The Missouri River below Holter dam is a prime location for fly fishing, offering an abundance of trout and hatches throughout the year. One of the most anticipated hatches on the Missouri River is the Pale Morning Dun (PMD) hatch. PMD’s typically hatch from mid June through early August.
The PMD Hatch
One of the more significant events for both the fish and fly anglers. The emergence of these yellowish mayflies trigger a feeding frenzy among the river’s trout. PMDs are a common mayfly species found in rivers and streams throughout the western United States. Pale yellow or tan in color, sporting three tails and two pairs of wings. The PMD is easy to identify.
Timing the PMD Hatch
The PMD hatch usually begins in the late morning or early afternoon, with the nymphs emergering into adult mayflies. This emergence is triggered by a combination of warmer water temperatures and increasing daylight hours. Once the mayflies have hatched, they begin to mate, lay eggs, and die within a matter of hours, making them a prime food source for trout. Anglers targeting trout during the PMD hatch typically use dry flies that imitate dead, emerging and adult mayflies. Spinners, cripples and emergers are the preferred fly patterns on the Missouri. These flies are designed to float on or just beneath the surface film.
One of the most popular areas on the Missouri River for fishing the PMD hatch is the stretch between Wolf Creek and Craig, Montana. This section of the river is known for its consistent hatches and thriving trout. populations.
When fishing the Pale Morning Dun Hatch on the Missouri River, it is important to use the right equipment and techniques to maximize your chances of success. Softer rods in the 4-5 weight range with floating lines. are standard. 5 x tippet tied to a 10′ leader is about all most anglers can cast effectively. We are typically fishing fly first with a down stream presentation so the jury is out on running longer leaders than mentioned.
Pale Morning Dun Fly Selection
In terms of fly selection, there are many different patterns that can be effective during the PMD hatch. Some of the most popular dry fly patterns include the Parachute PMD, rusty spinner and the Sparkle Dun. For nymphs the crack back PMD, Pheasant tail and frenchie are all solid choices. When fishing any hatch I focus more on the drift than what fly pattern is on the end of the line. More often than not a good drag free drift will be rewarded.
When presenting your fly to the trout, it is important to focus on accuracy and stealth. SIT DOWN. Trout can be easily spooked by simple standing. It’s important to make your first cast count. Disturbing the water with unnecessary movements can put a pod of fish down quick. When head hunting on anchor anglers need to deploy a reach cast. This advanced technique helps present the fly first. The reach cast allows a precise cast in the fishes feeding lane fly first. Once the fly lands the angler should begin stack mending line down stream. These presentations are the most effective as you’re not casting over the fish.
In addition to the PMD hatch, the Missouri River also home to other hatches throughout the year. Caddis flies, midges, and Blue Winged Olives (BWOs). These insects are the key to the entire Missouri River ecosystem. The emergence of these bugs are what create the technical and world class fishing on the Missouri River and thats what brings fly anglers back year after year.
Overall, Fishing the Pale Morning Dun hatch on the Missouri River is an exciting and rewarding experience. With the right equipment, techniques, and fly patterns, anglers can expect to have a successful day on the water.
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