Bozeman/Butte Recreation Report by Bob Ward’s Sports & Outdoors 5.16.19
By angelamontana

Posted: May 17, 2019

Hunting/ Trapping:

Turkey: Spring Season ends May 19, 2019

Black Bear: Spring Season Started April 15, 2019, with zones closing between May 31 and June 15, 2019


Gallatin: With the warmer weather has come the run-off, and it’s hit the Gallatin hard. Flows are high, and the water is muddy. Be careful if you choose to wade this river right now. The area above Taylor’s Fork is the best option. Nymphing is the only way to fish the Gallatin at the moment, with large dark stoneflies, large worms, and dark buggers hitting the best. Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, and Lightning Bug variations have been working well also. Griffith’s Gnats, Caddis’, and Parachute Adams have been the best dries in this area recently.

Lower Madison: The Lower Madison is some of the best fishing to be had around here right now. The flows and clarity are still good, but that will be changing soon as the run-off hits. The Caddis hatch has exploded with dries doing very well, especially in the afternoon. Baetis, especially March Browns, have still been hitting well also. If the Caddis aren’t hitting, trailing a nymph behind a crawfish or worm pattern through deeper holes is a great option. Drakes and Yellow Sallies will be the go-to soon with the weather continuing to warm up.

Upper Madison: The Upper Madison has also been doing great lately, with nymphing producing the best results. Caddis pupa, Baetis midges, Stoneflies, Worms, and streamers have been doing the best. If clouds start to roll in during the afternoon, the fish will begin to rise and slurp up Caddis and Emerger patterns, as those have been hatching recently.

Spring Creek: The nymph bite is still going strong with classics like Pheasant Tails, Scuds, Sow Bugs, Eggs, and Worms doing well. With warm but cloudy weather in the forecast, the Caddis in all stages, has been picking up and will continue to get better, with BWOs being a good fly to have on standby. Make sure to watch out for spawning rainbows and their nests.

Yellowstone River: Fishing the Yellowstone right now is not recommended. The water is very high, fast, and muddy right now, which slows down the fishing and makes wading dangerous. If you are dedicated to fishing the Yellowstone now, large black or olive Buggers and Zonkers have been doing the best. Rubberlegs, Lightning Bugs, and Pheasant Tails are also good choices.

Butte Fishing:

Rock Creek levels are going to be unpredictable, but it rarely disappoints. Fish are taking dries more and more every day even with the stained water. Skwalas, march browns, and caddis are all on the menu. Also, embrace the worm.

The Bitterroot has been see-sawing up and down all Spring, but the fishing continues to be surprisingly good. Fish have been responding well to dry flies in the afternoon. In the morning we’ve done best with double down rigs (girdle bug, north fork or jig head pt with the worm is solid); later in the day fish are eating skwalas fished super tight to the bank/wood.

If you are getting out on the Clark spend a bunch of time in the soft water and backwaters or the runs below the tribs. We would recommend double nymph rigs unless you actually see fish rising.

The best techniques for the Blackfoot are nymphing with a double rig (think worms, double bead stones, rubber legs) remains your best bet for numbers but swinging streamers (always drag a worm or nymph behind) can work as well.

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