Missoula Fly Fishing Report- 3/08/23- Winter fly fishing in Missoula

 That’s one of Missoula’s newest guides eating a prune and trying to figure out how to catch one of those fish in front of him. 


  • Let’s get into this here Missoula fly fishing report! Then we can poke a little fun at a few of the ridiculous things that drive me nuts about this scene. Ok, it might be a bit more vicious than usual, but it has been a long winter. Remember The Shining? Nicholson’s character was a bit wound up. Fun Fact: he was a dry fly only kind of guy. The nymphing drove him mad. “Pink bobber, white bobber, redrum bobber!!!”
  • Rock Creek: It’s cold and there is plenty of ice to navigate.  That said, you might find a few fish willing to eat a red San Juan or small prince nymph. Look to the slower deep water and just stay with it. The red larva lace midge in 16 is a good play, too. Stop by the Merc for some local intel.  They have winter hours, but they will have a few flies that work.
  • Bitterroot River: There have been a few boats full of eager, flat-brimmed beavers rowing around. The best bet is to fish a small SJ worm about 4 feet down. This is also the time where you swing small streamers in the slower, deeper flats and catch a good fish. Try black and yellow, but small. I think that the skwalas will be a bit later then usual, which is good for the trout and good for me.
  • Clark Fork River: Ice shelves above Missoula have rendered most ramps unusable. Midging fish can be had in a few spots, but it does feel like the dry fly fishing is a long way off. I’m sure that a few corporate re-load retirees will be trying it down by St. Regis. As always, it’s much better if they just stay west of Montana. But they’re always good for a laugh! Have you ever watched a Washingtonian try to back down a boat ramp? I highly recommend a good IPA and an arsenal of insults. Bring a lunch too; it could take a while.
  • Missouri River: It’s cold and cold over there. You can head to the damn dam and nymph, but only if your soul is black and you expect an eternity in Hell. If that’s your jam, then try small Czechs, 18 tungsten zebras and 16 amex. The flows are very low and you won’t need much more than 6′ total on your rig. The good news is that there is snow everywhere in Montana (almost) so there could be some better summer flows over there. The other Mo’ game is to run a dry (small chubby, foamy or whatever) to a 30″ zebra dropper. Hunt the slower water and you’ll find a few.
Now let’s move on to more important matters- stickers. What’s the deal with all of this sticker hyped-up nonsense? I buy a reel, I get a sticker. I buy a fly bag, I get a sticker. I buy a sticker, and I get a sticker. I’m not alone in this thought, but the more stickers stuck to your truck, cooler and your dog’s ass doesn’t mean that there is more knowledge to back it up. I like stickers that remind me not to drink the bleach under the counter, when to change my oil and so on. So, can we agree that more stickers stuck on anything sticky has reached a point of absurdity? Please Sage, charge me less for a rod because you aren’t including a sticker! Orvis’ sticker budget has to be like 3 billion a year! Pass that savings on to the loyal customer! And, I just don’t know how these flat-brimmed, green-horn YouTube guides can see over the dash of their new Tundra because all of the stickers are obscuring their view. Really, it is a safety issue. Lastly, if you put 987 stickers on a Yeti cooler, it will add about 50 pounds to a 300 pound cooler.