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.
Perch action is still pretty good with good numbers being found out from Departure Point and the Prairie Dog Town on the lower end of the reservoir while using Hali jigs and maggots near the bottom in 35 to 45 feet of water. A few rainbows are being picked up at the Gates of the Mountains while using various jigs or ice flies with maggots or crawlers 3 to 10 feet below the ice. The Gates of the Mountains has around 10 inches, The BLM ramp has around 7 inches, Departure Point has around 8 inches, the Prairie Dog Town has around 8 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Daniel D.: Was fine on Saturday
Hell Creek Recreation Information (January 18, 2023)
Colin H.: People have been slaying lake trout few bulls catch and release me personally didn’t catch shit but was out there 2 days ago with big groups bout 60 to 100 feet few Kokanee in 40.
Ice: Ice abou 5 6 inches lots of water on top
James G.: Lakers were hanging off main lake points just past Hell Creek bay they were suspended between 25’ and 45’ a week or so ago. Guys who were catching them were finding them on their FF and jigging
The weather has been nice enough to get out there and enjoy some time on the water. There is still a lot of shelf ice, making it difficult (and dangerous) to walk in certain spots. The River is also very low, making it very difficult to float, even in a raft you may have to get out and push here and there to get over shallow riffles, not to mention putting in and taking out on ice shelves. Wade fishing is definitely the safest route to go right now. There have been midges on less windy days, however, we haven’t been seeing many rising fish. Zebra midges under a dry or an indicator have been working, along with streamer patterns.
The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks are likely your best bet if you are getting the itch to go fishing. The water is much warmer from the aquifers that feed Nelson’s, Armstrong’s, and Depuy’s. Winter rates are $40.00 a rod and worth the money in our opinion. You can easily spend this much in gas if you are headed to the Bighorn or Missouri. Midges are the staple on the creeks right now, along with various scud and sowbug patterns. The browns are now done spawning for the most part, but take care not to step on the redds (cleared-off gravel spawning beds) to help the eggs mature. Give us a call for the latest report! 406-222-7130.
Cody E.: has good numbers but your will get bigger fish on the other two places you mentioned. Also it’s that midway point to the winter season and i feel like the slow down a bit till right before ice off.
Walter S.: Ice is in good condition at all the lakes near helena.
A few perch or walleye are being found in Lake Helena and near the power lines in the Causeway Arm while jigging near the bottom with glow jigs and crawlers. Rainbow trout continue to be picked up in the Causeway area while using various colored jigs tipped with maggots or crawlers 6 to 10 feet below the ice. The Causeway has around 10 inches, Lake Helena has around 15 inches and Black Sandy has around 12 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Clint N.: Lower was about 6 inches last Friday
Gage W.: Last I heard 16 plus
Christal K.: Ice is 15 to 20” thick, we drive our 3/4 ton on it all the time. There is a pressure ridge as you get closer to shithouse but, just fine otherwise.
Headhunters Fly Shop Mid January Fishing Report
All good this month. Waking up from the long and deep cold spell here in central Montana.
Water temps are 34.3F. Water flows 3600cfs.
Shelf ice present on the lower river. Not as much, but still pleasant, on the upper river above Mid Canon, and south towards the dam.
Boat ramps seem to be clear all over. No snow in the near future, so all good.
Nymphers are getting them on pink, sows, Zebra’s, worms, Firebeads, Pink LB’s, Pill Poppers, Lucent Bead winter flies, and so forth. 4′-6′ of water with our without split shots. Look for the winter water, stop in if you do not know what that is. Spoke with some anglers this weekend who had trouble finding the fish. Maybe too deep in some too deep water, or too fast, in water that looks like it could hold hopper bank feeders. None of which generally work well.
Dry fly guys? Seeking rising tout. SOme midge int eh neighborhood. Look for them circling in soft addies as well. Dry-dropper dudes are using a cluster midge, with a tiny mayfly or pink or Zebra dropper.
Streamer strippers are getting some action too. White, chartreuse, black. Smaller recently. Buggers always good in out world. Stop in for a great winter streamer selection here in Craig @ Headhunters Fly Shop.
Only shop on the river, open daily. Guides, winter lodging, sly shop services, the Headhunters Fly Line…and more!
The Trout Spey swingers are enjoying the last couple weeks. Some non-windy days out there. That is nice. The other days are super windy. That is not nice. Skagit Style with intermediate tips, or 7.5’x2.5′ IMOW or 5×5, or try out the fantastic SA product that many are raving about. Come by and see the largest selection of Trout Spey Gear in Montana and beyond. We have well over 500 spey lines in stock. We got yer trout swing gear here in Craig. Flies, soft hackles, wets, classics, new breed spey swing flies, tips, lines, rods, demo stuff, and all the gear you may need!
Hump Day. Fool around with some gear tonight. Ohh, it may feel good!
Beaver Lake- Good salmon action early morning, few nice perch.
Bitterroot Lake- 4” good ice on the south￼ end of lake, few salmon biting.
Whitefish Lake- Good numbers of lake trout and white fish hitting. 5-7 inches of ice.
Lake Mary Ronan- Perch action good 36’ of water, also some salmon.
Swan Lake- 5-7” of ice. Lake trout and pike hitting.
Ashley Lake- 6” of ice. Good salmon action and a few nice perch.
Rodgers Lake- Grayling action good along south east shore.
Blanchard- Small crappie and a few nice pike.
Lower Thompson- Good perch 30’ of water along Highway side.
Loon Lake (Bigfork)- Nice rainbows early mornings *** Check your regulations***
February 11th FREE Family Fishing Derby- Get Signed up!
Kokanee and perch fishing has been pretty good while using Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with maggots or corn near the bottom in 25 to 35 feet of water. 14-15 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. Whitefish bite around 20′ with the occasional laker showing up.
- Lake Mary Ronan – 6+ inches of ice. Perch and Salmon bite is getting better. Try starting around 15′-20′ off Camp Tuffit or the Lodge.
- Smith Lake – 9+ inches of ice. Still lots of pike biting on tip-ups and small spoons tipped with bait.
- Bitterroot Lake – 4 inches of ice in the north bay. No reports of ice thickness mid lake.
- Rogers Lake – 8+ inches of ice. Grayling being caught mid lake around 14′ deep. Try using small forage minnows tipped with maggots.
- Ashley Lake – 3-4 inches of ice. Good numbers of salmon being caught on Hali’s and Swedish Pimples paired with Pautzke fire corn or maggots.
- Church Slough – 8+ inches of ice. Pike fishing has started to slow. Although a few being caught on tip-ups. Panfish bite has been picking up.
- Murray Lake – 6+ inches of ice. Reports of trout being caught just off the shoreline in about 15′. Try suspending glow hooks on Jaw Jackers tipped with maggots or waxies.
- Lower Thompson Lake – 5 inches of ice. Good numbers of perch being caught from 15′-20’deep. A few salmon starting to be caught around 40-50′ deep. Try using Swedish Pimples paired with glow hooks.
- Whitefish Lake (State Park) – 4 inches of ice. A few lakers being caught in the morning around 40′-60′.
–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
Happy New Year, welcome to 2023 folks. It’s going to be a great year here in Montana!
Not a whole lot has changed since our last report. We’re still in the midst of winter fishing, even with this warm up we’re experiencing right now. The warm weather is nice in that ice isn’t as much of an issue as it might otherwise be, but it definitely feels more like March than January out there. Ice is still a problem in some places, so make sure you get an updated daily report before launching a boat or walking down to your spot. Be careful around shelf ice, it’s nothing to play around with!
We’ve had a few calls and questions about this, remember that the Montana fishing license season ends at the end of February. This means that your 2022 fishing license is still valid! We’ll be posting about the need for new licenses when it comes time for it.
Wherever you go you’ll likely run into wind. Pretty much anywhere in Montana these warmer temps bring with them wind. In places like Livingston, a 40 degree day brings with it 40-60 mph winds. If you’re going to the saltwater anytime soon and need some practice casting in the wind, come to Sacajawea Park with your 10-weight.
Midges are the primary hatch at the moment, but they are few and far between. Look for them around midday, and expect the hatch to intensify as we move toward February. If you’re after some dry fly action, find a calm spot. Which might be a challenge with these temps!
For subsurface tactics, find the deep and slow water. Water temps are low and the fish aren’t too active. They want to hang out in spots where they can use as little energy as possible, so get the weight out. Keep adding weight and fishing deeper until you either find the fish or keep snagging bottom. A larger indicator fly like a rubber legs, mega prince or crawfish with a midge larva behind it is a good starting point.
If you’re fishing streamers this time of year, swinging them or dead drifting them under an indicator are the way to go. Same thought applies here as with nymphs – trout aren’t wanting to expend a lot of energy chasing quickly stripped streamers. Swinging good runs can be very effective in the winter. A trout spey rod is ideal for this, but you can still swing flies well with a single hand rod if needed.
Here locally, the spring creeks are the best option. We’ve heard of some people fishing the Yellowstone River but it’s not been that great – especially in the wind. The constant flow and temps of the spring creeks are ideal for winter fishing and the experience is well worth the rod fee. The Gallatin Canyon isn’t a bad option, nor is Bear Trap on the Lower Madison. If you feel like a drive head to Craig on the Missouri River or Reynold’s Pass on the Upper Madison.
If you don’t feel like battling the wind all day long and breaking ice out of your guides, sitting down at the vise and filling some fly boxes for next year might be a better option. Want to learn to tie flies? We’re offering a 5 week fly tying class starting February 15th! The class will focus on the basic and give you all the skills you need to get into the world of tying your own flies. We have a few spots left so call 406.222.1673 and reserve yours before the class fills up.
Our fly tying selection at the shop has everything you need for your favorite flies, and we’re always happy to talk patterns, techniques, and materials with you. Tight lines this week!
Rainbows are being caught from the Silos south to the Ponds in 10-15 feet of water on pink, brown or black jigs with worms or maggots. Walleye and perch are being caught around Hole in the Wall and mid reservoir between the Silos and Duck Creek in 30 feet of water while using Hali jigs or red, yellow or orange jigs 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