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.
D. Nelson: The ice is good 8 inches stay away from the river entrance
D. Friedrich: Swan is a spring lake, so be aware that patches of dangerous ice could be anywhere.
The perch bite on the lower end of the reservoir continues to be great and good numbers of perch and an occasional walleye are being found out from Log Gulch, Departure Point, the Prairie Dog Town, and the BLM boat ramp while using multi-colored Hali or glow jigs and maggots near the bottom in 30 to 50 feet of water. A few rainbows, burbot and an occasional northern pike are being picked up at the Gates of the Mountains while using various jigs tipped with cut bait or crawlers in 8 to10 feet of water. 8-11 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Adam N.: ten inches or more i was out there today. An was very slow
J. White: LMR. Several inches of snow on top of the ice. Haven’t ran into slush yet. Ice is about 12″ straight out from the dock in 30ft of water. Marking a few, no bites as of yet.
K. Cole: Was out there yesterday, the perch seemed to like the pink colored Swedish pimple with some maggots on the hook. Was a gorgeous day to be on the hard water!
Hell Creek Recreation Information (January 26, 2023)
Interesting fishing report, first some of the best fishing in years, 4 guys 130 fish, 3 guys two days 85 fish. Now the interesting part, all the bays are slow, the fish are being caught on the main lake 18 to 25 feet northerns and walleye primarly. South shore good. North shore from the I marker east to Little duck is phenomenal fishing.
Ice is good everywhere 16″ plus, still have to watch out for the pressure ridges.
Hell Creek Ice fishing tournament the 11 of February 8:00 to 3:00, should be a good one door prizes and chili see you there.
January 28, 2023: Charlie A.: I needed chains to crawl out of hell creek Friday. Road was severely icy.
Scott A.: Yep, and lots of small perch too. Great little spot for kids. Tight lines, hope the kids have fun.
Billy M.: Tons of perch around! Caught the most of them on the north end of the middle by the point. In about 14 feet of water
Bob O.: Last Friday, couple of em. Maybe 2 hours.
Cole W.: No ice from Wayfarer’s to Blue Bay. Can’t speak for the launches further south but Sportsman Bridge and Wayfarer’s are good to launch. Set of waders might be helpful if you need to float your boat off bunks, as the water is pretty low.
-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.
J. Fluke: we only caught one pike. A few people around us were catching a few pike as well. Perch bite seemed slow. I heard it was better the day before.
Will A.: I was up there a bit over the weekend. Lots of markin, but not much bitin.
A few perch, rainbows and burbot are being found from the Causeway Bridge to the power lines in the Causeway Arm and on Lake Helena while jigging perch colored or glow jigs with maggots, perch eyes or crawlers near the bottom. Black Sandy is also producing some nice rainbows while using various colored jigs tipped with maggots or crawlers 6 to 10 feet below the ice. 12-15 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
February pretty much sucks.
Historically average fishing, that means for the winter months. Not comparing the February fishing to the summer months, but comparing it to the winter months. And average is just that.
The good news is the advent of some good midge action. Yessir. On top no less. So tune up your dry fly spider senses and be ready.
Pretty good midge action, locally in the last week. Will it be a good one this year? Last year not too bad. Didi get a few here and there.
Snow this past weekend. Blowing really quite hard the past couple days. Monday and Tuesday not too nice out there.
How about those other high points Squeeky? Yeah, I thought I would have thought of a couple by the time I got to here, writing this blog. But I haven’t. I’ll bang out a couple anyway…
Trout Spey Continues: Decent swing reports for the month. Skagit only, deep tips like T-8 and T11 if you dare, heavier TC Tips and IMOW Tips, leech like flies. Don’t disregard the white fly either. Swing a couple runs. Go to Joe’s. Stop in for Montana’s Best in Trout Spey products and knowledge. Call too. We are your Trout Spey Source in Montana!
Nymphers Think Pink: Deep, slow, pink. Repeat 41 times. Row off. Go to Joe’s.
DFO Gang: Drive around till you see something rise. Stand. Stare. Talk yourself into walking out to the random sippers. Or not. Go to Joe’s.
Lake Mary Ronan- Good numbers of nice perch down deeper 35-40’ of water, also few nice salmon.
Whitefish Lake- 5-7” of ice, good white fish at night near state park in 50’ of water, also some nice Mack’s early morning.
Murphy Lake- Good numbers of 7-11” perch, few bass.
Beaver Lake- Good salmon bite early morning.
Lower Stillwater- Some good perch west end, also some small pike.
Lake Five- Lots of small salmon 60’ of water.
Mcgregor Lake- 4-6” of ice, few lake trout near boat launch.
Ashley Lake- Good salmon action early morning. 6-8” of ice.
Bitterroot Lake- Good ice south end, 5-7” of ice. Smaller salmon shallow, try earlier for bigger fish.
Blanchard- Crappie bite good but small fish, also few nice pike and perch.
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A few kokanee and perch are being picked up while using Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with red maggots or corn near the bottom in 20 to 35 feet of water. 12-14 inches of ice has been reported. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
- Flathead Lake (Somers Bay) – Variable Ice conditions. Be safe and use your spud bars!
- 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. There are good opportunities for pike using dead bait and jigging spoons though.
- Bitterroot Lake – 4-6 inches of ice. Trout fishing has been good using Jaw Jackers. However, the salmon bite remains slow.
- Rogers Lake – 9+ inches of ice. Still a few trout being caught in the morning hours. The grayling are biting around 12′-14′.
- Ashley Lake – 4-5 inches of ice. Good numbers of salmon in the morning. Try Zimmer Wannabe jigs or Swedish Pimples.
- Church Slough – 8 inches of ice. Panfish are picking up with decent numbers of crappie and perch being caught.
- Lower Stillwater – 7+ inches of ice. Pike still being caught off tip-ups and dead bait. There have been 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′. Mostly using small tungsten jigs paired with waxies or maggots. The salmon bite is still slow with a few spawners still being caught.
- Whitefish Lake – 5-6 inches of ice. A few whitefish being caught around 40′-60′. Lots of small lake trout being caught on jigging spoons.
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
Will B.: Seeley was pretty deep snow and slush after this last storm… Pretty slow fishing as well!
Well, in case you forgot, it’s still winter here in Montana. We’re getting a huge dump of snow both in town and up in the mountains this weekend. It’s much needed! Snowpack figures were starting to dip down into the 80s (high 80s but still) around the state, and we are excited to check them early next week once the storm has passed.
As of this writing the snow is still coming down hard and will be until Saturday morning. If you’re traveling to recreate this weekend, please be super careful. This snow is heavy and wet, and roads are sheets of ice. Drive slow, be careful. If you’re headed anywhere in the mountains, check avalanche conditions before you go. MT Avalanche is the place. Lot of our local area is under an avalanche warning so this just might be the weekend to stay at home and tie flies.
How is this going to impact fishing? It arguably makes my job easier, as I can condense things quite a bit. It’s going to get cold again, really cold. The high for Sunday keeps changing every time I check it, but currently it’s forecast at 0. The weather should warm back up to the mid 30s by mid/late week.
However – with it getting that cold for a couple days, the rivers are going to get cold too. Expect lots of slush, additional shelf ice, and generally winter conditions across our local fisheries. Would we say go fish the Yellowstone River? Nope. You could probably do reasonably well on the Gallatin below Big Sky, below Quake Lake on the Upper Madison, and in Bear Trap on the Lower if you really feel the itch.
If you do go out, we urge caution. Be mindful of floating slush and ice, especially as conditions warm later in the week. Even slush can knock you off your feet if it catches you off guard. Drifting ice is nothing to mess around with.
Find the deepest, slowest water and get your flies down to the fish. If you have even the slightest inkling that the spot you’re fishing might be too fast, go find somewhere else. Get down deep. Bigger attractor nymphs with a midge off the back are a good option in these conditions. Mega Prince and Ice Cream Cones are a personal favorite.
There is lots to do off the water in these kinds of conditions as well. Go skiing, sit at home and read a good book, tie some flies. Call up that friend you haven’t seen in a while and go catch up over a coffee or beer. Swing by the shop and tell us your favorite fish story. It’ll be warmer next week, and we’ll have a fresh report on Friday for you.
In the meantime, our shop remains open every day of the week. We’ve got a plethora of options to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter what pursuit you are enjoying. Our fly tying selection is very well stocked, and we can help you find the materials you need to fill some fly boxes. Want to try something new? Rent some cross country skis and go explore.
Tight lines and stay warm this week!
Alex R.: Not on here allot, but could use some help from anyone in 406 area whether on the water or in Bozeman/Belgrade area. Sunday night/ Monday morning my trailer and wheeler were stolen. Lock got cut , right on the corner of Annie and Laurel in Bozeman. Its all probably long gone by now, but hoping with the bad roads someone may see it around town.. or on the ice, they got a pretty sweet rig. There’s some photos below. The wheeler has a pretty high idle speed and has an otter monster box on it aswell as a light bar on the front. The trailer is basically brand new, a little grease is dried up on the rims of the tire and the lights flicker lightly- but they all work. Was loaded up for a trip, so they made off with quite a bit of gear. Shot in the dark, but if you see any of this gear together in the same place, shoot a guy a message
2003 Honda Rincon 4-Wheeler
2022 Black Dog Raft/ Utility Trailer
2022 Otter XT Flip Over Ice Fishing Shelter
A few rainbows are being caught 20-35 feet deep around Hole in the Wall and Duck Creek on brown or black jigs with worms or maggots. Walleye and perch are being caught mid reservoir between Hole in the Wall to Confederate and Duck Creek in 35-45 feet of water while using yellow or green Hali jigs or spoons tipped with mealworms, nightcrawlers or perch eyes. Stay away from the pressure ridges on the south end of the reservoir. There is over 20 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds, 15-18 inches of ice around Duck Creek and the north end has 3-5 inches of ice. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Current Conditions 2/5
This past cold snap has put some crazy ice shelfs on the Gallatin down in the valley but there is still fishable water. your best bet will be going into the canyon the closer to Big Sky the better. (there will be less ice) Nymphing long slow holes will be the best bet. Dark rubber legs size 8-12 or a worm followed by a zebra midge, red copper john, prince nymphs, or natural peridgons. if your very lucky on the right calm day you may find some fish rising to midges, use a size 18-22 giffiths gnat or a peacock cluster for those rising fish.