Montanans Love Their Rivers

by Mysticfish on April 18, 2014

Montanans love their rivers

In these parts, we’re partial to the Missouri River, and the waters that feed it.

Check out this article from the Great Falls Tribune.

Our Two Cents: Let’s cherish state’s rivers and streams

Here is an excerpt.

Our affection for rivers was noted in a survey released this month by Montanans for Healthy Rivers. Of course, Montanans are enriched by author Norman Maclean’s novella “A River Runs Through It,” enthralled by some of the world’s finest streams and rivers for fishing and entranced by the remarkable beauty of the state’s waterways.

This month’s survey told us what we already knew: 85 percent of Montanans believe Montana’s rivers are very important to Montana’s economy. We’re baffled by the 15 percent who didn’t see the state’s rivers as very important.

Link to full article

That was yesterday.  Here’s whats in the paper today.

Smith River depends on our vigilance

Here is an excerpt.

First the Blackfoot and now the Smith?

You’d think after the tens of millions we have had to spend cleaning up after mining companies that they’d stop targeting our finest rivers with their experiments.

But thanks to the vigilance and stewardship of concerned property owners, citizens and the organization that represent them, Montana continues to boast prolific trout streams, abundant wildlife and clean water. And we all want to keep it that way.

Link to full article.

The Smith River is a key tributary to the Upper Missouri River and is beloved by many anglers and floaters for its unique character and wild and scenic beauty.  It looks like we are going to be in for another fight.  A Canadian mining start-up company called Tintina Resources is investigating the feasibility of a massive copper mine at the headwaters of the Smith River.  Taking heart from the fight to stop Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, we are hoping to wage a similar campaign for the Smith River. Our Missouri River Fly Fishers Club will be helping with the production and distribution of stickers.  For more information and to sign the petition to protect the Smith River, check out 

If you have floated the Smith River or are still trying to get a permit to do so, drop a comment with your thoughts on the proposed copper mine at the headwaters to the Smith.

Stay tuned…


Stop Wishing, Go Fishing!

by Mysticfish on April 10, 2014

Go Fishing Montana

It is spring fishing season in Montana!

It amazes me how many people come into the fly shop and make some comment about it almost being fishing season.  For some of us, fishing season never ends.  That said, it is truly fishing season now.  Stop wishing and go fishing people.  It does not get much better, only different.  Yes, the best dry fly fishing is still a ways off.  The best streamer fishing is hit and miss depending on conditions.  The best nymph fishing is pretty much always, but is certainly good right now.  The weather is so much better most days than it was in March.  What are you waiting for?

Go Fishing Missouri River Montana

These Missouri River rainbows were taken from the same area and are each genetically unique and colored very differently.

Spring Fly Fishing in Montana

The three  Missouri River rainbows were caught by Dr. Mark Ozog from Great Falls, Montana last week.  Mark was not willing to wait any longer. He decided to Stop Wishing, Go Fishing!

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Montana Spring Fly Fishing Awaits

by Mysticfish on April 3, 2014

Can you feel it!

Can you feel it? I walked out the door at lunch time today and there it was. I opened the car door and the air was warm and humid; not frozen. My wet waders and boots were steaming. It honestly smelled a little funky in there. The carpet has been soaking up lots of puddled snow for months. Now I can finally put the gear and the floor mats in the back yard for some fresh air. Got the sun roof open. Spring appeared today!  Montana Fly Fishing Awaits!

Another sure sign of spring…Izzak’s is opening in Craig Montana today. Real food and beer after a great spring day of fly fishing! Now Joe’s Bar will be a choice and not a necessity.

There is a freshening buzz in the Big R Fly Shop. Lot’s of people tying flies for the weekend and stocking up on tippets, leaders and new fly lines. The Missouri River is fishing well. Reports have been coming in from the Sun River, the Marias River, Belt Creek, Holter Lake, Canyon Ferry and the Blackfoot Reservation. It is Ice Out time again!

Holter Lake Ice Out

Ice Out at Holter Lake

I will be heading out on the Missouri River for my first guide trip of 2014 on Saturday morning. I can’t wait. My open air office awaits. It has been a long winter. March went out like the lion it came in as. Snow on April 1st. Winter has been thumbing his nose at us. There is a big winter storm moving east today, but by gosh we’ve got some spring on the backside and I’m going to enjoy it. Sorry to my friends in the midwest. Your day will come.





Streamer Fishing

by Mysticfish on March 26, 2014

Streamer Fishing

It seems like streamer fishing is becoming more and more popular with many fly anglers of late.  I think part of the reason is that a whole generation of fly anglers have primarily learned to nymph and are now looking for other avenues of fly fishing fun. While dry fly fishing can be really special, even on the best of waters, there can be long windows without good surface opportunities.

Streamer Fishing is fun!I also think part of the streamer fishing allure is that there are so many great streamer fly patterns and videos floating around out there. Streamers are really fun to create and tie. While I enjoy creating all kinds of flies, I typically spend my time on the vise tying streamers. I usually buy my dry flies and often my nymphs. Streamers are just more fun.

I get lots of questions from anglers about how to fish streamers. This is often because they have either never tried them or have had limited success using them. There are three primary ways to fish a streamer and conditions and location will dictate the best presentations. I could probably write a book on it, but since others have, I will just provide a brief sampling of the options.

On the Missouri River, I love to swing streamers during the winter. I focus on moderate currents and use a light switch rod. When the waters are cold (from 35-42 degrees), fish are not likely to chase a fast moving fly. You want to present them with a nice meal and provide an easy capture. The same holds true when I start fishing on the Kenai River in June. When water temps are low and food supplies are limited, fish are opportunistic, but not necessarily aggressive.

Once water temps begin to bounce upwards, fish metabolisms begin to accelerate. So should your presentations. You may still choose to swing flies, but now you will want to target faster waters and keep the fly moving more across the current. Casting with a single hand rod becomes my go to method when I want to throw bigger flies and or retrieve a fly all the way in. Casting and stripping flies can be really fun. Active fish will flash, swirl, and hopefully chomp on to some of your casts. Fish can get very aggressive some days; especially when there are clouds or a front is approaching.

Craft Fur StreamerDrifting a streamer is probably the least utilized method, but it should not be overlooked as a possibility. When fish are holding in deeper waters, drifting the streamer might be the only way to get the fly to their level. Large trout often find it hard to pass up a wounded sculpin, smolt, minnow, crayfish or leech, tumbling along in the current. While this is often a method for colder winter flows, it can also work during the summer when fish are less active during a bright day. A little bump now and then can result in a savage strike.

Telleen's BanditWhen fishing dry flies, the objective is usually to get a perfect drift through the window of a rising fish. Nymphs are presented with the flow as much as possible. Streamers represent food that is alive and active. Streamer fishing is an active and fun way to fish. There are many ways anglers can speak to the fish with streamer flies and when you find the right way, the fish will speak back.  That makes streamer fishing very addicting.