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.
I will be taking a different position until probably fall at my regular job and will be changing our hours to be available. Monday to Thursday will be very limited to if I am based in the area. We will however be available all day Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday and at the dock occasionally. It is always best to call or text 406-740-2313 or make an appointment at www.castlerockbait.com.
Facebook messaging and comments are not reliable. We appreciate all the support and business, but mostly the fish stories. Hopefully $4 gas and 30% inflation will go away soon.
Walleye bite west is very good right now. Most people are traveling to atleast snow creek and continuing on further west. Walleye are being caught at depths of 6-15ft using jigs or bottom bouncers.
Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass are being caught around the mouth of Hell Creek headed west towards warmer water. They are being found in shallow depths pitching or jigging.
Shore anglers are finding some nice rainbows while using various flies or plain crawlers on a floating jig near Riverside Campground and Black Sandy. Boat anglers trolling various crankbaits or spoons out from Black Sandy, White Sandy, Devils Elbow and York Bridge are also picking up good numbers of rainbows. A few walleyes and perch have been showing up in Lake Helena while trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses or various crankbaits.
Headhunters Fly Shop Missouri River June Forecast
Rain. A total of 6 days historically. 2.62″ on the average. Hopefully more this year. Looking like a cooler and wetter month ahead according to the forecast by NOAA.
Sunshine. Yes. Mostly. Average high temp of 76F and low temp of 46F. Still a month where you should be prepared for anything. I have seen snow on the 11th. Only 9″ though. Gone that afternoon. Raingear? Yep. Sunscreen. Certainly.
Currently at the approximately 3K club. But that may not last. It could bump up a bit? Or not. We will see the flows continue to be low for the month. The dam operators claim there could be some sort of move towards 4100 for the months of June and July. Currently checking
Your Missouri River information source is Headhunters of Craig.
Flows from here on out are dependent on the rain that falls from the sky. We have had a pattern where the rain and cooler weather has prolonged the run-off period. Holding in the hills is the water that historically has already come off. Check out the Snow Water Equivalent Map below and see what we are currently situated at.
PMD’s are here. They will become more of an issue as the month progresses. Historically the PMD pops on t June 4, 5, or 6. Then 4 or 5 days until it is game on. This is my favorite fly fishing week on the Mighty Mo. Average or below average flows bring fantastic early PMD dry fly action. This is one of those years. Yup.
Expect PMD action to increase all the way through the 4th of July. Then it may wane. But wait! It does not end until sometime in July. Late July on higher water years. Sooo…we will have to see what transpires.
Dry flies that will work for the front end include that classic parachute pattern you like. They are dumb easy in the beginning. Then they get more difficult every day. Cripples, spinners, and emergers rule this hatch. The Buzzball is a great pattern for both the caddis and PMD. Remember that our theme is generally presentation first. Fly Second. But if you like a ton of kick ass PMD patterns then look no further than your fly source on the Missouri River, Headhunters of Craig.
Caddis flies will come in better numbers as the month move ahead. Enough on the lower to see a few fish finding the top water caddis. IF you like that kind of action you may want to fish below Mid-Canon for the next couple weeks. It can, and will happen.
Downwinged patterns are popular because they work. those high wingers will get some fish early, but then you must fish it in the film man. CDC, short hair-winged patterns, and soft hackles will find you the best catch rates.
Ants. Fish them. Towards the end of the month you will need a selection of cinnamon, black, and bi-colored patterns on your person daily. Terrestrial play a big role throughout the summer months. Stock up today and fish them all season long!
Yellow Sallies will make an appearance in June as well. Have a few nymphs in your box along with a couple downwind Sally patterns. Although we do like the parachute versions for success. Put that fly in the film as well. And remember it is a stonefly. A small and yellow fellow.
The worm hatch will continue for those who like to soak their flies. All of your cool patterns that you tied all winter long are in play. Caddis Pupa and emergers. PMD techy nymphs like the Split Back and Two Bit Hooker. Fish them and enjoy getting the net wet. Iron Sally. A good one. GRHE too. Big PT’s? Sure. Small ones too. Zebra’s and small black PT’s will finish the month with the Trico on our minds. The nymphs are in play before the dry fly shows itself. Smart nymphers know that!
CraigTroutCamp and CraigLodging are the two portals that you need for any lodging needs you may need fishing the Missouri River in Montana. 30+ lodging options for you to peruse. Book today with our booking agents at Headhunters Fly Shop and Guide Service in Craig Montana 406-235-3447. Lodging for two starting just over a hundred bucks. Lodging riverside for bit more. Lodging for groups. Lodging for every budget and need.
Headhunters is the number one rated guide service on the Mighty Missouri River. Our annual return client rate is 78%. Strong. The best in Missouri River guides coupled with our famous Headhunters customer service gives you the best experience on the Mo!
Call today and we will fit you with the right fishing guide for your fly fishing desires. A dry fly guide to show you the difficult, albeit large, brown trout? Got it. A numbers man? Got it. A guide to educate your children, or your wife? Got that covered too. Let Julie, Sara, and Ninch cater your trip to you! It’s what we love to do and it’s what we do best.
We are open daily at 7am. Earlier sooner than later. Open late too til at least 8pm nightly. Find your gear needs at Headhunters with the best fly selection on the river. We have rods, reels, fly lines, logo wear, accessories and trinkets too. We built our shop around our fly bins and the fly fishing enthusiast!
See you this June in Craig. Any questions or for bookings call 406-235-3447
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.
Some really nice trout were caught this weekend. Come on out and enjoy some fishing. When you get done fishing stop into the bar/ restaurant and have some food and drinks.
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.
- Flathead Lake – Lake Trout fishing has been getting good. Mostly trolling 80′-120′ of water. Flatfish, Brad’s Cut Plugs and Rapalas have all been good options.
- Flathead River – Flowing above 30,000 cubic ft as run off is hitting peak season, be careful of hazards.
- Echo Lake – Bass are on the move and good numbers and sizes are being reported. Try using more finesse tactics such drop shots and Ned rigs.
- Ashley Lake – Good numbers of Salmon being caught; jigging both Hali and Swedish Pimples.
- Bitterroot Lake – Good numbers of Salmon being caught. Both trolling and jigging, the occasional rainbow can be picked up as well.
- Lake Koocanusa – Lake is still low but the launch at Rexford has been cleaned out. Both bull trout and rainbows have been good, try using Flatfish, Frisky Jenny Flies or Apex lures.
- Middle Thompson Lake – A good lake for catching all sorts of species. Salmon, Pike, Bass and Perch all good options for getting the kids into some action.
This Montana fishing report is valid from May 31 until about June 10.
Lots of rain and snow in the past few days has led to sharp rises in all area flowing waters and hasn’t done the lakes many favors, either. Once things stabilize and warm up a bit, lots more options will become available. For right now, pretty much the only consistent flowing water options are the Firehole River in Yellowstone Park and the Lower Madison River from Ennis Dam to Cherry Creek. Even the Lower Mad is muddy below this stream for the moment, which makes full-day float trips tough. Large public reservoirs at low elevation are clear and fishable, but the shock of cold rain has likely put the fish off for a few days. Private lakes were turning on in a big way last week, but muddy access roads will make getting to them difficult this week.
Area private lakes are by far the best options when they’re accessible. 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 has seen dam managers drastically increase flows (from 1200cfs to 2700cfs). In general this will help the fishing, pushing the trout into more obvious slow areas rather than subtle depressions and buckets at midriver. It will take a few days for things to stabilize, though. Once they do, look for caddis, BWO, Yellow Sally, and perhaps even PMD hatches or nymph with San Juan Worms, mayfly nymphs, and crayfish. Cherry Creek is puking filthy mud right now, which means half-day floats or hiking up into the Beartrap Canyon are better ideas than full-day floats. This may change by late week if the weather moderates.
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)…
Yellowstone Park is now open for the fishing season, though there are few options due to recent weather. For now it’s the Firehole River, maybe the headwaters of the Madison, and a handful of small ponds. As the weather and streamflows moderate this week, look for the Gibbon River to join the party and for the ice to finish going off Yellowstone Lake, Cascade Lake, and Grebe Lake.
The Missouri River tailwaters are a long haul from Livingston (2.5hr to Hauser, 3hr to Holter), but are the closest clear, flowing water that isn’t as finicky as the Lower Madison. Expect intense crowds.
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
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)
Shore anglers are catching some nice rainbows at Holter Lake Campground and Departure Point while using floating jigs with crawlers, various flies, Power Bait, or spoons. Boat anglers pulling crankbaits or cowbell setups are catching good numbers of rainbows on the lower end of the reservoir from Split Rock to the Dam. The walleye and perch bite has picked up recently and fish are being caught just inside the canyon near the Gates of the Mountains while trolling bottom bouncers and crawlers or leeches. Walleye and perch are also being picked up from shore around most of the public boat docks on the lower end of the reservoir while pitching jigs and crawlers. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Grizzly Hackle scores Rock Creek fishing a 3/5
Rock Creek has stabilized, but big. It’s fishable and we should see Salmonfly adults soon. Right now sticking with big Salmonfly nymphs like Bitch Creeks, Pepperoni Yuk Bugs, Rubberlegs, Double Bead Stones with a San Juan or Big Prince dropper will be your best bet. Black and Olive streamers with flash in them would be another good option. Find where the water slows down and you’ll find fish. Be careful out there it’s moving and big.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone! As it usually does this weekend, it is absolutely pouring rain here on Park St in downtown Livingston. Even with the reprieve this morning, we are expecting a lot more. This wet and cooler spring has been awesome, even if it does make recreating a bit more challenging. (Need a good rain coat or wading jacket? We’ve got you covered!)
As of this writing the Yellowstone River is at 14,700cfs and rising. Up, up and away! Time will tell if this cooler and rainy weekend gives us a window of more clear and fishable water next week or if all the rain will just exacerbate the runoff. Could this be the start of honest to God runoff? Stay tuned, but we likely won’t be getting out on the Yellowstone for a while.
The other waters in our area are about all in the same boat. The Upper and Lower Madison are about the only rivers that are fishable in our immediate area, and the Upper has quite a bit of mud in it at the moment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but below the West Fork you won’t be getting much clear water. The Missouri River has been fishing well, if you feel up for the drive.
So what is an angler to do here locally? The Spring Creeks are a great option during runoff, as they stay clear and consistent all year long. Rods are starting to book up quickly, but most of the creeks are still on spring rates for a bit of a discount. The lower country lakes and ponds are opening up and can have some great fishing. There are a few private options that require a rod fee, but the fishing can be great.
The fishing season in Yellowstone National Park opened yesterday, and this weather has us all wishing we could be on the Firehole River right now. Most of the water in our local Northeast corner is running high and muddy – lot of the mud in the Yellowstone River now is coming from the Lamar. You could likely find some fishable water on the Gardner and Soda Butte, otherwise the Firehole, Gibbon and Madison are about your best bet right now. Fishing in Yellowstone is something everyone needs to experience and we could get a really good season this year!
Runoff is just a natural part of the cycle of the Yellowstone River and we are glad to see that we actually might get one this year. Nothing to do but sit tight and wait for things to come back down. Once runoff is over in late June or early July we hit the ground running hard. Salmonflies aren’t too far away…
This weekend take a moment to think about the meaning of Memorial Day and those who have sacrificed to keep us free and able to pursue our passions. Be thankful for the rain too, it’s snowing up high and we’ll be ever so grateful come August. In the meantime, stop by the shop and tell us a fishing story!
Tight lines and have a great long weekend.
The park is open! Although many of the rivers are very muddy there is still fish to be found. Salmon flys on the firehole are possible as the warm water temps from the spings can cuase very early hatches. Make sure to know ur regulations in the park as many of the rivers such as the yellowstone are still closed in the park. For nymphing a subberlegs always seems to do the trick aswell as small BWO or Caddis nymphs.
Spring Creeks score a 4/5
The Spring Creeks are a great option now that many of the Bozeman area rivers are muddy. There are some midges and BWO’s out and fish have been rising. Caddis have been around all day long so when conditions are right an angler can find plenty of targets throughout the day. The cloudy days will produce the best action on the surface. For best success use flies such as WD-40, RS2s, Zebra Midges, Manhattan Midge, Tube Midge, Jujubee Flash Midge, sowbugs/scuds subsurface. When fish are rising try to identify if they are sipping midges, BWO’s or smacking caddis. The Baetis adults have been #18-#20 while the caddis are slightly larger at a #16-#18. Elk hair caddis or any caddis pattern with CDC will get the job done or a BWO cripple or comparadun. Long leaders and light tippet in Fluorocarbon can be a game changer for these fish, make sure you are well equipped to get technical on these trout if headed this way.
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