River to Table: A “Blast and Cast” Trout and Duck Harvest


As big game season comes to an end, we find ourselves looking for other entertaining ways to spend our weekends.

The good news is that fishing season lives on if you want it to, and duck season still has two months to go. Rather than spending every one of our weekends sitting on the couch drinking beer and watching football, we have actually been getting off of our asses and floating the river again. Only now, we have been bringing shotguns and shooting birds in between fishy spots. This is a classic Montana tradition known only as the “Blast and Cast” and it has been totally awesome.

With that in mind, we, the Fish It Missoula bros, offer to you a recipe for duck and a fishing report.

Canard a la Blast and Cast

Secure a duck, preferably a Mallard, plucked and breasted.

  1. In a large ziploc bag, mix together a quarter cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of soy sauce, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, a healthy amount of ground pepper, five cloves of garlic, and a decent amount of ground cumin.
  2. Add duck and allow breasts to marinate at least three hours.
  3. Prepare washed and chopped kale simply in a skillet with oil, salt, and pepper. Finish with a spoonful of dijon mustard.
  4. Cook quinoa or cous cous in a saucepan in water or duck stock, if you have it. When it is nearly done, add raisins or dried cranberries.
  5. Heat an iron skillet over medium heat, melt three tablespoons of butter, and toss in the marinated duck. Allow to cook on each side for about three minutes. When both sides are browned and the breast is still tender, remove from heat and allow to sit for at least eight minutes.

Blast and Cast Fishing Report

The fishing this past week was, all of a sudden, amazing again. The fish seem to be settled in to the cooler water temps, and they are aggressively eating streamers again. We tried all kinds of different colors on the Bitterroot, and olive reigned supreme.

Stick to the ‘Root right now because it is by far your best option. Don’t be afraid to deploy the biggest streamer in your box either, because the fish are not afraid to eat it. We fished olive sex dungeons and olive sculpzillas all day on Sunday and caught fish on pretty much every single bank.

The trick is getting a downriver presentation against the bank followed by small, short strips while your bug swings out in to the river. Let your fly swing for a long time because the fish are following it a long ways before they eat it. They are charging off of the banks and tracking the fly out into the river before they eat it.

We caught a lot of fish on a dead swing without any strips, as well. If you aren’t into streamer fishing, they will eat pink san juans below an indicator, too, and the fish have all been good-sized. You can pretty much expect to see fish between 16 and 20 inches all day.

Side note: The best blast-and-cast section seems to be Stevensville to Florence. There have been a good number of ducks in the bigger sloughs in this section, and the water is really fishy. So, before all of the ski resorts open up, get out and fish a couple more times while the fishin’ is good.

By the way, I tried Matt’s duck recipe and it totally rules.


Need more tales from the river? Check out Matt and Bryce’s other blogs: Fall is for Swinging for Steelhead, Fly Fishing: The Comedy of Tragedy, and An Ode to Brown Trout, or visit the Fish It archive.

Be sure to visit the Make it Missoula fishing page.


Photos of Missoula Fly Fishing Experts Matt Devlin and Bryce McLean

Matt Devlin (left) 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, Maine, Michigan, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. He thinks about flies and fishing a whole lot.

Bryce McLean (right) was born and raised in Montana, and has been fly fishing here for almost 20 years. He first learned to fish on the Missouri River, but when he was 10 his family moved to the Bitterroot Valley. He’s been fishing the Bitterroot River ever since. This has been his second season guiding the Missoula area rivers, which he consider to be some of the best trout fisheries on planet Earth.