Spring fishing is fun! Big fish and big water!
Spring fishing is fun! Big fish and big water!
There is nothing quite like the Mule Deer. Out here the Mulie is still king! To peruse the Mule Deer in his habitat is as good as any hunt can be. In Montana we are lucky, we get to hunt the during the rut. The rut is when the big bucks come out to breed! The one time of year when that cagey old buck lets his guard down. If you have not hunted these big bucks during the rut you are missing out.
This is the tale of Mark’s hunt. Mark booked a 2 on 1 hunt with his 74-year-old father in mind. The plan was to get his father Gene a buck first then Mark would hunt. We had some close call and a few missed opportunities that led up to the last day or so of this hunt. After Gene collected a real nice deer it was Marks turn. We were looking for a great buck we spotted a few days back. As we glassed the general area, no luck finding the big one. As we entered a another drainage, we spotted 15 does hanging out around a hay stack. After closer inspection, I noticed a deer I had passed up last year. This buck was now of age and was a big bodied o-l boy.
I was excited to see this buck again! I had pictures of him and I also watched him shred a tree near the house we stay in. The buck didn’t have a big frame but he had a-lot of character. He also had some nice mass. As we watched the duck lay down in an open bowl with his many does, Mark was not totally sold on this buck. I let Mark look him over in my spotting scope and at the angle it was hard to make out the trash on bucks right side. It was the last day of the hunt so I urged Mark to hunt this deer. I felt he would like the buck up close! After watching the deer for an hour or so Mark decided to go after this deer.
The temp was around 4 degrees but the wind was starting to quick up. The wind direction was not perfect for the stalk but I felt we could still get him. We had to walk way around to stay out of sight. The wind was cold and walking was difficult on the frozen terrain. As we neared the spot I peeked over the edge. Deer where everywhere and nervous from our sent. We needed to hurry as the deer were leaving. A bunch of does came over the top that we where on at about 80 yards. I got Mark ready on his shooting sticks. We where out in the wide open! I hissed at mark, get ready! I watched the buck come up out of the crack. He was the last deer to come. As the buck stepped out on top he looked magnificent! Mark took careful aim and planted the old buck right there.
It was brutally cold sitting on the frozen ground waiting for the buck to follow his does. Mark looked over to me with a big smile and said this was a good birthday. I said congratulations and happy birthday! As we approached the buck Mark could finally see why I liked this deer.
Gene from Wisconsin shot this fine-looking mule deer. We had an encounter with the buck earlier that day but bumped him. The buck and several other deer moved to about 2 miles away and bedded down in some wide open terrain. The deer was in a spot that was unapproachable! I decided the only thing to do was wait for the deer to return to the food source we bumped them out of earlier in the hunt.
When we arrived at the destination the deer were already headed towards our location. It was a real cool experience to watch 30 head of deer come our way. It was the does and little bucks at first. Then came the bigger bucks. We watched the come from a mile out. At one spot the deer would be skyline on the horizon. Sure enough the biggest deer came last. We watched all the deer migrate towards us and the last one was our shooter buck!
After waiting for all of the deer to get in a low spot we made our move. We crawled up to where the deer were headed. As I peeked over I could see deer everywhere. Some were to close and then I caught a glimpse of the big one. By the time Gene got set up the deer was out of sight. We could only wait for the deer to feed up to a failed wheat crop that the deer were devouring. I felt like we looked pretty stupid laying down in a wide open field but it might work.
As we lay there on our butts in a foot of snow it was somehow fun. Even though it was -5 degrees this was going to happen. Some does fed to within in 60 yards of us but didn’t really notice or care. Now some bucks fed in to about 80 yards. I told the boys to be still even though we all were freezing. Her comes the big one! Gene and I discuss what one to shoot out of 6 bucks. I get him on the shoot sticks but we still stay low as many deer are close. Finally after forever, the big buck was clear of all other deer. Time to shoot Gene! Shoot him now! He’s the one right in the middle as I point! Gene makes it happen. Smiles and cold hands.
Well here we are right in the middle of summer! The busy part of the fishing season is winding down. August will be like a ghost town on the Missouri River. We have had some great dry fly fishing in July, the fish continue to eat trico’s and PMD’s. The nymph fishing is always pretty good, no so much in the afternoons. The kid in the picture is Conner Quinn. He is a good kid and is becoming a real good fly fisher! See you, next year Conner!
The fishing has been pretty darn good over here on the Mighty Mo! We have had high water for ever up until now. Even though the water was higher than normal the dry fly bite has been good some days. The above picture was of Steve P. with a big old fish that ate a streamer. Nice one Steve! He is already booked for next June. Make your plans now folks or that river cottage you like to rent might be taken!
Well folks the Mighty Mo is fishing really well! May is nearly gone and June is my favorite month! June brings the best dry-fly fishing of the season. The big fish like to eat the PMDs and caddis at the same time, what ever fly get to the fish first. The river still needs to come down a bit for great dry-fly action. Look for mid month to be great fishing like the Missouri is famous for!
The water is high but the fishing is good. Big fish are being caught on the Mighty Missouri River!
One of the best ways to learn more about fishing Montana’s Missouri River is to hire a guide your first time or two. The mighty Mo can be a real challenge to fly fishers who have never fished here before. We as guides see it all the time, first time Missouri anglers with all the right flies but no fish in the net. Usually new anglers have the right flies, weight and depth as prescribed at the fly shop. The common factor is poor rowing ability and lack of knowledge on where to look for trout. The Missouri is big and flat to the average eye. One must look close at the surface to understand the subtle shelves and drop offs below.
I see many first timers only catch a fish or two on a multi day fishing trip. Maybe they are too proud to go guided or simply can’t afford it. Either way a guide can help you get started on the mighty Mo! When we have our famous hatches, finding those trout can be a lot easier! Wade fisherman can actually do well if the flows are within reason for wade fishing. Good luck and happy fishing!
May is a great time to fish Montana’s Missouri River. We are on the verge of a large caddis hatch along with a some sizable drakes. The water volume is at the upper limits for the fish to rise well but I’ve seen some big fish rise in the past with similar conditions.
As of now nymph fishing is really good some days and really tough other days. Most guides are getting it done day to day. Most do it yourself guys are having some really tough days, especially in the sun. I have not heard many great reports about streamers but as the water warms fishing certain banks can be good.