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 a beautiful day at the reservoir with water temps around 55-60 degrees.
You ought be able to pick your work days by forecast. I’d rather be fishing today. Memorial weekend looking to be a wet one again.
Walleye: The best bite is timber creek west , at 6-20 ft vertical jigging with a minnow. Walleye bite is starting to pick up in hell creek as well!
Bass: They are being caught right along side the walleyes right now
Northern: Are being found in 10ft or less water with a live minnow or pitching spinners.
Rainbow trout continue to be picked up near the shorelines at Black Sandy, York Bridge, the Causeway and Riverside campground area. Using Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks, various flies or spinners has been working well. Trolling Wedding Rings tipped with crawlers or various crankbaits out from Black Sandy, White Sandy and York Bridge is also producing a few rainbows. A few walleyes are showing up in Lake Helena while trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses or small crankbaits.
Water Temps 51F. Trout love 54F-57F. Where will yo be when that happens?
Snowpack well above average. Does that mean we are out of the woods on this drought deal? No way. Not even close. Will the snow still in the hills prolong the spring season? Sure. Will the snow in the hills ensure higher flows throughout the remainder of the summer, or even in June? Yes, maybe on the latter, no way on the former. We are still bracing for very dry and warm conditions. While the cooler late spring temps and precipitation have been nice, it is not putting a dent in the long term projections. So, while all the snow water equivalent maps look good, and make us feel good for the moment, we are not holding our breath. At all. Nope.
Dry fly action
Afternoon for the most part. Lots of fish rising int he past week. Afternoons. The entire river has a selection of Dry Fly Opportunities.
BWO’s on the menu. Fish eating spinners, junk, and cripples. Half Dun Hatching is a great fly for this behavior. Also a posted cripple. DOA’s, Nemeses, Harrops, D & D, Storm Chaser, Film Critic, Last Chance Cripple, CDC Paraspinners, SOL like giant Adams. CDC emerges and soft hackles too. But we love the cripple here on the Mo. PS SO do the trout.
March Browns. Sporadic. Localized. All but done. The trout like the dun, or big cripple.
Caddis. Yup. Starting. Some good days this past week-ish in the canyon and beyond tossing the dry. More on the caddis later, but I will remind you that the trout love the fly in the film. Come by the shop for a tutorial on how to fish for them here, what to use, and how to implement success. Your information and education source in the canyon here on this blog, and in store, and on the river with Headhunters Guides. The fish are dumb in the beginning period. big fluffy and float for the first week. Then it goes to down-winged patterns.
Midge. Yes, But why with other menu items larger, more seeable, and maybe tastier for them trouts.
PMD’s. Spotted a couple this week. The best bug this past week subsurface were PMD patterns. Seining yields high numbers of them in most every spot I checked this past 2 weeks. In the column in a big way for the past month.
Mornings 4′ to split or not from bobber. Afternoons shorter if you wish. PMD nymphs are good. Sows still producing well. Big PT’s are good too. Come in and try out the vast Euro Nymph selection that are narrow, heavy and effective. We have several, lots, of patterns not tied on the jig hook. So we do have barbs on many of the. If you are looking for a barbed version of many of the flies you love, Headhunters has it on a regular hook. Yep. Caddis will soon be more commonly on the rig, but for now we are loving the mayfly rigs. Anglers all through out the river corridor.
Killing it. Stripping at the bank, across flats, rub against some mid river structures, and get ’em. Flashy seems to be the key the past week. HH has the largest streamer selection on the river. Bar none. Get your new streamer line at HH as well. 1000+ fly lines in stock today. We have what you need.
Dick Magill at the shop stated he has had his best soft hackle week in the last 5 years. I see a few other swingers hooked up too. Light rods, medium and small softies, and big trout. A good combo! Want a trout spey lesson or guide trip? Call HH for more info, or stop in.
Headhunters Fly Shop
Open daily. Early and late. Shuttles, guides, rental boats, the Best Flies Under the Big Sky, hoodies, sun gear, fly lines galore, and the information and guidance from your local fly shop you love!
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.
Just a reminder all seasonal rv sites and boat slips are due by June 1st. If you do not pay by June 1st there will be a $100.00 late fee. If you have any questions, please give us a call.
Lake Mary Ronan- Excellent salmon bite try 30’ of water near Camp Tuffit. Also, good perch action 20-30’. Try Hali jigs for both salmon and perch.
Dickey Lake- Great salmon bite 50’ of water on bottom.
Flathead Lake- Lake trout action picking up, try mid lake bar 120-150’ of water- Rapala’s, scatter raps and Brad’s superbaits in fire tiger and perch patterns. East bay is still slow.
McGregor Lake- Good numbers of Lake Trout , try trolling spoons in 60’ of water.
Fennon, Church and Half Moon Slough- Bass and pike fishing very good, try chatterbaits and square bills.
Lower Stillwater- Good perch action above island. Lots of pike doing well also.
Middle Thompson- Nice salmon trolling East end. Also good pike in bays with smelt.
Rodgers Lake- Excellent grayling near creek, also few big cutts, try small gold spoons.
Echo Lake- Bass starting to bed up. Try small craws or tube baits.
Have a Safe and Happy Memorial Day
We will be closed Sunday and Monday in order to spend the holiday with our families.
-No new report-
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 is getting muddy. However, trolling Flatfish and Brads Cut Plugs has been productive. East bay is getting better for both perch and smallmouth.
- Flathead River – River is blown out and muddy, be careful of trees and other hazards hidden by high water.
- Flathead River Sloughs – Pike fishing will be picking up. McWenneger continues to produce a good amount of smaller pike.
- Echo Lake – Smallmouth fishing is picking up as water temps rise, try using Ned craws and jerk baits.
- Loon Lake – Rainbows remain active, Powerbait from the shore along with egg sucking leech patterns.
- Murray Lake – Good Rainbow fishing from the shore, tossing Blufox spinners, Roostertails, and Panther Martins has been consistent.
- 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 – Bull trout fishing has been good, trolling Flatfish around points and flats, also try trolling flies and Apex lures.
- Middle Thompson Lake – Trolling for Salmon has been good using cowbells and wedding rings, pike have started moving into warmer waters targeting smelt and cut bait.
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)
Lots of nice rainbows are still being picked up near the shorelines. Boat anglers fishing out from the Gates of the Mountains, the BLM boat ramp, the Boat Loft, Black Beach, Log Gulch boat ramp and Departure Point are finding rainbows as well. Using small nymphs, Spinners, Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks or trolling small crankbaits or gold spoons has been working 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 3/5
Rock Creek is fishing, but big. Stick to the banks and don’t wade very deep, if at all. 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 Monday everyone. We hope you all had a good weekend and were able to get outside! Even with the cold snap we had late last week there is still lots to do out and about. Hiking is improving, biking trails are opening up, and with that cold weather the Yellowstone River has dropped back down and cleared up a bit. Fishing this week? You bet.
First, some good news. Above is the snowpack map for Montana. It hasn’t looked this good in a long time. Keep in mind that these figures are against average, which this time of year is dropping steadily. However, we’re still in really good shape. A lot of the lower and mid-level snow is gone, but the high-level snowpack is still there.
It all depends on how it comes out now. If our pattern of cooler weather continues and the snow melts nice and slow we’re golden. If we get a week of 80s and it all melts at once, that’s a different story. Stay tuned!
The Yellowstone River hit a high of almost 10,000 cfs last week, and has since come back down to about half of that as of this writing. That cold snap helped, and we can get another fishable window before runoff really kicks in. Clarity is over a foot and water temps are coming back up. These kind of conditions can make for challenging fishing, but with the right flies and tactics you can find fish.
You might see a few caddis here and there, but the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch has come and gone. Maybe next year the river will cooperate a bit more and we can have a longer window to fish it. You can still find BWOs on calmer, cloudy days and even some midges still hanging around. If you’re after fish on top, you can find them. Nymphing and streamer fishing are going to be more consistent and productive.
As river flows across the region increase over the coming weeks, think big and heavy when choosing a fly. Weighted rubber legs, mega princes, and other large stonefly patterns make a great point fly to get down to the fish’s level. A dead drifted streamer can be an excellent choice under an indicator. Darker colors for darker water and cloudy weather, and brighter, flashier patterns for brighter days.
Fishing streamers has been producing some larger fish. Change your retrieve cadence and depth until you find what they’re chasing. Advice above about dark and bright days applies here too. If you’re getting follows but no eats, change the profile or size of your fly and try again. A sink tip or heavy fly can help you get down to the depth you need in these bigger flows. If you’ve got a trout spey set up, swinging flies can be a great option in these conditions too. If that trout spey is light enough, don’t overlook the power of swinging soft hackles…
Our guided trip calendar is starting to really fill up for the summer season, so book your dates early! The summer water season is looking better and better and we are excited about a good year of fishing on the Yellowstone. Give us a call at 406.222.1673 to ask about our guide trips and book your dates.
Stop by the shop for the latest info, flies, gear, and everything you need to enjoy your time on the water. Tight lines!
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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