Missouri River Fishing – Trout Mecca of Montana


Missouri river fishing results - 25 inch trout caught by MattAs July approaches faster than any of us can imagine, the Missoula area rivers rage on.  We all continue to search tirelessly for a place to wet a line.  At this time last year the rivers were all running relatively clear, and big golden stone flies seemed to fill the sky.  Trout were easy to come by, and the accesses along the Bitterroot were actually open (and not flooded).

This is truly a spring runoff to remember, but there is one place that has remained fishable throughout this entire spring.  The Missouri, a.k.a. the Mighty Mo has been giving up large numbers of hard fighting fish since early March.

The epicenter of Missouri River fishing is the small town of Craig, MT.  Thousands of tourists, local Montana fisherman, and fishing guides flock to the river each year for one reason.  The trout fishing is just that good.  It doesn’t matter that you have to drive over two hours from Missoula one way to get there.  When you land the biggest brown trout of your life after it jumps out of the water three times right in front of you during an epic battle, the drive seems like nothing.

This is what we were lucky enough to witness last week.  A monster 25” brown finished off a day of multiple 20” fish, and when we hit the takeout we weren’t worried about the drive home.  We weren’t even that worried about runoff anymore.  All we were thinking about is how awesome it was to consistently hook big fish all day long.  If you have never gone Missouri River fishing, do yourself a favor and try it out.  It’s worth every penny in gas money.  Matt’s first hand account of the monster brown trout he caught last Thursday reinforces that opinion.

“I didn’t really do anything special to hook that fish.  I just rolled it out there like I had been doing — like the whole state had been doing — for the last month and the next forseeable future, and the indicator paused, like it had for tens of thousands of fish between the dam and Cascade.  But it was no ordinary fish that ate my ordinary fly, (anyone that truly believes ‘their’ san juan worm is ‘special’ is…well, special), but rather, one of the Missouri residents that has the potential to make you eye your backing, especially in 18,000 cubic feet per second.

Anyway, when I set the hook she jumped out of the water and fell back in with a sound like a lab entering a lake.  She showed herself to us two more times before coming to net.  It was awsome.  I used to think worms were cool, then I thought they were lame, and now I think they are cool again.” -Matt Devlin a.k.a “P.M.D”

Have you ever had a great Missouri River fishing experience?  Matt and I want to know. Drop us a quick line in the Facebook Commenting section below or ask us anything — we double-trout-dare-you!

Photos: Upper and Lower Right:  Matt with the 25 incher.  Left:  Bryce with a nice brown trout.

Enjoy this blog? Be sure to visit our Make it Missoula fishing page.  And Check out Matt and Bryce’s inaugural blog: Fly Fishing Season is When? And If you enjoy western Montana lakes and rivers, you might also enjoy our page on Missoula kayaking and rafting.


Bryce McLean:  (Right) I was born and raised in Montana, and have been fly fishing here for almost 20 years.  I first learned to fish on the Missouri River, but when I was 10 my family moved to the Bitterroot Valley. I have been fishing the Bitterroot River ever since.  This will be my second season guiding the Missoula area rivers, which I consider to be some of the best trout fisheries on planet earth.

Matt Devlin:  (Left) Matt is originally from Annapolis, Maryland and learned to fool trout on the technical waters of the Gunpowder River.  He has fished in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Main,e, Michigan, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Idaho and Montana.  He thinks about flies and fishing a whole lot.