View Full Version : Bill and Scott's Excellent Adventure: Missouri River Montana

06-04-2008, 06:55 AM
6.4.08 4:30AM MST

Well, its finally here. After months of waiting, I am finally sitting in the airport ready to get on an airplane to meet my good fishing buddy Bill (Drag_Line) and my dad in Montana for a week of good fishing. Bill and I were supposed to fly together from Knoxville to Great Falls but I recently accepted a new position with my company and moved to Des Moines IA (I miss E. TN already!). We will meet up in Minneapolis today around 11AM and fly to Great Falls. My dad will pick us up at the airport and we will all head to the fly shop to get our liscenses and other goodies. After a few other stops (visit my Grandma and one of Bill's relatives) we will head to Craig tonight to set up camp.

We will be staying in Craig, MT at the "Craig Trout Camp" ( http://www.craigtroutcamp.com/ (http://www.craigtroutcamp.com/) ) in one of their RV sites. My dad is bringing his 30' 5th wheel camper. CTC is pretty much the only show in town offering hookups for RV camping. Suprisingly, their rates are very good.

We will also be making our maiden voyage in our new baby, a STAR SportBug fishing raft. My dad and I ordered it this past Christmas while I was home.( http://www.starinflatables.com/mods/prodView.asp?idproduct=32 )

Bill was nice enough to book a guide for the three of us on Thursday to get us acclimated to the fishing. We will be going out with Mark, owner of HeadHunters Fly Shop and the Craig Trout Camp, for a full day in a boat. I spoke to Mark last week and he said the fishing has been very good. Let's hope it holds out for another week! ( http://www.headhuntersflyshop.com/index.htm )

I plan to update this post each day with fishing and condition reports, events, fun places, people we come across, etc... I also plan to review all the places we eat, the place we stay, the guide service and the STAR SportBug.

It's time to board my plane.


06-04-2008, 03:06 PM

I'm flying out from Atlanta Saturday, and fishing the Missouri for three days, then moving on to the Big Hole. I'll probably see you at breakfast at the Trout Shop Cafe.

I've fished with Mark, and see him out there every year. Didn't know he had a shop now. He's a fun guy, and an excellent guide. You're in for a good day.

You probably know there's a LOT of water in the river right now, but I guess the guides have got it figured out.

See you on the river.


Brook Fan
06-04-2008, 06:19 PM
Thanks for taking the time on your trip to keep us with photos. I can't wait to see what you guys bring to hand.

06-05-2008, 09:24 AM
8.5.08 7AM MST

Got into Craig at 5PM yesterday night. GOD I MISS MONTANA! I am moving back someday. It is THE most beautiful place on earth.

We set up camp and fired up the Grill to eat some Beer Baron Sausages. We relaxed for a bit and then headed down to the river to check out the flow. 15k CFS, YIKES!!!

We get with the guide this AM and hopefully figure out how to fish this river with the water so high.

I will post a report after we get back.

06-05-2008, 11:18 PM
8.6.08 10:07PM MST

Wow. All I can say is wow.

After hearing guide reports from yesterday (1-2 fish per boat) we didn't have high expectations of catching large quantities of fish. WRONG! Mark put us on fish all day. With the water running high and fast Mark had us fishing long leaders and heavy weighted flies with split shot. We switched between san jaun worms, caddis pupa, sow bugs, lightning bugs and scuds all day with good success. The key was having them low and drifting perfectly. I'm on a Verizon Wireless broadband card with a super low connection so I can't post any pictures but I will when I get back to Great Falls.

I can't say enough about Headhunters Fly Shop and Guide Service. Mark knows this river and knows how to fish it. When he said "Cast over there, you're gonna catch a fish." Guess what happened? We caught fish. It was money well spent to get that kind of experiance in a day. I now feel more comfortable going out on our own for the next 4 days.

Today was by far my personal best day of fishing and I caught my biggest fish ever. Life is good!

06-06-2008, 08:25 AM
Wow sounds like a most excellant adventure. :biggrin:

06-06-2008, 09:08 PM
The envy!!! OH the envy!!:biggrin:

06-08-2008, 12:02 AM
6.7.08 10:45PM MST

Well I'm alittle behind posting because we have been super busy. Fishing has been good and we've been doing alot of it. The weather has been spotty (cold and windy / sunny and windy).

We took the boat out yesterday for the first time. The wind made it alittle difficult to learn the dynamics of the new boat. But even with the wind the STAR raft handeled well. My arms, back, chest and abs were screaming after rowing two laps between Wolf Creek and Craig yesterday (about 8 miles each lap).

We've been catching fish consistantly. Lastnight we had great success fishing the bank (can't wade fish due to 15k CFS). Because of high winds today we decided not to boat. Instead we decided to fish Elkhorn Creek (a small brookie spring creek back in the Beartooth Wildlife Refuge). After a few hours on the creek we headed back to Craig and decided to fish the bank again. That was a good choice. I landed a nice rainbow and Bill landed a 20" brown.

So far we haven't caught a fish under 16" and our biggest is Bill's 20" brown. Most are between 18-19".

Here are a few pictures. I'll post more when I get to a faster internet connection:

This fish was caught on the first day and took me into my backing for the first time. I was shaking like crazy when I finally landed this fish. I have never felt a fish pull that hard.

Closeup of same fish:

Bill's 20" brown from this evening:

Lots more pictures to come ...

06-08-2008, 08:42 PM
6.8.08 7:30PM MST

We woke up to drizzley rain and overcast skys so we decided to make today a sight-seeing day. My parents recently purchased a cabin in Lincoln MT near the Blackfoot River so we decided to drive over Rogers Pass and visit the new cabin. The Blackfoot is running very high and fast. We headed back to Craig through Helena via Fletchers Pass. The scenery was beautiful.

When we got back we decided to fish from the bank and I brought this nice brown in:

Size reference shot:

Another good day.

Gerry Romer
06-08-2008, 10:11 PM
Great report and pics! Thanks!

I am sooooooooo jealous!!!

06-11-2008, 09:58 PM
Back to work and the "real world". :mad: Sitting in meetings all day today, all I could think about was 20"+ fishing taking me into my backing. I could honestly hear my Orvis BKLA's drag screaming. It was torture.

Here are a few more pictures from our trip.


Headhunters Fly Shop:

Random shots from the guide trip:

06-11-2008, 10:01 PM

Scenery shots:

Good times!

06-12-2008, 12:10 PM
Absolutely Incredible!!! http://www.anchoredbygrace.com/smileys/icon_super.gif

Glad to hear you had a great trip!

06-12-2008, 06:10 PM
Appreciate the excellent photos and stories!
At least we got to go along vicariously!

Glad you got to do it...sorry you had to go back to work!

06-12-2008, 08:44 PM
I forgot to mention a neat little product we got to use while we were nymphing. Because we were using 10# test, 12 foot leaders with 3-4 feet of tippet and 2-3 large split shot, we were of course needing a supportive strike indicator. I now swear by these little guys and would use them in any situation:

Thingamabobber by WestWater Productshttp://www.fishwest.net/Merchant2/graphics/00000002/westwater/WW33TBSI1.jpg

They can easily be adjusted up/down the leader, they float high in the water, are easy to see and are suprisingly easy to cast.

07-08-2008, 11:58 PM
Looks like a fantastic trip......... of course just getting out there is fantastic! My brother in law just came back as well (I didn't get to go this year). A cabin out there somewhere to spend the summers is a goal of mine for retirement, my wife wants Northern Michigan... I think I can pursuade her toward Montana though.
Nice post and photos. Hope Iowa is good to you, at least you're closer to Montana.

07-09-2008, 08:43 AM
Great pictures and great fish! I know it was good to get back home for a while. I love Montana - just look at the sky in those pictures. We are going to Wyoming this year instead of Montana. We talked last week about how hard it would be to beat last year's trip and hoped that we will not regret not going back to Montana. Glad you had a good trip. Thank God for memories and day-dreaming.

Butte Irish
07-10-2008, 11:59 PM
UofM you probably "forgot" what happens with agood water year. The flushing flows will make if much better.

Over here on the Big horn the islands are a changing.

The tirp to Wyoming will be as interesting as Montana.

All have a good time.

My boat is in the Big hole Saturday.

ps I got some Tickets for this fall

Butte Irish

04-24-2009, 10:56 PM

More to come ...

04-25-2009, 12:09 AM
Nice, really nice:smile:. I think they are going to have some good water flows this year and that should lead to some great fishing. Might need to get on the phone and see if I can't get something cooking.

04-28-2009, 03:33 PM
Got this report this afternoon from Headhunters Fly Shop .... BOOOOYAAAAAA!

Late Summer on the Mo'

Late July and August will bring excellent conditions. Caddis and PMD hatches should extend well into July, and hopper fishing opportunities will be outstanding.