Cool-weather eventually finds its way to Montana by late August, setting the stage for much-improved fall fishing on the Missouri River in September. Summer crowds disperse and recreational floaters are gone following Labor Day weekend.
Cloudy days bring a return of mayfly hatches to the river and cooling water keeps trout feeding throughout the day. Hoppers fished next to rip-rap lined banks once again are rewarded with aggressive strikes and fierce runs by hard-fighting Rainbow and Brown Trout.
Floating grass continues to present challenges through September, diminishing with increasing flows in late September and October.
BWO and Pseudocleon mayflies start to show themselves along with the cooling water and air temperatures. Mild, cloudy days are ideal for fishing these early fall hatches. Look for subtle rises along current seams next to changes in river depth.
Hoppers, ants, and beetles continue to be present and will bring fish to the surface throughout the day.
Nymph fishing continues to be a struggle for many anglers as the grass starts to break loose from the streambed with cooling water temperatures. Experienced anglers can deal with this inconvenience, but it can be frustrating for novice anglers. The upper river between Holter Dam and Craig is the best section of the river to get away from the floating grass mats.
Hatches improve throughout September and rising fish can generally be found most days. Clouds and evening shadows are followed by mayfly hatches and rising trout. Trout move into shallow runs during the emergences and can be found throughout riffles, runs, and back eddies. Long leaders with fine tippets and small, olive dry flies complete a standard Missouri River dry fly rig in September.
Aggressive strikes from trophy Brown Trout become more and more common as Autumn settles into central Montana. Floating grass continues to be a problem, but it generally improves late in the month. This is a great time of the year to target the water between the Pelican Point Fishing Access Site and Cascade.
The arrival of Autumn reinvigorates the rivers and trout throughout the region. Fishing in Montana improves with cooling water temperatures and reduced irrigation demands on its rivers.
The best Montana fly fishing in September is centered around Bozeman and our guided trips focus on these diverse fisheries through the fall. If weather and water conditions are favorable, our guides will consider heading to the Missouri River for a day or two of fly fishing near Craig on multi-day bookings upon request.
With over two decades of outfitting Montana fly fishing trips, the expert guides at Fins and Feathers can be relied on to pick the best waters for a September trip. If a Missouri River fly fishing trip in September is on your list, contact us to see if we can include that in a custom trip itinerary.