Species
Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout
Destination Type
Lodge
Fishing Style
Drift Boat, Dry Fly, Sightfishing, Wading, Trout Spey
Season
April - October
Fishing Days
2 - 6
Rate
$$
Why We Go
  • Fish a consistent tailwater fishery with high fish counts.
  • Target large trout with most fish in the 14- to 18-inch range with many larger trout in the system.
  • Experience a fishery that often provides chances for good “match the hatch” dry fly fishing.
  • Experience an all-inclusive comfortable lodge with an excellent culinary program and amazing views.
Overview

Perched high on a cliff above one of Montana’s most prolific tailwaters sits the well-appointed Missouri Cliffs Lodge. Here guests will enjoy commanding views of the Missouri River, while enjoying a top-notch culinary program, luxurious accommodations, superior service, top guides, and productive year-round fishing for high numbers of trout.

Fishing Program

The fishing program is primarily focused on fishing the Missouri River tailwater below Holter Dam. Due to the steady flows, cool water temperatures and prolific hatches associated with tailwaters, the Missouri River enjoys an incredibly high fish count and should be considered a potential trophy trout fishery. Guides access the river using drift boats and skiffs equipped to have two anglers fishing fore and aft. The frequent insect hatches give anglers the opportunity to fish dry flies to large trout throughout the season. When surface presentations are not working guests can expect to fish dry/dropper, nymph/indicator or streamer rigs, sometimes all in the same day.

While most of the fishing on the river is drift boat fishing, there are fantastic trout Spey opportunities at certain times of the year.

April and May: great for high catch rates and often some spring dry fly fishing over the baetis hatch

Early June: High catch rates although mostly nymphing

Mid-June – Late July: Great fishing during the caddis and pale morning dun hatches. Good catch rates and also opportunities for dry fly fishing.

Late July – Early September: Dry fly opportunities over the morning trico hatch and also terrestrials. Nymphing remains good near the dam but is tougher on the lower reaches where aquatic vegetation grows in.

Mid-September – October: Nice weather and great fishing. Nymphing is good on the entire river and often good dry fly fishing over hatches such as the fall baetis, psuedos and October caddis.

Accommodations

The lodge is extremely well appointed with a spacious dining room wrapped in windows overlooking the river, a rustic bar and saloon, a large gathering room with vaulted ceilings and rock fireplace and large comfortable guest rooms. The culinary program crafted by veteran executive chef Richard Hamm is sure to please. Missouri Cliffs is centrally located in the heart of the Missouri River Canyon at roughly the midpoint of the tailwater reach which spans from Wolf Creek to Cascade allowing for great access to the entire fishery.

Rates & Details

2024 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 7 night/6 day package: $6,650
  • 6 night/5 day package: $5,650
  • 5 night/4 day package: $4,650
  • 4 night/3 day package: $3,650
  • 3 night/2 day package: $2,650

Included: Accommodations, meals and beverages including alcohol at the lodge, guided fishing, any needed fishing equipment, flies

Not Included: Airfare, transfers, staff and guide gratuities, fishing licenses

Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout

Season: April – October

Capacity: 12 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

What are the top reasons to go?

  • Fish a consistent tailwater fishery with high fish counts.
  • Target large trout with most fish in the 14- to 18-inch range with many larger trout in the system.
  • Experience a fishery that often provides chances for good “match the hatch” dry fly fishing.
  • Experience an all-inclusive comfortable lodge with excellent culinary program and amazing views.

Who is best suited to this destination? The Missouri is a great fit for anglers of all skills. The combination of high trout counts with prolific hatches allows the guides to customize an experience to anglers regardless of experience level. Novices can enjoy high catch rates fishing subsurface while experts often enjoy a blend of nymphing and dry fly fishing. Many experts enjoy “head hunting” to rising trout.

Where is the lodge? The lodge is located between Great Falls and Helena in the heart of the Missouri River Canyon. The Lodge sits on a cliff above the river with commanding views of the canyon. The lodge is located about midway along the famous “tailwater” section of the river which starts just below Hauser Dam.

How do I get there? Most guests fly into either Helena (HLN) or Great Falls (GTF). Guests can either rent a vehicle and drive approximately 1-hour to the lodge or the lodge can arrange an airport transfer at added cost. Some guests also fly into Bozeman (BZN) which has more flights and more direct options and then drive approximately 2-hours to the lodge.

If guests are renting a car in the spring or fall (April, May or October) it is best to rent an all-wheel drive or 4 wheel drive just in case there is a late (or early) storm with some snow. It is unlikely but possible in the spring and fall.

When should I go? The Missouri has consistent fishing all season due to the stable releases from the reservoirs upstream.

April and May: Great for high catch rates and often some spring dry fly fishing over the baetis hatch

Early June: High catch rates although mostly nymphing

Mid-June – Late July: great fishing during the caddis and pale morning dun hatches. Good catch rates and also opportunities for dry fly fishing.

Late July – Early September: Dry fly opportunities over the morning trico hatch and also terrestrials. Nymphing remains good near the dam but is tougher on the lower reaches where aquatic vegetation grows in.

Mid-September – October: Nice weather and great fishing. Nymphing is good on the entire river and often good dry fly fishing over hatches such as the fall baetis, psuedos and October caddis.

How will I fish? Most of the fishing is float fishing. Nymph fishing is productive year-round. Match the hatch dry fly fishing is popular during hatches. Most fishing is done from a drift boat either free floating or stopping to work individual fish.

Is there wade fishing? The Missouri is a large river and best fished from a boat. There are some rifles where you can stop to periodically wade fish. There are also some rifles near the lodge that can be productive for wading if guests want to make a short drive from the lodge for evening DIY fishing.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The lodge is centrally located at the midpoint of the tailwater section of the river so drive times are short. The nearest boat ramp is less than 2 miles from the lodge. The longest the guides drive to either go upriver to the dam or return from a lower river float is about 25 minutes.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? The Missouri is home to over 7,000 catchable trout per mile. These are wild rainbow and brown trout.

How many fish will I catch? A great day on the Missouri with anglers that have some prior experience may be over 50 trout to the net. Other days are tougher due to wind and flow adjustments and may result in lower catch rates. Rarely are anglers “skunked” in a day of fishing on the Missouri however.

Will I see other anglers? Yes. The Missouri is a world-famous wild trout fishery and attracts anglers from around the world. Anglers will see other fishermen on the water. The Missouri is also popular on summer weekends with locals who enjoy recreational floating.

What are the guides like? The guides are experienced and professional fishing guides that are licensed by the state of Montana. They are also excellent instructors.

What are the physical demands? Most fishing on the Missouri is done out of drift boats and skiffs. The physical demands are minimal as long as guests can get in and out of the boat. Guests can also choose to sit in high backed chairs in the boat when they are fishing.

Are there any special skills required? The Missouri is popular with experienced fly anglers but is also a good match for a first fly fishing experience. Novice anglers with zero prior experience are welcome at the lodge and can expect to show up and have all equipment provided as well as guides that are happy to provide excellent instruction.

Does the lodge provide equipment? Yes, all fishing equipment including rods, flies and waders are provided.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? A 9-foot, 6-weight is ideal for nymphing and dry fly fishing on windy days. A 9- foot, 5-weight is a great dry fly specific rod. Floating lines are preferred. Streamer fishing can be an option in the fall or certain times in the spring with either a 6-  or 7-weight rod (either floating line or a sink tip).

What are the top flies? Fly selection varies dramatically from season to season and even hour to hour on the Missouri. The most common food sources are sow bugs, midges, baetis may flies (spring and fall), caddis (spring and early summer), trico mayflies, pale morning dun mayflies and terrestrials like ants and hoppers (late summer).

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? The Missouri is always fishable due to the tailwater effect from the reservoirs upstream. Weather conditions do vary and there can be days with cold, wet or wind so guests should plan accordingly and look at the 10 day weather forecast prior to packing.

What is a typical day like? The day starts with a great breakfast prepared by the chef in the morning. After breakfast guests are shuttled to the guide meeting area close to the lodge at the bottom of the hill (1.5 miles from the lodge). Guests then ride with their guide to the launch location (as short as 1 minute or as long as 25 minutes) to start the day. Depending on water levels you may cover 6-12 miles of water while fishing. The fishing wraps up in the late afternoon and guides drop guests back off at the lodge in time for appetizers, cocktails and dinner.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere and style of the lodge? The lodge is relaxed and caters to smaller guest counts (12 guests max). There is a cozy barnwood saloon with a bar, a huge wrap around deck with outdoor seating, a TV area in case a big game is on, a massive dining area, etc. Guests can show up in their fishing clothes or spruce up a bit but in general there is a casual atmosphere at the lodge.

Is there an on-site owner, manager or other point-person at the lodge? Yes – our lodge managers live on-site in the apartment above the guest house.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Breakfasts and dinners are served at the lodge while lunches are on the river. Lunches are picnic-style lunches that go in the guide coolers. Breakfasts vary by the day and include made-to-order options or daily specials. There is always some variety at breakfast and some healthy options. Appetizers are available soon after guests come back from fishing and then a multi-course plated dinner is served in the large dining room with windows that overlook the river. All dietary restrictions and food allergies are accommodated for by the executive chef.

Is there internet and/or cell service? There is good internet and Wi-Fi at the lodge. There is also a landline available. Cell service is decent at the lodge and generally works for texting and most calls although at times cell calls can drop. Wi-Fi calling using Facetime or other internet-enabled calls all work well.

Are there other activities? Due to the relatively remote location, there are not many non-angling activities close by. The best options are the Gates of the Mountain boat tour on a large lake nearby or a visit to Helena to shop, enjoy the historic train tour, etc.

Are there any other expenses? Most costs are included in the base rate but guests should plan for guide and lodge staff gratuities and fishing licenses. Airport shuttles are also an extra cost if guests prefer not to rent a car.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center For Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

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