Garnet Clews made it down to Montana. He had a great time. Thanks for the pictures and write up Garnet!
Trout Bum Adventures May 2016
Destination Craig Montana
May 06 2016….. depart Red Deer at 8:00 pm for an 8 hour drive to Craig Mt….. No plans of making it down without a break but its Trout Bum Adventures….. Need to spend at least one night in the back of my Jeep (AKA the Trout Assault Vehicle)
Loaded up and en-route…. Made it to Milk River by 1:00 AM…. Time for a rest….. Drift off to sleep under the yard light at the UFA Bulk Fuel station in Milk River….. at 01:30 wake up shivering at 04:00 who needs more than 2.5 hrs sleep right?!?
As I cross the border at 04:45 the US Border Guard asks where I am headed…. Craig Mt Sir….. WHY???? Is his question…. Then he see the rod vaults on the jeep…. Never mind have a good trip…. And that was that…. On the road to Great Falls for groceries and beer…. I love Montana…. Aint but 2 rules…. Don’t kill no one lessen of course they needed to be killt…. And you cant buy beer after 02:30 and before 08:00….. Really its ok to buy it in the grocery store and gas station…. But only outside of that 5.5 hr stretch….. Wind up waiting in Great Falls for Albertsons to sell me beer with the rest of my groceries….. on the road for the short 45 minute drive to Craig.
The original plan was to head to Twin Bridges to spend a week on the Beaver, Big Hole, Jefferson with a friend of mine who owns a house and a boat in Twin Bridges….. But early season run off and likely a call for irrigation water turned the headwaters of the Missouri brown…. Will have to fish the Tail water section down stream of Holter Dam…. This is the Blue Ribbon section that has estimates of 5-7000 rainbow and 7-850 catchable (over 10”) Brown Trout per mile. This section has incredible bug life….. at times the river is carpeted with dead Baetis…. A dry fly paradise….. If you know how to catch them….. it’s a humbling experience if you don’t know how to catch them….
Saturday…. We launch from the Wolf Creek Bridge floating to Craig…. A total of 5.5 miles of river…. We caught fish on size 20 Zebra midge nymphs, cripple Baetis on the surface and Caddis. This section has hogs as residents…. Big thick slabs…. We finished up the night with streamers (a few caught) and caddis dries cast to picky rising trout (no fish were harmed at this part of the night) weather was bright and sunny…. Baetis hatch coming off around 11 am…. Caddis in the shadows of the evening…. Highs of high 70’s to low 80’s….. plenty of sunscreen needed for that day.
Sunday…. Mothers Day…. Graced us with several good hatches of the Brachicentris (Mothers Day Caddis) (I have a very understanding wife to agree to my fishing on Mothers Day…. And the diamond earrings really didn’t cost that much…. )
We floated from Mountain Palace to Pelican Point (9.1 miles) we saw Caddis in the willows at 10:00 am when we launched. This is a particularily beautiful stretch of river…. It is right in the canyon…. Rock towering straight out of the river… deep holes, steep banks…. And Caddis… beautiful plentiful wonderful caddis. This is a stretch of river that you can make out ok prospecting with a Caddis, or terrestrial pattern…. Even if they are not rising…. You will entice a strike or two if you put in the time…..
We stopped at a run that my buddy wanted to nymph….. I explored and found a hole that we had not noticed as we drifted over it…. Caught a Bow on a Caddis Puppa….. then a rise… and another and another….. I retrieved the only dry fly rg that I had strung up….. a 3 weight with a caddis pattern on it…. I grabbed gink and a small fly box…. No net I mean why would I need a net on the Mo with a 3 weight???? Long story short the gink is somewhere between I-15 and the Gulf of Mexico now…. I nailed three reasonable sized fish on dries in 20 minutes or less…. And landed exactly none of them… but what an experience. I have never had any success with dry flies on the Mo…. I am thrilled.
Just because we could we put in for an evening drift from Stickney Creek to Dearborn Ramp…. Got into 2 pods of rising fish… taking emergers…. Again nothing landed but we fooled em…. And that’s progress for me…. Again highs of high 70’s low 80’s (hard on the beer in the boat for sure)
Weather change for the balance of the week…. mid 30’s to low 60s depending on the day…. Rain, wind…. Cold more rain lots more wind….
Drifted from Wolf Creek Bridge to Craig in 4 short (or long) hrs… that stretch normally takes us 6-10 hrs…. pouring rain…. Winds that pushed our boat upstream against the current… hundreds of Swallows swooping and picking off the Baetis as they hatch….. but in that wind it was almost impossible to find heads…. We did take a side channel and picked off 4 or 5 tiddlers each that were rising in the shelter from the wind.
Tuesday was a little nicer than Monday still cold… but no rain…. I waded for a few hrs and hoped for an evening hatch… but decided to get a decent dinner (cold fried chicken from Albertsons was getting old) Ran into friends at Izaaks in Craig…. Great eats, cold beer, good selection… fun people… worth the stop.
Wednesday we put in around 10:00 am at Mid Canon (yes I know that’s not how you spell Canyon…. But that’s how they spell it) and drifted through to Pelican Point again…. When we dropped of my Jeep at Pelican a guy who was camping there came out to ask about my rod vaults…. I showed him the benefits of them and he thanked me with a couple of hand tied Caddis that he had come up with…. Wound up catching one of the few top water fish by prospecting with that one later in the day. Mixed weather from sunny and warm to cold and rain…. Spend more time changing clothing that day….
Thursday was our last day…. We put in at Holter dam and drifted to Wolf Creek Bridge…. Decided to drift to Craig…. So we had to shuttle vehicles…. Had amazing weather with not many fish (mostly on nymphs) up to Wolf Creek Bridge… We got into dries just before the bridge….. but we got into wind and rain again…. Finished the trip by 6:30 that evening…. Changed and headed for home….. Fuddruckers for dinner in Great Falls… rain which turned to snow between Great Falls and Conrad…. I was ready to pull into Conrad for the nite…. But missed the south exit off I-15 due to the limited visisbility…. 3 miles later at the north exit….. the weather changed and dried up for the balance of the trip….
One cranky Canadian Border Guard at midnite…. And into my hotel in Lethbridge by 1:30 am… kinda back where I started a week earlier.
In my opinion…. A great week. I love the Missouri and am always willing to talk about it…. So if you haven’t been there…. You should go.
Wolf Creek Anglers will take good care of you for guides, rental boats, accommodation’s and gear… Plus Jason is a real good guy to talk with. They were full up this time as was everything in Craig… so we wound up staying at the Prewitt Creek in on Old US 91 12 miles north (or so) of Craig…. Real good folks run the motel/campground there… small fly shop but has the essentials…. And you are not far from Craig…. The epicenter of activity on the Mo….
Looking for a few days in June now so the Trout Bum Adventures can continue down to Twin Bridges this time…. I hope….
Off to wear out my Ab license now…. Take care. Garnet