Advice on the Missouri

Print Article

Recent speaker at the April meeting of the Flathead Chapter of Trout Unlimited was Mark Raisler, co-owner of Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig, Montana.

Any fly fisher who knows the difference between a double haul and a Cat Puke knows Craig is located on the most popular fly fishing section of the Missouri River--below Holter Dam--and attracts anglers from all over the world.

Here’s some highlights of Raisler’s presentation:

• Prior to l983, the water levels of this section of the “Mo” were managed by Montana Power Company for peak power production. Basically, 8000 cfs in daytime; 2000 cfs at night.

Fish counts at that time averaged 1500 trout over 10” per mile. Water levels were not consistent enough for prolific and reliable insect hatches.

• In recent years, minimum water releases from Holter Dam are mandated at 2,800 cfs. Higher releases are sometimes necessary to move water through the Missouri River system.

In 2011, there were 10 days of 23,000 cfs. Releases over 15,000 cfs (a real possibility this year!) scour and clean the riverbed, moving gravel. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Following the high water of 2011, trout counts went to 6,500/mile.

In other words, both trout numbers and sizes go up following high water years.

• 6000 cfs is pretty much the high end for safe wading.

• A three-year old rainbow trout will measure 12-18 inches, growing 4 to 6 inches per year.

• In 2015, 21 percent of anglers were on guided trips. Raisler says angler numbers are down from 2015.

• June and July are the peak guided months and also see the highest numbers of non-residents.

• Raisler’s three tips for beating the crowds:

1) Be the first fly to the fish. In other words, you might have to pass up some “heads” to beat the crowds downstream.

2) Approach like a pro. Don’t spook fish, then expect them to quickly return.

3) Patience. “Catching fish on the Mo is a marathon, not a sprint!”

For more info, including some great instructional videos, check out

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

State wants a minimum of 800 grizzly bears in the region

August 15, 2018 at 7:57 am | Hungry Horse News The Montana Fish and Wildlife commissioners last week adopted a preliminary conservation plan for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem that looks at maintaining a population of ...


Read More

Frogs, birds and bats on tap

August 08, 2018 at 8:46 am | Hungry Horse News Bird stroll Join Flathead Audubon and retired Biology Professor Jeanette Oliver 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 11 for an information-packed stroll in the portion of the Owen Sowerine Natural Area on Leisure Is...


Read More

Lake whitefish are biting on Flathead

August 08, 2018 at 8:38 am | Hungry Horse News Having grown up in the Midwest, I’m quite familiar with the question: “What do you call a dozen tractors in front of an Iowa high school?” Answer: Prom. So here’s a question for Flathead Valley ...


Read More

Hensler new FWP Region 1 fisheries manager

July 25, 2018 at 8:11 am | Hungry Horse News By SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER For the Hungry Horse News Mike Hensler, a longtime fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is the new regional fisheries manager in Northwest Montana. Hen...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2018 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy