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.
A few rainbows and burbot are being picked up at the Gates of the Mountains while using various jigs with crawlers or ice flies in 8 to 10 feet of water. Perch fishing has been excellent with good numbers being found out from Log Gulch, Departure Point, the Prairie Dog Town, and the BLM boat ramp while using multi-colored Hali or similar jigs and maggots near the bottom in 30 to 50 feet of water. 8-10 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Brian H.: Go out from the boat launch, turn right and head back into the bays.
Beth G.: I fish that lake a lot. Small pike in bays, esp to right of boat ramp. Perch and salmon along homes across from boat ramp.
Hell Creek Recreation Information (January 26, 2023)
Will A.: I was up there a bit over the weekend. Lots of markin, but not much bitin.
Nolan R.: The Missouri River is my absolute favorite for walleye. I fished yesterday for an hour and 45 minutes. 43 pounds of walleye and a bonus ling.
-No new report-
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.
Colin H.: I was at church on Sunday i cought a few perch people next to me had a nice pike
Brandon M.: Church and lake Mary have both been very slow for me anyways, catching fish but it’s tough.
Brandon M.: ive seen some people still pulling some okay muskie out of there!
Rainbow action has been pretty consistent in the Causeway area while using various colored jigs tipped with maggots or crawlers 6 to 10 feet below the ice and also while using streamer flies in open water. Some larger perch are being found in Lake Helena and near the power lines in the Causeway Arm while jigging dead minnows or rattling jigs near the bottom. 12-14 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Geo J.: They are there Fish for perch and a Pike will show up at mid.
Mike L.: Was there Saturday ice good 8” to 14”roads good bite was slow no walleye perch at 30 feet
Ronald M.: Had a good day at the Willow Creek Derby with my buddy Jace. After fishing for a few hours in our spot with no luck we hit another and got on some fish. I landed a 18″ bow and he landed this 21″ 3.58lb bow. We both lost a fish as well. Nothing to place but can’t beat catching fish on this beautiful lake.
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!
Ashley Lake- 6-8” of good ice, good numbers of salmon being caught early morning or at night. Try 80’ of water for salmon. Few nice perch on bottom 30-40’.
Bitterroot Lake- South end froze 4-6” of ice. Limits of small salmon early mornings.
Be careful, reports of ice deteriorating.
Lake Mary Ronan- Nice perch hitting deeper water 30-40’. Also some salmon out in deeper water.
Lake Five- Limits of small salmon, also few perch and rainbows.
Rodgers Lake- Good grayling action early morning.
Loon Lake (Ferndale)- Nice rainbows mid lake, be sure and check regulations on the trout.
Island Lake- Lots of smaller perch, few nice ones try 20’ of water. Also, few pike.
Beaver Lake- Limits of nice salmon early morning.
Kokanee and perch fishing has slowed down recently, but some are still being found while using Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with red maggots or corn near the bottom in 25 to 35 feet of water. 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. A few whitefish and lakers being caught around 20′.
- Lake Mary Ronan – 6+ inches of ice. Perch being found around 30′-40′ along with a few salmon.
- Smith Lake – 10+ inches of ice. Perch bite remains slow but good opportunities for pike using dead bait and jigging spoons.
- Bitterroot Lake – 4 inches of ice in the north bay. Still no reports of ice thickness mid lake or bites.
- Rogers Lake – 9+ inches of ice. A few cuts being caught around 12′-15′ using small forage minnows tipped with maggots. Grayling bite is still going strong.
- Ashley Lake – 4 inches of ice. Good salmon bite early in the morning, try using Swedish Pimples and glow hooks.
- Church Slough – 8+ inches of ice. Water levels have changed be careful around the edges! Pike bite is slow but the panfish have been picking up.
- Lower Stillwater – 7+ inches of ice. Pike still being caught off tip-ups and dead bait. Still a few perch being caught around islands in about 20′ of water.
- Lower Thompson Lake – 6+ inches of ice. Perch are biting around 15′-25′ using small tungsten jigs paired with waxies or maggots. Salmon bite is still slow with a few spawners being caught.
- Whitefish Lake (State Park) – 4 inches of ice. Lakers still being caught early in the morning around 40′ and moving out around 100′ later in the day. Try white tubes or Zimmer tackle.
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 Friday folks. We made it another week into the new year. Our mild weather has persisted here in Southwest Montana and here in Livingston it looks and feels more like March than January. What does this mean for fishermen?
Couple things. First off, don’t get too concerned about snowpack just yet. I mean, it’s always something to be concerned about these days, but we aren’t in dire straights just yet. As shown on the map below, our snowpack is in pretty decent shape. Could we use more snow? Always. Fingers crossed the winter turns more wintry soon.
The second thing about the mild weather is that it opens a lot of water to fishable access that you might otherwise overlook in late January. Shelf ice is still present, but there is a lot less of it around. Slush and anchor ice is basically non-existent, except on cold mornings. The rivers and trout are still in winter mode, but there are places to go.
The Yellowstone River isn’t well known as a winter fishery. Two things primarily contribute to that: ice and wind. While the ice isn’t as much of an issue this year, the wind sure is. The warmer weather we’ve had over the last few weeks has got it HOWLING. However, you can always go out on the calmer days when we get them or try to find a sheltered spot.
There isn’t much going on up top these days, bar some scattered midges. We’d stick to subsurface presentations – something big up front like a wooly bugger, mega prince, or rubber legs, with a midge behind it. Smaller attractor nymphs like Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, and Tung Darts would work as well.
The real key this time of year (whether on the Yellowstone or anywhere else) is finding the deep and slow water. The fish are trying to hold in the water that lets them spend the least amount of energy they possibly can, which is often the slowest and deepest spots. Keep adding weight until you either find fish or snag bottom.
If you are planning on floating, be sure to double check that the ramp you want to take out at is still open!
PARADISE VALLEY SPRING CREEKS
The Spring Creeks continue to be a great option, especially for those of us located here in Livingston. We haven’t yet seen the really good winter hatches of midges, but they are out for sure. Midge larva should be your go to subsurface fly, and keep a few dries in the box just in case. You’ll have the best odds of fish eating midges on top on the warmer and less windy days (good luck getting that haha).
All the spring creeks remain on winter rates, and are well worth the money to scratch the itch and have a more controlled, and highly challenging, fishing environment this winter.
The Lower Madison River is a consistent and easily accessible winter fishery for our area. If you want to get the boat out for a quick float, here’s about your best option. Watch the wind, as the Lower can be very windy this time of year. If you want to get away from people a hike up Bear Trap is always nice.
Stay subsurface with midges, crayfish, and dead drifted streamers until you see fish eating midges on top during the calmer days. The numerous rock gardens upstream of Warm Springs offer fertile territory for head hunting. Swinging streamers isn’t a bad idea either. Again, find the deeper and slower water and you’ll likely find the trout.
The Upper Madison has more issues with ice jams and shelf ice than the Lower, but good winter fishing can still be had. To avoid most of the challenges, head upstream. The $3 Bridge and Reynolds Pass area host some of the best winter fishing of the region, if you’re willing to post hole through some snow to reach it. Look for midges on the calm days and enjoy the incredible scenery. Ennis is a completely different town in the winter too, and well worth the trip.
As we have said before, the Gallatin River is a really neat winter fishing experience. Being in the canyon with the trees all snowy, the mountains loaded with snow, and the winter conditions muffling the road noise is pretty special. The fish in the canyon won’t be big, but access is plentiful and the experience makes up for the size. Many good spots are within a quick walk from the parking area.
Broken record here, but find the deep and slow water. If you’re wondering if it’s deep and slow enough, it’s probably too fast. Go slower, go deeper. Attractor nymphs and midges are the name of the game. Fishing in the valley can be pretty good this time of year, but you’re more likely to run into ice down there.
LIVINGSTON AND THE SHOP
This is the slow season here in Livingston. There are plenty of things to do – local theater, live music, good food and drink, etc, and the town is taking a much needed reprieve before it starts ramping up again. We are fully expecting the 2023 season to be very busy with the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park open again.
It’s also the time of year to be planning your summer trips! If you have any questions about fishing or guide trips, hatches, when to come, etc don’t hesitate to reach out. We are more than happy to help out.
In the meantime, get outside and go skiing. Enjoy Montana in a different way. There is no time like the present to tie some flies and fill some boxes! Tight lines this week.
A few rainbows are being caught 15-22 feet deep around Duck Creek on pink, brown or black jigs with worms or maggots. Walleye and perch are being caught mid reservoir between Hole Hole in the Wall to Confederate and Duck Creek in 35-45 feet of water while using red, black or orange Hali jigs or spoons tipped with maggots, worms or perch eyes. A few burbot are being caught around Duck Creek by anglers fishing for perch and walleye. 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