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.
Just a reminder that Camping reservations begin Friday May 20th. Summer camping rates begin the same day. Have a great Summer!
Memorial Day Summer Kickoff at Tongue River Marina – Saturday, May 28 @ 4:00PM
Be bear aware.
–No new report–
Just a little report on Castle Rock in Colstrip. I haven’t heard of any bluegill or crappie bite yet. Pike have picked up again after the two blizzards. Bass and walleyes being caught. Wind has made it a bit difficult at times. My Garmin read water temps in the upper 40s on Sunday. The lake is pretty full with water and the boat dock has been in for some time now. We have crawlers, fatheads, and some chubs and suckers. Plus frozen bait. No leeches yet. We also have a 14′ small fishing boat available to rent and will be posted on our website www.castlerockbait.com
Last minute cancelation!!
Motel rooms #8 & #9 are now available for May 24,25,26. Give us a call at the marina to inquire about these! 406-557-2345
Rainbow trout are still being picked up near the shorelines at Black Sandy, York Bridge, the Causeway and Riverside campground area. Most anglers fishing from shore have been using Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks, various flies or spinners. Trolling various crankbaits out from Black Sandy is also producing a few rainbows. Lake Helena walleye action has been pretty slow but an occasional walleye is showing up while trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses or small crankbaits. Look for the Lake Helena walleye bite to pick up with the upcoming warmer temperatures. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Hello all out there in TroutLand! May has arrived and the fishing is good. A couple hot tips or suggestions for the Missouri River angler as we move through the month of May.
- You may not get to fish the Dearborn this year. The flows are well below fishing levels. Currently 100cfs. Coming out of the basement from 50cfs recently. The Smith is in jeopardy of not getting floated. The little feeder creeks are low, nearly waterless.
- Why not try a float to Cascade. If you have not been down to the lower river the spring is wonderful time to get out there and enjoy the flat lower reach. Great for tossing blind dry flies and streamers. Sometimes the big brown comes out of the Cascade run. BWO’s and March Browns along with the Mothers Day Caddis can make it a great day! May is good! If the wind is blowing from the north, skip it and try again another day.
- Short in the afternoon. The trout are hungry and the fish are moving around int eh water column. IF the bugs are moving around, and your indicator is not, try changing the depth. We often say int he morning that if you are not brushing the bottom often you are not near enough to the trout. But, in the afternoon as the bugs are moving upwards in the water column try moving the bobber closer to the flies! Take off the split and fish in the 2’4′ depth. Why not toss it at the banks and seams. Short Leash can work!
- A big Adams along with dropper can make your day. I love a sz. 10 or a sz. 12 Adams, or Purple Haze with a Little Green Machine or a Two Bit Hooker ties from the bend about two feet or longer. Fish it in that skinny water for some great tugs! Do not disregard the power of the Adams, a big Parachute Adams. Headhunters has the black posted variety as well. Perfect for those glare afternoons we co commonly see here on the MO!
- Get out of the boat. Those who fish from the boat all the time, should pull over, drop the anchor, and wade fish some of these great islands and flats. You learn a ton while knee deep in the river! Honest. Or, get in a boat. Also a great learning opportunity. Also, a change of direction can spawn new ideas! New techniques. A new love for the sport.
- Get a guided trip. Lots of our local anglers and Montana residents hire a guide a couple days a year to update their skill set. A learning tool, the guide, that can increase your knowledge base. Book today. We have guides available!
A few good tips for your spring bite out there on the Missouri River near Craig Montana. We are rolling here downtown daily 8-6 with extended operations hours around the weekends. Give us a shout 406-235-3447 for an up to the minute fishing report, shuttle service, or to chat the afternoon away talking about trout!
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.
What a great 20th anniversary for our fisher’s! We had a wonderful turnout and some beautiful fish! Thank you everyone for attending! A huge shout out to all of the employees at Koocanusa Resort and volunteers that helped to put this event together! Here are our 1st thru 6th placings for Rainbow and 3 ladies who placed for Kokanee Salmon this year!
Rodgers Lake- Good number of nice grayling, try small spoons or black flies. Few big cutts on little cleo’s or thomas cyclones.
Lake Mary Ronan- Good salmon action near Camp Tuffit, 30’ of water. There are a few nice perch starting to hit in the bays.
Dickey Lake- Salmon hitting jigging 60’ on the bottom. Troll in mornings for nice rainbows.
Echo Lake- Hot small mouth action, try tube jigs or jerk baits. Few big pike also in bays.
Fenton/Church Slough- Nice pike on dead bait, also good large mouth and crappie.
Middle Thompson- Some nice salmon 12-15’ range trolling 40’ depth. Try west end for pike with dead bait.
Blanchard Lake- Large mouth bass and crappie starting to hit well. Try main lake west shore.
Koocanusa- Lots of nice bull trout and a few good rainbows. Try Dave’s plugs or large black trolling flies.
The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch has arrived on the Madison! The Lower has been a consistent producer recently and should hold form throughout the spring. The Lower tends to get better and better until water temps finally get too warm at the end of June. Flows can fluctuate but generally the clarity is almost always fishable right through runoff. One day the fishing can be lights out and the next day just OK, especially if flows are bumped. Fly selection is pretty basic – mostly nymphing with crayfish, streamers or worms up top trailed by either caddis, march brown or baetis emergers.
The Month Ahead:
The Lower will be a go to location for the entire spring. The best fishing is usually nymphing and maybe pulling streamers. If the river has just bumped up sometimes fishing is slower but if flows are stable it is usually a very good bet.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
The Lower will just keep producing until temperatures get too warm around late June.
- Flathead Lake – Delta has been very muddy. River water is on the rise. East bay is heating up. Reports of good smallmouth action, water temps have been starting to hit the 50s.
- Flathead River – Be cautious of floating hazards! VERY MURKY
- Echo Lake – Fishing has been good. Dropshotting has been very consistent for smallmouth bass. Try our new line of NETBAITS. Bass are still in pre spawn patterns.
- Loon Lake – Good fishing for rainbow trout. PowerBait has been working as well as hair jigs: slow retrieved.
- Beaver Lake – Good Kokanee action 20-40 foot of water. Mostly vertical jigging. Come see 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, Bradds Cut plugs all stocked up also.
This Montana fishing report is valid from May 18 until the opening of the Yellowstone Park season on May 28.
The spring snowmelt was delayed in southwest Montana and Yellowstone Park, which did wonders for our summer water outlook. We now expect a near-normal end to the runoff. This will fall between early June and early July depending on the water, with the last week of June and first of July typical for most “main summer” waters. Water levels will be below normal thereafter due to the ongoing drought, but should not be terrible unless we see extended record heat and drought like we did between mid-June and late July last year.
For the moment, fishing opportunities are pretty limited. This will change when YNP opens:
Area private lakes are by far the best options. Some Callibaetis and midge hatches are possible, but most lakes are still cold and fishing best with large leeches and peacock-bodied attractor nymphs.
The Lower Madison River is the only solid river option within reasonable day-trip range of Livingston, Montana. Mother’s Day Caddis are hatching in the afternoon and evening but should get heavier over the next week. Both fishing and recreational traffic are high, so trying to run oddball stretches and/or oddball times of day is a good idea.
Area low-elevation public reservoirs are now good bets provided the wind isn’t terrible. Look for fish cruising shallow and fish leeches and streamers. A boat with a trolling motor helps a lot. We’ll have one for next season (again)…
The Boulder and Stillwater Rivers MAY drop back into some form of fishable shape this weekend due to scheduled cooler weather, but they’ve come up so much that we can’t guarantee it. If they do, streamer fishing should be very good.
–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:
– Refill of Lake Koocanusa has begun.
– Libby Dam outflow will increase from 4.5 kcfs to 6.2 kcfs on Friday, April 29th, starting at 07:00 MST.
– Libby Dam outflow will increase from 6.2 kcfsto 8.0 kcfs on Sunday, May 1st, starting at 07:00 MST.
The Initial Control Flow (ICF) as measured at The Dalles was declared for May 7th, which designated the start of refill for Libby Dam as April 27nd. The April VarQ flow is 16.1 kcfs, based on the April water supply forecast for a 6992 KAF Apr-Aug inflow volume (115% of average). As long as inflows are less than 16.1 kcfs, releases will match average inflows. Libby Dam outflows will increase from 4.5 kcfs to 6.2 kcfs on Friday morning, April 29th and increase from 6.2 kcfs to 8.0 kcfs.
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.
Flows from Libby Dam will increase slightly over the weekend. Refill of Lake Koocanusa has begun. See above flow information for details. But what this means is that runoff has started and it’s more than likely flows will be increasing through the month of May in a gradual manner. Conditions will remain good and fishable unless a dramatic flow increase is necessary. That’s not likely for the next seven days or so since daytime temps will not be too warm. This time of year it’s always best to call the Libby Dam each day for exact flow information at 406-293-3421.
With runoff 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 or even real warm daytime temperatures 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.
The Sox have dropped a few of the opening games in the late innings which is always disappointing. That said, the defensive and infield is intact and Dalbec, Story, Bogaerts, and Devers are solid and playing well. Bats are hitting well and we’re getting men on base. For now late inning pitching has stumbled but it’s only the first full week of the season and there’s lots of baseball left. 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
Early spring and summer on the Yellowstone can be very productive. Depending on the day and water temperatures, pre-runoff can be some of the best fishing of the year. Nymphing something big like a Zirdle Bug, Pat’s Rubber Legs, or Woolly Bugger followed up by a worm or smaller euro-style nymph will be the most consistent rig out there this time of the year. Don’t be afraid of smaller flashy streamers such as the Kreelex Minnow or a Sparkle Minnow this time of year either. On warmer overcast days fish will be willing to move to a bigger streamer like a Dragon or a Dungeon. Midges and smaller Mayflies can hatch on the warmer days too, so keep your eyes peeled for rising fish in the slow water close to the bank. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch has started on the Yellowstone, so be sure to bring some caddis patterns!
Suggested Fly Patterns
Missing Link Caddis (14-18), Corn Fed Caddis (14-18), Peacock Caddis (14-16), Parawulf Dennis BWO (16-20), Thorax BWO (18-20), Parachute Adams (14-20), Purple Haze (16-20), Film Critic BWO (16-20), Smoke Jumper (16-20), Extended Body BWO (16-20), Griffith’s Gnat (16-20), UV Sparkle Midge (18-20), Chubby Chernobyl Olive/Royal/Purple (8-12)
Woolly Bugger (4-12), Flash Fry (6), Mini Dungeon, Complex Twist Bugger (2), Kreelex Minnow (4), Sparkle Minnow (4-8), Double Gonga, Urchin Bugger (4), El Sculpito (2), Sculpzilla (4-8), Sculpinator (4-6)
Pat’s Rubber Legs (6-12), Zirdle Bug (6-12), Woolly Bugger (4-12), Perdigon (14-18), Pheasant Tail (14-20), Jigster Baetis (14-18), Prince Nymph (10-18), BH Hare’s Ear (12-18), Sisslin’ Hot Spot Squirrel (14-16), Zebra Midge (16-22), San Juan Worm, Matt’s Shagadelic Mop, Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)
Rainbow action continues to be great. Fishing from shore at Gates of the Mountains, the BLM boat ramp, Log Gulch boat ramp and Departure Point has been popular and using small nymphs, Spinners, Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks has been working well. Trolling small crankbaits near the Gates of the Mountains and between Log Gulch and the Dam is producing some nice rainbows as well. Walleye and perch fishing has been slow but look for that to pick up with the increasing water temperatures. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Grizzly Hackle scores Rock Creek fishing a 2/5
Rock Creek is going up strong today and is probably the last day to fish it, until it stabilizes. Stick to the banks and don’t wade very deep. Nymphing is the way to go as the water drops. Big Double Bead Stones, Rubberlegs, Zirdles, 20 Incher and San Juans fished anywhere the water slows down. Streamers are an option with JJ Specials, Sparkle Minnows, Kreelex and Chicago Overcoats, fished low and slow.
Happy weekend everyone. This past week has been a rollercoaster of good and bad weather, caddis hatching, fish not eating them they are, water temps all over the place and the river hovering right on the edge of fishable clarity. In fact, after the Yellowstone River totally blew out last weekend, it has been more fishable than not over the past week as cooler weather has helped control the melt.
We’ll get right down to it – are the Mother’s Day Caddis still there? Yes. You can still find them out and about. We haven’t heard any reports of just lights out incredible days over the past week, but the fish are eating on top when conditions cooperate. You will have better success swinging emergers or fishing nymphs than dedicating to the dry. Have a rod rigged with a caddis pupa and a soft hackle, and a rod rigged with a dry and an emerger behind that and you can cover all your bases.
The forecast for tomorrow and Monday is looking pretty damn stellar. We are expecting the warmer weather to push some more water into the river and muddy things up a bit, so get out while it’s good! You can find the peak of the caddis hatch in the warmer afternoons into evening. Come check out our Mother’s Day Caddis patterns we’ve got at the shop before heading out!
For those more interested in streamers, the bite is picking up. In the off color water, opt for slightly larger and darker patterns. Keep switching up your retrieve and depth until you find the fish. This time of year, pulling streamers off banks can be deadly. If you’ve got a trout spey, spring is a great time to break it out.
Our other waters in the area are all in the same boat. Bit off color, hatches starting, fishing picking up. The Lower Madison is another great option for the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch. It’s been getting a lot of pressure out of Bozeman, but if you’re willing to walk up Bear Trap Canyon a few miles you can usually find some quiet water. If you’re after some solid dry fly fishing, head for the Missouri. Midges, caddis, BWOs up there right now and fish are looking up.
It’s hard to believe we are already halfway through May, and the peak days of summer fishing are coming up fast. With that approaching our guide calendar is filling up fast. Remember, book your guides, your lodging and your rental cars early this year! We’re expecting a very busy summer and things are going to be at capacity in advance. Don’t wait until the day or week before to book your trip.
We’re getting a lot of questions about when runoff is going to be this year. Our snowpack figures are drastically better than even a couple weeks ago, and are far more in the “normal” range than we expected this winter. If the spring continues to stay cool and rainy, we can expect runoff on our local freestone rivers from the end of this month to around July 4th. Only time will tell! Stop by the shop or give us a call for the latest info on that – things change day to day.
Our shop on Park St is fully stocked for the coming fishing season! Come on down and check out flies, reels, rods, technical clothing, waders, boots – you name it we’ve got it. Tight lines this week!
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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