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Perch action has been great, and most are being found on the lower end of the reservoir while using Hali jigs and maggots near the bottom in 35 to 45 feet of water out from Departure Point, Log Gulch, and the BLM boat ramp. A few rainbows are being picked up in the bays near the shorelines. Most are being caught while using various jigs or ice flies with maggots or crawlers 6 to 10 feet below the ice. The BLM ramp has up to 8 inches, Log Gulch has up to 10 inches and Departure Point has up to 11 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Hell Creek Recreation Information (January 12, 2023)
Wapiti G.: Kokanee biting good. Use light rod, they are biting extremely light. Few perch, lots of suckers off bottom.
Walter S.: Ice is in good condition at all the lakes near Helena.
Paul C.: A bunch of people out on it today when I stopped
As we move into mid 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
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)
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)
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)
Will J.: Lol bro pretty much any standing body of water does around here. I haven’t drilled into anything less than 6″ in like a month
Rainbow trout continue to be picked up in the Causeway area while using various colored jigs tipped with maggots or crawlers in around 10 feet of water. Black Sandy is also producing a few rainbows while using the same equipment. No report for perch or walleye. There is up to 15 inches of ice near the Causeway and on Lake Helena. Black Sandy has up to 10 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Clint N.: Lower was about 6 inches last Friday
Craig S.: Was up there yesterday. No slush and plenty of ice for ATV
January Missouri River Weather Forecast
Pretty stable for the next ten days with air temps in the mid 30’s at night along with daily highs in the mid 40’s. Lots of cloud cover predicted so may be a decent time to fish?
The average temperature for January includes a highs of 35F and lows of 15F with 0.51 inches of precip which adds up to about 9″ of snow. The wind chill can be impressive with winds from the north. The prevailing wind is generally from the southwest which is not nearly as biting as the evil northern wind. Check out the 2023 totals here on US Climate Great Falls site.
The water temperatures are terribly cold. Currently hovering around 33-ish. The frigid well below zero temperatures for a good long spell has the river locked in a winters grasp. Anglers out this weekend including a great Friday not he river yesterday!
The water levels are holding in the lower than average zone by about 1400cfs. Don’t know as of posting what the water direction will be before the end of the wet season in June, but we do know our snowpack is a touch above average.
January Fishing Forecast
Cold. Our coldest fishing month. Or one of the top 3. Again we will not know the outcome until later this spring. The winter-like November and December have led us into quite a boring start for the New Year. Wear warm clothes, warmer socks, and bring your Thermos. Average daily temps have been recorded in the 30’s.
Morning fishing is for those who like to sneak out there before the fish are bothered by the winter sun. Some wait until after breakfast to begin their slow journey to the river. Fish the noon til 4pm slot until the sun stays out later if you like the meat of the day. As the winter fades to spring then you may begin to enjoy the morning more often. But that is a couple, or a few months away.
Nymphers come on strong in January. The primary attack for fish catching includes anything pink. Or at least start with anything and then figure it out. Firebeads are really a hot ticket in the next couple months. Really strong through the end of spring.
Fish the real winter water all month long. The stale stuff. Almost stopped, yet still moving. The inside bends towards the end of the moving area. Then focus on depth. The water is pretty low so go with shorter than normal rigs. Split or not is your choice. A house divided on this lead filled topic.
Swingers comprise about half of the winter Missouri River angling participation stats. Skagit fishers are getting fish on the line. Fishing pretty well from top thru the canyon. Check with the shop before heading out for not only boat ramp health but shelf ice coverage.
Headhunters Fly Shop
Open daily for all things Trout. Your leading Montana fly shop for all things Trout Spey. We have the full lines of RIO, Scientific Angler, OPST, and Airflo spey lines, tips ,and accessories. Headhunters Fly Shop is the authority in this arena with the entirety of the staff engaged and involved with the two handed rod all winter long.
January is a busy month for booking spring, summer, and fall guide trips and nightly Missouri River lodging. You want to start your Missouri River legacy this year? Or continue your family Montana trip? Start making your Montana trout memories by getting your name on the books for 2023.
Headhunters open daily 9-5. Enjoy your January whether you be skiing, finishing up the waterfowl season, fishing, or hibernating. Give us a shout. We love talking trout!
Ashley Lake- 5” of good ice. Salmon action starting at 45’ of water. Few nice perch.
Swan Lake- 5” of ice near hey side, excellent lake trout and a few salmon.
Lake Mary Ronan- 5 inches of ice, good perch off state park area try 20 to 30’ of water.
Bitterroot Lake- ￼ North west and 3 to 5” of ice, few rainbow, and salmon. Main lake froze no reports on ice depth.
Dickey Lake- 3-5” of ice. Salmon action good near boat launch.
Somers Bay- 5-7” of ice.
Be careful, can change daily! White Fish action good early morning, few big lake trout.
Thompson Lakes- Upper and lower good ice, lots of small perch, few pike. No reports of ice depths on Middle, it froze later.
Beaver- Good reports of nice salmon, few perch.
Don’t forget this great family event!
A few Kokanee are being picked up while jigging Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with maggots or corn 25 to 35 feet of water. An occasional perch is being caught while using the same equipment near the bottom. 12-14 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Always be safe when checking ice and use your safety gear.
- Flathead Lake (Somers Bay) – 5 Inches of ice. Lots of small perch and a few Whitefish being caught as well as Lake Trout.
- Lake Mary Ronan – 5 inches of ice. The Perch and Salmon bites are getting better. Try starting around 15′-20′ off Camp Tuffit or the Lodge.
- Smith Lake – 9+ inches of ice. There are still lots of pike biting on tip-ups and small spoons tipped with bait.
- Bitterroot Lake – 3-4 inches of ice in the North Bay. No reports of ice thickness mid lake.
- Rogers Lake – 8+ inches of ice. Grayling bite has been good. Try small forage minnows tipped with maggots. Cutties have been slow but give some Tutsos or Wolfinkees a try.
- Blanchard Lake – 5 inches of ice. Lots of Crappie being caught. Try using crappie magnets or Hali’s for your best chances.
- Church Slough – 7+ inches of ice. Pike bite has been good. Get out some tip-ups with dead bait. Crappie are starting to bite on small tungstens tipped with waxies or maggots.
- Murray Lake – 4 inches of ice. The trout are being caught just of the shoreline in about 15′ of water. Suspend some glow hooks on jaw jackers tipped with maggots or waxies.
- Lower Thompson Lake – 5 inches of ice. Many reports of perch between 6-8 inches being caught on Hali’s with waxies or maggots. Spearing has been ok for pike. Remember to mark your spear holes for safety!
- Whitefish Lake (State Park) – 3-4 inches of ice. A few lakers being caught in the morning around 40′-60′ down.
–No new report–
This Kootenai River Montana fishing report is being brought to you by Orvis Endorsed Linehan Outfitting. This report will be updated weekly to provide current conditions, weather, hatches, patterns, and flows to our local waters and across the state.
Flows from Libby Dam: 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
–No new report–
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. This weird week between the holidays is often a daze, and it’s a good chance to slow down a bit and reflect on the past year.
Fishing report is pretty basic. Things are icy. Super damn icy. This recent cold snap put a damper on things pretty hard. The warmer temps are going to create some dangerous conditions as ice jams thaw and ice is moving around. Be super careful, it’s nothing to mess around with. Lots of our fishing accesses across the region are blocked with ice, and you can encounter some dangerous situations as these jams and what not break up and move around.
Our advice? Enjoy good people. Eat good food. Drink good drinks. Live life a bit. Tie some flies and day dream about trips for next year. If you are feeling especially motivated to get out on the water, the local spring creeks are a good option. The caveat? The warmer temps we’ve had this week bring the wind. In a really big way. Be forewarned.
Cheers folks, thank you all very much for reading, fishing with us, and being part of the journey. On to an even better 2023!
Rainbows are being caught 15-20 feet deep, from the Silos to Hole in the Wall and at Duck Creek while using assorted flashers and worms. Walleye and perch are being caught around Hole in the Wall and Duck Creek in 30 feet of water while using jigs or red hooks tipped with maggots, worms or perch eyes. Stay away from the pressure ridges on the south end of the reservoir. There is 18-20 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds, 10-15 inches of ice around Duck Creek and the north end has 3-5 inches of ice. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena