When fly fishermen think of the Missouri River, most think of the stretch below Holter Dam near Craig, Montana. The Missouri there is a typical tailwater trout tiver – complete with all the hatches and insane numbers of trout per mile. When South Dakota fly fishermen think of the same river, we most often think of the Pierre, South Dakota section. While this is a strange location to think of in terms of trout fly fishing opportunities, there’s a pretty healthy population of Rainbow trout – which are supplemented by stocking each Spring – that are available to the fly fishermen that’s looking for something a bit more adventurous!
For our purposes, we’re mostly talking about trout fishing in Pierre before April 1st. The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks stocks small trout then, and it makes it significantly more difficult to catch the larger fish. Because of this, depending on the year we can have anywhere from a couple months to a week or two to target the larger trout, depending when the ice comes off. Generally, we fish in the marina below the dam. For whatever reason it seems to have the highest concentration of trout and they’re easiest to find and fish for in the marina. I think it’s because they follow the current into it, and then end up near the back of it and find all sorts of food to eat as well, so they chill out there. We headed over Sunday afternoon to fish on Monday, and ended up doing really well!
We woke up to cold, humid, and foggy weather. Not exactly what the weatherman had predicted, but that’s par for the course it seems with Pierre. We started fishing around 8 or so, and quickly had frozen feet about 30 minutes later. I didn’t take a water temperature, but it wasn’t much above 40 if it was even that warm. We were all rigged up with double nymphs below a Strike Foundry Lil’ Nugget – a somewhat boring, but effective way to fish. The universally accepted way to fish this rig is to cast it out, throw a big mend into the wind, and either let it dead drift or work it back to you with small strips. I’m more of a strip it back kind of guy, as it’s a bit more interesting, but both methods are effective. Karl hooked the first fish, and Shaun and I quickly started catching fish too. A number of flies worked, but Boat Anchor Scuds, Jig Soft Spots, Red Butts, and Tungsten Rainbow Czechs all caught fish. Once the wind came up and the water got a bit on the dirty side, I switched over to 3x and tied on a white bugger under the indicator and caught quite a few fish doing that as well. It was almost like fishing a popping cork for Redfish – cast out, and retrieve it with short pops and varying pauses.
Fishing at Pierre for trout is a different experience than most trout fishing, but it’s a good time and you have the possibility to catch some really, really big fish! If you’re headed over, stop by the shop and we can show you where to go, what to use, and get you set up for success.