Missouri River Fishing Report by CrossCurrents 5.3.2020
By angelamontana

Posted: May 4, 2020

May has brought us more bugs, more people out and about on the water, and more muddy water out of the Dearborn River. The overall picture of the MO right now is one of a river in transition. The fish are eating pink sows and winter bugs off and on, Baetis off and on, and streamers off and on. This past week brought a bump in flows which had the fish hunkered down and finicky, but the bite picked back up as they adjusted to flows north of 5200 CFS. Currently, the river is 5400 CFS and looking fishable the whole way down, though the canyon is anything but clear. Brave souls are rolling the ol’ dirt snake (worm) in the muddy water down low and finding fish. The upper river offers your best shot at dry fly eaters. It’s a proper smorgasbord out there right now with nothing on fire but plenty to keep you interested.

Missouri river walleye

This was a delicious bit of bycatch.

Dry Flies- The midge hatch has been downright vulgar the last week. It has been obscenely prolific. I’m glad I had my Buff on me from working in the shop, as otherwise I would have inhaled about a pound of bugs out each evening. Unfortunately, the fish have not been up on them in significant numbers. You’ll find scattered fish working in the evening in upper river flats and side channels. Hopefully, the Baetis get more snouts up soon. The beloved BWO of spring has been out and about, with some decent hatches under classic Baetis conditions (cloudy weather or light drizzle). The hatch should only get better from here. Come to the river armed with classic dries like the ubiquitous Purple Haze in a 16 or 18. If the fish give that the middle fin, I like to add an emerger into the mix like a Sprout’s in an 18. Keep in mind that the fish will still chew a midge from time time, and the gold standard midge pattern is the Cluster Midge in a 16 or 18. If you want a true wild card, roll a black Chubby Chernobyl in size 12 down in the canyon on cloudy days. That right there is your Skwala pattern. Hunt the rocky banks and riffles. This ain’t a great way to rope in a large number of trout. But it’s 1) quite amusing and 2) a good way to tune up your casting for dry fly season. Every once in a while a big brown trout will absolutely destroy it. Sometimes.

rainbow trout Missouri river

Nymphing- The nymph bite has been the default approach under our recent sunny skies. The fish have yet to move to summer water, but they are slowly moving out of the absolute dead calm of their winter lies. We’re still looking for inside bends and long, slow runs with depth. Start your day around 5′-6′ deep and adjust as needed. The fish are still chewing a variety of nymphs, with Baetis patterns coming on stronger this past week. Right now I would rock a pink sow to a Baetis nymph and roll from there. Little tweaks can make or break the day out there right now, so don’t be afraid to experiment. The Radiation Baetis has been a good bug for yours truly. Try a rubber legs in the canyon to see what happens. The worm bite in dirty water below tributaries has been worthwhile.

Streamers- The streamer bite has been a bit spotty with the last few days of bright sunshine. The bite turns on as we get clouds in the mix. If you’ve got a young elbow and want some fun run-and-gun fishing, this is the time year to throw big articulated streamers. Mini Dungeons in yellow and black are great to throw at the bank. This is not exclusive to the lower river, but the water below Mid Canon is more conducive to this approach. Alternatively, reasonable-sized streamers are still turning heads as well. Though fast retrieves are fun to fish, the classic slow slide off the banks has been my go-to retrieve.

Please call ahead if you have shuttles or want anything to go! We are here everyday from 8-5 during the week and 8-6 on the weekend.

(report by CrossCurrents.com)