover great distances to improve your odds. I use the elevated areas to locate fish when the lighting is right. Much of the river bottom is covered in a yellow sometimes tan to brownish algae so it is difficult in most places to spot trout hugging the stream bed as they simply blend in. High flow areas polish (clean) the river stones and trout show up better in these locations, so it is always wise to carefully watch these spots. Rainbows with their dark backs and flashing silver sides show up better than the brown trout. The browns, master camouflage artists, just don’t show up.


brown trout

The trout generally need to be actively feeding on emerging insects (rising to mid levels or near the surface) in order to be seen, or prowling the surface current lines for grasshoppers which blow off the cliffs when they are around.



All the trout I spotted were eating small stuff and being ultra picky. They were focused on emergers and rarely poked their heads through the surface. However, some shallow water feeders were enticed to do so. The trout featured in this post were caught on dry flies. I put in two long days watching the water and was rewarded with a few good fish.


old river valley homestead


best of the day, brown trout

The river is a challenge. It’s a sleeper. It’s a special place.


rainbow trout

hake back

grassland hike to river

Sight fishing Easter Weekend

After a winter of fishing blind with a two handed rod it was a real pleasure to sight fish with a light 4wt rod and dry flies this past weekend. I spent two days walking and wading the Missouri river in Montana. I tossed midges all weekend and on a couple of occasions a small beetle. Most fish were on emergers (bulging the surface). A few could be found eating dries, especially when the wind died down in the flat water sections of the river. Some bulging fish could even be enticed to eat on top; however, many would not. A lot of the midges were clustering in the mid afternoon so cluster fly patterns worked fairly well. A few Blue Winged Olives were out but not many. This hatch should be developing soon which will make the dry fly angling easier. All of the fish below were caught on dries. I spent my time fishing flat, shallow sections; slow wading ankle deep water. Some great fish landed; many more missed. Some humbling moments. Trout fishing doesn’t get much more challenging or better. If you love dry fly fishing you owe it to yourself to one day visit this river.


misty late day leaving the river

bbrown angle

brown trout on dry fly, beetle


beetle fly, chewed


craig, scene


arm tiltfish

rainbow trout on dry fly

fly shop

craig fly shop


shallow side channel


rainbow on dry fly

goose eggs

easter eggs on river island (goose eggs)


rainbow trout on dry fly

wagon wheel

craig, montana


caught on dry fly


horse shoe pit at local fly shop

side chanmiss

side channel

bbrown 2

another pic of brown trout


Between Casts

The wading boots are hanging in the shed. Instead, I’ve been hiking on weekends. Next week I’ll toss flies again. The local ski hill is closed for the season and it’s only Feb 16th; no snow; go figure. They’ve tons of it back east; none here…yet.


side horse


i4 donk