Central to Eastern MT Fishing Report 2.19.2020
By angelamontana

Posted: February 20, 2020

Winter is here. This year we are still having very unusual weather and that means sudden changes in weather and water. Outdoor enthusiasts including fishermen need to pay attention to these changes. Storms like snow and varying temperatures means events happen quickly on roads and on ice, so fishermen or fisherwomen need to keep in touch with the weather service and let others know where they are for safety sake when out and about. Enjoy yourself but remember alcohol alters your judgment. So, use it sparingly while enjoying the outdoors. Keep an eye on the weather as conditions such as temperature, wind, fire and precipitation can come in with fierce strength. This report is compiled on Monday and Tuesday and reflects conditions and results of fishing from the past week. If you wish other information feel­­ free to contact most parties for current daily information. Good luck fishing from the Montana Outdoor Radio Crew.

(report compiled by Carol Henckel)

Rock Creek Marina- Monty LeTexier , Wyatt 1-406-230-1283 for Linda

Marina number is less reliable in winter. 1-406-485-2560

Linda reports, “ the weather was squirrely this week. One day we had 32 degrees and then later at night it was 2 degrees. Today we got 2 inches of snow. One day this week the road was muddy coming in and a day later the road was snow packed. The ice is good, and Neal found 8 to 15 inches of ice. Some people parked on the north side and they used side by sides to come across. The hot spots to fish seem to be Little Bug and Prairie Dog. Some nice pike were caught as the bite was good. The lake trout are biting, and they caught some nice size ones. The walleye are starting to bite. We caught some eater size ones. It is super hard ice. People were using smelt for bait. They are using 4×4 ‘s and side by sides Be careful when you get on the ice as the edges or points are getting soft. There are a few small pressure ridges starting. The road is a little rough.”

If you wish to make reservations for the 2020 summer, please call Monty at 406-465-0241. If you wish information for winter ice fishing call me, Linda, at the Marina at 1-406-485-2560. I check my messages fairly often and will return your call. You can also call me on my cell phone as well 406-230-1283 to get information. The marina is closed for the season. “

Tongue River Reservoir Raymond /Spencer/ Greg

People are using 4×4’s and side by sides. Trucks are not recommended. People are catching pike and perch. The crappie bite was slower. The ice is 12 to 16 inches of ice.

Don’t forget people that camping fees still apply in winter. The power and water are turned off. That means the dump station and fish cleaning station are off . Camping spots 1 to 11 have power but no water through the winter months. Reservations are no longer needed for the campground and it is first come first serve.

Remember to check your regulations for the information for this region about what minnows you may use on Tongue. .

Tongue River Marina 1-406-757-2225 Wade, Stephanie, Greg, Fletcher /Warden Jordan Staley

Wade explained, “ fishing seemed to be hit or miss this week. Some nice fish were caught. People caught crappie, perch, and northern pike. I heard of no one catching walleye. One group caught 10 fish in a day of perch and pike. They were jigging with minnows. The ice is good and 12 to 18 inches depending where you are. There is 3 inches of snow on the ice. The average depth to find fish was 20 to 35 feet depths. Some people were fishing on the bottom and some were fishing suspended 10 to 15 feet off the bottom. They were marking fish like crazy, but the bite was not constant they said. The best bite was from 4:30 to 7 am and 6 pm to 9 pm.”

The Marina is open on Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 am to noon.

Hell Creek Marina- Clint Thomas-Layne-Kayler 1-406- 557-2345

Clint says,” there is 8 to 9 inches in the main. In the bay there is 10 to 12 inches. People are catching lots of northern pike on smelts and minnows at 14 to 18 feet depths. It does take time to find them. The walleye have been out there just not big ones. They are finding them at night at 10 to 14 feet depths. They lake trout are scattered and at 8 to 70 feet depths. They are using 4 wheelers. It has been cold.

Consider putting chains on before the big hill. There is some slick patchy ice.

Hell Creek Marina is open 7 days a week. ­­­­­­­

Lake Ridge Motel Eddie and Carrie Mindt, Haley 1-406-526-3597

Eddie reports, “ there is 8 inches out the bay about 2 miles. . There is 11 to 12 inches in the bay. Guys are finding walleye at 8 to 25 feet depths. They are catching them early or late in the day while jigging. A few times tip ups worked late in the day. People are catching some nice lake trout at depths of 35 to 80 feet depths. They are catching eater size fish mostly using minnows. They have been jigging. You can catch pike all day at depths of 8 to 30 feet. They are running ATV’s, side by side and snow mobiles.

I went out on Thursday to York and found 12 inches of ice all the way across the main bay. It has also been very cold so it may be more now. “

The 48-hour Fort Peck ice fishing Tournament is on March 6th, 7th and 8th. It is full at this time. If you want to get on the waiting list. You can put your name in, and we will not collect any money until there is an opening and we let you know. Call or use the application form on our site.”

We can cover all your needs. Our hours are 7am-6 pm Monday through Sunday.

Fort Peck Marina Jessica & Scott Collinsworth 1-406-565-6283

Open Monday to Friday 11am to 9am/ Saturday and Sunday 8 am breakfast and open to 10pm Tackle Store is open 7 am to 9pm daily

Scott reports “ ice conditions.-the ice has improved over the last week. We are seeing around 12 inches of ice everywhere and have even found up to 16 inches in the back bays. The main concern is the amount of pressure ridges we are seeing. You will need to be extremely careful around these ridges and do not cross them without checking ice conditions first. As much as we want everyone up here enjoying themselves, we want you to be safe as well.

Walleyes fishing- Walleye fishing has been consistently getting better each week. Fish have been on good structure between 6 feet and 26 feet. Minnows on tip-ups, kits tackle jigs with minnows and jigging spoons with minnow heads have been working the best. My recommendation is if you are not seeing fish on a spot after a half hour move and keep looking. The best bite has been in the morning and from 1 hour before dark and an hour after dark.

Pike fishing- Northern fishing has been doing really good as well. Fish have been ranging from 5 feet to 25 feet of water on points and also back in the back of the bays on the weed edges. Live sucker minnows and smelt on tip-ups have been the ticket but we have been seeing some good fish on jigs and minnows as well. Pike have been active most of the day.

Lake Trout-Laker fishing has been good with some absolutely phenomenal days on the ice this weekend. Groups of anglers have been hitting York Island, Bear Creek and Shaft House primarily but also great reports from the guys going off themselves and finding fish that aren’t being pressured. As 25 feet has been good for the bigger lakers but 60 to 70 feet has been very productive for good numbers. One-ounce jigs and swim baits have been producing good fish along with clam leach flutter spoons. White, glow and gold seem to be the best colors. We have also been hearing good reports of some nice fish getting caught with smelt and tip-ups or jaw jackers with laying the smelt right in the mud to drive those big lakers crazy.

Also if anyone is interested in a guided ice fishing trip Jason Mundell from Rip-n-Lipps guide service has had clients on the ice this week and been flat out having unreal days with lots of big smiles from everyone. Give Jason a call or the marina a call and we can set you up for a great ice fishing trip,

Just a reminder we have a fully stocked tackle store with great prices on our tackle. Stop in and take a look and let’s talk fishing. Give us a call 406-526-3442 Also remember the bar and restaurant are open Thursday through Monday if you need a cold beer or a hot meal coming off the ice. Have a great week everyone. “

Cooney Reservoir – Marina Matheson. Shauni, Cynthia, Jake

James says,” the ice is 18 inches and it is soft on the shoreline. People are doing well on ling fishing during the day by the dam on corn. There is 4 inches of snow on the ice, but the wind has really been blowing so there is drifting happening in places. Walleye have been scarce, if they find them it is in the points. Fishing seems to be getting better. It is cold at night, so the ice has been decent. The park roads are plowed but the wind can make drifts so make sure you bring a shovel and winter supplies. Please be careful. “

The water has been turned off now. The electricity is also off except at Marshall Cove and Red Lodge campgrounds. The docks are pulled. Soon we will be working on dock repairs after the pre-winter maintenance is done. You no longer need reservations, so the camp sites are first come first serve. The kiosk has the reduced rate for camping listed. Remember, your dogs are welcome but don’t forget your leash.

Lake Elmo FWP Bob Gibson

Bob reports, “there is pretty much no ice fishing at Elmo right now. A third of the lake is open. Two thirds of the rest of the ice I would not go on. There are lots of geese and ducks on the water in the center. We did have one guy yesterday who fished from the pier into the open water there. ”

Deadmans Tony Stefani/ Pat

Pat reports,” The center is open There is ice elsewhere, but I do not know how good it is. . We have not seen anyone. We had a couple of days where we had big winds. ”

Deadmans/Martinsdale Cozy Corner bar Lavina 406-636-2261

Terry reports, “ I again had some guys who fished at Bair. They were catching some. They kept seven . Broadwater pond still has fishermen out there fishing. There is some water on it. I talked to a couple of guys who went to Deadmans for one day. They caught 5 and kept two. “­­­­­

Checkerboard Inn Checkerboard, MT Rick and Judy Geordge 406-572-3373

Rick reports,” The guys who fished Bair on the weekend and they caught fish. The fishing was a little slow. The snow has thawed and there was some water on the ice. There is 18 inches of ice at Bair.

On Sutherlan I talked to a couple guys that caught ling. One fellow used his camera and he saw a lot of little ling under the ice. He missed a few. The best time to catch they both said was 2 am. One of the two ling caught was 24 inches long. ”

Sports Center 120 2nd Ave South Lewistown, MT 535-9308 Colby / John Tognetti

Our hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10 am to 4pm on Sunday

John reports , “ not much talk on fishing this week.

East Fork- On East Fork there is plenty of ice. There is still fishing going on. Catching just small perch, not big ones. They were using smelt. People caught a few northern pike as well.

Hanson Creek Dam- People are catching some trout right now. “

Crooked Creek Marina Winnett, Montana James (Slim) and Abbie Craig, Carri Craig 406-429-2999

The marina is open. We are open 7 am to 7 pm every day.

Slim reports, “ people are on the ice fishing. We did get 1 inch of snow. They are finding walleye at 8 to 12 feet while jigging with a small minnow. The northern pike are being found at 5 to 10 feet. Big suckers are working. Fishing has been pretty slow. We have had changes in the weather that seem to affect the fishing. The road is good. ”

Silos Canyon Ferry-Sharon

Sharon reports,” The ice is 8 to 10 inches. People are fishing mostly on the west side from Silos to Pond 4. They are catching perch at Duck Creek. That area is walk on only. Most of the fish they caught were rainbow trout. ”

The Marina is open. Hours are 7 am to 7 pm.

The Flamingo is closed.

West Side Sports Jim Mayer 1-406-654-1611

Jim reports, “ this will be my last fishing report. We are closing the doors as of today. So, fishing on Nelson has slowed. There is a perch bite right now . The weather seems to be a factor for the fish and people. Small minnows seem to be the bait of choice. People were catching some nice pike. They are jigging for perch. The perch have been at depths of 28 to 30 feet depths. The ice is at 10 to 12 inches.

On Forchette we have not heard any word how they are doing. ”

Shop hours are 8 to 6 Monday to Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Billings-Scheels Jayce, Tanner, Matt

Jayce reports he has heard, “ I had someone people say Nelson Reservoir is good fishing. They are catching perch and walleye. The walleye are eater size.

Lake Elmo- Elmo is half open so ice fishing is not or safe. There is open water by Roger’s pier, and some are trying to fish there. I was told a big tiger muskie was caught from there.

Bair-People are going to Bair Reservoir. They have said it has been consistent fishing. They are catching some rainbow trout through the ice.

Big Horn- I talked to some fishermen heading to the Big Horn. They are using Gray Ray’s to catch trout. They are saying the fishing is a little better.

Scheels Pond- People have been on the ice. I saw parents and kids catching fish. You can see that the ice is slowly leaving. With this weather please be careful.

Crooked Creek-I talked to a couple of guys who said it was slow fishing when they were just up there.

Rock Creek- I talked to someone who fished open water by Roberts and Joliet and caught some white fish and trout.

Petrolia- I sold some minnows to someone who went to fish up there. I never heard how they did. “

Rich’s Tackle Richard 406-285-4540

Rich says, “ I had a few people come in who were catching trout at Canyon Ferry. One fellow went in by a pressure ridge with his 4×4 but got out okay. He said that it suddenly was only 4 inches of ice and they turned back. They did catch trout and a few perch. Some places there is 12 inches of ice. Be careful.

The rivers are open again.

I had some guys who went to Crooked Creek and said it was pretty slow. They caught little ones. They caught northerns and walleye but not big ones. They were there for a couple of days.”

Stillwater Anglers-Chris 406-322-4977 ,Bill, Ken, Jasmine

On the Stillwater and the Yellowstone are changing with the temperature . Try nymphing with a bead head. Some have seen midges late in the afternoon.

My shop is closed except by appointment now.

Montana Adventures and Angling in Fort Smith Beau McFadyean 406-855-3612

Beau says, “I have not heard much different about fishing on the Big Horn. People say it is a little better. The say the nymphing was fairly good at 3 mile. The mornings were not as good. Midges sometimes were working. He said the darker fly the better. Try a nymph in orange and pink.”

Big Horn Trout Shop Fort Smith 666-2375 Rick/Stephanie

Stephanie explains,” fishing has been about the same this week. The CFS is 3200. Nymphing is doing pretty good. People are catching. It is better nymphing . There are midges out in the afternoon. Use a juju when you see baetes. Try a smoke jumper or a sipper midge. Rainbows and some browns have been caught. Fishermen are using big orange scud, in size 14, 16. You can use a thin mint, a JJ, a dirty hippy, a Diety, a big horn special or the favorite wooly bugger. “

We are in winter hours and are open 8 am to 12 every day.

Madison River Outfitters- West Yellowstone – Tom Forsberg. Open 730am-9pm 406-646-9644.

West Yellowstone Area Fishing Report 10/7/19

No further fishing report until Spring