Here in SW Montana we anglers are fortunate to have a number of high quality tailwater trout fisheries to play on during the winter months. Last weekend I sampled two of them, the mighty Missouri River and the infamous Bighorn River.
When the alarm went off Friday morning I was questioning my sanity for rising early to go fishing in temperatures that weren't forecast to exceed 30 degrees. None the less I got myself out the door and on the road for a day on the water with Josh, Brady and Clay.
Our destination was the Missouri River at Beaver Creek, below Hauser Dam. This was my first time fishing this stretch of the Missouri and I was immediately impressed. The river flows for 2-3 miles between reservoirs here, through a steep, roadless canyon...my kind of place. Brady quickly set the pace for the day, hooking into a big, beautiful rainbow that measured 23". Over the course of the day we battled high winds, heavy snow and some nice fish.
There was no rest for the weary after getting back to the Bozone Friday night. Duty called and I had to be in Billings early Saturday morning on business. I reloaded the truck, picked up Matt and made a caffeine fueled drive to Billings. I'm a big proponent of mixing business and pleasure at every opportunity and was sure to schedule a day on the Bighorn to round out the weekend.
We wasted no time in getting over to Ft. Smith on Sunday morning. We pulled into the Afterbay boat ramp at 9:30am, rigged up, launched the Clacka and hooked up right off the bat. My bro-in-law from Billings joined us for this float and with his knowledge of the river we were into fish all day. At about 10am we saw our first risers, midges were coming off heavily and some sizeable fish were keying in on them. It turned out none of us came well prepared to fish emerging/adult midges, the midge clusters I had on hand got nothing but refusals. Fortunately there were plenty of fish eager to take an assortment of soft hackles, scuds, annelids, shrimp cocktails and streamers. No huge fish were boated, but the numbers of fish per rod was good and the average size was 15-16"...tough to complain about that in February.