Please let us know if you would like to see your weekly fishing report included in this compilation by emailing your report to us before the end of the day on Tuesday of each week here along with your business website/email address.
We saw some warmer temps over the last few days. Ice is holding 6 to 8 inches. Expect a couple cold nights and below freezing overnights. Pike bite appears to be good in the mornings on minnows 10-15 feet. Have heard the bluegills are taking waxworms on tear drop jigs. Visit our website to make book an appointment for bait. We also do an outside pickup for when we are not here, just make arrangements the day before.
Jayme Miller | Castle Rock Live Bait Shop | 416 Wildrye St | Colstrip, MT 59323 | 406-740-2313 | www.castlerockbait.com
January 11 update: 14 to 16 inches from boy scout to lucky; 10 to 12 from there and on the main. Good northern bite at 10 to 14 feet; lakers are at 14 to 20 feet on the edge of the main lake; walleye are at 20 to 25 feet during the day and 12 to 14 at night.
Don’t forget our annual ice fishing tournament, 2/12/22. Hope to see you there!
“Harrison (Willow Creek Reservoir) on Saturday. 10 inches of good ice and some nice fish (rainbows) for the smoker.” – Jaena Dennis
As water temperatures drop, trout will favor holding lies that require them to expend less energy. Soft seams, drop offs, and pools offer great cover, access to food, and a break from the current. Target fish in these areas for a more productive day on the water.
It’s going to be a warmish weekend here in Missoula. Highs expected in the mid-30’s though next week with some rain and snow in forecast for the middle of the week. It should be a good time to get out on the water to beat the cabin fever.
Midge season is upon us. Fish are up eating midges in the warmest parts of the day as long as the bugs are there. Goober Midges, Sippers, Emerging Midges, and Midge Clusters in #18-20 are the dries to have. If you’re not one for fishing tiny dries, the indicator rig is your best bet. Girdle Bugs, TJs and San Juans in #8-12 are a staple for winter nymphers. If you’re adding a second fly to your nymph rig go for a Lightning Bug, Jig PT, Prince, Spanish Bullet or Perdigon in #14-18. Zebra Midges (now on jig hooks!) in #18-20 will round out your nymph selection. Adding 1-2 BB split shot to your rig will ensure your bugs are getting down quick, which is especially important if you are wade fishing. Small streamers will still work, but fish them slowly, or under an indicator with just slight twitches.
It can be cold out there. It can be windy. It can be lonely. It can be fishy. Or not. It can be just great to wander around the river. Whatever your motivations are we are gonna give you How to (fish) January on the Mo!
It may not fish well where you are. If you head to that killer run you caught a few big ones from in the summer, spring, or fall…you are in the wrong water.
Find the bucket. Look for water with deep holes, deep edges, just deeper than knee deep. Like waist deep or better. That is where the fish are. Not in cool summer flats. Deep, and cold.
If the water is moving too fast, or at all, don’t fish there. Find water that is deep, and sort of moving. Off the end of a shelf, a deeper edge, that sort of water.
If you are not catching them in an hour, or less…you should move to different water.
If you caught them there last week, but are not having success now, move.
Deep, and slow. That is the theme from here on out.
Water temps below 35F. That is cold. Fish the winter water until water temps over out of the 30’s. And that will be in March, or April.
Nymphing is the word
If you like to catch them you should nymph. In deep and slow water. See above.
Pink is the flavor of fly you need. Sows and scuds and worms and such. Stop in the shop or call for the up to the minute report.
The short list is Ninch’s Bubble Yum, Rainbow Czech Nymph, Barbie Nymph, Ninch’s Thunder Bug, Amex Scud, Tailwater Sow, Tungsten Jig Firebead Soft Spot, Ninch’s Pill Popper, FB Ray Charles, :Caviar Scud, Rainbow FB Weight Fly, Ninch’s Ball Gag Midge, Rainbow Warrior, Arnold’s Sili Scud and so on.
The Swing is on
Trout Spey anglers are getting it done too. The water types that the fish are holding in are fewer than a week ago, and beyond. They are really in the “A” spot(s).
Skagit is King. Put the Scandi away til spring pokes her head out of the winter fog.
Tips? yes, deep ones.
John is writing a report shortly.
Again stop in and see our fishy swing staff before you head out. Always free coffee and info at House of Headhunters in downtown Craig Montana.
Dry Fly Anglers?
Maybe some action. Look for roaming trout in soft eddies. Toss a cluster midge or Adams out there. Wait. Bait and wait. Tie a tiny midge emerger from your top fly. Preferably short.
Not too much happening out there. But it does happen and if you know where to look you will be rewarded more often. But, don’t hold your breath.
On great midge years we see strong top water action in mid February. Will it happen in 2020? Ohh, let’s hope so.
Headhunters Fly Shop Winter Action
Open everyday 8-5. Your only full time fly shop on the Mo. Daily shuttles. Free coffee. Knowledgable staff on site. Booking agents ready to help with your 2022 Mo River Fishing Plans. The Best Flies under the Big Sky procured Scumliner
Guide Trips available. Trout Spey trips, nymphing trips, casting lessons. Call and schedule today! But we will wait until
Happy New Year. Back to work for many. Back to school for many. The Headhunters here in Craig? Oh, we are focussed on fishing the Missouri River. And shoveling snow…
We got yer back man.
“Bass blue gills and sucker. Small jigs with maggots or meal worms do the trick. Use caution drilling holes through the ice. There are rock piles in some areas that are just below the water surface. I hit one last year about 3 inches below the ice and totally effed my auger blade.” – Adam Rau
“I caught a few bass last week there behind SCHEELS. One probly 1.5-2lbs. Was a good time. Used night crawlers.” – Brandon Haggard
Sumyt and Tenzin catching big Northerns here on Fort Peck. This is what it’s all about right here. There is nothing better than watching these kids enjoy the great outdoors. Congrats Boys!!!!
Check out the latest food specials at www.facebook.com/ft.peckmarina.
Fins and Feathers scores the Gallatin a 3/5.
The Gallatin should be a great option this week. The ice should be coming off a little with the warmer weather out of the canyon, but with those springs creeks closer to Big sky it should be keeping it clear in the canyon. Nymphing will be your best bet I would use dark bodied stonefly nymphs or a worm as a top fly. A red copper john, red zebra midge, caddis larvae, or a smaller dark perdigons would all be great bottom fly options. Keep and eye out for fish rising to midges in the calmer water or right of some shelf ice. This next few days could be good streamer days. Keep it small with Wooly Bugger or a small Sculpzilla, make sure to strip low and slow right off the bottom.
Fly Tying Classes
Gallatin River Webcam – Located at Karst, which is about 1/2 way between Bozeman and Big Sky on HWY 191.
“Was on Francis Saturday for the derby. Ice was still over a 12″ to 14″ was wet on top. Fishing was slow” -Seth Kara Wagnild
Weather has been unseasonably warm! Ice is changing minute by minute. Trust your Spud bar and stay safe out there!!
Murphy Lake – 6-8 Inches of solid ice
Glen Lake – 3 Inches of clear ice / 3 inches of junk on top
Smith Lake – 8 Inches of solid ice
Rogers Lake – 6 inches
Lower Stillwater – 8 Inches plus some slush
Blanchard – 6-8 inches on the main body
Island Lake – 6-8 inches of ice
Dog Lake – 6-8 inches and snowmobile/hike in only
Echo Lake – 4-5 Inches (Watch for bad spots)
Loon Lake – 5 Inches of ice
Foys Lake – 3-4 Inches (Watch for bad spots)
Upper Thompson – 5 Inches of ice
Middle Thompson – 3-5 Inches of ice (Watch for bad spots)
Lower Thompson – 3-5 inches of ice (Watch for bad spots)
January is an interesting time for fly fishermen in Montana. There are still fish to catch, but the excitement of ski season kicking off distracts us, the ice in the water dissuades us, and the maddening effects of cabin fever haven’t kicked in badly enough for most to want to get out and freeze for a few hours. If you are feeling the need to get out, here’s what you want to know.
The Yellowstone River isn’t the best option right now. There’s a lot of ice mid-valley still, and if that doesn’t make you stay away the wind probably will. With the warmer temps we’ve had recently the wind has been blowing. A lot. It’s a constant for us in Livingston this time of year. You can still find some sheltered spots, and if you don’t feel up to a drive have at it.
The Spring Creeks remain at the top of our list. Availability is much more open in the winter, and rod fees are considerably less than mid-summer. Water temps stay consistent year round at these spring creeks, and this time of year is when we start to see some decent hatches of midges.
Out of the Livingston area, the Lower Madison and Gallatin remain solid choices. Wind is an issue on the Lower this time of year, but bundle up and you’ll be fine. Fish deep, slow water and you’ll find the fish. Will you see some midges on top here soon on calmer, warmer days? We think so. Beware of ice jams on the Gallatin, always pay attention. There have been some large ones down low by Logan, but the canyon has remained reasonably clear this time of year. Safety is always important in the river this time of year.
The Missouri is fishing as well as it does in the winter, for those wanting to make the trip. You can dodge a lot of the summer traffic by going this time of year. Fish deep, fish slow, and do your best to stay warm.
Otherwise, this is the time of year to fill boxes, make plans, and enjoy other hobbies. Our snowpack had a decent start, and a few weeks of warmer, dryer weather don’t seem to have affected it too negatively. We still have a long way to go until next summer, and we’ll be celebrating every single drop of moisture we can get in the meantime!
“10-12 inches, ice is good” – Karl Kaplan