Central to Eastern MT Fishing Report 10.13.21
By angelamontana

Posted: October 13, 2021

Please let us know if you would like to see your weekly fishing report included in this list by emailing it to us before the end of the day on Tuesday of each week here along with your business website/email address.

Fort Peck Marina (October 13, 2021)

Salmon Snagging Update: “With the water temps cooling down we are definitely seeing more activity in the bay. We have not had a ton of fisherman but the guys and gals that are braving the weather have been doing really good yesterday afternoon and this morning. I would imagine with the water temps dropping things will continue to get better.”

Tongue River Marina (October 13, 2021)

No fishing report, as the Marina is closed for the season.

Fishing Reports by Jimmy’s Fly Shop (October 12,2021)

Main Stem Snake River, October 12th, 2021

With irrigation demands diminishing and water clearing, it is time to consider presenting streamer patterns for migrating brown trout. Private land predominates along the river making float fishing the best way to cover much of the water. Several boat launch sites are present on this stretch of river, and from the Henry’s Fork confluence to below American Falls Reservoir many walk-in locations exist. We can help in choosing which ones of each may be best at any given time.

Henry’s Lake, October 12th, 2021

This weather is ” just the ticket” for improving fishing here. It will also help break up those copious submerged weeds. Currently, roads can be a bit hazardous with icy stretches, possible fog and road clearing action, each reducing the number of folks fishing. Thus we have no reports yet of improved fishing, but they should be coming in as weather improves.

Yellowstone Park, October 12th, 2021

The brown trout run is on- going in good numbers in the Lewis River channel, but the snow is deep! Cross country skis or snow shoes may help, but the park discourages going there under present weather conditions. Fishing the brown-rainbow run in the Madison River is different with crowds and passable roads to a point. For certain, the Firehole River features very good fishing but the problem is getting there. The brown trout run up the Gardner River should come on soon, but so will the crowds.

Big Lost River, October 12th, 2021

Less than 100 cfs is flowing out of Mackay Dam making for good wading conditions, but tough weather conditions are present. Little traffic will be coming from the Ketchum-Sun Valley area because of road conditions on Trail Creek Summit. Some discolor is present in the water, but BWOs and midges are emerging, so life cycle patterns for these will work. So will woolly bugger types and nymphs in singles or tandem rigs.

South Fork, October 12th, 2021

The storm will make back country roads along the river a bit difficult. But this situation is only temporary, and days of good fishing will remain for weeks to come. Windfall of this early storm is that it begins the water storage year in the drainage as snow will likely stay at higher elevations, and it adds acre-feet to in-line reservoirs. Flow in the river is at normal levels for this time of year (3540 cfs at Irwin, 4140 cfs at Heise,1790 cfs at Lorenzo) and usual activity (presenting BWO, mahogany dun, midge life cycle, double nymph rigs, streamer patterns) continues.

A tip from Jimmy G. is that on seeing rising fish in good numbers, presenting soft hackle patterns of taking could bring happy results.

Henry’s Fork, October 12th, 2021

The challenge now will be getting to the river to fish especially in the Island Park area! October storms like this has happened before, and after it passes a lot of good fishing will remain. BWO and midge activty will offer top water fishing and presenting streamer patterns will become increasingly effective. Another “plus” coming from this weather is that it will help clear aquatic vegetation ffom All waters.

Here are excerpts from Dr. Rob Van Kirk’s update for today on water conditions in the Henry’s Fork drainage. There is some welcome info here to begin the water storage year.

Headlines:

  • The current winter storm over our area is over-achieving, producing 0.55 inch of water equivalent watershed-wide and the coldest temperatures since April.
  • Natural flow dropped a little yesterday in response to colder temperatures, as yesterday’s precipitation fell as snow at all elevations.
  • At an outflow of around 125 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 662 ac-ft yesterday, 100 of which was due to direct precipitation on the reservoir surface. The reservoir is 48% full and equal to the 1978-2021 average.

Details:

Precipitation yesterday exceeded expectations, with even more falling after midnight and continuing this morning. Through midnight, water-equivalent totals ranged from 0.02 inch at Ashton to 1.4 inches at Lewis Lake Divide, with a watershed average of 0.55 inch. Mean temperature yesterday was 32.8 degrees F, 6 degrees below average and the coldest since April 20. Precipitation fell as snow at all elevations, and all SnoTel stations are reporting snow on the ground this morning, ranging from 0.2 inch to 1.7 inches of water equivalent. Snow is expected to continue on and off through Thursday, with Friday morning’s low temperatures well down into the teens in most locations. Dry weather with a slow warming trend is expected over the weekend, which will melt most snow at the low and mid-elevations. Above-average temperatures are expected next week.

Natural flow dropped a little yesterday to 75% of average due to colder weather. Meanwhile, diversion dropped by nearly 100 cfs yesterday, so supply now exceeds demand by over 1100 cfs, the highest it has been since early June.

At an outflow of around 125 cfs, Island Park Reservoir gained 662 ac-ft yesterday, nearly 100 ac-ft of which was due to direct precipitation on the reservoir surface. The reservoir is 48% full and only 118 ac-ft below average for the date. However, the upper Snake River reservoir system as a whole continues to draft and is only 9% full.

As a final note this morning on streamflow at both Ashton and Island Park, which are critical to natural-flow calculations, I suspect that the current gaged flow at Ashton is lower than actual flow and that my estimate of Island Park flow based on our measurement last Friday is a little high. We will measure flow at both locations this Friday to get better estimates. Changes in the stream gage rating curves are large relative to actual flow in the river right now, as aquatic vegetation is decaying quickly and moving out of the stream channel.

Rob Van Kirk, Ph.D. | Senior Scientist | Henry’s Fork Foundation

Hell Creek Fishing Report (October 13, 2021)

Report pending.

Montana Fly Fishing in October by Montana Angling Co. (October 2021)

October is fall fly fishing at its finest in Montana. Anglers will find great fly fishing on our blue ribbon rivers in Bozeman, MT as well as the Missouri River. Fall in Montana offers the combination of excellent fly fishing, strong hatches, beautiful scenery, and open space that makes every Montana fly fishing trip in October memorable.

Many of our long time anglers and guides consider October to be the best month for fly fishing in Montana for anglers that prefer angling on our rivers in solitude. It is not uncommon to not see another angler on a Montana fly fishing trip in October and pressure is always low on all of our rivers. Fall weather can make for variable and challenging conditions by the middle of the month but anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing regardless.

Highlights

  • Consistent conditions and low pressure on the Missouri River make for some of the best fly fishing of the season. Good hatches of caddisflies and BWOs make for great dry fly fishing most afternoons and productive nymphing and streamer fishing in the mornings.
  • The Yellowstone River near Bozeman, MT offers consistently great fly fishing along its entire length from Gardiner to Columbus, MT and true solitude on the water.
  • Seasoned anglers will enjoy rewarding fly fishing in all conditions.

What to Expect in October

October fly fishing in Montana is all about slowing down, taking it all in, and having fun while enjoying blue ribbon fly fishing in solitude. Anglers can expect low angling pressure on all of our Montana rivers and good hatches throughout the month. Fall weather can be variable throughout the month and anglers should expect any and all conditions ranging from sunny and warm to snowy and cold. Wind is the main factor that can impact the fly fishing. Calmer days will be more productive and windy days less so. Even in the most challenging of conditions and anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing opportunities.

On the Missouri River anglers can expect the most consistent conditions for fly fishing in October. The Missouri River near Craig, MT is considerably lower elevation than our Bozeman, MT area waters which means conditions are generally milder. Hatches of BWOs, midges, and caddisflies are also predictably better on the Missouri River often making for world class dry fly sight fishing on a daily basis. Angling pressure is lower on the Missouri River in October than during other prime months of the fly fishing season.

On the Yellowstone River, Madison River, and other freestone streams closer to Bozeman, MT anglers can expect true solitude on the water and great fly fishing. Conditions are generally favorable but anglers should be prepared for angling in often challenging conditions including cold, rain, snow, and wind during the month of October. The fly fishing is rewarding regardless. Consistent afternoons hatches of BWOs and fall drakes makes for great dry fly and dry-dropper fishing most days.

Where to Fly Fish in October

Anglers planning a Montana fly fishing trip in Montana should consider the Missouri River and Yellowstone River to be the two premier destinations for fly fishing in October. The Missouri River tailwater below Holter Dam offers the most consistent fly fishing, regardless of conditions, and strong hatches that makes for great dry fly fishing. The Yellowstone River offers true solitude and more than 150 miles of blue ribbon water to fly fish, which means there is always somewhere to fish and find favorable conditions near Bozeman, MT.

Other rivers in Montana including the Madison River, Jefferson River, and Gallatin River can also offer great fly fishing in October, but often challenging conditions due to Fall weather. While anglers can count on solitude and productive days when conditions are right, our Montana fly fishing guides recommend heading elsewhere on colder and windier days.

October Fly Fishing Tactics

Generally anglers can expect to employ a variety of fly fishing tactics in October in Montana. Colder mornings mean hatches often start late-morning or early afternoon. Nymphing and streamer fishing are generally productive before hatches of BWOs, midges, and caddisflies make for excellent dry fly fishing. Hopper fishing can often continue to be productive through the month on warmer days and shouldn’t be overlooked.

On the Missouri River anglers should plan on the daily pattern of nymphing and streamer fishing in the morning followed by dry fly or dry-dropper fishing in the afternoon. Strong hatches of BWOs on cold overcast days will bring huge numbers of rising fish to the surface and make for some of the best sight fishing of the year. The presentations are often technical and demanding, but make for truly rewarding fly fishing for all anglers. #16-20 BWO patterns including cripples, spinners, and emergers will be the most productive.

On our freestone rivers in Bozeman, MT anglers will find similar conditions and can expect to nymph or streamer fish in the morning and dry fly fish in the afternoon. Hatches vary significantly depending on conditions ranging from blanket hatches to non-existent and the dry fly fishing will vary accordingly. The Yellowstone River offers the most consistent hatches of BWOs throughout the month in Bozeman and anglers can expect quality dry fly fishing most afternoons on all but the windiest of days. Targeting slower water, back eddies, and mid-river seams will be the most productive.

October Fly Fishing Trips

October fly fishing trips with our Montana fly fishing guides are great for anglers that value solitude on the water and quality fly fishing, regardless of conditions. Seasoned anglers can expect success in all conditions and beginner anglers will find ample opportunity to learn and grow as anglers.

Our Missouri River fly fishing trips offer generally favorable conditions and consistent productivity. Strong fall hatches make for some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. Bozeman fly fishing trips in October offer true solitude on the Yellowstone and Madison River. Conditions can vary, but anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing on every October trip.

We encourage anglers to explore all of our Montana fly fishing trip options in October. Day trips are perfect for a quick trip while our custom trips and lodging packages make for a more immersive experience. Fall fly fishing in Montana truly is classic western fly fishing at its finest.

Contact us to learn more about October fly fishing trips with the Montana Angling Company.

Lower Clark Fork River Fishing Report by Orvis (October 11, 2021)

Tim Linehan’s Tip of the Week

Dry/dropper will carry the day nicely. Baetis hatches are in play especially under cloud cover.

Five-day outlook as of Oct 11: Expect daytime temps in the 40s through the week with partly sunny skies.

Gallatin River Fishing Report by Fins and Feathers (October 9, 2021)

The Gallatin has been fishing great with nymphs. The weather today is feeling very fishy. Get out there before the winter storm expected early next week. Pat’s Rubberlegs, Prince nymphs, Pearl Lightning Bugs, BWO’s nymphs and emergers, Purple Spanish Bullets, Holo Princes, and San Juan worms, have all been getting it done. There should be some fish rising to BWOs over the next few days so having some Parachute Adams in #18 couldn’t hurt. Streamer fishing has been good through the valley here with Sparkle Minnows, Pearl Necklace, and Rusty Trombones.

Bitterroot River Fishing Report by Orvis (October 11, 2021)

Jim Mitchell’s Tip of the Week

The West Fork is now at winter levels. Floating is not recommended on any section. This is a good time to wade. Drys with droppers and nymphing in the am. Purple Haze, Adams, Pheasant tails, Perdigons size 16/14. May fly’s in the morning Hoppers in the afternoon. Steamers are working ok

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by The Rivers Edge (October 11, 2021)

1520 CFS @ Livingston – The weather that’s rolling in this week could impact the Yellowstone in a variety of ways. It was fishing just so-so before the snow, but hopefully we’ll start seeing some more surface activity as the week progresses. Otherwise, stick to stonefly nymphs and streamers for the best success.

GO-TO FLIES:

Rubberlegs #6
Lightning Bug #14
Little Spanker #16
Sculpzilla, Olive/White #4
Zirdle, Natural #6

Flathead Area Fishing Reports by Snappy’s Sport Senter (October 7, 2021)

Flathead River – Whitefish are starting to stack in the deeper holes. The incoming cold weather will help kick start the run. Crappie bite is heating up. Try using a small jig under a slip bobber and fish underwater structure. Pike continue to be caught using spoons retrieved fairly quick. Smelt and a bobber also continues to work well!!

Loon Lake – Fishing has been very consistent. Powerbait remains to be the bait of choice for the stocked rainbows.

Blanchard Lake – Bass and crappies continue to stock up the winter reserves. Small plastics around the weed edges can be very productive in the early morning or evening hours.

Lake Rogers – Cutthroat have started to be caught. Using small ice jigs under a slip bobber has been very consistent on the edge of weed lines and holes in the foliage.

Echo Lake – Fish have started to move into coves to find the fall forage. Try using a weightless fluke around ambush points. Running a slip bobber and a small minnow plastic around structure can also be very effective.

Smith Lake – Pike being caught off the docks. Spinnerbait is king, fish it fast around ambush points in the weed edges.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Orvis (October 11, 2021)

Linehan Outfitting’s Tip of the Week

The water is gin clear on the Kootenai River. Time to start fishing 5x even to hoppers and long, drag free drifts are increasingly necessary.

Five-day outlook: Expect good fishing conditions to continue here on the Kootenai. We may see some precipitation near the weekend. Otherwise, daytime temps will hover in the 40s and baetis will be active and so will the trout.

Montana Fishing Reports by East Rosebud Fly and Tackle (October 11, 2021)

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is running low at 57 CFS this week and temps are staying cool. Dry fly fishing has been good and the best hatches are happening on cloudy days. Look for Mahoganys and BWOs. If the fish aren’t looking up, a hopper dropper setup with an October Caddis, BWO, or Mahogany nymph will likely be most effective. Small streamers are also a good option.

Dries: Angel Wing Spinner Mahogany #14, Orange Stimulator #12, Film Critic BWO #18

Nymphs:  Panty Dropper BWO #18, Tungsten Copper John Chartreuse #14, Tungsten Jig Hares Ear #16, MT Prince X-Mas #14, Trina’s Bubble Back Emerger BWO #18

Streamers: Thin Mint, Grinch, Slump Buster Rust #6, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Light Olive #6, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Black

Stillwater River

The Stillwater River is currently running at 386 CFS. Fall is here to stay so nymph and streamer fishing will be most productive. Also look for small mayfly hatches in the evenings.

Dries: Purple Rainy’s Grand Hopper, Purple Haze #14, Daves Parachute BWO #16, Blonde Wulffs #16

Nymphs:  Lucent PT Purple #16, BH Holo Batman #14, Blooms Zirdle Purple #8, Half Back #8

Streamers: Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Smoke/Purple #4, Dirty Hippie Cravens Rainbow #6, The Grinch #6, Thin Mint #8

Boulder River

Fishing has been decent the past weeks with the hopper bite slowing, but smaller dry fly hatches happening. Look for BWO and Sulphur Duns and some Caddis to be hatching in the evening and early mornings. The West boulder has been a little bit more productive. Fish have been holding in the deeper, faster runs and pockets.

Dries: Purple Rainy’s Grand Hopper, Purple Haze #14, Daves Parachute BWO #16, Blonde Wulffs #16

Nymphs:  Lucent PT Purple #16, BH Holo Batman #14, Blooms Zirdle Purple #8, Half Back #8

Streamers: Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Smoke/Purple #4, Dirty Hippie Cravens Rainbow #6, The Grinch #6, Thin Mint #8

Bighorn River

Water flows are holding low and cold at 1910 CFS. As long as the wind stays down, Black and Tan Caddis and Psuedos have been showing in good numbers. The early morning nymph bite has been getting better. The classic scud and sow bug patterns with red bead heads has been moderately productive. Streamer fisherman should prepare themselves to drag some grass on the lower stretches. Cooler weather for the coming week should get the streamer bite going good!

Dries: EC Caddis Black #18, Elk Hair Caddis Black #16/#18, Elk Hair Caddis Tan #16/#18, Smoke Jumper BWO #18, Birchell’s Hatch Midge #20, Clown Shoe Caddis #16

Nymphs: Cravens JuJu Midge Flash #20,  Ray Charles Grey #18, Bighorn Baetis #18, BH Flashback Pheasant Tail

Streamers: Double Dirty Hippie-Rainbow #4, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Light Olive #6, Thin Mint #6, Drunk & Disorderly Olive/Orange #4

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone is up in flows from last week at 1520 near Livingston. Fall is here and streamer fishing is picking up quite a bit. Early mornings and evenings are still the most productive times but mid day nymphing and dry fly action is steady as ever. That said, expect some grass to be an obstacle. Always check the flows to see if any rainstorms have muddied up the water.

Dries: Goddard Caddis #12/14, Elk Hair Caddis Tan #14/16, Purple Para Wolff #12/14, Dornans Water Walker 10-16, Galloups Ant Acid #14

Nymphs: Rubberlegs Coffee #6/8, Smethurst’s Bomb Series Stonefly #8, Pheasant Tail #14/16/18, BH Caddis Pupa #14/16, BH Caddis Pupa Hares Ear #14

Streamers: Nutcracker Natural/Yellow,/Olive, Sex Dungeon White/Yellow, Circus Peanut Tan/Olive/Black, Sculpzilla Black, Craven’s Dirty Hippie, JJ Special

Clarks Fork Yellowstone River

The Clarks Fork is running very low at 95 CFS, which has pushed trout into the deeper pockets which can be few and far between. Wade fishing can be tough with a lot of ground to cover in order to find good holding water for fish. That said, it can certainly pay off with a fish of size. If you’re up for it, throwing a hopper dropper throughout the day will be most productive. Mid afternoon Caddis have been hatching as well. Swinging a small streamer has also worked well.

Dries: CDC Caddis, Spot Light Caddis #14, Moorish Hopper Purple #10, Chubby Chernobyl Royal #10/12

Nymphs: Panty Dropper PMD #16, Lucent Pheasant Tail Red #16/14, Brillons Lucent Pheasant Tail Jig Purple #14,

Streamers: Thin Mint, Mongrel Meat Black, Grinch, Galloups Mini Sex Dungeon Black/Purple

Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report by Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop (October 8, 2021)

It finally feels like fall! After a protracted period of late summer weather, it’s chilly and drizzly in Livingston today. Perfect fall fishing weather! The moisture we’re getting is supposed to keep up through tomorrow then shift over to snow Monday and Tuesday. Break out the warm jackets and rain gear!

This cooler weather has turned fishing back on. Things are good on the Yellowstone River and our other area waters. The streamer bite is getting better on these cloudy days, and we’re expecting to see good hatches of fall BWOs this weekend into next week.

This hatch is generally smaller and more technical than the spring Baetis. Combine a busy summer season of fishing pressure and near record low flows and the fish are highly educated and spooky by this time of the season. If there was ever a time of year to be more stealthy and precise with your dry fly approaches, this is it.

Longer leaders, smaller flies, and making a plan on feeding fish is the order of the day. Look for BWOs to start hatching mid morning. Fishing a two fly rod with a nymph on the bottom and an emerger on top is a great strategy as you wait to see fish actively feeding on top. Swinging soft hackles is a stellar option this time of year as well.

The local private spring creeks are a great spot to have your patience and dry fly fishing skills tested on the fall BWOs. These pay-to-play fisheries are known for their large fish, gin-clear water, and dry fly hatches. If the fishing is slow, head for the warming hut and a good lunch.

Other waters such as the Upper and Lower Madison have been fishing well lately also. From what we’ve heard the report is similar to the Yellowstone. Look for BWOs, fish streamers, nymphing has been solid. The Missouri, Stillwater, Boulder, and Gallatin are all fishing well.

Yellowstone National Park’s fishing season has less than a month left, and it’s arguably the best month of the year for fishing. It’s still quite crowded down there, especially compared to past fall seasons. However, go into it with that in mind, be patient, enjoy the views and wildlife and you’ll have a great time. The Firehole has cooled off enough to be a great fall fishery, and there have been reports of lake fish coming into the Madison. Just watch your step and avoid disturbing redds. The northeast corner has been a good option for those approaching from our side.

Fall is an incredible time of year to be fishing the Yellowstone River and Montana. Who knows what the weather will do beyond this next week, but we can enjoy this more classic “fall” weather while it lasts. Need a new rain jacket or warm puffy? We’re getting more and more cold weather gear in every week! Come down to the shop and check it out.

Madison River Outfitters (October 12, 2021)

Montana 

Upper Madison: Fishing has been a little slower in the mornings as of late, but once things warm up a bit nymphs and streamers have been finding some fish. Small mayfly patterns, dips, perdigons, and small stones have been the ticket lately. BWO’s have been out just about every day, especially on the overcast afternoons so keep your eyes open for rising fish.

Flies: #16-18 Black Krystal Dip, #16-18 Shop Vac, #18 BBQ Baetis, #18 Split Case BWO, #10-12 Sili Leg, #14 Lake Prince, #16 Olive Bullet, #18-20 Parachute BWO, #18-20 Low Water Baetis, #6 Olive Sparkle Yummy, #4 Black Slap & Tickle, #8 Thin Mint

Hebgen: Stripping buggers/leeches or nymphing under an indicator will be your best options on the lake as of late. With leeches and buggers, switch up your retrieval until you find something the fish like.

Flies: #8 Black or Olive Simi Seal Leech, #6 Flash-a-Bugger, #6 Olive or Black Hot Bead Leech, #8 Thin Mint, #16 Pheasant Tail, #14-16 Turkey Callibaetis, #12 O.S. Buzzer

YNP   

Gallatin: No need to get too early of a start if you want to fish the Gallatin. Take your time and let things warm up a little. Nymphs, soft hackles, and small streamers are all in play. Be watching for fish rising to BWO’s on the nastier afternoons.

Flies: #16-18 Shop Vac, #16-18 Green Lightning Bug, #16-18 Black Krystal Dip, #18 ICU Midge, #18 Split Case BWO, #14 Partridge and Peacock, #16 Soft Hackle Hares Ear, #18 Parachute Adams, #18 Tilt Wing BWO, #18 Baetis Cripple, #8 Simi Seal Leech, #6 Olive Slumpbuster

Madison/Firehole: We have been seeing and hearing of more and more lake fish being caught. Hopefully this weather the next few days pushes some big trout up into the rivers. Swinging soft hackles, along with stripping/swinging streamers has been productive, and nymphing has been finding some fish as well. On the Firehole soft hackles remain the most consistent method, but watch out for fish rising to BWO’s and maybe a few White Miller Caddis.

Flies: #8-10 Partridge and Pheasant Tail, #8-10 Partridge and Peacock, #14 Diving Caddis, #8 Simi Seal Leech, #6  Black Mini Sex Dungeon, #6 Olive Sparkle Minnow, #10-12 Sili Legs, #14-16 Lake Prince, #16-18 Pheasant Tail, #, #18 Tilt Wing BWO, #18-20 Sprout Baetis

NE Corner: Similar to the Gallatin, these rivers are running pretty cold so take your time in getting over there. Watch for some Drake Mackerels and baetis to be hatching, bring some streamers patterns to throw around if nothing is rising.

Flies: #12 Drake Mackerel Cripple, #14 Parachute Hares Ear, #18-20 Parachute BWO, #18-20 Sprout Baetis, #6 Olive Sparkle Minnow, #6 Black Mini Sex Dungeon, #8 Black Simi Seal Leech