Please let us know if you would like to see your weekly fishing report included in this Montana fishing report 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.
It is another beautiful day at Tongue River Reservoir. The electricity is now on at all Campers Point and Pee Wee South sites. Please remember that double sites are double price regardless if only one camping unit is using the site.
to read an article about the new owners of Tongue River Marina.
The only boat ramp that isn’t usable at Hell Creek is the high water ramp. The one at boy scout and the low water ramp by the marina are usable and will be throughout the summer. Reminder: the Tough Guy tournament is this Saturday, April 30. We will put up a walleye report after that. Lake trout are hitting fairly well at this time.
Rainbow action continues to be great near the shorelines at York Bridge, the Causeway and Riverside campground area. Egg and leech pattern flies Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks are working well. Boaters trolling crankbaits out from Black Sandy are also picking up a few rainbows. Lake Helena has been slow and not many perch or walleye are being picked up yet.
The Missouri River scores a 4/5 by Fins and Feathers
The Mo has been consistent, especially while nymphing. Some fish are up on the surface eating BWOs and Midges but it should just get better, look for some honest fish rising and you should be able to get some good chances at feeding them. For nymphing, San Juan worms, Zebra Midges, Firebead Sowbugs/Scuds, Lightning Bugs, Crayfish, and Tailwater Tinys. Streamer fishing has been hit or miss but you don’t know until you go right? I would fish a Sparkle Minnow or a Bow River Bugger out this way. If two handed rods are your thing, then head to the Missouri to swing some soft hackles and streamers. Watch for redds and respect the fish making the effort to revitalize the trout populations for the coming years.
Check out Fort Peck Marina’s food and drink specials by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/ft.peckmarina
Brian K.: I had my boat and fifteen other boats where at cooney Thursday with no problem
Greg L.: Cooney is up fine. Martinsdale is still a challenge
May in Big Sky Country is a magical month. The trees are full of buds, the grass is green, the mountains are still white, and the fish are feeding. May marks a season of change in Montana. Spring and summer both readily characterize the weather observed in May, with sunshine, snow, rain, wind and calm all possible on the same day. While the weather can show a hyper level of variability, often times we see consistently nice weather with a day or two of precipitation mixed in. To make the fishing even more interesting, May, June, and early July represent the time period where a lot of western trout will put on as much as 50% of their annual mass. Needless to say, the fish are feeding with fervor at this time period.
The first half of May often provides the greatest diversity of fishing opportunities. From freestones to tailwaters nearly every river in southwest Montana provides at least one exceptional angling day in early May. Hatches abound and emergences of beatis, march browns, Mother’s Day caddis, and midges can all be encountered. The Mother’s Day caddis is a spectacle rivaled by only a few mayfly emergences like sulfurs on the Delaware. Innumerable insects mill along the banks in the mornings and evenings and the trout readily feed on them from pupae to egg layer. March browns are large mayfly common to our cobbled western rivers. They emerge rapidly shedding their nymphal shucks on the bottom and ascending to the surface. Swung fly presentations can be deadly in waters that contain these neat mayflies. Baetis (BWO’s to some) are a small mayfly that provide consistent emergences on many rivers on overcast days. All stages of the hatch are important, but on a calm cast day the duns take center stage. Trout from every corner of the river will line up to rhythmically feed. Midges make up one of the bottom rungs of the May trout food pyramid.
In early May, as long as runoff has not commenced, we will target everything and anything that harbors a population of trout. The freestone fish have shrugged off their hibernation-like winter habits and are actively trying to recoup lost body mass. The tailwater fish are in the midst of the great feed. The stillwater trout are gorging and enjoying the recently receded ice.
The Yellowstone River can produce a truly epic hatch of Mother’s Day caddis and baetis can appear in very fishable numbers on cast days. The only issue with the Yellowstone is the lack of a dam. It seems most years that right as the excellent numbers of caddis appear the river huffs and puffs and blows right out. However, the weeks before the appearance of the caddis can be some of the best dates of the year.
The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks provide my favorite fishing venue in the world. Strong hatches of midges and baetis can be found daily. The fish, while wary, can be taken with a proper pattern and presentation. When the fish aren’t rising everything else remains on the table, streamers , mice, and nymphs all play.
The stillwaters in Big Sky country can provide quality fishing for quality trout. As the ice has recently receded the fish have gained solar warmth and are on the prowl for food. While small insect imitations can work, this is the prime season to take fish on stripping leeches. Explosive grabs and trout measured in pounds not inches characterize the stillwater scene.
The Madison River is the centerpiece of May fishing. The Madison provides 31 days of quality trout fishing in May. While symptoms of runoff do present on stretches of the Madison in May there is always fishable water. The waters from Lyons Bridge to Hebgen Lake provide the best opportunities for numbers and the greatest diversity for angling opportunities. Additionally, this stretch is closed to fishing from the boat forcing an intimate angling situation. Some years the river provides solid fishing from Hebgen to Ennis. On Especially wet springs the tributaries will contribute significant color, usually this occurs sporadically. The river below Ennis Lake produces consistent fishing to Cherry Creek without fail. Sporadic pushes of dirty water will temporarily shut down the water that exists below.
Depending on who you consult, many anglers consider May the peak fishing month on the Missouri River. Strong hatches, 50 degree water, thousands of fish per mile, and grass free water provide exceptional fishing. Need I say more?
While many ‘may’ think the month of May is largely characterized by runoff they couldn’t be any further from the truth. Quality fishing in May is a categorical imperative.
Terry C.: Can’t give any info on Fresno but Tiber is very low with few people fishing. Here are some pics of the boat ramps at North Bootlegger and Willow creek.
Echo Lake- Nice small mouth bass on crankbaits/tubes. Try 8-12’ of water. Also, good white fishin main lake try Zimmers Rattle-d-Zastor’s.
East Bay (Flathead Lake)- Perch are starting to show up. Mixed bag of sizes between 6”-14”. Be sure to check the regs on perch.
Dickey Lake- Catching good numbers of salmon￼, mostly smaller size.
Loon Lake (Ferndale)- Catching rainbow near shore, few nice perch.
Rodgers Lake- Nice cutts near creek or reed end. Cast small spoons or black flies.
Lake Mary Ronan- Few perch starting to bite, still slow on salmon.
Foys Lake- Good rainbow near shoreline.
Swan Lake- Good pike on the south end, try river mouth for lake trout.
Fennon Slough- Bass hitting crankbaits, few crappie.
Koocanusa- Catching lots of bull trout on Dave’s plugs. Few good rainbows near dam. You can launch at pike gulch, Redford or the dam. The water is very low!
Fins and Feathers scores the Lower Madison a 3/5
The lower Madison has been pretty tough this last week. They have spiked flows out of the dam on Wednesday and Thursday which added some color and made fishing difficult. It could be better this week as long as they don’t adjust flows drastically again. There have been a decent number of midges and Baetis hatching but the fish haven’t really been keyed in on them quite yet and it seems like we are all just waiting for Mother’s day Caddis to pop to truly get our dry-fly fix. Nymph fishing will be your best bet with Crayfish, San Juan worms, Sowbugs/Scuds, Zebra Midges, & Baetis nymphs. If it does dirty up while you are out there, try a dark Wooly Bugger or a Sparkle Minnow to try and get the fishes attention.
- Flathead Lake – No reports of perch in the South Bay yet, but water temps are on the rise!
- Flathead River – Be cautious of floating hazards!
- Echo Lake – Fishing has been slow. Try to focus on secondary points and staging areas for the upcoming spawn. Swimbaits and spinnerbaits are an excellent option to cover water and find groups of fish.
- Loon Lake – Good fishing for rainbow trout. Balanced leeches in natural colors have been working well.
- Beaver Lake – Good Kokanee action! Check out our freshly restocked Hali’s!!
- Whitefish Lake – Good numbers for lake trout. Try jigging off the State Park and further North. White Hellbender Tackle jigs paired with a piece of cut bait has been the ticket!
- Lake Koocanusa – Some good rainbow and bull action. We are freshly restocked on all your Kamloops trolling gear. Apex Lures, Frisky Jenny Flies, Rapalas, and Bradds Cut plugs.
**No new report until May 1**
Fishing has been good in the right places lately whenever cold/snow/wind have relented and made fishing possible. We actually had warmer and drier weather in March than so far in April. We won’t complain about the cold and snow, though. We need both to prevent low water this summer. In general, most fishing has been from late morning through about 5:00PM (the warmest part of the day). Nymphs and streamers have been much better than dry fly fishing. The exceptions to these two points are noted below. Waters with full recent reports are indicated in the bold-faced links below. Click the links to see the full reports.
The Yellowstone River is fishing well on stonefly and mayfly-style attractor nymph combos (a Girdle Bug or TJ Hooker with a Frenchie has been our go-to setup), streamers fished fairly slow, and on egg patterns near tributaries. Dry fly fishing has been almost nonexistent so far but should improve with warmer weather. Look for BWO and March Browns. Right now most insects are small midges. With warmer, higher, slightly dirtier water, expect streamers fished on a more aggressive retrieve to also begin working well.
The Boulder and Stillwater Rivers can produce on nymphs in the larger pools in the afternoons, but are still very, very cold. They get better in early May and hold on longer than the Yellowstone before entering runoff.
The Lower Madison River will produce on crayfish and BWO nymphs as well as San Juan Worms, but will be a much more enticing destination around mid-May when it fishes great but the Yellowstone blows out from snowmelt.
The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks typically fish very well this time of year, especially when it’s cold and cloudy as it has been. While BWO nymphs, egg patterns, and slender San Juan Worms will produce the most trout, moderate-sized streamers also work well and there have been some midge and BWO hatches. Stick to deeper pools and boulder-bottomed runs and leave areas of shallow gravel alone. This is peak spawning season for creek rainbows and they should be left alone to do their business. Plenty of fish are available in the deep water eating the eggs and insects the spawners kick into the current. Creeks are now on spring rates of $80/angler/day. Pressure has been quite heavy, but most days still have a few rods available. The creeks will be better in the afternoons most days, but can fish starting by 8-9AM.
Private Lakes are on hold due to the cold weather. If you fish them, fish large leeches and San Juan Worms either on a slow sinking line or twitched under indicators. Note that access ranch roads may be very messy due to rain and snowmelt and require high-clearance vehicles with knobby tires and 4WD. Our first lake trips will probably not take place until the Yellowstone blows out around mid-May.
The Missouri River is fishing well on swung streamers, nymphs imitating sowbugs, scuds, eggs, and BWO, as well as combos of the above. If fishing “Land of Giants” stick to “eggy” flies or even egg patterns. If fishing below Holter Dam, more techniques will work and some dry fly fishing is possible. This is probably our best overall option right now, but it’s a long drive–2.5hr from Livingston to “LoG” and about 3hr to Holter.
**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
It’s not quite spring up here in Kootenai River country but we have good news. Flows from Libby Dam have been reduced and will be stable at 4000cfs through the end of March for now. That means there’s some great early season fishing available right now.
Expect more clammy cloudy weather through the weekend and into next week. March continues to come in like a lion and we’ve yet to see the lamb. Rain and snow mix will dominate forecast. Fortunately daytime temps will ooch into the forties which is at least a small sign of spring around here.
At the moment the river is clear and in good shape. Don’t expect much in the way of dry fly fishing and insect activity until we get some substantially warmer daytime temperatures. The water is still cold but trout will start to feed a bit in the coming weeks.
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! After several weeks of a lockout the players union owners have finally come to an agreement. Spring training will start immediately and while opening day was and remains delayed until April 7, the season will still be 162 games. 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
- Fourchette Bay boat ramp on Fort Peck Lake is open again thanks to our Natural Resources Branch. Silt has been removed which was deposited with last week’s winds.
- Silt deposits have been removed from Devil’s Creek boat ramp on Fort Peck Lake. It is ready for launching.
-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.
Lots of nice rainbows continue to be picked up near the shorelines at Gates of the Mountains, the BLM boat ramp, Log Gulch boat ramp and Departure Point. Using egg or leech pattern flies as well as Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks has been working well. Not many walleye or perch are showing up yet.
Grizzly Hackle scores Rock Creek fishing a 4/5
Rock Creek has been fishing well and it looks like runoff will hold off again this week with the cold night time temps. March Browns, BWO’s and a few Skwala’s are out so have you dry fly rod at the ready. Brindle Chutes, Flash Cripples, Extended Bodies, P-Hazes and Adams in the right sizes, sz 14 for March Browns and sz 16-18 for BWO’s. Skwala’s like Water Walkers, Rogue Stones and Dancing Ricky’s fished closed to cover. Nymphing Perdigons, Jig PT’s, Jig Princes, Rubberlegs, Double Bead Stones and 20 Inchers if you aren’t getting fish to rise. Streamer fishing this week should be good with clouds and rain around. JJ Specials, Autumn Splendors, Buggers, Sparkle Minnows and Kreelex fish low and slow.
Happy Friday everyone. We made it through another week! The weather feels a bit more like April finally instead of the middle of winter. We’re getting a good soaking rain this morning and it looks like it will continue all day. The mountains are getting a lot of snow with this storm, which is awesome!
Our snowpack numbers are slowly climbing, and if this cooler, wetter weather can continue we’ll be in a much better spot for runoff and summer water flows. We’re still well below average, but every drop of rain and flake of snow helps! It’s too early to tell how things will shape up for the summer. Fingers crossed!
This past week things have been pretty snowy and cold across our region. The bulk of the snow from that storm last week is all melted down low in town, but it’s hanging on up high which is great. Water temps took a hit, but they’re still in the range where trout are getting more and more active.
Things are picking up on the Yellowstone River. The streamer bite has been becoming noticeably more active – flashy patterns on bright days and darker patterns on cloudy days. Bring a variety of profiles, colors, and shapes to keep changing it up until you find what they want. Nymphing has been productive with a larger pattern up front and a smaller dropper. Try a dead drifted Zirdle Bug with a BWO nymph behind it. Hare’s Ears, Lightning Bugs, Copper Johns, and Perdigons are all good choices too.
BWOs are showing up in good numbers on the cloudy days. When conditions are right, the dry fly fishing has been great. A reliable source said yesterday “more Baetis than I have ever seen on the Yellowstone.” Always good news. You can find fish on top if you look for them, but sounds like it has been pretty spotty. Try to get out of the wind and that will help. Have a variety of BWO dries in the box, and try swinging soft hackles if you aren’t finding fish on top.
Baetis are making a showing across the state, kicking off the spring dry fly season. You’ll find the best hatches on the Madison (both upper and lower) and Missouri, but you can find a few of them on the Gallatin as well. The same basic report holds true – things slowed down a bit with the cold weather, water temps are slowly coming up, water is low everywhere, and things are going to get better soon.
Flows on the Upper Madison remain very, very low as Northwest Energy is holding water back from Hebgen Dam in anticipation of a low water year. If you are fishing the Upper, be aware of this! Most of the side channels mid valley down are dry or a trickle. Be ready to leave some paint behind on the river bed if you’re floating.
Rainbows are still in the middle of their spawn, so watch your step. You’ll typically find redds (their spawning areas) in shallower, gravelly areas. You can see them by noticing the lighter colored, cleared off portion of the gravel. LEAVE THEM ALONE. These fish are trying to do their thing and support a healthy wild population. Don’t fish to them, don’t walk through them, just leave them alone.
We’re still getting new product and refills on things every week down here at the shop. From technical fishing clothing to rods/reels/lines and everything you need, we’ve got it. Stop by and check it out and visit for a while. See you on the water!
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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