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Garrett O: Hebgen and Quake still have 15-17”
The Clark Fork river definitely benefitted from the cold weather last week, dropping and clearing along the length. It’s now fishing pretty well from the confluence of Rock Creek through Superior. Look for some Skwalas on the surface. The hatch isn’t huge, but the fish are finding them with some frequency. The Rogue Skwala and the Gray/Olive Plan B have been the hot dries on the Clark. Subsurface, a Pat’s Rubber Legs in Brown , AS WELL AS A tjn Hooker are working on deep droppers on the power sections.
The Western March Browns are establishing, and we’re getting reports of the fish podding up. Have your Lex’s tactical Gay or a Parachute Hare’s Ear on the surface. The fish aren’t crazily picky yet, but give it a couple of days and you might need to drop a size in tippet. The nymphs are really taking fish, with a Pink Hot Spot Jig or an Umpqua Pheasant Tail Jig are working sub surface. While it’s not a mayfly nymph, the Red and Pink Squirmy Worm are also taking fish with regularity.
Streamers have been moving a few fish, but haven’t yet hit the pre-run-off hotness we’re expecting in the next two weeks. Low and slow has been the answer, or if you’re in a boat, bang the banks with some mid size streamers like a Gonga or a Heisenberg White, which has been moving some Brown Trout. Vary the color and depth for the most success.
Miriam P.: I drove by both last Weds. Salmon is mostly open. State park still locked up, but the north end ramp open. Upsata was about half, open just beyond the narrow place where the main lake opens up. Ramp and parking dry.
The river is beginning to fish well in the late mornings over midge hatches and into the afternoon. Trout are heavily concentrated in winter runs – water with some depth and medium speed currents. Nymphing is the most productive right now with the colder water temperatures. Stonefly nymphs, egg patterns, baetis nymphs and small attractor nymphs are all you need. On a mild day you might see a few heads eating midges just before lunch.
The Month Ahead:
The ‘Stone is a great April fishery. Some giant browns are caught in the early spring slow stripping streamers. Try a lighter grained full shooting head like a 150 grain and slow strip the biggest sculpin you can find right across the bottom of the biggest runs in the river. By late April some of the early mayflies can produce epic dry fly action on cloudy days. The baetis can be prolific but the sporadic but larger March browns can move some large trout so make sure to have some in your box.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
Early May on the Yellowstone can be sensational. This is when the legendary Mother’s Day Caddis hatch reaches blizzard proportions. Water levels fluctuate by the day and rising waters sometimes spoil the dry fly action but if the weather is stable and the fish key in on the hatch hang on for the ride. Generally just after May 10th the river blows out for good for several weeks.
Lake Mary Ronan- Open water- no reports
Smith Lake- Open water- catching a few pike on dead bait.
Thompson Lakes- All open- no reports
Echo Lake- Open water- catching bass on crank baits.
East Bay (Flathead Lake)- Still slow, low water temp. Look for 50+ water temps.
Loon Lake (Ferndale)- catching trout on flies or trolling small spoons.
Horseshoe (Ferndale)- few small mouth bass on plastics.
Foys Lake- Rainbows cruising shoreline, try small spoons or jigs.
Fennon Slough- Shallow water to get in, but catching bass and a few pike.
No Boats until April 11th. Shore fishing bass ok.
Koocanusa- Good Rainbows near dam- you can launch at the dam, pike gulch, or Rexford. Try Dave’s PlugIt plugs or planer boards and flies.
Fins and Feathers scores the Lower Madison a 3/5
Cold weather is expected this week in SW Montana. The recent storms will result in slower fishing for the next few days. It will pick back up once the weather has stabilized a bit. Prep your box with baetis nymphs, worms, scuds, and zebra midges. Crayfish can also be effective in a dead drift. The cloudy and cold weather may put the fish in the mood for streamer. Make sure to have a JJ Special or Goldie in the back pocket if you make it out on a cloudy day. Also, watch for heads on the calmer days, midges and BWO’s can produce some dry fly opportunity.
- Foys Lake – Good fishing for rainbows. Smaller spoons and spinners have been producing superior results.
- Loon Lake (Ferndale) – Good rainbow trout fishing. Hair jigs have been working well. Slow retrieve has been the most effective.
- Thompson Chain – Open water. Getting reports of salmon being caught while trolling a wedding ring tipped with maggots.
- Flathead Lake – Fishing has been very steady off the delta. Keeping down 20-60 foot of water has been productive. Use pea mouth or smelt off the bottom for best results.
- Flathead River – On the rise. Lake trout have been caught below the Sportsman’s bridge. Smaller chartreuse swim baits have been highly effective. Be careful and watch for logs floating down river.
- McWenneger Slough – Open water. Perch bite has been solid. Look for weed lines and fish the edges. Using a small jig-head and a Sago Tackle plastic is always a solid choice.
- Echo Lake – Open water. The Smallmouth are still mostly deep. Fish a tube bait slow and steady.
- Church Slough – Pike starting spawn soon. Fish slow and cover lots of water.
- McGregor Lake – Open water. Reports of lake trout being caught jigging 40-60 foot of water. Try using 1oz white tubes tipped with cut-bait.
We’ll usually see at least one in this bracket each day when fishing the Missouri River’s “Land of Giants” section of the Missouri River below Hauser Dam. I caught this one today, in the new old jet boat’s maiden voyage.
It’s pretty crowded right now, but higher water with runoff as well as the end of the spawn after mid-May will thin things out quite a bit.
Interested? The jet boat is out of commision for a week with a minor issue (a hatch lid broke and needs to be re-riveted), but we’ll be back in battery in a bit over a week. Still plenty of available dates in May and June for this water. A whole lot less thereafter.
–no new report–
This Kootenai River Montana fishing report is being brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Linehan Outfitting. This report will be updated weekly to provide current conditions, weather, hatches, patterns, and flows to our local waters and across the state.
Flows from Libby Dam: 4000cfs
Water temperature at Libby Dam: 42 degrees
Hatches: midge, baetis
patterns: zebra midge, parachute Adams, parachute pmd, Rosenbauer’s olive rabbit foot emerger, purple haze, purple chubby, red chubby, olive sparkle dun,bh prince, soft SJ worm, bh pheasant tail, bh rubber legged stonefly, big streamers in white, pink and olive, circus peanut, black conehead buggers
The Kootenai River is currently in excellent shape and spring fishing conditions are terrific as well. Gray days with slightly warmer daytime temperatures are helping the situation.
This time of year tributaries can bump and add a bit of color to the river but unless we get substantial rain, good conditions will remain. Don’t worry if the river is a bit off color. It will continue to fish well unless it really gets blown out. That said, there is no big rain in the immediate future. That means we can generally expect another good week of fishing.
Dry fly action has started. Don’t expect to see much insect activity until later in the afternoons. Look for baetis, March browns, and early caddis. If you see fish rising, they will most likely eat a dry. Even though it’s early in the season a good drift is still necessary to since most of surface activity is being in slick runs and soft pools.
This is always a good time of year for nymphing. With low flows you don’t need a heavy rig. You just need to get the flies down in softer runs and pools where trout are most likely to be holding this time of year. Don’t spend a ton of time fishing fast riffles.
Streamer fishing is also productive this time of year especially since bigger fish will be hungry after laying low for a couple months during the dead of winter. Keep in mind they will not necessarily want to move too fast or too far to get a meal. Get your streamers down and fish them slowly and erratically. Nothing like a wounded minnow to get a big rainbow interested in at least a sniff.
In Boston Red Sox news, it’s PLAY BALL! The Sox are off to a terrific start and even though it’s still only spring training it’s better to have more W’s in the column than L’s. For now the Sox have managed to keep essentially the same playoff roster they had last season. Infielders Dalbec, Arroyo, Bogaerts, and Devers are key players. In the outfield Jackie Bradley Jr. has returned to Boston and Kike Hernandez and Verdugo will anchor the deep green. Ace Chris Sale will hopefully be healthy and other starters from last year will hopefully pick up where they left off in October. Go Sox!!!
Give a call anytime if you need more Kootenai River details or information on any of our hunting or fishing adventures. And please check out our e-commerce site for all Linehan Outfitting branded swag and Orvis gear. https://linehan-outfitting.myshopify.com/
We look forward to hearing from you. 406-295-4872
Troy W.: road closes on 4/1 and reopens 5/16
-No new report-
Looking like fairly typical early April spring weather on tap for the week ahead. Daytime highs in the upper 40s to low 50s every couple of days interrupted with chances of showers and some snow flurries mixed in. Those cloudier days should herald the beginnings of the spring blue winged olive hatch along with the continuance of midges. Trout have been active and fishing has been good! We did go through an unusually warm spell a little bit ago and the river has bumped up a bit from the low flows we saw most of the winter. With the more typical spring weather, the water has settled a bit. The ultra low and ultra clear that was 2 weeks ago has changed. You will see some color in the water but it’s not a bad thing. A little green can be good.
Mornings, start out nymphing or streamer fishing. You may find yourself fairly deep to start. The water temps are good, but they can start out in the mornings on the cold side of things. Fish will be in the deeper, slower “off speed” areas. Stonefly patterns along with a smaller midge or baetis dropper fly have been the “go to” setups. As the day warms, you can start to see fish moving up in the water column a bit and even into some faster locations. If you are starting to see those baetis or blue winged olive mayflies hatching, you can bet that the fish will be right there with them in the shallower riffles and such. So continue to shorten up your fly to indicator as the day goes on and then switch up to dry/dropper or just single dry fly as the hatch comes on. Enjoy the couple hours that it lasts and make those dry fly casts count! As the hatch slows or bug activity in general slows, you can count on few fish being active and strikes will diminish. Switching back to a deeper nymph rig or streamers again might put you back on a few more fish in that late afternoon time.
This will be the modus operandi for the coming weeks. Good luck out there!
Flies to try: Pat’s Rubberlegs in coffee/black or olive/brown sizes 6-10 weighted to get down; Tung 20-incher in 8-12, Marabou rubber legs camo/black or olive size 6-10, Good ol’ wooly bugger black or olive same size 6-10 and weighted. Run any of those along with a Tung Zebra midge black size 16-18, Tung Zebra olive same sizes, FB PT 12-18, CDC PT 12-18, Prince 12-18, Juju Baetis 16-18, Mirage lightning bug 14-18 are all good bets. For dries: Para Adams 12-18, Para Purple Haze 12-18, Royal wolf 12-18, Baetis Hackle Stacker 16-20, Baetis sparkle dun 16-20, BWO Indy parachute 16-20, Griffiths Gnat 18-20, I Can See It midge 18-20, Bighorn Cluster midge 18.
- CFS: 321
- Dries: March Browns, Skwalas, Brindle Chutes
- Nymphs: Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, Perdigons, San Juan Worms
After what felt like a particularly long winter, we are finally starting to see some warmer, sunnier days on Rock Creek. Given that our geography means most of the creek lies in a narrow valley, the fishing doesn’t pick up as quickly as other rivers like the Clark Fork and Bitterroot due to a lack of sun exposure in multiple sections. Keeping that in mind, fish the areas where the valley is wider and gets more sun for a longer stretch of time throughout the day. The insect life will fare much better in these spots, and the fish will respond in kind.
Early spring is one of my favorite times to fish the creek. The bigger trout are hungry and more eager to take your patterns versus later in the summer, when they are hunkering down and more wary. The reports from the fishermen going out have been very good this week, with everything from San Juan worms to pheasant tails to perdigons working well. I went out a couple days ago and tried a number of patterns, but I had the best luck fishing a classic hare’s ear.
Spring, is that you?
It sure feels like it the last week or so around here. It’s good to see grass greening up and buds on trees and flowers growing. We’re so close! Spring is one of those nebulous seasons where anything can happen and the weather keeps flipflopping. Like they say, if you don’t like the weather in Montana just wait five minutes.
Spring fishing is kicking off in Southwest Montana! Water temps are rising, bugs are hatching, and everyone is itching to get their boats in the water after winter. The Yellowstone River has been consistently picking up. Ice jams are a worry of the past, and all the boat ramps are clear and operating. The river has a bit of color in it lately after some warm days that have pushed some snowmelt out, but it’s plenty clear for fishing.
On calmer (ha!) days, you can still find some midges here and there and we’re getting reports of the first of the Blue Wing Olives showing up. These are the first mayflies of the season, and can provide some excellent dry fly fishing. As the water continues to warm the hatch will intensify over the course of the month. Fish are getting more aggressive, so active streamer tactics are working well. Fish are hungry! Nymphing has been productive with jig head flies, pheasant tails, small lightning bugs and other mayfly patterns fished behind a larger attractor like a stonefly or dead drifted nymph.
Fishing activity across the state is picking up. The pre-runoff spring fishing can be some of the best of the year. Please be mindful of spawning rainbow trout redds this time of year. Avoid wading in gravelly areas, and if you do find fish on a redd: LEAVE THEM ALONE. Don’t fish them, don’t “target the egg eating browns behind them”, just leave them alone to do their thing. Keep an eye out and watch your step.
Also of note recently – Northwestern Energy is limiting flows out of Hebgen Dam on the Upper Madison in an effort to conserve water for the summer months. The Upper Madison is very low right now. The upper stretches around Reynolds Pass are extremely low. A lot of spawning channels have been completely cut off by this move, and any existing eggs that survived the dewatering event a few months ago are at risk. That’s all we’ll say about it now, but something to keep an eye on and be aware of.
Our shop is getting all our spring and early summer gear and apparel in stock and now is a great time to review your gear and fill any holes. We’ve got the new Sage R8 rods in 4-7 wts, come cast one for yourself and see what all the fuss is about! For up to date information and the flies and gear you need, stop in and say hello or give us a call at 406.222.1673. See you on the water!
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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