Fly Fishing Montana can an incredible experience regardless of the river, but for truly trophy fish there is nowhere that can rival the Land of the Giants section of the Missouri River. This section of the Missouri River is located 30 minutes north of Helena and around an hour and 15 minutes south of Great Falls. Not only can “Land of the Giants” refer to the size of the towering cliff walls that flank the river, the Rainbow and Brown trout that live up to the name as well. Anglers have the opportunity to consistently catch 20 plus inch Rainbow trout. While the length of the fish is impressive, the weight on many is simply mind blowing. The water flowing out of Hauser Dam provides these fish with consistent water temps and an incredible amount of food.
A three mile stretch of the Missouri River, starting below Hauser Dam and continues into Upper Holter Lake. Wade fishing is possible but it’s a long drive through the Helena National Forest to Beaver Creek. A small tributary that is the main spawning area for the fish in the Land of the Giants Stretch While the drive is beautiful, the river is very large and difficult to wade.
How we fish the Land OF Giants
The best way to fish this section of river is from a jet boat. Guided by a U.S Coast Guard Licensed Captain. Fishing the Land of the Giants is a little different than other float trips that are offered. The day begins by launching at the Gates of the Mountains marina (3131 Gates of the Mountains Rd, Helena, MT 59601) on Upper Holter Lake, a shallow body of water that offers incredible trout fishing. The many weed beds offer prolific hatches and some incredible dry fly fishing depending on the season. Many guided fly fishing trips will start or end with some fishing on the lake. After launching, your guide takes the short run across Holter lake and up the river to the base of Hauser Dam. This boat ride from the marina to the dam is six miles. Once reaching the dam or a preferred float, your guide will position one angler in the bow and one in the stern just like in a traditional drift boat. From the center of the boat your guide will maneuver the boat through prime water rowing with oars. After the drift is completed your Guide will then idle back up and start the drift again. The jet motor allows a guide to keep his anglers on productive runs as much as possible. Some drifts may only be a few hundred yards and some may be the entire river.
Fly selection and fly rods
While dry fly and streamer fishing is possible, by far the most consistent fish producer is Nymphing. The deep runs on this stretch of river are perfect for hanging a pair of nymphs deep below an indicator. A guide favorite rod on this stretch of river is the 9’6” 6 weight Orvis H3 F paired with an Orvis Hydros Nymph line. This rod handles these heavy rigs with ease. The river also offers some dry fly fishing under the appropriate conditions and streamer fishing with sinking lines can also bring fish to hand. While nymphs may rule in the river, the lake offers some truly outstanding dry fly and streamer fishing depending on the time of year.
Seasons and Hatches on the Land Of Giants
This stretch has the same hatches as the Missouri River below Holter Dam. Fly patterns that work there will often produce here as well. Mayfly patterns like pheasant tails and frenchies in size 16-18 are the top producers. Sow bugs and scuds in pink are great especially durning high water. Tungsten beads are very helpful to get flies down in deeper runs where the fish like to hold.
The Land of the Giants fishes well all season, but the spring and fall our most popular. The spring is by far the most popular. This time of year, an incredible number of fish move up into the river from the near by lake.
The scenery in this area is some of the most spectacular in the West.
Downstream from the marina is the “Gates of the Mountains” named by Meriwether Lewis on July 19, 1805. He described it as “the most remarkable cliffs that we have yet seen”. The tour boat at the Marina takes tourists into this incredible canyon daily. Located halfway between Yellowstone National park and Glacier National Park, many tourists stop for the tour. This area is always a good side trip at the end of the day.
If trophy fish and big sky country sound like something you’d like to experience give us a call as days in LOG fill up quickly.