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.
Gordon R.: Hey All, FWP biologists Adam Strainer and Troy Humphries will be giving info on Canyon Ferry, Hauser and Holter at the Great Falls Walleyes Unlimited meeting on Thursday, May 5th. Everyone is welcome that would like to attend, including non members. We will be at the Do Bar, 7pm!! (via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0)
Tongue River Reservoir State park is seeking seasonal workers. See link below for more information. Housing provided.
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
Jerry Johnson Memorial Tough Guy Tournament results are in: https://www.montanaoutdoor.com/2022/05/2022-tough-guy-walleye-tourney-results/
Rainbow trout action continues to be great near the shorelines at York Bridge, the Causeway and Riverside campground area while using leech or egg pattern flies, various spinners, Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks. Boat anglers pulling crankbaits out from Devil¿s Elbow and Black Sandy are also picking up a few rainbows. A few perch, walleye and rainbow trout are being picked up on Lake Helena while trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses.
Brian B.: Bundy hasn’t been very productive. Cut bait, shrimp, chicken liver or worms
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!
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.
Sam DC.: Yep. Launch is ok but it’s $10 a day to launch now
Come and join us for our 20th Annual fishing derby! May 14th & 15th. All fisherman and women must be registered by 11p.m. on May 13th. The cost to enter is $20 per person 3 years and older. The winner will be determined by weight for Rainbow and combined weight of 20 salmon.
100% payout, door prizes, full restaurant and bar.
For derby applications please go to our web page at
If you have any further questions please give us a call at 406-293-7474
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!
The Lower has been a consistent producer recently and should hold form throughout the spring. The trout are still in the slower holding waters so setting up on the right buckets to thoroughly work the water is better than blindly spraying casts as you float down the river. If you plan a float make it a shorter float to provide plenty of time to work water. Nymphing has been productive with crayfish, eggs, worms and baetis nymphs. Slow stripping streamers can also roll a few nice browns.
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. Baetis hatches can be strong on warm but cloudy days. When the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch gets going in mid May that can produce some decent dry fly activity on the right days.
Long Term Fishing Forecast:
The Lower will just keep producing until temperatures get too warm around late June.
–No New Report–
- 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.
This Montana fishing report is valid from May 2 until the first extended bout of 70+ weather brings down the heavy spring melt. Given current outlooks, this might be a LOOONNNNGGGGG way off, which is a good thing.
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 we did 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. Exceptions to these two points will occur as soon as we get an extended run of 50s-60s that prompts the water temps to consistently exceed the 50-degree mark, which will prompt more aggressive fish and good hatches. Hatches have been in pretty short supply so far this spring due to the cold/wet weather.
The Yellowstone River has been inconsistent for the past couple weeks, basically because we’ve had winter fishing conditions despite the calendar. On colder/wetter days when water temps are in the 40s, fish stonefly nymphs trailing #14-18 nymphs suggestive of Mother’s Day Caddis larvae/pupae and BWO nymphs, or throw streamers fished on a slow retrieve. On warmer days, look for fish rising. The first extended run of 50-53 degree water will bring out the Mother’s Day Caddis. Some days see muddy water due to snowmelt and low-elevation rain, but until there’s an extended run of 70+ degree weather, you can usually find clear water in the right “tiger stripe.” The water will remain clear upstream of the Shields River east of Livingston much longer than downstream. Right now, we anticipate the heavy spring melt will not begin before mid-May, a week or more late. Hooray! We expect a heavy and fishable Mother’s Day Caddis hatch this year. Right now, the best hatch will probably occur from the 10th until the river blows out.
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. They may be fishable as late as June 1 before the heavy melt hits.
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 may still produce some BWO hatches, but will slow down sharply once extended warm weather hits and reduces these hatches. Sometime in early May through mid-June is something of a dead spot on the creeks, when midges, streamers, and occasional sparse BWO hatches are all that occur to interest the fish. Mid-June is when PMD hatches begin and really get the fish interested.
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, or possibly even later.
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.
Montana Public Lakes usually fish very well by now, but the cold, wet, windy weather has kept us from checking them out. Look for false-spawning stocked trout on windswept rocky areas on all lakes, especially where the stocking trucks dumped them (near boat ramps, usually). Lakes with natural inflow will probably have good numbers of trout as well, some stocked and some wild. Fish streamers, leeches, and chironomid pupae. Hatches will improve on some lakes in late May and early June. We are getting a new-to-us power boat sometime this spring and hope to have it modified in time to do some lake fishing in June, though we won’t be offering guided trips with it this season.
Look for our next Montana fishing report when the spring runoff starts on the Yellowstone River.
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
Silt at Flat Lake boat ramp on Fort Peck Lake has been cleared for use again. Remember to wear your PFD on these blustery spring days.
Late Winter/early Spring 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.
Suggested Fly Patterns
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), Zebra Midge (16-22), San Juan Worm, Matt’s Shagadelic Mop, Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)
Lots of nice size 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, Spinners, spoons, Power Bait, night crawlers or spawn sacks has been working well. Walleye and perch fishing has been slow but look for that to pick up soon with the increasing water temperatures. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
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, folks. It feels like a real Montana spring day out there today! This cooler weather has been great. What’s even better is the fact that our snowpack numbers are still climbing! This morning the Upper Yellowstone drainage was listed at 94% of normal. These numbers are looking drastically better than even a couple of weeks ago. Fingers crossed it keeps coming!
This weather is much more “normal” for historical Montana springs. These cloudy, cool, rainy days can produce some of the best fishing of the entire year. Another bonus of spring fishing? There’s not as many people out. You can often have stretches of river all to yourself. With the busy tourist season fast approaching, enjoy that while you can.
The Yellowstone River has been producing some very nice fish over the past week. Large trout are getting more active as the water slowly warms up. They’re eating streamers, nymphs and even dries when the conditions are right. Those who enjoy streamer fishing are getting happier by the day – strip it, swing it, or dead drift it. Keep changing your profile, size, and color until they eat. With the dark and gloomy weather the next few days, look to black and olive as your primary colors, but don’t be afraid of a gold Kreelex.
Nymphing has been the most consistent method of producing fish. Dead drifted streamers, larger stonefly patterns, bigger jig patterns, and even a larger hare’s ear would make a good point fly. These larger patterns will help you wade through the whitefish if you’re just after trout. Put a dropper about a foot to a foot and a half behind that and use BWO nymphs, lightning bugs, perdigons, and your standard Yellowstone patterns. Mind your drift and keep adding weight until you’re finding the fish.
The dry fly fishing has been picking up. It can be a challenge to find a spot where the bugs aren’t getting blow away on the Yellowstone most days! Spring is a windy season here in Livingston and in Paradise Valley, so be ready for that. Swinging soft hackles can be a more effective method in targeting the BWO hatch during windy days. Have some dries around and watch for the BWO hatch to be best on cloudy days around midday.
Our other regional waters are in about the same shape as last week. FIshing is improving, rainbows are still spawning, and the Upper Madison is still running pretty damn low. If you’re after a dry fly only day, head for the Missouri or somewhere on the upper Upper Madison (watch your step and leave redds alone). The Gallatin and Lower Madison are both fishing pretty well, and both are good options for shorter outings if you don’t feel like dealing with road construction on the pass and 89.
It’s just a good time to be on the water in Montana! If you need gear, flies, apparel or new waders/boots, stop by the store and see what we’ve got in stock. Our fly fishing department has been getting new things every week with lots of favorites in all categories. Even if you don’t need anything, stop in and tell us a fishing story!
See you on the water.
The park is closed for the season! Check back next May. See you next season!
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