Power Boat Trips
I am one of only a handful of guides in Yellowstone Country who holds the necessary USCG Captain's License required to operate power boats in the region. My ability to run power boat fly fishing trips in Montana gives me the ability to offer a range of specialized trips on water that is otherwise difficult or impossible to access via boat and to access certain other sections of river more efficiently than is possible with a drift boat. Have you ever been on a guided drift boat trip in Montana and wanted to head back up and hit that great bank again? In my power boat, you can.
The focus of my power boat business is trips on the Missouri River, particularly the spectacular tailwater fishery known as "Land of the Giants," which is home to rainbow trout averaging 3-5lbs, the largest (on average) in Montana and perhaps in the continental United States. I also offer power boat trips on other sections of the Missouri and the lower Yellowstone River east of Livingston. I'm currently working on learning even more new and interesting waters where my power boat offers unique opportunities, so keep checking this page.
Details of my Land of Giants and other power boat trips follow the upcoming photo.
2017 "Land of the Giants" Power Boat Guided Trip Rates
(Note: Trips on the lower Yellowstone and upper Missouri River are $600/day)
Missouri River Below Hauser Dam: "Land of Giants"
The short tailwater section of the Missouri River between Hauser Dam and Holter Lake is one of the most remarkable fisheries in the West. Tailwaters produce big fish. Lakes produce big fish. Tailwaters feeding into lakes produce really big fish. Here, the big fish are primarily rainbow trout, though there are some browns as well as whitefish, walleye, kokanee, and even perch. The trout average 18-22 inches, and all are fat. This is the place to fish if you're looking to catch some serious trout.
Above: spring "LoG" rainbow.
Below: late summer "LoG" rainbow.
Let me put it this way: fish here with me, and I guarantee you will hook at least one fish over twenty inches each day. Most of the time, anglers catch three or more this size, and on many days each season, when I'm guiding skilled anglers, we put up more like ten fish over twenty inches, as well as quite a few between 16 and 20 inches.
Besides the big fish, this water is unique among large rivers in Montana for another reason: it's impossible to access via conventional drift boats or rafts, since there's no boat ramp at the upstream end. Instead, access via boat requires motoring up from the lake downstream. Since the water is shallow and often full of obstructions, only jet boats can easily access the entire tailwater.
This combination of big fish and access being possible only via specialized boats (or walking in at one of two access points, which tend to get crowded) makes this a highly-unusual fishery. It's also unusual in that it fishes best from late winter through the middle of summer, rather than from early summer onward like most Montana fisheries. In fact, some of the best fishing occurs in May, when most other rivers in the region are in spring runoff. This early season and excellent fishing during the spring and early summer make this water a great bet if you happen to be coming to Montana in the "shoulder season," rather than during the peak summer season.
The fishing here is primarily nymphing. In late winter and the spring, the fish key on eggs, scuds, worms, and sow bugs. At times they like side dishes of midges and small mayfly nymphs. The crowds can be heavy at this time, since this is the period when this water fishes great and other waters do not. The tradeoff for lots of boats some days is lots of big fish: if you want 30-50 fish days, this is the time to come.
In June, the fish transition away from eggs and other oddball flies and begin to prefer mayfly nymphs and more-natural sowbug imitations, though the San Juan Worm and variations thereof can still work when the water goes up due to rain or power generation. June and early July bring this water's best shot at good dry fly fishing, with the fish keying at times on heavy PMD and caddis hatches. Can you imagine catching multiple 20-22" trout on PMD dries? This is a place you can. This is my favorite time to fish this water personally, since crowds are much lower than earlier in the year and I love catching big trout on dries.
Below: summer "LoG" brown caught on a tiny PMD nymph.
From late July through September the focus is on small nymphs, and the fishing gradually gets more difficult, though it always turns out big fish. This is only a changeup fishery for me at this time, since many other fisheries in Montana fish quite well, but it's also the least-crowded time of year here. Many days, we're the only boat on the water at this time of year here.
In October, the brown trout begin their runs and the potential for true monsters goes up. This time of year is nowhere near as consistent as the March-early July timeframe, and the numbers of browns on their spawning runs is much lower than the number of rainbows present in April and May, but the brown run even larger than the rainbows, with some exceeding ten pounds. While browns are possible throughout the season, this is the only time when they are likely to make up over 20% of the catch. This is a great chunk of water to hit in the fall if you want a shot at some true giants. It's also good because this low-elevation river flows through country that is usually somewhat warmer at this time than other areas I guide, so you can usually fish all day without your hands freezing, which sure makes it a lot easier to keep casting streamers and egg flies for big browns...
My rates for Land of the Giants trips are very competitive, since this is the portion of my business I am most eager to grow. I urge you to compare my rates with those of other shops and outfitters, particularly if you're interested in doing two consecutive days here.
Fall "LoG" rainbow.
While a power boat isn't a requirement to fish other waters in Yellowstone Country, like it is to fish the Land of the Giants, power boats do make access easier and in some cases more efficient on some stretches of river. For the most part, these stretches of river are located far from the most-famous and most-fished sections of the rivers in question, where boat ramps are few and far between. For right now, I offer boat trips on two additional bodies of water besides Land of Giants.
The more-popular of these destinations is the upper Missouri River, between Three Forks where the Missouri forms and Canyon Ferry Reservoir. While this water holds trout, including some big ones, this is a better destination for a species that's rapidly growing in popularity in fly fishing: carp. I'm not kidding. This stretch of river is warm, shallow, and clear, and offers great opportunities for experienced anglers to stalk feeding carp ranging from 4-10lbs in water as shallow as six inches deep. If you want a changeup to the standard Yellowstone Country fly fishing trip, this water is for you. Carp fishing is best in August and early September. In October, the trout take center stage here. This isn't numbers water for trout, but some very big browns move up out of Canyon Ferry Lake in the fall, so if you want to hunt for a 5-10lb fish, this is a great place to do it.
The lower Yellowstone River, east of the US Highway 89 Bridge, is open to power boats. This is big water and it's often a long way between boat ramps and between good stretches of river, so though drift boats remain the most common mode of transport here, my jet boat makes fishing certain sections much more efficient. Between Highway 89 and Columbus, where I run most of my Yellowstone River jet boat fly fishing guided trips, the primary quarry are rainbow and brown trout. Downstream of Columbus and even beyond Billings, smallmouth bass take over. If you've previously fished the Yellowstone out of a drift boat and want to try something just a hair different, taking a jet boat trip on the lower Yellowstone might be perfect for you. Please note that I limit Yellowstone River jet boat trips to two per week and water levels must be just right, so availability is limited.
Big Missouri River carp, caught sight-fishing without another soul in sight.