Lewis and Clark County, Craig, Montana, July 17 to 20, 2010
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Trout were rising and the two professionals sitting in front of me were offering casting instructions. I wasn't sure if that feeling in my stomach was excess gas from drinking too much milk during breakfast or just not wanting to mess up my cast in front of two guys I respect and enjoy fishing with. I hoped it was nerves and concentrated on punching my line through the crosswind to make a presentation. 
"Throw that bug just to the outside of that overhanging branch where all that weed is hung up. Use a reach cast. Great cast, but pick it up and get it closer." At this point I wasn't sure who said what, but the tips kept coming. "Good. Now mend, mend, mend. Mend upstream, not downstream...upstream...upstream. Strip out more line. More, more, more. Faster, faster, faster, faster. Mend, mend, mend. Extend that drift. Hold it, hold it. OK, not bad. Pick it up and cast again." 

And that was only the first cast. I felt a trickle of sweat run down my back. The boat had dragged anchor a bit and we were now about 20 feet away, parallel to rising fish. But the trout were so intent on getting their fill of protein drifting down to them on the current that the proximity of the boat, a blown cast or a hookup only put them down for a few seconds. The water dimpled and popped as they picked of bugs stuck in the film. I continued to cast. 

I finally got a trout to eat and after a short fight I lost him near the boat. But it was a rush. I felt the best part of dry fly fishing on the Missouri River was making a good presentation and watching the fish inhale the fly. Or not. 
A group of us were invited to Montana to fish with Jin and the folks from Big Sky Anglers were guiding us down the Missouri River. We were in Montana a little later in the season than in past trips but this gave us the opportunity to try some great dry fly fishing as well as nymphing for large trout as we floated down the river. As usual, Joe and Greg put us onto some awesome fishing and a few of the people in our group who were trying fly fishing for the first time picked a great place to get an initiation into the sport. Bernard, Bob and Mike had never picked up a fly rod before but by the end of the trip they were putting some serious numbers in the boat. 

For a newbie, fly fishing can be an intimidating sport. Unlike using a spinning reel or baitcaster, you really have to understand the mechanics of how the line loads the rod in order to get your fly out to the fish. The guides were very patient and explained the various motions that went into the cast. And there was nothing better than actually hooking into a hot trout to learn how to fight and land that fish. Setting the hook seemed to be the hardest part of the whole package but after awhile everyone got the idea and were putting fish in the net. 
If you fly fish a lot on the East Coast and are planning to fish the Missouri River, I would suggest finding a big body of water and practice laying out some line. You won't be making very many casts with only a short bit of fly line and leader hanging out the rod tiptop. It would be even better for your practice session if there's a stong wind blowing because it blows hard out West and you have to be able to punch your cast through the wind if you want to catch fish. This is realm of fast rods and specialty fly line tapers. And forget about the standard overhead cast. The reach cast is what you'll probably be throwing 95 percent of the time. It feels strange throwing this cast, but it makes a lot of sense if you want an immediate drag-free drift when you're casting tiny flies to rising trout. 

And the drag-free drift also applies when you're nymphing from shore or 
from a drift boat. Mend, mend, mend that line. And don't pull out a lot of string off your reel. You'll just wind up stepping on it or getting it tangled around you at the wrong time. I had a trout slam the nymph and take off downstream but the excess fly line threw a loop over my left wrist and the fish broke off. 
There was an abundant snow pack the past few years and therefore lots of water in the spring. The bug life in and along the river loved it and there was an explosion of insects. A buffet of caddis, spinners, stoneflies and hoppers. The trout were very happy and this year they were very fat and full of fight. I try to bring the fish to hand as quickly as possible to avoid stress, but most of these Missouri River trout were pissed when they tasted the hook and didn't want anything to do with you or the boat you came in. But the same can't be said for the bugs, especially the mosquitos. Those Buff masks we're wearing kept the insects from flying up your nostrils when we had to anchor close to the bank to rig up or land a fish and slathering on non-DEET insect repellent (Note: repellent with DEET, diethyl toluamide, will degrade the plastic coating on your fly line) also helped a lot. 

EQUIPMENT: We used medium-fast to fast action 7, 6 and 5 weight rods and various tapers of fly lines, depending on what we were fishing for at the moment. Also suntan lotion and non-DEET bug juice.