A Short Trip Fishing the Montana Missouri

My father and I had set forth a plan to fish over in eastern Montana months back. There it was, in the back of mind, through the cold winter months, through basketball season, and through the mundane weekdays at school. But finally, the time had come. New species were caught, memories were made, and I enjoyed a great, successful trip during my last month of school. Alright, let's get into it! 

Thursday, March 4

After leaving school at 3rd period, with camper and boat attched, we made our way 8 hours across, going east. Our destination: the Fred Robinson Bridge, a moderately sized bridge that crosses the Missouri. There, we set up camp at James Kipp Recreational Site. It was a nice campground. About an hour later, I was dressed up and out to fish. I had a nice weight rig setup made by my dad with good ol nightcrawlers as bait. I was soon getting little hits. About 15 minutes later, I caught this Flathead Chub, a fish that I was unable to identify until after the trip. What a cool, robust minnow! 



I headed back at about 10:30 in preparation for the next full days of fishing. The next morning, my dad and I launched at about 9 am. Off we went, two northwest guys in an unfamiliar, muddy chest of hidden treasures!


We came to the backside of what is called Lower Two Calf Island. We beached the boat, and soon I had two rods out in a nice eddie. My dad was attempting to snag a paddlefish, while I was taking it easy in a foldable chair! Soon, my worms were being eaten, and I caught of my first much-wanted species: Freshwater Drum! These guys were the majority species caught over the whole trip. I loved their mouths and their dorsal fins.


After about two hours, we loaded up and headed farther up the river. We came to another island and tried our luck there. My casted about 20 feet out from the back of the boat. Not too minutes had gone by before a nice fish was on the other end. A beautiful Missouri Channel catfish! We mistakenly let this one go, not aware that it was a perfect keeping size.



As the time passed here, I caught more drum and my dad attempted to snag for spoonbills again. He came back to the boat to rest (paddlefish snagging is an exhausting task), and grabbed a rod that was getting some nice bites. Kevin (his name) set the hook and fought this fish below. Wow! A Shovelnose! This dinosaur was very cool for my dad and I to see and touch. I need to spend some time targeting these guys when I can.


After eating lunch at 3:00  (from being so preoccupied with the amazing new surroundings), we journeyed farther up the river to yet another island. This one had a nice meet-up between the main channel and a side channel. Here, we ran into another lifer species: Goldeyes! These fishs' teeth shocked me! Their mouthes lined with sharp, backwards teeth indicated to me that they are certainly pisciverous fish when they want to be. And their fight was great!

Here's my biggest Goldeye.

My dad and I caught some drum, goldeyes, a few channel cats, and even 2 small walleyes (no pictures). An unfortunate side story: One of our rods had only 10 pound mono on the reel, and of course, a monster fish took the worm and hook. This fish, a possible 20-pound Channel catfish, was so strong that it couldn't be moved in any direction. The beast broke off, and we were both left with our jaws on the floor of the boat.

The weather was hot, fellas! It reached about 84 degrees Fahrenheit that day. Partially sunburnt and tired from the heat, we headed back at about 5 o'clock for the evening.

Day 2!

We were on the water by 7:00 am and went upstream. There, we found a nice bank to snag and bottomfish from. I caught a drum, a small channel, and another Flathead Chub, seen below. I guess this is a good-sized one! (Ignore my face, I was glad about my catch!)


Later, I joined my dad in attempting to snag a paddlefish. No luck and 3 snag ups (which means losing gear) put us in a lowly attitude. We ate lunch and went to the third island that we had fished the first day. Here, we caught two keeper cats and some more drum. We headed in at 4 to rest before trying in the evening. That, however, was brought to a halt when we spied a large thunderstorm moving in. We rushed back into shore at about 8PM. From camp, we enjoyed a spectacular lightning show (No pictures, apologies).


Day 3

Sunday, March 7

My dad and I were anxious to get back out and give it our all before we would leave at about noon. We went downstream and found a suitable bank with a nice slow flow near the shore. Our goal was to catch a few more catfish to bring home. More drum, goldeneye, and catfish followed. I noticed some tiny movement coming from the tip of my 7ft surf rod, and reeled in to check the bait. Here, I had on the end of my line an unexpected and very welcome catch: a lifer Stonecat! What a cute little critter he/she was. 


Another shot


Well, the end of our session was coming. My father and I wanted to catch one more catfish, and so we waited patiently. Suddenly, my the tip of my rod was moving more than it had all trip. I set the hook and began fighting a good fish. "Wow! Must have a nice cat on there!" my dad said. "Yeah!" I replied. When I had brought the fish into shallow water, the flash of gold and the swish of the tail sent my heart into a panic frenzy. "DAD! IT'S A CARP! IT'S A CARP!" I exclaimed, nervous and excited at the same time. My dad dropped the rig he was working on, grabbed the net, and barreled out of the boat and onto the mud as fast as he could. I held strong, letting the fish take out some drag and then bringing it back in. Well, the stars aligned and Lord behold: my first ever Common Carp! The dream fish, the one that was constantly in my mind and targeted several times before in lakes filled with them (with zero luck!), was finally in my hands. It was truly amazing to hold, study, and caress the beautiful creature. This is one of my proudest fishing moments ever. It felt great, fellas. Finally, finally!!!


Not a mocking photo, just an example of copying an idol wink


The sheer joy and feeling of accomplishment was so strong that I nearly came to tears. The rest of the day, from packing up the boat and camper to the 8 hour drive home, was driven by these great feelings generated by the fish that I caught. Even my dad was proud and happy. 

A successful expedition into a new territory with several new species seen and caught. Can't wait until next time!!!



Species List:


Gabe the Trash Fish Angler's picture

Hey fellas. I hope I didn't do too badly with my first expedition on here. I apologize for the lack of photos of the water, country, and other things. I will improve on that for my next report. My dad isn't into pictures as much as I am, so that is why there is only one of him with a fish. He loves fishing, though, and he loved seeing all the new species. 

So anyway, hope you guys liked it!

Casey Shanaberger's picture

Nice report! I remember when I was excited by drum, now I can't keep em off my line. The little ones can get kinda annoying, but once they hit a pound they start fighting hard and will taste good. 

Also cooks stonwcat! Not many of those around me.

"I swear if you catch another drum"

Gabe the Trash Fish Angler's picture

I must say, I was hoping that a 1-2 pound drum would find my worms. They were all relatively between 9 and 13 inches. Fun fish, anyway.

drawer.bli's picture

Do you have any more pictures of the sturgeon? It looks suspiciously like a pallid....

drawer.bli's picture

I think your dad may have caught a white whale...I see two large and at least one small...

Graceclaw's picture

Yes, please tell us you have more pics of that! Super pale and....not shovel-lookin'.

SomewhereDownstream's picture

Awesome trip. Some nice carp, catfish, and goldeyes in there, and pallid or not, your Dad's sturgeon is an epic fish.


Corey's picture

Your a really good writer, capturing your thoughts and actions in an entertaining and easy to read style. And the fish are awesome. Great mix of big-river species. I'm jealous. And congrats on that carp - carp fishing is addicting!

Carp Chaser's picture

Nice trip and collection of new lifers, congrats on your first carp. Any update on the sturgeon?

"There's always a bigger fish"

Graceclaw's picture

I don't think I've ever seen a person pine after a fish as much as you did for carp - so glad to see you finally post one!

Mike B's picture

Great write-up Gabe. Very cool to see a report on the under-appreciated eastern half of Montana. Congrats on the carp!

mike b

Hengelaar's picture

Looks like a sweet trip! Congrats on all the new species. Boy, you can't beat fishing new areas, not knowing what might come, eh? I've always thought those Flathead Chub look sooper neat. And yeah, I'm wondering about that Sturgeon, too...


And congrats on getting that Carp. Are there Carp closer to home for you, too? In a way, of course, it would be a good thing if there aren't. But if there are, I bet you could get more of them. You gotta get a biggun, man, and experience that fight!


Always dig seeing your stuff!

Fishn sure is neat

Eli's picture

Good show, Gabe. 

Nice writeup and congrats on the lifers.




Matt Miller's picture

Great report, really enjoyed it. You encountered some really cool species I'd love to catch. I live in Idaho and have fished western Montana's trout streams a bit. Looks like I need to make a trip to eastern Montana too! Thanks for posting.

Treble Hook's picture

I've always wanted to get over to the eastern part of the state and explore all that it has to offer. Looks like you and your dad did very well!

Cast_and_Blast's picture

Nice report Gabe.  Is it possible that that Shovelnose is a Pallid?

andy's picture

Just re-read this and couldn't believe I didn't post a comment.  What a great write-up and a bunch of awesome catches for you guys - and hey big congrats on the lifelist additions, especially the hard-earned carp!


Good stuff Gabe, I look forward to your next Expedition.