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.
Guys a quick update on the salmon fishing/snagging. We are seeing salmon coming into the bays and cruising around. Some days they are literally everywhere and some days you wouldn’t know they live in the lake. We need the water temps to cool down about 7 more degrees to get some better consistency on numbers. Guys casting cranks and spoons are doing considerably better than the snaggers as of right now. Trolling has also been very effective as you can cover so much more water and find fish. That is the key right now finding them. If your not seeing fish keep moving until you locate them. I will keep everyone updated on what we are seeing as the season progresses.
Tongue River Marina (October 6, 2021)
Raymond reports, “Seeing some bass and a few walleye. Water levels are leveling off at record lows, but you can still launch a boat. Power is off at all the sites except CP1-11. Water is off. Marina is closed for the season.”
Southwest Montana Fishing
Now that the gulper season has passed, the big attraction is the brown and rainbow trout run up the Madison River from Hebgen Lake. Still water fishing should pick up on such as Elk, Cliff, Elk,Hidden and Wade Lakes where fish are returning from the depths to cooling shallow water and cruise for feed items. Fly fishing shops are winding down the season with some good bargains on gear.
Henry’s Lake Fishing
Fishing seems to be picking up a bit for those presenting traditional Henry’s Lake patterns on intermediate lines. Weed growth remains thick and not yet decreasing. Water temperature is hovering close to 60 Deg. F, So significant cooling is needed to bring on the best fishing.
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.
- 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.
Here is the latest and greatest Montana statewide fishing report compilation just for you. Please email us if you would like your weekly fishing reports added to this list!
Fishing on the Bow has been quite productive over the past month. Excellent weather and consistent water temps have made spending time on the water enjoyable for us and the fish. As of late flows have been lower, opening opportunities for bank anglers to fish water inaccessible during higher flows. With the sun lower in the sky and cooler overnight temps, it will take a while for things to get started in the morning, so no need to get out too early, there is still plenty of surface action to be had so don’t leave your dry fly box at home!
Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) are in full swing, and fish are keying in on them. Don’t be afraid to go small, 18 is a good “go to” size. Keep in mind that fish can be selective for emergers at the beginning of a hatch. Make sure you have a few in your box. RS2 or Brooks Sprout are consistent producers. As with any small, hard to see dry fly, a larger dry tied on ahead of an emerger serves as a great indicator. For adult patterns, comparaduns and parachute BWO’s are our favorites. If the BWO action isn’t on, small midge patterns can be worth a shot.
October Caddis are lining the bushes along the banks of the river. This large caddis provides a good-sized meal for trout trying to bulk up for winter and a large caddis fly makes for a good option as an indicator fly. They will skitter across the surface of the water to lay their eggs. Don’t be afraid to imitate this by twitching or even skating a dry fly. While this isn’t necessarily a prolific ‘hatch’, it’s certainly worth having a few in your box. Andersson’s bird of prey is a tried-and-true pattern that imitates the nymphal stage and a good old elk hair caddis in a size 8 will do the trick for adults.
Backswimmers and Boatmen have also been bringing plenty of fish to hand over the last few weeks. While imitations can be fished under an indicator, a swung presentation seems to work best. Streamers and boatmen make a great duo. Try fishing them in tandem to pick up those picky fish that might refuse the streamer. Further, foam backed patterns that rise in the water column when paused can be deadly.
As always, hopper dropper rigs are producing once temps warm up for the day. Using small droppers is critical this time of year. Occasionally, a hopper without a dropper can provide a better drift and entice those fish that have seen plenty of hopper dropper rigs to rise.
Finally, it won’t be long until browns will begin constructing their redds. These are cleaned gravel patches where brown trout lay and fertilize their eggs. These spawning beds are critical for future generation of fish and the health of the fishery. Fish on redds are vulnerable and need all the help they can. It goes without saying but avoid targeting fish on redds and walking on/around redds as this will suffocate the eggs.
- Nymphs: Boatmen Black or Tan (14-16), Tungsten Bead Pheasant Tail (18), BWO Killer (18)
- Dries: Elk Hair Caddis Orange (8-10), Almost Dun BWO (16-18), Comparadun BWO (16-20)
- Streamers: Rolled Muddler (8), Peacock Bugger (6-10), Bow River Bugger (4-8)
Fishing will be heating up on the Bighorn in the next week or so. Colder weather is rolling in that will end the current streak of hot weather out there. Look for the fish to become more active and BWOs to hatch. Streamer fish will be productive on the cloudier days. Try a Peanut Envy, Dungeon or Rusty Trombone. Nymphing will be good with the usual tailwater suspects like scuds, midges, and sowbugs. Additionally baetis nymphs will be a good option as they prepare to emerge from the water.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call the shop at 406.586.2188. Keep ’em wet.
Fins & Feathers is a full-service Bozeman fly shop and Montana fly fishing outfitter.
The Bitterroot has been fishing well and the dry fly fishing has been outstanding, especially on the cloudy days. It’s still mainly a wade fisher’s river as it’s low and getting a boat down can be tough. Trico’s, BWO’s, Mahoganies and a few October Caddis have been out. Look for some cloudy days next week to really get the mayflies going. The Trico’s are doing well on the sunny days on the lower river. Light tippets and tiny flies with drag free drifts are a must or the fish aren’t going to eat. Mahoganies and BWO’s on the cloudy days. Sz 14 for the Mahoganies and sz 18-20 for the BWO’s. CDC Duns, Flash Cripple’s, Hazy Cripple’s and Tilt Wings will get the job done. Hopper/Dropper is still an option with BWO and Mahogany jig bead head droppers if they aren’t coming up for dries. Streamer fishing will be getting better and better as clouds roll in and the water temps continue to drop. This year a sink tip might be overkille, but a sinking leader or just a fly that sinks should be just fine. Lil Kim’s, Skiddish Smolts, Baby Gonga’s, Mini Dungeons and EP Minnows.
1/2 off Friday’s are still happening, every Friday all year long. (1/2 off your first dozen dries or nymphs)
The Yellowstone has been a little tough lately, we could certainly use some cloud cover. The brighter days have customers and guides digging into the nymph bins, particularly the Euro nymph bin. These nymphs are small and heavy and get in the strike zone quickly. Soft hackle jigs, perdigon nymphs, and baetis jig nymphs have all be working. The next time we do see clouds try fishing streamers as the browns are starting to get more aggressive. There have also been some larger dries on the water, so try fishing a larger parachute like a hecuba or fall mahogany. Once we have more steady cloud cover fall baetis will also be out and about. Give us a call to book a guide. 1-406-222-7130.
FULL STOCKED ON ALL YOUR WHITEFISH NEEDS ON THE UPCOMING RIVER RUN
Lake Mary Ronan – Perch fishing continues to be GREAT, Small jigs tipped with small plastics have been the ticket. The perch seem to be holding out in the 19-24 depth range. Rainbows being caught in 18-24 foot of water trolling wedding rings tipped with worm.
Flathead River – Whitefish are on the MOVE. Reports of them being caught at the Old Steel. Small tube baits on a 1/8 – 3/8th oz jighead are the key to success. We have ALL your whitefish needs covered.
Echo Lake – Smallmouth Bass are on the feed, Texas rigged crawdad plastics, Jerkbaits and Spinner baits are the best route to success.
Loon Lake – Trout fishing has been very good, Rainbows are hungry. Powerbait and/or a worm and marshmallow.
Blanchard Lake – Largemouth Bass are feeding up. Frog fishing has been really successful this last week. Stick baits on the weed edges can also be VERY productive.Island Lake – Largemouth bass are on the feed; target them with stick baits around ambush points. Texas rigged crawfish have also been producing some very nice fish. Pike fishing has been phenomenal! Herring under a 2″ bobber on a pike hanging rig. Perch fishing is also very good this time of year.
Lower Stillwater – Perch bite has been very consistent, Crawdad plastics on a small jighead are producing some great sized fish.
Rogers Lake – Cutthroat reports are coming in. Small ice jigs under a slip bobber have been very consistent on the edge of weed lines and holes in the foliage.
2021 Fly Fishing Reports -Sept is here!
The Kootenai River – 6kcfs and going lower to 4k
Hoppers yeah. Rest of the year. Big bugs FLY FIRST UP TOP!
Heat has simmered down. We’ve got pleasant weather with fish looking up.
That Koot has plenty of cold water behind Libby dam. Water temps are 56 to 60 or so downstream. And it is fishing really good!. One if not the only fisheries doing well across the PNW. Fish EARLY or real late.
Still have openings in Sep and Oct. Give us a call and let us get you on the water!
Kootenai River Gauge.
7 Day Troy Montana Forecast
Yaak river gauge.
Lake Creek, Bull River, Yaak River & Small Streams.
Lake Creek..Cooler overnight temps have improved this BIG TIME.
You think you’re a fly fisher?
Come prove it. Big fish sitting in deep holes.You better be a heron.
Yaak…Way too low and hot. Forget it for the year.
Forget it. Too low too hot for the rest of the year. Leave it alone. Hopefully save some fish.
Bull Lake…Smallies and Pike!
Stupid hot. Early morning late eve. That’s it.
Rainbows, a few Cutts, Lakers and Kokanee. 10 degrees cooler than the valley.
Get up there and send us a report! Probably the best place to be during the heat.
The fishing closure has been lifted with the recent rain that has raised the water levels as well as cooled the temps off. The river is still running about half of the normal cfs, so it’s still very low so keep an eye on afternoon water temps. Terrestrials should be the name of the game right now.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
The Jeff should continue to fish well in October and November. Streamers, dead drifting big stuff and the occasional dry fly action in the eddies and slicks can be expected.
The Ruby is a very fun early autumn option. Visiting anglers really drop off in numbers and the river doesn’t see much pressure. Browns start to become less moody and the catch rates become a bit more predictable. Cloudy days can produce some dry fly action over early baetis mayflies and small streamers can start to do some damage.
The Month Ahead:
The Ruby will be a nice wade fishing option late into October. Streamers will be more and more effective as the fall progresses and some nice medium sized browns can be taken.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
The Ruby can be a good option in the winter months as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard. It might not be worth a long drive but if you are in the area bring a rod along. Streamers can fish well very late into the fall and later in the winter it turns into a nymphing game. Dry fly action on midges will produce in the late winter.
Early Autumn is a transition time on rivers and streams across Montana and some exciting options present themselves as nights get longer and water temps begin cooling down. Fishing is generally very good but is also less predictable depending on the prevailing weather pattern. Indian summer and hot days can result in some of the best terrestrial fishing of the season. Early cold fronts can provide the potential for a low cloud ceiling overcast days bring a hint of late fall fishing. Browns are just starting to gain their autumn color and are moving out of their lairs in preparation for the spawning runs in October. Some of the lower elevation waters that produced poor fishing in the summer turn on as water temperatures cool and levels rebound with the demands of irrigation water ending. Many of these trout haven’t seen flies since the middle of June. Although the lower reaches of rivers like the Madison, Yellowstone and Gallatin along with the Upper Missouri and Jefferson do not have high trout counts compared to the more famous sections farther upstream (or in the case of the Mo downstream below the dam) they often hold some nice trout. September also brings fewer anglers once vacation season winds down and the go to floats of the summer like the Upper Madison, Yellowstone and others see much less pressure and the trout start to drop their guard again.
Water levels are still low but start to rise in mid September on many rivers that receive a lot of irrigation as the ditches are being turned off. In rivers above the irrigation they are mostly holding steady now at their base levels. Water temperatures are declining and even though some days are still very hot the nights are so much longer that the prolonged cooling effect when the sun goes down is bringing temperatures into the sweat spot. Almost all fisheries around the state are now an option from tiny meadow streams to low elevation waters. The lower reaches of rivers finally cool down again and the high mountain streams are still not so cold as to put trout in a deep freeze. The productive fishing hours are quickly transitioning to later in the day and getting out at the crack of dawn isn’t as important as it was just a few weeks ago. Fishing conditions are all over the place and vary by the day – some days they are looking for hoppers, other days small mayflies and nymphing is also productive. Streamer fishing is also getting better by the day as the big browns become unsettled before the spawn, but will get much better as we move later into the fall.
Many of the aquatic hatches have run their course. There are still some late tricos on some waters and some mahogany duns and spinners are popping in the later afternoons and evenings. It is still a bit early for the baetis hatches but on some fisheries a few will start showing up soon on the infrequent cloudy and rainy days.
Terrestrials are still very important across Montana. Hoppers are mature and flying. The hopper fishing on the smaller meadow rivers continues to be very good and is day by day on the larger rivers depending on location and wind direction. On some rivers they aren’t quite looking for them and on others the bite is very good. I waded a small stream on a private ranch the other day and the hoppers were all over the place and trout were moving aggressively for them. The quality of the “catching” over hoppers depends on the amount of pressure trout receive. They get pretty smart after they see a dozen foam hoppers a day so look for waters that see less anglers for the best hopper fishing. If you are targeting more popular fisheries you may have more luck with “techy” terrestrials like small beetles and ants. In the mountains hoppers are less important but there will still be a few at higher elevations, especially in meadow reaches. Ants are a favorite early fall option as well. Many species of ants produce large mating flights in the late summer and early fall and these can really get the trout moving for them.
The Stillwater River is a nice option right now and is producing some very good action on nymphs. The pressure has really dropped off and the water temperatures are terrific. The river is low and bony and best wade fished in most locations. Although smaller dries will still take trout the nymphing bite has been very productive lately.
The Month Ahead:
The Stillwater gets cold early but the mid autumn will see some nice activity as browns start to move up from the Yellowstone. It isn’t a major run like on some other rivers but you might be surprised by a larger than average fish this time of year.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
The Stillwater gets cold fast in the late fall and fish become lethargic with the falling temps. It isn’t a terrific late autumn or winter fishery but if you are in the area, give it a try.
Happy October! It’s pretty crazy how fast this year is flying by, and with the warm afternoon weather we’re having it certainly doesn’t feel like fall most days. The leaves are beautiful, the morning and evening air is nice and crisp, and the promise of great fishing is here. October is one of the best months to be in Montana for a lot of reasons.
First off, how does the Yellowstone River look these days? Water temps are trending down, thanks in large part to the colder nights we’ve been having lately. One night the water dipped below 50! While flows are still hovering just above record levels as they have been all season the cooler temps are a godsend for fall fishing conditions.
As we talked about in our last fishing report, fall fishing means streamers and dry flies – both of which aren’t optimal when it’s clear, bright and sunny out. There have been reports of a few BWOs here and there in the mornings, and if we can ever get a cloudy, drizzly day the hatch should be really good. Keep an eye out for the occasional caddis in the afternoons as well.
Streamer fishing would also benefit from a cloudy day, but as fish get more aggressive through the fall they’ll be chasing more. Remember – bright day, bright fly. Change up patterns, profiles, and colors until you find something that works. With how low the water is, you can leave the sink tip at home in most cases. We’ve got a wide selection of streamer patterns available in the shop.
Our own Rick Smith was down in Yellowstone Park for a few days this past week fishing with some friends. They focused on the Firehole, trying to catch a piece of the great fall BWO hatch. While they didn’t see many Baetis, there were caddis out in the afternoons that provided good action on top. Yellowstone has had an incredibly busy year, and that traffic hasn’t tapered off going into October like it normally does.
The rest of our area rivers are in about the same boat. Still waiting on the epic fall BWO hatches, streamer fishing has been decent, nymphing has been consistent. Fishing a dead drifted streamer with a BWO nymph behind it would be a great option right now. After a few freezes, the hopper and terrestrial fishing is pretty much done. Can you still try it out on a slow afternoon? Absolutely, but it’s not like it was a few weeks ago.
Fall is a great time to be in Livingston. Stop by the shop for the latest info, the right flies, and the gear you need to stay safe and comfy on the water.
Upper Madison: Nymph fishing continues to be your best bet out there. Stoneflies, perdigons, small dips, and small attractor/mayfly patterns have been good combos as of late. Hopper fishing is all but done for the year, but keep an eye out for fish rising to baetis, especially with this nasty weather forecasted for the next few days. Streamer fishing has been hit or miss, but should pick up with the inclement weather coming.
Flies: #10-12 Sili Leg, #14 Lake Prince, #16-18 Guide Dip, #16-18 Black Krystal Dip, #18 Loop Wing BWO, #16 Olive Spanish Bullet, #18-20 BWO Parachute, #18-20 Tilt Wing BWO, #18 Low Water Baetis, #6 Mini Sex Dungeon Black, #6 Black Sparkle Yummy, #6 Mini Peanut Envy Olive
Hebgen: Not much has changed since last week. Hardly any bugs left so stripping buggers/leeches or nymphing under a bobber will be your most consistent methods. When stripping, change up your retrieval style and speeds until you get some grabs.
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
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. If the forecast stays true and we get some dark and rainy days, be watching for baetis to be coming off.
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: Soft Hackles and nymphs remain the name of the game in the park stretch of the Madison, with a couple fish being fooled by streamers. We have been seeing a few lake fish, hopefully this weather coming pushes some more into the system. The Firehole has fished well with soft hackles, and be sure to have some small baetis dry fly patterns too.
Flies: #8-12 Partridge and Peacock, #8-12 Partridge and Orange, #14 Diving Caddis, #8 Simi Seal Leech, #6 Olive Mini Sex Dungeon, #6 Royal 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