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.
2021 General Fishing Seasons
||Rivers & Streams
||Lakes & Reservoirs
||Open third Saturday in May through November 30, unless otherwise specified in Exceptions to Standard Regulations.
||Open all year
||Open all year, unless otherwise specified in Exceptions to Standard Regulations.
||Open all year
||Open all year
||Open all year
“Headed out to Harrison today, there was 8-9 inches of ice, fished in about 18’ of water, finally figured out they wanted a meal worm on a chartreuse tungsten jig head, caught 3 Browns. Was a nice out this morning, wind was starting to pickup around 1:30 when I left! I fished just off the boat launch about 50 yards. #TightLines (*now called Willow Creek Res.)” – Graig Gilham
“Went to Dog Lake last Saturday. There was about 7 inches of cloudy ice. No snow on top so it was super slick. Make sure and bring cleats if you go. The road going into the campground was also a sheet of ice, slid most the way down it. Had to gun it to get back up when we left. The pike bite was non-existent. Didn’t have a flag go up all morning. Moved spots and switched over to perch in the afternoon. Caught about 30, kept 15.” – Logan Smith
“Been doing good on lake Helena for perch and a couple walleye perch are between 12” and 15” walleye are about 13” to 14” – Colton Revious
Fins and Feathers scores the Missouri River a 3/5
The Mo’ is a great Winter option. The temps are a quite a bit warmer in the Craig area than Bozeman for the week. Expect some wind but overall, manageable. In areas that are protected, you could see some fish poking their snouts at the surface searching for Midges so be prepared with a few of your favorite dry fly imitations. Nymphing will be the best bet with your typical winter menu. Zebra Midges, worms, scuds/sowbugs, Pink Lightning bugs, and small Mayfly imitations. Streamer fishing has been ok, very day-to-day right now. Wooly Buggers or some bait fish patterns like a Kreelex. Could also be a great time to bust out some two-handed swingers to cover more water.
“Seeley ice is good. Little slush. Bite was slow today” – Chris Tymofichuk
“I decided to keep a limit of Clark Canyon rainbows. They are such great fish. Mine are going on the Traeger. 18″ of clear solid ice. Great day not even any wind.”
–No new report this week–
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
“Killer day on Cooney Tuesday. Green jig and a piece of worm. 14.5 feet . Way around back by inlet” – Waylon Krank
“Fished it last weekend. Did ok. Busy enough to keep you interested. We snowmobiled up from Gtown so don’t really have a road report,” – Brant Pierson
BRO’s Tips of the Week:
Nymphing is going to be your most productive method of fishing in the winter. Near freezing water temperatures cause fish to slow down and get lazy meaning they are much less likely to rise to the surface to eat a dry fly, or move to chase a streamer. Your best bet is to put a nymph right on their nose and hope they eat it. Heavy flies and split shot, while a hassle to cast, will ensure your flies are getting down deep quickly, translating to longer and more productive drifts.
7 Day Outlook:
A little rain and snow in the Missoula area as we head into a fishably warm weekend. Highs expected in the high-30’s this weekend and low-to-mid 30’s next week.
Our Recommendations for the Best Techniques and Patterns:
Midge season is upon us. Look for rising fish in slow water during the warmest parts of the day, especially if we get some sun. Goober Midges, Sippers, Emerging Midges, and Midge Clusters in #18-22 are the dries to have.
If you’re not one for fishing tiny dries, or the bugs just aren’t there, the indicator rig is your best bet. Girdle Bugs, TJs and San Juans in #8-12 are a staple for winter nymphers. Don’t sleep on the worm- it’s one of our most productive flies when the water is cold! 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.
Goings on at World Headquarters in Missoula:
The new Online Store is live! Check it out!
Call or email us for up to the minute updates at 406.542.7411 or if you are in the area stop in- WE HAVE MOVED TO OUR BRAND NEW LOCATION AT 275 N. RUSSELL STREET IN MISSOULA- for all your Orvis gear and the right bugs.
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.
“It’s still good ice, went there a week ago and there was ten inches.” – Jason E. Bailey
“13 inches this past weekend” – Jeff Evans
The warm weather and wind took a little toll on the ice the last week. Although the ice is still good(11 inches on the main and 14-15 in the bays) we are seeing some gas pockets opening up along with shorelines deteriorating and points getting weak. We’ve also have some cracks out in the main that have been opening up to as much as 6 feet. I personally know of 3 machines that have gone through in the last three days. One through a pressure ridge and two through gas pockets. One machine was in 85 feet of water and was recovered and no one was injured thank god. These colder temps will help but please don’t assume ice is good. With these varying ice conditions go slow and check the ice as you go. DON’T ASSUME it’s ok. As much as we all love to fish they are not worth dying over. Stay safe and tight lines everyone. -Scott Collinsworth
Check out the latest food specials at www.facebook.com/ft.peckmarina.
Fins and Feathers scores the Gallatin a 3/5.
The Gallatin has been fishing well this Winter. Nymphing has been the best with 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. Streamer fishing has been ok with Sculpzillas, wooly buggers, and Kreelex.
Fly Tying Classes
Gallatin River Webcam – Located at Karst, which is about 1/2 way between Bozeman and Big Sky on HWY 191.
“I was there over MLK weekend. Ice is good but water level is down. Picked up a dozen pike in the 5-12 lb range on minnows and smelt. Good luck.” -Kevin Brown
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
Ashley Lake – 4-6 inches of ice, salmon bite is starting to pick up
Beaver Lake – 6 inches of ice, some salmon and perch being caught, road is slick getting in, be careful!
Smith Lake – 8 inches of solid ice, Perch are starting to get spooky, Pike are biting well
Lake Mary Ronan – 4-7 inces of ice
Rogers Lake – 8 inches, cutthroat are slowing down but greyling remain consistent
Lower Stillwater – 8 inches plus some slush
Blanchard – 6-8 inches on the main body
Island Lake – 6-8 inches of ice, Perch fishing remains consistent
Whitefish Lake – 2-4 inces of ice in the bays, be careful as the ice is very inconsistent!
Dog Lake – 8 inches and snowmobile/hike in only
Church Slough – 7 inches solid (Always been mindful of current on river/sloughs) Good pike and perch
McWenneger Slough – 6 inches of ice, lots of small pike and perch, (watch for springs)
Echo Lake – 5-6 inches (Watch for bad spots) Lots of small perch, a few salmon and whitefish are sticking around
Loon Lake – 5 inches of ice (Ferndale) rainbows are biting good, between 13 and 22 inches need to be released
Foys Lake – 4 inches (Watch for bad spots)
Upper Thompson– 5 inches of ice
Middle Thompson– 5 inches of ice (Watch for bad spots)
Lower Thompson– 5 inches of ice (Watch for bad spots)
–No new report–
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!
“Ice was about 6”-9” and fishing was slow put 4 rainbows on the ice” – Clinton Nations
It looks like Libby Dam will be releasing big water for the forseeable future. Expect rain and snow, dark skies, and marginal fishing conditions due to high flows.
Techniques & Tips
Streamers and nymphing are best bets under high water conditions.
The Spring Creeks are a great option throughout the cold months. The Livingston area is expecting heavy winds through the next few days and dropping to around 20mph later this week. The creeks provide some protection but overall this could damper the fishing. Later in the week will be more manageable. Nymphing is the best option for this week, for best success, WD-40, RS2s, Zebra Midges, Manhattan Midge, Tube Midge, Jujubee Flash Midge, sowbugs/scuds, worms, and caddis larva. Long leaders and light tippet in Fluorocarbon can be a game changer for these fish, make sure you are well equipped to get technical on these trout if headed this way.
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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