Bozeman/Butte Recreation Report by Bob Ward’s Sports & Outdoors 5.26.17
By angelamontana

Posted: May 26, 2017

Bozeman Fishing

Run off season is in full swing, if you try to fish be safe on the water.

Gallatin River- The river is still in full run off, it will be a while before it is ready to fish again. A fish or two could be picked up here and there with some nymph rigs, but with the poor water clarity the flies will need to be right in the fishes face.  Try small sizes of streamers as well natural in color swung very slowly getting your fly right in their face. Try throwing into the slow pockets stripping slightly faster than the water speed.

Lower Madison river- Keep an eye on the flows, we have just hit 4000cfs, so wading has become limited. Once the flows stay put and fish can adjust the fishing should pick up. If you have access to a boat or raft it would be a better choice than wading due to the high water. Some fish have been picking up some BWO’s, and caddis off the surface but the fish haven’t been eating much. If the water flow stays consistent for a day or two it might be worth getting out and running some nymph rigs and throwing some dry flies.

Upper Madison river-  the upper Madison has been producing the most fish due to the water clarity being a bit better than anywhere else, still about only a foot. A few fish have been rising but not too many, some nymph rigs have been picking up a couple fish but streamers have yielded the most success. Look for fish hiding from the run off water in slow seams, and tight against the bank.

Yellowstone River-  The river is in full run off mode, we would recommend fishing the lower or upper Madison instead. Make sure to keep an eye on flows and be careful, the river is about only fishable from a boat if you still want to give it a try. The Yellowstone is running over 4000CFS (about 1 foot under ‘minor’ flood stage)

Butte Fishing:

All of George Town Lake is now opened with all access points open. Visibility at 60in with clear water conditions.  Fishing is good all day.

Fly fishing hatches in order of importance are  Damsel Flies, Caddis, callibaetis. Recommended fly fishing leader: 9 Foot Leader, recommended fly fishing tippet: 3X Tippet, the best fly fishing rod: 9′ 5 Weight Fly Rod, the best floating fly line: WF Trout Fly Line.

Flows have dropped a bit over the week but it’s still running aroung 4,500 CFS. Water clarity has been decent at 2+ft & the Big Hole doesn’t typically get as muddy as other rivers in the area, it usually just gets a darker tanic tea color. We’ve had some good reports of streamer fishing in the upper stretches. Big & flashy has been tricking fish which is pretty typical in high water conditions. If you’d like to nymph the trout have been feeding heavily on worms that are washed into the river system so definitely bring some San Juan variations. Big stonefly nymphs & caddis pupa should also produce some fish for you. As of now the dry fly fishing has been pretty poor but if we get some warm weather & the flows hang steady that could change. As always be careful floating this river at these flows, if you’re a novice on the oars stick to the upper stretch.

The dry fly action is finally kicking in on the Clark Fork with various stone flies and mayflies getting a few fish looking up. We suggest starting Double down under an indicator with a hot bead or bling pink worm followed up by a tung prince or double bead stone but when you see bugs in the air or crawling around on the boat try the dry flies or dry dropper rigs.

Look for soft seams and back eddies but don’t count out dead water. We’ve noticed some days they want pink bling, other days its a brown, black, or tan rubber legs. The river is double high for this time of year so side channels and back waters deserve your attention there. Also bows and cuts have sex on their minds about now so concentrate banks below tribs too.

We expect the Clark to get better with the warmer weather especially for the dry action. Watch the flows and and long as they stay stable the river will fish. The Bitterroot continues to be busy so this might be a good option to avoid a bunch of fishers. Conditions are good. River is running high, but steady and reasonably clear.

The hatch is Skwalas, little brown and black stones, bow’s, March browns, few grey drakes and midges. Fly patterns are DRIES – Skwala bullet heads #12-8, Purple haze#16, para Adams or brown haze #14-16, big attractors for hanging heavy droppers. NYMPHS – Red beadhead power worm#10 or bling pink worm, peacock double bead stone #8, brown rubber leg #8, prince #12, phez tails #16. STREAMERS – olive or natural zonker type pattern #6, sparkle minnow #6, olive or black bead head buggers #8 Don’t forget a few big pike flies and metal leader.

There are multiple access points all along river. The entire river is in good shape – upper reaches above Missoula and just below Rock Creek or on up near Warm Springs seem to be fishing better than just below Missoula…BUT TAKE NOTE: the south side road below Harpers bridge and above Petty is closed due to a wash out – don’t know when it’ll reopen.

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