Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation 12.14.22
By angelamontana

Posted: December 14, 2022

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.

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Hell Creek Recreation Information (December 14, 2022)

Bighorn River News via Bighorn Angler (December 6, 2022)

NOW HIRING FOR THE 2023 SEASON: The Retail Sales Associate/Apprentice Guide

The Bighorn Angler is the premier fly shop, lodge, and guide service on the legendary Bighorn River located in Fort Smith Montana and is seeking a knowledgeable, passionate fly fisher with the desire to provide our patrons with a world class experience. There is an additional opportunity to learn how to guide the river under our experienced, absolute best guide staff.

This is a seasonal position, from Mid-April through Mid-October with part time opportunities in the off-season and lodging would be provided as part of employment. Salary will be determined based on level of experience. The Angler is the busiest fly shop/lodge in the area and one of the busiest in Montana. This person must be able to handle a fast pace and multiple tasks simultaneously. Well over half our clientele are repeat customers and longtime friends. This person must be very outgoing, positive, and have a good personality interacting with our many great clients. Attention to detail will be critical in all aspects relating to the fly shop operation, sales, check-in/check-out, reservations, lodging, and overall customer experience.


• Provide exceptional service to our customers
• Execute smooth daily operation of our fly shop and services (guides, rentals, lodging, etc)
• Assist customers with purchases; in person, over the phone, and internet sales
• Take and process reservations
• Coordinate check-ins and check-outs with customers
• Maintain a neat/orderly fly shop and resort grounds
• Maintain upkeep of rental boats
• Learn the river and develop as a fly fishing guide and instructor


• Hardworking, friendly, and outgoing personality
• Strong attention to details and can multitask
• Strong communication skills
• Comfortable with computers, software, and the internet
• Working knowledge of fly fishing including technique, equipment, and fly patterns
• Retail and/or sales experience preferred
• Fly fishing knowledge or industry experience a plus
• Experience in the hospitality industry a plus


Missouri River Fishing Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 4, 2022)

Ronald M.: Took the girlfriend out to try to find some burbot but only saw 1 dink swimming around. She caught a 18 1/4″ trout and a 12 1/2″ walleye. I ended with a 12″ walleye and a 20 1/2″ 2lb 12oz spawned out nasty salmon. Hopefully the burbot will start moving in soon.

Nolan R.: The burbot are biting right now. Target them in South facing, deep, rocky areas. Glow jigs tipped with a half a sucker minnow.

Cooney State Park Information via FWP (December 14, 2022)

Canyon Ferry Ice Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 11, 2022)

Kraig E.: I was there on Saturday last weekend. Out front of silos has almost 6 inches. By the ponds is 10 Inches. Confederate bay had 3 inches. Hope that helps

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Headhunters Fly Shop (December 10, 2022)

Deep(er) Thoughts on the Headhunter Fly Line

We wanted to design a line for us. For Headhunters.

A couple days ago we published the Headhunter Fly Line Review.   As I thought about that blog, I recognized that I left out the Deeper Thoughts on how we felt about fly lines including what we truly wanted the line to behave like.

A fly line that Finished Strong

Finishes Strong. Some call this turning over well. That line really turns the fly over. When casting good streamer lines that is a component of design that I’m sure line manufacturers desire. A turnover that does not kick. That does not finish too strong.

A line that turns over well was a design component that we did not want to miss. And the reasoning behind this concept was our belief that the only time the caster can actually control the fly line is when you are tight. Sans Slack. The only time.

You gotta be tight to place the line, the fly, on the desired target, every time.

After you pull a loop into the line on your forward cast, when it is flying through the air from aft to fore, you do not have control. You are not attached for that moment. It is flying, flinging, moving rapidly hopefully towards your target.

This is the point where many anglers give up and hope. They fling it at the rising trout area. Sometimes it lands in the correct spot, but it mostly does not. (See Guessing below)

You control the pulling movement forward, towards the target, aiming it at the rising trout, stopping the rod (a movement that many need to improve on, the actual stopping of the rod not parallel to the water, not decelerating) in the direction of the rising trout.

The next thing that happens is the line straightens in front of you. This moment, this nano-second, is the line finishing strong.

This moment is real, real important.

When the line is coming tight, straight, taut, the loop has unrolled, it is straightening out in front of you…once again for the second time during the fore-stroke, you have an opportunity to move the line, to place the fly where you intend.

And that is important when Headhunting, when casting at specific targets. The moment you come tight, the line straightens, you can move the line, the fly, wherever you want. An example is the reach mend or cast. That is a secondary movement beyond the cast. It is those movements, moving the line and fly, to a specific spot you intend. In short, ACCURACY. When you are tight on the line you can move it up, down, sideways, and so forth. You can move the line wherever you want to. Accurately.

After you come tight on the fore-cast you have over 1 second to make a change before the flies lands on the water. And that time is important for your perfect placement of the fly.

You choose where the fly is placed. You, the caster, gets to choose.

Consequently a line that finishes strong is damn important for dry fly anglers.

And, the wind blows here. So coming tight, finishing strong, and controlling the outcome of the fly line and fly, is damn important for dry fly successes.

Known Outcomes are important in dry fly fishing. Since we, and you shouldn’t either unless you like to guess every cast as many do that do not have a high success percentage whilst targeting specific fish, do not condone shooting fly line during a dry fly cast, Known Outcomes are important. And casting a static amount of line, a line that finishes strong, was imperative for us when thinking about, designing, and testing the Headhunter Fly Line. 

Simply put, if you cannot control the fly line, dictate where the fly is placed, then we have failed. We were determined to bring a fly line to market that you could control. And it must finish strong, for you to control the outcome of each and every cast.

A line that casts well in the wind

See above.

A line built for a Specific Use

There are lots of fly lines on the market. We chose not to make a fly line for all anglers. There are plenty of them out there.There are very good general use fly line options from many line producers.

A line for Headhunters, by Headhunters.

We are Headhunters. We are dry fly anglers at heart. We wanted a dry fly specific fly line made for 30′-60′ casts in the wind.

You can buy very specific streamer lines with differing densities depending on water depths, sink rates, etc. A nymphing line is imperative for tossing heavily weighted nymph rigs.

We wanted a dry fly line for our specific needs. For your specific needs. For Headhunting.

Casting with purpose

This is a fly line that you cast with purpose. For those guys out there not headhunting, lobbing nymph rigs outside the boat, this is not for you.

When fishing for rising trout, you must cast with purpose. The goal is to catch the trout. To fool the fish. And lobbing casts, shotgunning, guessing casts at rising fish is not what we intend to do when Headhunting.

You don’t look at the deer, then close your eyes and guess your shot out there. Do yah? That is what many anglers do when casting at rising trout. They guess…

Many anglers like to guess every cast at rising fish. They pull in different amounts of line and start the cast with a different amount of line off the tip every cast. They shoot line every cast at rising trout. That is guessing the fly out there. Known Outcomes while casting with the Headhunter Fly Line. This line is for fella’s who exhibit this behavior. This line is designed to lift you up brotha. For you to break through.

So many anglers hope that the fly lands near the trout, and hope that the trout eats the fly…a day filled with hope. I like Hope. I hope the sun will shine. I hope I will win the Lotto. I hope the wind won’t blow too hard. I hope the chef does not overcook my steak. I do not integrate hope in my dry fly game. I dictate what happens. I cast with purpose. 

We consciously chose to make this fly line for those who dictate outcomes. A line that casts with purpose.

For those who choose to catch more dry fly trout. This line is made for you to move to the next level. If you mail it in, guess every cast, shoot line at rising trout, drop your rod tip on the fore-cast, and decelerate…this line is made to break the mold and allow you to improve.

Because if you do the above, you will not progress. You will not get better. The Headhunter Fly Line is a line that can help you move forward. To leave those bad habits and unimpressive results behind you.

You have to participate with the Headhunter Fly Line. And that was important to us. A line not for beginners. There are other lines out there for that specific skill set.

So as I have outlined here, we thought about it. We wanted a line that you could, and would, and should cast with purpose.

User Friendly

If it is not user friendly, we have failed. We integrated an easy to understand color scheme. The Lime Green portion means you are in the Performance Zone. The Casting Zone. The fly line casts the best when you are in that zone. Easy. If the Blue Sky Camo is inside the rod tip, there may not be enough line out to load the rod properly. Easy. Lime Green means go ahead and cast. Blue Sky Camo means you have pulled too much line inside the rod tip.

Also included in this thought process was a running line that does not tangle as often. A larger diameter running line keeps the tangles to a minimum.

Deep(er) Thoughts about the HH Fly Line

Remember this line is made for a specific use. It is made for technical dry fly casts in the normal distance range of 25′-60′. This is not made for short casts. It is not made for extra long booming blind casts with grasshoppers. The Headhunter Dry Fly Line is made for accurate, casts at distance, with common environmental distractions that this fly line overcomes with ease.

We were quite conscious of the beliefs above. We wanted to stay true to the cause. To the design. To the dry fly line. To Headhunters.

And what we got, from RIO of Idaho Falls, was exactly what we set out to do. The Headhunter Dry Fly Line.

Gallatin River Fishing Report via Bozeman Fly Supply (December 13, 2022)

Well, it looks like winter is here to stay but that just means the rivers will be less busy! The Gallatin River is fishing well right now, but be careful on and around shelf ice! In the lower stretches of the river around Axtell and Cameron Bridge, target deeper slower runs and buckets as well as definitive seams. If you like to fish up in the canyon and closer to Big Sky, fish the same water but put most of your energy into the deep pockets. For your point flies try stoneflies like Pats Rubber Legs, and Deep Cleaners, or a leech pattern like a Wooly Bugger. For your dropper patterns focus on small mayfly species and midges. Zebra midges, Quilldigons, and Hares Ears in 16-22 are some of our favorites in the winter on the Gallatin. Worms and eggs can also be a very good option. If you find one fish, keep fishing that area, as fish tend to pod up in the winter! On the right day fish can be willing to move for stripped streamers so that can make for a very fun day on the river as well. Try Mini Dungeons and sculpin patterns. Fish that are looking up on overcast days will be looking for baetis, mice, and midges.

Suggested Fly Patterns

  • Dry Fly

    Adams (14-22), Purple Haze (16-20), Sparkle Dun (16-22), Elk Hair Caddis (14-18), Griffith’s Gnat (16-20), Buzzball (16-18), Extended Body BWO (16-22) Pip Squeak Baby Mouse (6)

  • Streamer

    Woolly Bugger Olive/Black (6-12), Sculpzilla Tan/Black/Olive (4-8), Beldar Brown/Black/Olive (6-8), GD P/Jig Streamer (10), Zirdle Bug Tan/ Orange/ Olive (6-12), Urchin Bugger (4), Dungeon Black/ White/ Brown/ (2), Mini Dungeon Purple/ Natural/ White (6)

  • Nymph

    Perdigon (14-18), Pat’s Rubber Legs (8-12), Hell Razor Leech (12), Hare’s Ear (16-20), Black Blowtorch (12-18), Juju Baetis (18-20), Zebra Midge Black/ Red/ Purple (16-22), Worms, Eggs, Mops

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (December 9, 2022)

♦️ Church Slough- 5-6’ of good ice, nice pike on tip-ups being caught, also look for crappie/bass along weed edges late evening. Try Northland forage minnows or cubby jigs.
♦️ Smith Lake- lots of small pike on dead bait. Also look for big perch 3 to 5 feet of water with small tungsten jigs.  Check regulations on perch.
♦️ Island Lake- a lots of perch 7-11”, few pike 5-6”. Good ice with slush and snow.
♦️ Lower Thompson- Froze- Not Safe ⚠️
♦️ Little McGregor- 4-6” of ice, lots of small perch, few rainbows and brookies.
♦️ Lower Stillwater- 6-8” ice, good perch north end or by bar. Also pike and lake trout.
♦️ Murphy Lake- 4-6” of ice, lots of perch 6-10”, a few bass.
♦️ Flathead River- still some white fish in river, also try lower and near sportsman bridge. Be sure to check regulations on the river.
⚠️⚠️ Be safe out there ⚠️⚠️

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (December 1, 2022)

-No new report-

Lakes are starting to cap over, be safe when checking ice and use your safety gear.

December 10th Snappy’s Fish on Ice special, seminars and in-store specials all day! Details Coming – Details Here

  • Flathead Lake – Reports of good schools of perch being caught in East Bay.
  • Lake Mary Ronan – Reports of Ice Cap forming, not safe!
  • Smith Lake – 7+ inches. Pike fishing has been good using smelt under tip-ups. A few Perch being caught as well.
  • Lower Stillwater – 5-7 inches. Perch fishing has been decent. Try using Gitzit’s or Hali’s tipped with maggots.
  • Rogers Lake – 6+ inches. Grayling fishing has been good. Get out some forage minnows or Tutso jigs. Cuts being caught in the early hours on Wolfinkee jigs.
  • Dog Lake – 5+ inches. Pike and perch fishing has been good. Small tungsten jigs with soft plastics and maggots or waxies for perch seem to be working well.
  • Church Slough – 4-6 inches. Good pike being caught off tip-ups with dead bait.

Fishing Report by Yellowstone Country Flyfishing (November 10, 2022)

This Montana fishing report is valid from November 1 until the first run of daytime high temperatures in the high 30s or 40s. Normally that’s called “most of November,” but it has been bitter cold and snowy all month.

Fishing is very poor right now and we do not recommend it. Water temps are in the low to mid-30s everywhere except the Paradise Valley spring creeks, and air temps are in the teens for highs. Significant ice formation is already underway.

Beware of spawning brown trout and don’t bother them. It is best to avoid areas of gravel on up to cobble-sized rocks in 1-4 feet of water for the remainder of the fall unless you see rising trout (which will almost entirely be non-spawners). Avoid clean shallow gravel at all costs: don’t fish there and don’t walk there. Our trout are all wild and the browns need to be left to make the next generation in peace. There are PLENTY of other fish in the sea (or trout in the stream), including those sitting in the bouldery or silty pools downstream of spawning areas, where they’ll be eating eggs and bugs disturbed by spawners.

The Yellowstone River is rapidly icing up and will fish poor. Near the mouth of the Gardner River, fish a stonefly nymph with a midge pupa dropper. That’s probably your only realistic shot.

The lower Madison River is largely in the same boat as the Yellowstone, exacerbated by its shallowness.

The Paradise Valley spring creeks are now on winter rates of $40/day. This is probably the best option in the area until at least early February, since the water never drops under about 45 degrees. It will be cooooollllld fishing, though. Fish midge pupae, eggs, and streamers. If it ever warms up, there might be limited BWO and midge emergences.

The Missouri River is a long way to drive, but will not ice up for a while yet. Scuds, sowbugs, BWO nymphs, and midge pupae will produce the numbers. Swung streamers may produce some bigger fish.

Yellowstone Park’s fishing season is now closed. Moving forward, we expect October 31 at sunset to be the permanent closing date. It used to be sunset on the first Sunday in November. They did get the replacement North Entrance Rd open on October 30, so at least you can drive in to LOOK at the water.

Note: Montana Outdoor‘s website is the only commercial external site authorized to use this content. Please let us know if you see it anywhere else (Parks’ Fly Shop’s report is similar, since Walter writes that one too).

Dog Lake near Hot Springs Ice Report via Flathead Valley Fishing Report 12.9.22

  • Brady G.: thick. was six+ last weekend when we were there.
  • Brett M.: heard it had around 8+inches of solid clear ice last weekend.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (December 6, 2022)

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.

We look forward to hearing from you.  406-295-4872

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (December 13, 2022)

As we move into winter, the fishing on the Yellowstone will be hit or miss. Don’t let that discourage you, if you hit it right you could have a stellar day! Indicator rigs can be effective especially on sunny day, try a bugger followed by your favorite midge pattern. Try stripping streamers on cloudy days and if you’re more into dry fly fishing and see some noses throw baetis and midge cluster dries. Areas of the river with spring creek influence can be a great option right now as there will be warmer water pumping into the colder main river, giving the trout a comfortable place to pod up and look for food. 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

  • Dry Fly

    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), Griffiths Gnat (16-20), Buzzball (16-18)

  • Streamer

    Woolly Bugger (4-12), Mini Dungeon Black/ Natural/ White (6), 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)

  • Nymph

    Pat’s Rubber Legs (6-12), Zirdle Bug (6-12), Woolly Bugger Black/ Olive (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)

Beaver Lake via Flathead Valley Fishing Report December 9, 2022

  • Kirk F.: Wasn’t even capped over about a week ago
  • Michael H.:  Was there yesterday and there’s 2 1/2 inches 40 yeards out past that is like 1 inch

Yellowstone River and Livingston Area Fly Fishing Report by Dan Bailey’s (December 7, 2022)

Well, we got dumped on again. This has been the snowiest November/early December we have had in a long time, and it’s AWESOME. Bring it on. While we have a long way to go to get out of the region-wide drought we are in, we are in a great spot at this point in the season. Ski resorts are opening up early, our ski rental program is open early, and we are stoked for the coming winter.

What does this mean for fly fishing? Well, it keeps this report pretty simple.


It’s cold. And slushy. And windy. Honestly? Stay inside and tie flies. Get your Christmas shopping done at a local business, go have a nice dinner out or get a good local beer and swap fishing stories.

If you’re absolutely desperate to get out on the water, hit the spring creeks.


The Upper Madison River is getting pretty icy as well these days, but there are still fishable spots. Reynold’s Pass and Three Dollar area are consistently good winter fisheries. Be sure to check how iced in boat ramps are before you put in if you are floating.

The Lower Madison is getting some ice and slush as well, but remains a good winter option for close to home. Hiking up Bear Trap Canyon can provide some good opportunities, especially for winter midges. Crayfish patterns with a midge dropper (Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior, etc) can be deadly. Find the deep and slow water, and keep adding weight until you find the fish. Remember that their energy drops with the water temps.


The Gallatin River in the canyon below Big Sky is always a popular spot for winter fishing. It stays reasonably ice free, unlike the river above Big Sky or down in the valley. With temps going warm to cold to warm again, be super careful about ice jams. Every winter the Gallatin gets a few that can be very dangerous if you aren’t paying attention.

Fish the deep and slow water with attractor nymphs and midges. Lightning bugs or Copper Johns with a midge behind them are a good bet. On warmer days look for fish eating midges on top.


The Paradise Valley spring creeks are the best winter fishing spot we have locally. With consistent water temp and flow, they provide an ice free option when everything else is locked up. Fishing this time of year can be very technical, bring your A-Game and a fully stocked midge box.

These are a pay-to-play fishery, but rod fees are quite a bit less in the winter than their summer season. Unlike the busy peak season, you can usually get day-of reservations.


Christmas season is in full swing here in Downtown Livingston. The decorations are up, the lights are on, and it’s a great time to get ahead on your shopping. There are a host of events happening between now and the end of the year all across town. Here at Dan Bailey’s we have our Ladies’ Night and Men’s Night coming up. Ladies’ Night is this Thursday from 3-8pm, with Men’s Night on the 15th from 3-8pm.

At both events, the entire store will be 10% off and you can save another 5% off anything that is on your gift registry.(Fly Fishing goods will not be 10% off. Maybe we word it, “Most of the store will be 10% off”? There will be games to save even more and a warm fire with snacks and libations provided out back. It’s always a good time and one of our favorite events of the year!

We’ve got a store full of great items for gifts or for yourself. Come check it out, and if you are headed out to fish we’ve got everything you need to catch fish and stay warm and comfortable while you’re doing it. It’s fly tying season for those who don’t want to deal with ice in the guides, and we’ve got a full stock of materials for all your favorite patterns.

Tight lines this week!

Lake Mary Ronan Update via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 12, 2022)

Good morning everyone, I have some concerns 😟 there are some people making calls to Dick Zimmer giving out incomplete information! I call Dick last night give him the report we had
They stated LMR Was at 7 inches of ice off Mountain Meadows, way out. This has NOT been the case!
We have been going out to Lake Mary Ronan for the last 4 weeks!! We have been watching the ice form and close up.
This week we have been out twice walking it drilling it and fishing it! What we have found close to shore it was
5 inches at 10 feet flow of water 100 feet from the boat ramp!
We walked another 100 feet out
17 foot flow of water
it was 4 inches with 1/2 inch crusty top
At 20 feet flow 3 inches of ice
Then hit pressure ridges and splits on the ice. Other people have been out as well. They found you need to stay closer too because it’s not safe further out and DEFINITELY not ready for ATVS!!
Just remember you are the person responsible for checking the ice conditions. Please Please be safe
Lake Mary has many springs in it
Here are some of the pictures started two weeks ago:
(Click here for image licensing information)
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