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How to: fish and preserve the Missouri River this spring

Posted at 3:09 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 17:51:14-04

HELENA — Fishing the Missouri River is a huge part of Montana culture. Though you can fish the river year round, many anglers prefer the spring.

Owner/Operator of Montana Dream Fishing Outfitters Russell Dobrzynski explained what conditions are like this spring.

“Spring specifically, we tend to fish a lot of midges, there's a lot of midges that are starting to hatch. It’s pretty much the one predominant bug in the water right now. But you’ll catch fish on sowbugs, scuds, hot beads, that kind of thing, and you’re usually nymph fishing fairly deep, in slowly moving water that’s where you’ll find most the fish,” he said.

He also shares what makes fishing in the Missouri special.

“We have dams that regulate the flow. So, where other rivers are going to fluctuate with warming temperatures, and spring storms, and those kinds of things, you might have conditions on clear stone rivers where one day you can fish it, and the next day it’s blown out and it’s unfishable. The Missouri River this time of year, you’re going to have water to fish just about anywhere because it’s regulated. There’s lots of food in the water, the fish are really big, and they’re concentrated in certain areas, so if you find a couple of fish you can stick to those areas in that slow moving water and recycle those spots so that you can fish them over and over again and you’re going to do pretty well.”

Angler Jacklyn Holbrook splits her time fly fishing in Montana and Alaska and says she’s seen the sport grow in popularity with women.

“It’s just such an addictive thing to pursue. And I think that in the last 10 years more and more women have gotten involved with fly fishing which has been really cool. I started close to 20 years ago, which makes me feel really old, but I’ve definitely noticed a shift. A lot of my friends fish now, I have friends that are female guides, so if you’re just learning to fish there’s opportunities to go out with a female guide, a female casting instructor, there’s a lot of female groups that you can join online and in person that are specifically targeting women so that women can learn from other women, and go out with other women, and I think that is incredibly cool,” she said.

Holbrook is also well-versed on how anglers can fish ethically.

“I would say one of the most important things people can do while they’re fly fishing to be an ethical fisherman is how they handle the fish. There’s a movement called ‘keep it wet’ where it’s aimed at helping people keep the fish in the water, and if you do want to take a picture of it, there’s steps that you can go through, one of them being wet your hands before you touch the fish, touching the fish gently, taking pictures where the fish isn't going to fall in the boat, isn’t going to fall on land and is going to go in the water,” she said.

Dobrzynski is also an advocate for taking care of the river.

“If I would say anything, when you come to a river like this, just be kind. Take care of the resource, and be respectful to the people around you.”