Winter is here and that can bring unusual weather and sudden changes in weather temperatures, wind and water which means everyone needs to be vigilant when being outside. Outdoor enthusiasts, including fishermen need to pay attention to these changes. Surprise storms of snow and dangerous fire can happen quickly, 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 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
Tongue River Reservoir Raymond /Spencer/ Greg
Raymond states,” I was surprised we had 2 campers here even with the weather. Quite a few people out Ice fishing. People said fishing was decent. One group caught 12 perch, 2 crappies and 3 northern pike. . They were fishing along the shoreline and were at 20 feet depths. People are saying it is better fishing than other years. We have 14 inches of ice in the bay. “
Reservation season has ended . It is first come first serve. We are in winter rates. The electrical has been turned off. Campers point 1 to 11 have electricity year around. The fish cleaning station is now closed. We only had one camper.
Tongue River Marina 1-406-757-2225 Wade, Stephanie, Greg
Wade said,” we had twenty customers this week. The cold definitely made those ice fishing to a minimal number. I talked to people who were catching some really nice northern pike. Watch the crappie bite that has slowed. If the bite stops look for the northern to really take off and bite a few days later. The northern follow the crappie. There are some pressure ridges developing toward Sand Point so please be careful. We will be open Saturday and Sunday from 6 am to noon on the weekend. I have minnows so stop in if you need bait or a snack or drink.
If you want minnows during the week, I will come to the marina to sell them, but the order must be 6 dozen or more. Call 406-860-2568. And speak to Wade. “
Rock Creek Marina- Monty LeTexier , Wyatt /1-406-230-1283 for Linda & Neil Marina number is 1-406-485-2560
Neil and Linda said, ” we had a couple of fishermen here this weekend. The guys were spearing and had tip-ups. The got 3 pike. One was over 28 inches. They were on the ice in the bay. They were using minnows and smelt. We had 12 inches in the bay. Littlebug has had a few fishermen. It is frozen all the way across, but no one knows how much ice is there as it is new ice only from a couple of days. It is not safe yet, but I bet it will be by the weekend as it is really cold. There are pressure ridges to have to watch for as well. Call if you need to know conditions. ”
We have closed the marina for the season, but fishing can still happen if the wind quits blowing. We just won’t have any services. For reservations for the ice fishing season call Linda at 406-230-1283.
To make reservations for next year , please call Monty at 406-465-0241.
Hell Creek Marina- Clint Thomas-Layne-Kaylor 1-406- 557-2345
Clint reported ,” it has been really cold. We have had slow bites because of the cold. Last week the pike bite was really hot but this week the cold really slowed it down. They were finding the pike at 16 to 25 feet. The walleye bite is slow, but they are catching some big eater size ones. The first half of Hell Creek Bay has 8-10 inches. From Hell Creek west there is 6 inches plus. Going east I haven’t checked the depths yet. The walleye were at 16 to 30 feet. Most guys were using minnows and smelt. The pressure ridges are always there so please careful. The cold coming at the end of the week with firm up the ice more.
No matter where you ice fish be careful. Come prepared for safety. Bring your floatation vest and wear it, check that your GPS setting is not still on zoom or a boat setting so it reflects the true conditions and bring some ice fishing sticks. Keep your head clear and think safety always while you are out there. ”
We have changed our hours at the marina. We are open from 7 to 5 on weekdays and 7 to 6 on weekends.
Lake Ridge Motel Eddie and Carrie Mindt, Haley 1-406-526-3597
Eddie reports, “ things were open in places last Saturday, but they have frozen over now. The bay is frozen and has 14 inches. The main has 5 inches. In the bay they are doing well on pike, walleye, and lake trout. People that headed to Nelson and McGuire Creek found 14 inches of ice. They caught walleye and northern pike. Lake trout, ling ,and catfish. Everyone has caught the fish at depths of 12 to 25 feet. The pike were 6 to 10 pounds in size. The walleye are smaller in size. The ling were 3 to 5 pounds and the catfish were in the 6-to-10-pound range. The guys that caught lake trout said they were 8 to 10 pounds in size. Everything was caught on minnows. I know of no pressure ridges right now.
I plan on going out tomorrow ( Wednesday) to get ice depths , so feel free to call for updates. Safety is our main concern. Stay safe. We have lots of herring and minnows. Come in anytime for bait. “
We have stocked the tackle shop and you can find many things you need there.
Our hours are 7am-6 pm Monday through Sunday.
Fort Peck Marina Jessica & Scott Collinsworth 1-406-565-6283
Scott reports “ we are starting to see some good ice at the dam area with these colder temps. The bays are running anywhere from 12-17 inches. The main lake capped over on Saturday and should have 3-6 inches of good clear ice now. With these temps remaining through the weekend we are hoping to see 12 plus inches on the main lake and we can start chasing lakers all over. I will keep everyone updated on our Facebook page on ice conditions.
We have seen a few fishermen out but not a ton with these current temps. From my reports they have been getting a few lakers in 35-45 feet of water and doing ok but not great on northerns and walleyes back in the bays. We should see more fishermen and fishing to improve into next week with some days still cold but milder temps on the way. Please check your ice and stay safe out there.”
We have plenty of minnows and smelt for anglers and a complete line up of tackle for all your needs here on Fort Peck. Give us a call or stop in. The bar and restaurant are also open 7 days a week for some cold drinks and great food.
Crooked Creek Marina, Winnett, Montana
James(Slim), Carri Craig, Rick, Gary 406-429-2999
Gary says, “we have had no action this week. The bite is dead. Lots of cold temperatures this week. The bay has 18 inches of good strong ice as of today. The river has 8 to 10 inches on the river. Fishing has been very slow for those who fished just getting a few here and there. The walleye they caught were small, way too small. The crappie have been average size jigging. The barometer keeps changing going up and down daily. Just not seeing many northern pike. There are lots of pressure ridges. Call for up to date information or stop by the Marina. “
Our hours are 7 to 7 now 7 days a week. We are open New Year’s Day. I am so looking forward to seeing everyone. Please just remember social distancing.
Hardware Hanks- Kolin Mahan/ David 654-1712
Open 7:30 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday/ 11am to 3 pm Sunday
Kolin reports, “ with the cold I am sure it is making ice. We have had -24 below. The wind has been 10 to 15 mph. Even the locals have not wanted to be out there. We have to wait until it warms up some. I know of a few people who speared northerns last week and did not hear of any walleye being caught. “
Cooney Reservoir – Jake, Cynthia
Jake reports,” it was -14 today but I fished for a couple of hours. There was no wind today. People are finding 8 to 14 inches of ice depending on what side of the reservoir you are on. The perch bite on the north shore was still happening. Guys were using wax worms and maggots. They said the perch were good numbers and good size. The rainbow trout fishing was only good in the morning and evening. People are using Swedish pimples and worms. People need to come on and off the ice through the boat ramp. Please do not use any other way, like through the campgrounds. We have plowed the roads. I heard of 4 ling caught this week off of the dam . “
FWP memo as of 2-1-2021:
Ice fishermen are reminded to use boat ramps to access Cooney Reservoir.
Off-road access to lake is causing damage.
BILLINGS – Ice fishermen who access Cooney Reservoir with automobiles, ATVs or snowmobiles are reminded that they must drive onto and off of the ice only from boat ramps. Those who drive directly from campgrounds, parking areas and roadways onto the ice are causing damage to park resources.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks prohibits off-road travel, including access to the frozen lake, in Cooney Reservoir State Park to prevent damage. The prohibition includes winter access to the frozen lake from points other than boat ramps.
Lake Elmo FWP Bob Gibson
Bob says , “ the lake has 6 inches of ice now. A few people tried to fish in the cold. I think they caught a few fish. Test the ice and always be careful. “
**This notice still continues – FWP put out a notice closing a 200-yard stretch of the Yellowstone River east of Reed Point Monday because an old highway bridge is in imminent danger of collapsing into the water.
The Montana Department of Transportation informed FWP this week that the Twin Bridges Road bridge over the Yellowstone River is subject to imminent failure. The closure for 100 yards upstream and downstream of the bridge will remain in effect until FWP determines that the river is safe for boaters and water users. Timing will depend on when the bridge either fails or is demolished and removed by the Department of Transportation.
Signs on the site informing people of the closure will be removed when the river is ready to reopen to public use.
The old highway bridge is immediately upstream from the I-90 bridge across the Yellowstone River between Reed Point and Columbus. It parallels an active railroad bridge, hence the Twin Bridges or Two Bridges name. While it is not an official public access to the river, boaters use a sandbar beneath the bridge to launch and retrieve their boats. The closest public places to launch boats are upstream at Indian Fort Fishing Access Site at Reed Point and downstream at the Holmgren Ranch Fishing Access Site west of Columbus.”
Deadmans Tony and Pat Stefani
Pat explains,” we saw no fishermen this week. Just too cold and with snowy conditions no one came out. The roads in have been plowed.”
Cozy Corner bar Deadmans/Martinsdale Lavina 406-636-2261 Terry
Terry reports, “no one went out this week it was too snowy and cold. I heard the ice is good at Bair. Just be careful anywhere you go.”
Checkerboard Inn Checkerboard, MT Rick and Judy Geordge 406-572-3373
Judy reports, “ five ladies went out on Saturday fishing at Bair for their “ladies’ day out”. They caught several rainbow trout and had a nice time. We have seen hardly anyone out this week because of the snow and cold. Bair has 16 inches of good ice. “
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
Jon reports ,” Not much news this week It has been slower than heck. I have not talked to many fisherman this week. Just too cold. I did hear that at Hell Creek some guys caught lake trout, northern pike, and walleye but earlier before the weather. The ice has gotten better. . “
Silos Canyon Ferry-Sharon
Sharon says, “The next ice fishing tournament is “Ducks on ice fishing Derby “on February 20th. 7:30 A.M. to 6 P.M. It is a one-day event and multi species. Look online for more details.
With this cold the ice has gotten better. Our ice in the bay is 10 inches and across the reservoir. Pond 4 has 9 inches of ice. Across from Confederate to Duck Creek there is 7 to 8 inches of ice. The pressure ridge going Hole in the Wall west to east it is still there. It is going straight across. Please be very careful.
Trout are being caught close to shore. The perch are out a half a mile to a mile going east. People are going deep for perch to 30 to 40 feet. They are catching trout at 6 to 8 feet depths. Stop in to hear anything new I might know. I have maggots, mealworms, and crawlers if you use them. Try using bobbers, and floating jigs. “
**I sell polar picks for a very reasonable cost at the shop. With the ice conditions changing because of our weather please consider getting some. If you do not feel you need them for you as an adult, please consider them for your children. They hang around your neck and if you should fall in it opens up and can help you pull yourself back up on the ice. “
Feel free to call for information or stop in at the shop. Call 266-3100. I am here all the time so I will give you any information I know. The Marina is open. Hours are 7 am to 7 pm. The Pelican is now closed for the season
Rich’s Tackle Richard 406-285-4540 Rich
Rich says,” A fisherman told me he fished Canyon Ferry this week. He said he found 14 to 15 inches thick. He caught a little ling and some nice rainbow trout. The Gallatin and Madison are iced up now. There are ice chunks on the Jefferson below the dam.”
We have decided to close the shop for the season from October 15th to April 1st, 2021.
Stillwater Anglers-Chris 406-322-4977 ,Bill, Ken, Jasmine
Yellowstone river changes with the recent cold weather makes it not safe to fish or able to fish because of severe temperatures.
We have closed our shop for the season until Spring. ”
Montana Adventures and Angling Beau McFadyean 406-855-3612
The cold weather has made it impossible to fish on the Big Horn right now.
Big Horn Trout Shop Fort Smith 666-2375 Rick/Hale/ Stephanie
Rick said, “ You cannot fish the Big Horn right now. We got the weather everyone else got. We have 15 inches of snow and we have -21 degrees. If you try to fish and throw your line out there on the first cast the line freezes up immediately. It is just too cold. Everything freezes instantly right now. The ramps are froze over with ice. So we all have to wait for warmer weather. The CFS is still. 2000 . Call if you want to book a guide or lodging. It is the time to do it. “
Our lodge is open so you can stay with us. We would love to have you go fishing here and we are making sure to follow the procedures to keep people safe. Our shuttle service is available. Call and talk to the shop to get information you need.“
Open 8 am to 12 every day.
Madison River Outfitters- West Yellowstone – Tom Forsberg. Open 730am-9pm
This is our final report for the year. On October 23,2020. Nothing will change too much over the next few weeks as far as the fishing goes, so whether you like to nymph, swing, or throw streamers get out there and get after it and let us know what you are catching. We will try to send out reports when we can through the winter and let everyone know how the fishing is. Thanks for a great season and for reading along. Have a great winter and we will see you in the spring!
This is the last report -West Yellowstone Area Fishing Report 10/26/20 in case you need a reference for what was working at that time.
Upper Madison: Nymphing continues to be your best tactic for catching fish throughout the day. Rubber legs and a smaller attractor or baetes nymph will be successful and a zonker/sculpin dead-drifted under an indicator has had its moments this past week as well. We have been seeing some baetes coming off the past few days and should only see more this coming week with the forecast calling for rain and snow most days.
Flies: #16-18 Krystal Dip, #14-16 Green Machine, #14-18 Red Neck, #16 Olive Hot Spot Perdigon, #14 HoloPoint, #16-18 Shop Vac, #16-18 Olive S.H. Hare’s Ear, #16 Shop Vac, #12 Black Sili Legs, #18-20 D.O.A. Baetis, #18-20 Baetis Sparkle Dun
Yellowstone National Park
Fishing in Yellowstone is officially closed for the season. It usually opens Memorial Day weekend the next year.
(Feature photo via Pinterest)