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.
What’s happening on the lake? Fishing is hot! We have last minute openings for July 22nd, July 23rd, July 26th, & July 28th. Give us a call at 406.250.6246 to book your trip.
Rainbows continue to be picked up while trolling cowbell and spinner combinations around the Black Sandy and White Sandy area. Walleye fishing has been fair around Eldorado Bar and the mouth of the Causeway Arm and around the Causeway Bridge while using various jigs, slip bobber setups with leeches, or trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses. Fishing early in the morning and late in the evening has been the most productive for both species. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
The update is as follows. The fishing is fantastic in the morning, good in the afternoon, worthwhile in the evening.
Those who like to get it done head out early and take advantage of the pre heat bite.
Good Trico spinner falls almost every day. Some are not as good as others as the hatch in conjunction with a gentle breeze can diminish the fall.
Enough PMD spinners on the water daily to keep the fish interested in this larger and sweeter trout bite.
Caddis better in the evenings with good catch reports coming from the late night gang.
Terrestrial fishing is as good as you are. Toss it out there as you can and let ‘er ride. Twitch if you can. Only if you can. A fine line between dragging the fly and twitching the fly. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Not as much pressure as we move towards the month of August. Still busy. Come on out early and make a half day of it for your pleasure. Come during the week if you need some real solace. Get out there!
Lodging has some availability as well. Give us a shout and stay in Craig this August at the Craig Trout Camp here in downtown Craig.
Still no fires bothering us here in our neighborhood. Good news.
The fish are getting a touch finicky if you foul up the initial drift. Get your game face on and make the first drift count. Give folks lots of room out there too. Treat others as you you would like to be treated!
Headhunters open at 6am for all your trout fishing needs. Great summer clothing available at the shop with Sun Hoodies, sun gloves, sunscreen, ICE, the Best Flies Under the Big Sky, fly rods, reels, and the friendly staff on the fun side of Craig.
The Spring Creeks are a great option this time of wear with these long hot days. PMDs, midges, and terrestrials are on the menu. Midges in the morning and evening. Hoppers, ants, and beetles in the afternoon. Nymphing can be good with zebra midges and PMD nymphs. Fish those terrestrials tight to banks. Make sure you have a good selection of flies for these technical summer conditions. Long leaders and light tippets are the way to go.
The upper madison has been fishing great. Salmonflies have made their way throughout the river, the best fishing for them will be up higher. Chubby droppers have been working well; try orange pink and copper chubby colors (size 8-16), wooly buggers and small attractor nymphs have been working great as a dropper. Lots of caddis out as well, try missing link, x caddis or elk hair caddis size 14-16. Goldenstones, Yellow Sallies and PMD’s will be your other options throughout the river.
Lake Mary Ronan- Excellent action on salmon jigging or trolling. Try 35’ with Hali jigs or pimples with maggots and corn or small dodgers with. Wedding rings. Also, some nice perch 25’ water near south end, try gitzits or crappie candy.
Flathead Lake- Whitefish starting to hit south end. Try Elmo Bay, Big Arm. Also, perch hitting in Elmo Bay. Reports of white fish on delta or Carolina Point. Lake trout hitting mid lake 120’, also some fish shallow trolling Rapala scatterraps near surface west shore area.
Thompson River- Fishing great for trout, try spinners or flies.
Lower Stillwater- Excellent perch/pike fishing. Try live leeches for perch.
Middle Thompson- Big salmon biting trolling west end 30’ water.
Ashley Lake- Good numbers of salmon, try jigging early morning. Troll water in the day.
Echo Lake- Good large/small mouth fishing early morning drop shotting or jerkbaits.
Swan Lake- Lake trout trolling good along Hwy side. Still few good pike in bays. Try north end for rainbow trout.
- Flathead Lake – Laker fishing has been great, trolling shallow with Rapalas. Squid rigs have been producing lots of fish around 20″ as well.
- Whitefish Lake – Laker fishing has been consistent around the north end of the lake. Jigging around 100′ using Hellbender Tackle with cut bait has been a good option.
- Flathead River – Flows have fallen below 20,000 feet and the water continues to clear. Try using a purple chubby paired with prince nymphs.
- McWenneger Slough – Still producing good pike, using smelt or spinner baits.
- Echo Lake – Bass are getting pressured and continuing to look for structure. Try Senko’s, Tubes or Crawfish patterns to get some bites.
- Ashley Lake – Salmon fishing remains consistent. Best options have been Hali’s and Swedish Pimples paired with maggots or shoe peg corn.
- Middle Thompson Lake – Salmon trolling has been good. Try using P-Line Mini Reaction Squids paired with Mack’s Sling Blades or dodgers.
- Lake Mary Ronan – Salmon bite has been good. Hali jigs paired with a maggot has been a solid option. You can also try using Swedish Pimples paired with Zimmer Heavy Glows or Mack’s Glow Hooks.
- Hungry Horse Reservoir – West Side road remains closed from 29 mile marker to 37 mile marker, road construction on the east side road continues to cause delays of up to an hour. Have not had many reports yet.
This Montana fishing report is valid from July 16 through about July 25.
The Yellowstone River is still running high and murky. We think all the places the river “ate” hillsides are still weeping murky water since the river is still washing these areas. The river is clearing day by day, but it’s still just barely green rather than the deep blue-green color it usually is when it reaches its current level. That said, there’s a foot of visibility and that’s enough. Sculpins and PMD and Yellow Sally nymphs have been the top flies lately. Expect caddis pupae to turn on any day. Some dry fly action on stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, and caddis is possible, but it has been far less common than usual by this point in the season. Our best rig on guided trips has been some sort of Sparkle Minnow in sculpin colors with a PMD nymph on the dropper.
The Madison River is very crowded. The lower river below Ennis Dam is now on 2:00 mandatory closures and is really too warm to fish unless you are more interested in the bikini hatch than the trout. The upper river will be very crowded, but it’s fishing well on caddis and a variety of mayflies. We won’t guide again on the Madison until fall with options just as good closer to home.
The Boulder River is in prime shape and fishing pretty well. A few epic days have been interspersed with solid but not spectacular days. Some dry fly fishing on Chubby Chernobyls and other large stonefly/attractor dries is possible, particularly if there are any clouds. PMD and caddis hatches are also possible but not especially likely. The bread & butter rig has been a small-ish tan/black Girdle Bug with a smaller attractor nymph dropper. We have been guiding a lot on the Boulder, but so have lots of others, so being first or WAY last down the river is best. The Boulder is just getting low enough to wade-fish without a boat for transportation. Stick to areas above Boulder Forks boat ramp (including in the National Forest above Natural Bridge Falls) for less boat crowds.
The Stillwater River turned on last week. It’s still running high above the Rosebud. Above it, fish stonefly and attractor nymphs as well as Chubby Chernobyls and similar dries with attractor nymph droppers. Below the Rosebud should drop into play within a week (we stay away until flows are below 2000cfs). The Stillwater will improve in the next couple weeks as the Boulder starts to get too low to float. We’ll spend more and more attention on the Stillwater as a result.
Other Montana Waters that are fishing well include the Gallatin River and mountain creeks that are low enough to wade, such as Hyalite near Bozeman. Other small streams will drop into good shape over the next week or so.
Yellowstone Park fishing is limited from our operations area this year due to historic flooding. Walk-in travel is allowed into the northern part of the park via Gardiner. The Gardner River is fishing well on attractor nymphs in the lower reaches, and attractor dry/dropper combos up high if you have vehicle access. Guided access via car is now available in a very limited fashion from the north entrance. No access this year to the Lamar Valley or Soda Butte Creek.
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
The Yellowstone is starting to shape up after the recent flooding, it is still running a little high and dirty so do be cautious. If you plan to fish the Yellowstone, be sure to check FWP’s Restrictions and Closures page for up-to-date information regarding closures.
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), Articulated Goldie (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 throughout the reservoir during the early morning or late evening hours while trolling various flashers with a spinner combination around 20 feet down in the water column. Walleye and perch fishing has been great near Cottonwood Creek, Mann Gulch, Clay Banks, off the South Village, and the small bays above the dam. Using various jigs, slip bobber setups with leeches, or trolling bottom bouncers with perch colored spinner blades around shallow points or weed beds has been working well. Fishing during the late evening hours has been producing the best bite for walleyes. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Grizzly Hackle scores Rock Creek fishing a 4/5
Not much has changed on Rock Creek. It’s still fishing really great and now that it’s wade fishing only it’s a good place to go for those who love to wade. It’s still above normal and probably will be for the rest of the season, but it’s great for the fish and it’s plenty clear for fishing. There are a few Golden’s out still with PMD’s, Caddis and we are starting to throw attractor dries, like P-Hazes, Adams, Royal Wulff’s and Humpies. A smaller Golden like a Henry’s Fork, Bullethead or Pav’s Sweet Dream with a sz 16-18 Perdigon off the back is a solid way to prospect for fish. When you see fish eating PMD duns or Spinners its time to switch over to a sz 16-18 Found Link, Brindle Chute, CDC Dun, Rusty Spinner or CDC Spinner.
Welcome to high summer. The fourth of July is behind us, the forecast is calling for hot, dry weather and the rivers are starting to drop and run clear. Now is the time to be fishing Montana!
The Yellowstone River is clearing up, but still has some color. It’s below 8,500 cfs as of this morning at the gauge here in Livingston and has 6-8” of visibility. If you drive through town early in the morning you’ll see lots of boats headed out..
Quick side note on that – if you do decide to float the Yellowstone River while it’s still at these higher flows be EXTREMELY CAREFUL. This much water can get dangerous fast, especially in low side hard boats. There are many new obstructions, channel changes,, and obstacles in the river that might be entirely invisible in the dirty water. Pay attention, and be safe.
With the river still pretty off color, you won’t find much for dry fly action. That part of the summer on the Yellowstone is on the horizon, but it will be a hot minute still. With the conditions being what they are, a fishable salmonfly hatch isn’t really in the cards this year but we should see some golden stones and then nocturnals later in the month. Expect lots of caddis, yellow sallies, and terrestrials this summer as well!
Right now it’s a streamer or nymph game. The streamer strippers out there are getting into a few fish on the cloudy days, but a more effective tactic is floating one under an indicator with a dropper behind it. Not only does this present a large, tasty morsel to the fish but often they’ll be drawn in by the streamer only to see and eat the dropper. Don’t be afraid of weight in this heavier water.
As the Yellowstone River continues to drop and clear, it’s about to get really good.
Both the Upper and Lower Madison have been fishing very well over the past week. If you’re after salmonflies, the hatch is starting to peter out but you can still find a few up high on the Upper. This weekend there were still a lot around Lyon’s Bridge and they’ll just keep moving up.
If you want to fish dry flies right now, head for the Madison. Caddis, yellow sallies, PMDs, PEDs, a few drakes, golden stones, salmonflies… It’s chow time up there. Expect to see other anglers, especially on weekends. Fishing early and late will help with crowds. Dead drifted streamers with a flashy dropper (see above) have been producing as well.
The Lower Madison is still fishing well with dry fly patterns – caddis are hatching, as are some scattered mayflies here and there. Ants and other terrestrials are on the menu as well. Crawfish patterns are always a great bet this time of year. Fish are chasing streamers on cloudy days. If you’re after rising fish, consider a walk up Bear Trap Canyon away from crowds. The tube hatch starts around noon from Warm Springs to Blacks Ford, be aware of that.
We’re reaching that time of year when almost everything in the state is fishing well. The Boulder, Missouri, Gallatin and Stillwater are all good options if you want to try something else. Look for caddis, some stoneflies, and generic attractor dries. Terrestrials such as ants and beetles are a summer staple, but it’s still early for hoppers.
This is the time of year to explore! Go fish somewhere you haven’t been. Take that drive up in the mountains. Get the map out and do some looking. Montana is a big state, go find your secret spot.
One often overlooked aspect of summer (at least from a fishing perspective) is the high country. After a snowy spring and a cool and wet early summer the mountains are melting out nicely. There are countless lakes and miles upon miles of streams, most of them home to hungry trout willing to eagerly take a dry fly. The fish aren’t as big and you have to put the work in but the high country is an enticing option this time of year.
Like we’ve been saying, this summer is shaping up nicely. There is still lots of water and it’s nice and cold. Fishing is about to get Really good.
The shop is fully stocked with everything you need to explore Montana, whether you are fishing or not! Flies, rods, reels, waders, technical fishing gear, as well as hiking, camping, backpacking, biking and much more is all here. We’ve even got some prime dates available for guided trips! Call the shop at 406.222.1673 with questions or to book.
Carson M.: Super stoked! Caught this Shorthead Redhorse on the Yellowstone this morning. Slurped a redworm on 1/16th Oz Jig head. Put up a great fight to make my 430th species memorable. I also nailed a Goldeye. (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=182794280784875&set=pcb.1075296676754057)
Erica C.: We just got back a week ago. Neighbor camper uses the burkley bait, we used worms. Best luck we had was bottom bouncers. Chartreuse in color was the best
Caed M.: I caught a couple 30s yesterday in 92 feet on power bait
Most park roads have reopened after the flooding event in June. North and northeast park entrances, as well as sections of road in these areas, remain closed until further notice. Check Yellowstone park website: https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm
The Bighorn has been dropping daily around 250 cfs. Scuds, worms, and sowbugs are the staple bugs under the bobber. Caddis pupa and PMD nymphs are also a good bugs to nymph. Dry fly action will be here soon. PMD’s in the near future. Streamer fishing can be good with Sparkle Minnows, Kreelex, and Mini Peanut Envys. Water clarity is fantastic and the weeds are not a huge issue.
Walleye fishing continues to be really good around the river mouth and Pond 3, Snaggy Bay, Round Top and most bays on the north end. Anglers are using chartreuse, yellow or white spinner blades with a bottom bouncer, slow death rigs or crankbaits. Worms and leeches are working equally well. Shore anglers are catching a few walleye in Beaver Creek Bay near White Earth and around the Silos. Rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells or silver spoons on the north end around Cemetary Island or from White Earth to Hole in the Wall on walleye rigs. An occasional perch is being reported by walleye anglers. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
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