State of the Missouri 2018

The Pat Barnes Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted FWP Fisheries Biologist Jason Mullen at Montana Wild in Helena Tuesday night for the Annual State of the Missouri presentation.

We eagerly anticipate this report each spring. It’s a snap shot of the previous year which gives us stats on fish populations as well as river flows and tells us where those stats fall in the historical record.

The takeaway from 2017 is that we saw a slight increase in the fish counts over 2016 in the Craig section and a decrease in the Cascade section. The real highlight though was the river flows which in 2017 were the highest they’ve been since 2011.

The Craig section yielded just over 5500 trout per mile of which 4,936 were rainbows and 576 were browns. This was pretty much on par with what we saw in 2016 for rainbows though it’s close to double the brown trout we saw in 2016. The rainbow population in the Craig stretch is still well above the 3394 average while the brown trout population is close to the 563 average.

Size wise, we’re still looking at a lot of big fish on the MO’ with over 2000 of those 4,936 rainbows per mile  in the 18″ – 20″ class and almost 150 browns in the 19″ – 24″ class per mile. Also of interest is the abundance of brown trout in the 6″ class as well as the 14″-15″ class.

The numbers in the Cascade stretch are very close to historical averages with 1592 rainbows per mile and 387 browns per mile. Historical averages are 1616 and 398 respectively.

Flows on the MO’ peaked at right around 12,000 cfs last year which we would expect to see again this spring but only time will tell.

A couple of interesting points that highlight just what an amazing resource we have in the Missouri are the relative weight of the fish and the water temps below Holter Dam relative to those in the Toston section which is not dam controlled.

This graphic shows the relative weight of fish in the Craig section from 1982 – 2016. FWP describes Relative Weight as the “plumpness” of the fish. The reported ideal relative weight is in the 95-105 range, which as you can see is pretty much where these fish have been most of that time. Our fish are well fed and consistently healthy.

The other graphic I found interesting was this water temp chart which shows temps holding steady in the 60 to 64 degree range throughout the heat of the summer, well below the 73 degree temp which triggers closures due to the stress those temps put on trout.

Once again, the great thing about the tail water is that temps are controlled. Take a look at Toston temps and you can see what happens absent of controls.

Perfect temps, controlled flows, an abundance of food….this is one special fishery, but you knew that already.

Here’s to a great 2018 on the Missouri.



Help Wanted!

As a member of the board of the Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited Chapter for the past three years I’ve urged a lot of people to join the organization and to get involved as a way to give back to the resources we all love so much.

More than once I’ve heard the accusation that PBTU doesn’t do anything other than ask for money a couple of times a year, that they aren’t involved in any hands on stream work. I’m here to tell you that this simply isn’t the case. Obviously there’s work to do on the stream but there is also plenty of work to do legislatively and PBTU is very much involved in both.

When these opportunities do come up for volunteer stream work you might expect an overwhelming response but unfortunately we tend to be underwhelmed more often than not. Just as an example, the River Cleanup day on the Missouri held in the spring consisted of around half a dozen people, most of whom were board members. It may be a case of the projects being underpublicized and we will do everything we can to remedy this but regardless, we urge you to consider joining TU if you are not already a member.

This Saturday PBTU and TU’s Clark Fork River Project are hosting a revegetation project on the recently restored section of Telegraph Creek. Unfortunately there have only been a couple of people who have RSVP’d to the event so it sounds like if we don’t get at least 20 people on board we’re going to have to cancel the project. Details are listed below. Please consider donating a few hours of your time this weekend if at all possible.

Good Morning TU Members, we’ve only had a few people RSVP for this Saturday. This is a great opportunity to do some meaningful service and give back to the resources we love. To RSVP please contact Max Lewis ASAP via phone or email at or 207-701-1683. 
The Pat Barnes Chapter of Trout Unlimited and TU’s Clark Fork River Project invite you to join us in our efforts to revegetate the restored section of Telegraph Creek at the Lilly Orphan Boy Mine site. In 2016, TU and Montana DEQ removed 9,000 cubic yards of mine waste from Telegraph Creek and restored 350 feet of stream channel in the headwaters of the Little Blackfoot River.

The day will begin with a tour of the restored stretch of Telegraph Creek. Rob Roberts, TU Project Manager, will explain the techniques TU and partners used to reclaim the mine site and reconstruct Telegraph Creek. Following the tour, we will plant native trees and shrubs in the restored area.

Revegetation of this area will protect the stream bank and hillslope, promote native plant growth, and add shade to Telegraph Creek.  Please meet at 8:00 AM at the Van’s Thriftway parking lot on Saturday, September 30th. From there we will drive an hour to the site. Please bring appropriate clothing, footwear, and work gloves. Lunch will be provided.  We will finish the volunteer event around 2pm.


Your TU Board Members


We are also always looking for more board members so please contact us if you are interested.


There are just a few days left to purchase tickets to win this Adipose Flow Drift Boat from Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited.

Tickets are $100 each and only 200 will be sold so don’t miss this opportunity to support a great cause and in the process maybe win yourself a fancy new drift boat….just in time for fall fishing on the MO’.

Second Prize is one night of lodging and a day of guided fishing for two from Pro Outfitters and Third prize is a Sage X 9′ 5 weight with Nautilus X Reel.

The drawing will take place on Saturday, September 2nd.

There are a limited number of tickets still available at Wolf Creek Angler in Wolf Creek; Headhunters Fly Shop, The Trout Shop and Crosscurrents Fly Shop in Craig and Helena and Montana Fly Goods in Helena. Tickets may also be purchased by contacting Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited directly via Facebook.



Time is running out to purchase tickets to win this awesome Adipose Flow Drift Boat being raffled off by Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited. The drawing will be held on Saturday, September 2nd at the Browns and Brews Festival in Craig.

Only 200 Tickets will be sold so don’t miss this opportunity to win an awesome boat and to support an extremely important organization and cause in the process. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at Wolf Creek Angler, Crosscurrents Fly Shop, Headhunters Fly Shop and The Trout Shop.

Second Prize is one night’s lodging and one day’s guided fishing for two anglers with Pro Outfitters and third prize is a 9′ 5 weight Sage X fly rod with Nautilus X reel.

For more information check out Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited

The boat has been making the rounds at the fly shops in Wolf Creek and Craig. You can check it out this week at Headhunters.


Win a Hyde Drift Boat


Have you been considering buying a new drift boat this season? Before you do, buy a ticket or two to win a 2015 14′ Hyde LP Drift Boat and trailer package worth over $9800.00.

Tickets are $100 and with only 100 tickets being sold a couple hundred dollars gives you pretty decent odds of winning. The winning ticket will be drawn at the upcoming 35th Annual Pat Barnes Chapter Trout Unlimited Banquet on Saturday, March 12th at The Gateway Center in Helena.

Lots of great raffle and silent and live auction items as well including some great rod/reel packages.

Dinner tickets are $40 for a single, $75 for a couple and $300 for a Gold Table for 8 and are available now at Wolf Creek Angler in Wolf Creek, Headhunters and The Trout Shop in Craig and CrossCurrents, Montana Fly Goods and Elk Mountain Motors in Helena. A limited amount of boat raffle tickets are still available as well at each of these locations. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to get yourself a new Hyde Drift Boat for $100.

By |2016-10-25T16:15:38+00:00March 4th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |2 Comments