The Best Spring Fishing at the Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River

/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
1 day
Brian O
Response rate: 
Response time:
several hours
Spend a day with Captain Brian O’Connor and his jet boat and fish the Gates of the Mountains. It is the best spring fishing in Montana. Known also as the Land of the Giants because of the enormous Rainbow’s you will catch, Catch’em large and many with over 7,000-12,000 fish per mile. This stretch of the Missouri River gives anglers of all skill levels truly a day to remember.
  • Expert guide
  • BBQ shore lunch
What is Included:
Drinks & Snacks
1 - 2
Daily1 day
Fishing Waters
Given its association with transport, commerce and business development, it’s easy to forget that there remain parts of the Missouri set aside for fishing, boating and enjoying nature’s ... morebounty. From source to mouth, it is the longest river in North America, over 2, 341 miles. The river’s watershed consists of over a million square miles and includes parts of 10 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. When combined with the lower Mississippi, it is the 4th longest river in the world. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. But, if you’re a fly fisher in Montana, the only section of the Missouri you really need to know about is a tiny, 40 mile, stretch downstream of Holter Dam, near the towns of Wolf Creek, Craig and Cascade and not far from the city of Helena. This is the “Blue Ribbon” trout section of the Missouri.

Water released from Holter Dam keep this section the river at a fairly consistent level, helping to maintain cool temperatures year round. Some guides describe the river here as a gigantic spring creek surrounded by weed beds with long riffles, great banks and undercuts that provide ideal habitat for the river’s substantial trout population. By substantial, we’re talking 3,500 to 5,500 fish per mile on a yearly basis – and many of these exceed 16 inches! The first ten miles of the river from Holter Dam to Craig tend to have the largest number of hatches resulting in the highest concentration of fish.

In this “gigantic spring” part of the river, rainbow trout outnumber browns by a ratio of 6:1. In addition, stable populations of burbot and stonecats live below the dam. As a bonus, the reservoir is surrounded by the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area as well as three other designated nature preserves and wilderness set-asides. Look up and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a bald eagle, various types of falcon, red-tail hawks, osprey and golden eagles – you may even get a chance to see them snatch a fish from the water. Shore side it’s not unusual to sight bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. This may be an area small in size but its large in its grandeur and many offerings.
Nestled at the convergence point of five valleys, Missoula is a picturesque as it is interesting. Surrounded by towering mountains, three rivers come together here; the Clark Fork, ... moreBlackfoot and Bitterroot. Each river is overflowing with rainbow, brown, cutthroat and bull trout, and the variety of opportunities to fish here are nearly infinite. For those inclined to venture out, it’s even possible to drop an impromptu line from a bridge in the middle of town and expect success with a catch. Other year round outdoor sports include white water river rafting, hiking and competitive marathon running.

What’s most unique about Missoula is that it’s not only beautiful but it appeals to sportsmen and artists alike. In fact, Missoula is a premier choice for fly fishermen with diverse interests such as the visual arts, live theater, cinema, local brewpubs and an active nightlife. Much of this activity is attributed to the presence of the University of Montana, frequently ranked as the most beautiful campus in the US, as well as being recognized for its academic excellence. The city is now host to the Montana Book Festival, the International Wildlife Film Festival and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture.

Whether you are a fly-fisher with a yen for culture or you are a fisherman traveling with people who don’t fish, this is a wise choice for striking a balance between great angling and satisfying entertainment.
Welcome anglers of all skill levels. We invite you to join us on one of Montana's finest fishing adventures! Owner Brian O'Connor has been fishing Montana's rivers for over 18 years. ... more

Outfitter # 5937
Fishing Reports
Fishing is so good right now that I had 2 brothers who are 9 and 12 and they caught so many trout there arms were wore out at the end of the day! ... more

we caught Rainbows in the 3 to 5 pound range all day. It should be like that the rest of the month.
Fishing Water Report:
Sunday, 10 Apr, 2016
Fish Caught:
20 fish or more
Cancellation Policy
  • Cancellations made 14 days before will be fully refunded.
  • Cancellations made 7 days before will be refunded 50% of the amount paid.
  • Cancellations made at a later date will not be refunded.
Payment directly with The Best Spring Fishing at the Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River.
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Boat Comfort
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Outfitter Review
Brian O'Connor, just don't come no better!!
I have fished all over the Southeast US, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Florida Keys, Honduras, Panama and Ecuador. Brian is he hardest working guide with whom I have fished. There were eight of us in a group fishing the Big Hole. My fishing partner and I each caught more fish on a single day with Brian than the other six caught over three days. Brian knows this water, knows where the fish are going ... more to be and what they patterns they will take. We changed fly types several times over the day to match the fish and conditions all on Brian's knowledge. He often would exit the raft and wade to locate the fish in the runs then direct us on how to fish them. Never have had a more hardworking guide than Brian.
Boat Comfort

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