Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter fishing on the Mo

My buddy Ben and I had been planning to fish this past Saturday for a couple of months, as he was out in Big Sky from Chicagoland on an annual ski trip (his buddies Ski, he fishes).  After a couple of weeks of debating where we should go, and watching the weather, we decided on the Missouri around Craig.  Friday I hauled the skiff up to Dillon for some localized global warming at the car wash, and crushed the glacier that had been growing in the bottom of the boat for the past couple or months so that it was ready for Saturday.  I picked Ben up in Cardwell and we started heading north in warm 40 degree weather.

We made quick time to Craig in the new fishing rig (more on this in the future) and as we dropped through the canyon from Helena to Craig the temp followed suit and we arrived at Headhunter's to temps somewhere around 36 degrees.  Mark and John at Headhunters were helpful as always and we chatted about what a great city Tacoma, WA is, bought some bugs and a shuttle, and went up to launch at Wolf Creek.
Ben picking out the right bug.

It definitely took us a little while to figure out what type of water would be successful, and following the winter rule of fishing the slowest water you can find eventually paid off.  As we cruised down a small (for the Mo) drop Ben popped a little rainbow, so we got out of the boat and proceeded to educate a few of the Mo's trout in training.  After just enough fish to really freeze our hands the temp continued it's drop, and we retreated to the boat for what ended up to be a life saver for our afternoon.
Mmmm, hot soup and snow.
After our hot lunch we got to fishing on the move again, a decision that was good in the fact that we got to Craig before dark, but bad because it dramatically reduced our fish catching.  Not helping the cause was my anchor rope freezing to my boat, making a boat stop more hassle than it was worth.  Floating to the take out we found a couple more fish, let a couple go prematurely, and found Ben a fish that made our decision to come north worth it.
Ben with a nice snowcovered Missouri winter trout.
 The bug of the day turned out to be anything pink, as predicted by Headhunters, and although we found a couple of fish in shallower riffles, the 4-5 deep slow drops were the ticket, as was stopping when you found a fish (when your anchor line wasn't frozen).  At the takeout in Craig we loaded up the boat and gear, chiseled off our wading boots that were now completely frozen, and adjusted the heater about 20 times between Craig and Helena because of the 20 different levels of cold we had experienced.  Definitely a successful day for floating in January, and if it gets above freezing again before I head west (currently -1 in TB Town) I might head back up to the big river.


  1. Good stuff Joe! I love winter fishing and all the fun that goes with it.. We had mid 50s temps this past week in Forks. A little shot of rain the other day spiked the Duc up to 46 or so degrees. We had several fish take our baits off the surface. See you soon.


  2. That's awesome. I'll be out in about 2 weeks, I'll get ahold of you when I head west cuz I'm just fishing for about a week when I first get out there.


  3. I would submit an alternate caption for the picture of your friend picking out his flies for the day, but I fear it might be inappropriate.

    whatever, here it is with a preemptive apology.

    "ben picks the smallest, pinkest thing in his box."

  4. I should also add that any and all childish or immature behavior is accepted and encouraged at evolution anglers.


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