Email us your weekly fishing report to include it in this Montana fishing report compilation before the end of the day on Tuesday of each week here along with your name and website/email address you would like to see listed with your report.
T.G.: I was there at the dam and north shore this past Sunday and the ice was good. Seemed like still 18”-24”. Wasn’t soft on the edges. Think I may have seen your hut out there.
Perch fishing has been great and good numbers continue to be found all over the lower end of the reservoir while using Hali jigs, Swedish Pimples, or other jigs and maggots near the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water. An occasional walleye is being picked up while searching for perch. The rainbow bite has been good, and fish are hitting pink jigs, nightcrawlers or spawn sacks in 4 to 10 feet of water along the shorelines near most of the public access points. Up to 15 inches of ice has been reported but some of the shorelines are beginning to break up, so use caution. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
T.R.: 17 inches of ice on Sunday
W.C.: It’s solid.
T.R.: fishing was good. I ended up with 28
M.P.: Georgetown Lake is awful. Good ice at Pburg Bay, but a foot of heavy snow, no crust, so you sink right in. Shovel off a spot, and you are standing in a couple of inches of water. Not worth the effort. Denton’s is not plowed. A few tracks at Red Bridge, but not out very far. Only place I saw fishers today was at the pump house. Did not drive by Comers.
Hell Creek Recreation Information ( March 23, 2023)
R.A.: Great trip with my son this past weekend. Fishing was a little slow for us but we managed to catch a few nice fish, pretty chilly all but one day. Ice was still in great shape! I didn’t measure it [the ice] but I was at the top of my K Drill auger when drilling holes. I would guess 30 inches in most places.
T.R.: was at departure point today. Only pulled up 12 perch. Beautiful day! Didn’t measure the ice, but guessing 14 inches clear ice.
We are moving into late winter early spring here in Southern Montana and that means Yellowstone river will be picking up! 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)
M.P.: Spent a few hours on Salmon Lake today. Caught 6 big perch and missed a few. Good action between 8 and 11 in 17+/- feet of water.
Lots of ice, and crust was firm enough to stay on top. That probably changed this afternoon. I love spring fishing!!!
A few rainbows are hitting on leech or egg pattern flies in open water near the Causeway Bridge and out from Black Sandy while using green or pink jigs tipped with maggots or crawlers 6 to 10 feet below the ice. 15 to 18 inches of ice has been reported and is accessible at Black Sandy, the Causeway and Lake Helena. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Pretty good this last weekend. Mostly nymphers out there as the weather allowed many to come out of their winter nest and fish.
Water temps still in the tank as winter is still enforcing its force. 34.5F and holding. Water flows stable at 4240cfs.
Midges for the surface crew. More every day. Occasional.
Nymphers like pink. Beaded. Sows. PT’s. Deep in back end of pools, 5′-6′ and hold. Hang on. Stare at the bobber, hit its if it moves.
Streamer anglers and Trout Spey alone fishing the black leech. Flashy if you like as well. Deep in the back of the pool, not int he faster stuff.
Happy about the turn in the weather this week nd, hopefully more to come. Sunshine is nice.
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Mcgregor Lake- Good rainbow fishing, try close to shore, 5 to 10’ of water with Gitzit jigs and wax worms.
Flathead Lake- Mack Days has begun, try Zimmer Rattle D Zastors with cut bait or Zimmer Mack Flies and cut bait.
Bitterroot Lake- Good salmon fishing, try Zimmer WanaB’s 1/4 ounce salmon jigs.
Loon Lake (Ferndale)- Good rainbow bite, try mini tubes with wax worms.
Ashley Lake- Good salmon bite, try ZIMMERS WanaB jigs with corn or maggots.
The Kokanee bite has been pretty good while using pink, or green Hali jigs, tipped with maggots or corn in 15 to 40 feet of water. A few perch are being found while using the same equipment near the bottom. The ice is beginning to melt along the shorelines, but there is still plenty of ice if it can be accessed. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
- Dickey Lake – 12+ inches of ice. Some good salmon being caught in the early morning around 40′ down. Try using glow Hali jigs and Swedish Pimples.
- Lake Mary Ronan – 16+ inches of ice. Patches of snow and slush on top. Decent perch being caught in 25′-30′ of water using small tungsten jigs and spoons.
- Lower Thompson Lake – 16+ inches of ice. There have been a few perch being caught around 15′-25′ down using red maggots. Occasional pike still being caught off dead bait as well but slowing down.
- Ashley Lake – 13+ inches of ice. Decent salmon numbers being caught in 30′-40′ of water on glow Hali jigs tipped with maggots or corn.
- Smith Lake – 18+ inches of ice. There are still some reports of pike being caught off dead bait. Reports indicate the perch fishing is slow.
- Whitefish Lake – 12+inches of ice. Lakers still being caught in 60′-100′ of water. Try around Les Mason or the State Park for your best chances.
- Echo Lake – 10+ inches of ice. We have been hearing a few whitefish being caught along with the salmon. Lots of small perch in the shallows as well.
- Swan Lake – 18+ inches of ice. Reports of a few lakers being caught around 80′-100’down. Try using white tubes or large grub tails for best results.
- Bitterroot Lake – 15+ inches of ice. Salmon are being caught suspended in 40′-60′ of water off the Lions Camp area.
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
The end of winter is here, and spring is right around the corner! Like, literally tomorrow. After a long winter, that’s the best thing I’ve written in a long time haha. We’ve still got a long way to go before it’s warm and green and beautiful, but we’re getting there. Spring fishing is coming up fast too. If you’re tired of just messing with midges, hang on just a bit longer.
Our snowpack is doing really well, and we are expecting more early this week. It all depends on how quickly it comes out of the mountains, but we are feeling pretty good about things for the summer! Our weather pattern is still supposed to be wetter and cooler than normal through the spring, so… Stay tuned for more.
Spring fishing is getting better, and with spring officially starting tomorrow it’s going to be getting better and better. Here’s what’s happening.
The Yellowstone River actually got a bit of color to it over the past week with some melting going on in Yellowstone Park. Things are clearing up to more green lately, and the moisture due over the next few days will certainly help with that. We aren’t quite to runoff yet!
Fishing has been picking up with the warmer days. Midges are out and about, especially on cloudy days. Warm + clouds + lighter winds = good days. An adult midge with an emerger behind it fished in the surface film can be deadly. Be sure to have the entire life cycle in your box, just in case.
Here in a bit we’ll start seeing more of our typical spring hatches, but we’ve still got a ways to go yet. Would we be too surprised if there was a BWO or two flying around here and there? Nope.
Streamer fishing has been slowing picking up, but slower retrieves are still going to be better. Think swinging it, long, slow strips or dead drifting it. Basic patterns have been outperforming the bigger stuff – wooly buggers, zurdle bugs, and zonkers are all a good choice.
The Upper Madison is on the whole an icy mess. Are there fishable spots around town? A few, but given the ice and the fact that it’ll be shifting a good bit with the warmer weather, we would say either go way up high or stay on the lower. The area around Reynold’s Pass has been producing some pretty decent midge days when stars align and conditions are right.
The Lower Madison is relatively ice free (until you near the Headwaters anyway), and has been fishing well. This is a really fun time of year on the Lower Madison. Midges are out in force even on sunny days, and concentrating on buckets and depth changes can yield good results. Crayfish, rubberlegs and large pheasant tails and prince nymphs with a midge pattern like a zebra midge or rainbow warrior are a great choice? Jig style nymphs? Yup.
If you want to get the boat out for a hot minute and make a quick float, the Lower is a great choice.
There is a lot of ice in the Gallatin River right now. Down in the valley there aren’t a lot of places that aren’t affected by shore ice. Up the canyon there is a lot of snow and ice around, but access is a bit easier with the sheer volume of turn offs, pullouts, and bridge access. Stick from like William’s Bridge to Big Sky and you’ll find some fish willing to play.
Look for midges midday, and fish the deep and slow stuff. The Gallatin is still quite cold, especially up in the canyon, and fish are going to be sluggish. If you do drive up the canyon, be mindful of road conditions. These spring road conditions can be brutal.
The local spring creeks are still the belle of the ball for our local waters. Consistent temps, good hatches, and picky, challenging fish. They are still on their winter rates and they’re well worth the price of admission if you’re feeling the early season fishing itch. These fish demand the best of you, and are a fun way to sharpen your skills for the coming season.
LIVINGSTON AND THE SHOP
With spring right around the corner, we are starting to switch things up. You’ll see lots of new merchandise, clothes, and gear around the store in the coming weeks. Fishing is about to become a much bigger concern, but if you aren’t there yet it’s still a great time of year to be tying flies and filling boxes.
Due to popular demand, we are offering another fly tying class! Our Intermediate Class will introduce more advanced patterns and techniques. Previous fly tying experience is required, but this is a great class to broaden your horizons and grow your tying acumen. It’s a 5 week class, costs $125 with all materials and tools included, and starts March 27th.
The Silos area continues to produce the best fishing for rainbows, perch and walleye while using pink, chartreuse or perch colored jigs tipped with maggots, wax worms or nightcrawlers in 10-20 feet of water. Spawn sacks and salted dead minnows are also producing a few fish with an occasional burbot being caught on the bottom as well. Be careful around the pressure ridges on the south end of the reservoir. There is over 20 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds, 18-20 inches of ice around Duck Creek and the north end has 3-5 inches of ice. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
The water on the East is low right now but fishing has been decent when temperatures aren’t brutally cold. Nymphing the deeper runs is definitely the ticket. The trout are highly concentrated in these buckets and not found in the rest of the river so if you aren’t fishing some depth keep moving. Once you find a productive run you can often hook up on multiple fish. Slow stripping streamers can also produce from time to time, especially with a bit of cloud cover. The best nymph patterns include a small San Juan worm trailed by a midge larva, but swinging or nymphing sculpins on slight tension can also move some trout.
The Months Ahead:
The East should continue to improve as temperatures increase. The water on the lower river has more influences from spring creeks and seeps that help to keep sections ice free even during colder weather.
K.G.: Probably water on ice at Nelson , the Dry was running bank full
C.A.: A good day fishing on Flathead River. Three Pike and a 19-in rainbow. The pike we’re 20 in 33 in and 36 in. I had to keep the 33 inch one (CLICK HERE)
S.T.: I was by there today and I wouldn’t be out there
Bighorn River Montana Fishing Report – March 20, 2023
The stream is still flowing near a normal and in good shape. Good hatches are taking place. The water is the warmest near the dam discharge, so fish the upper part of the river. Keep checking back as we update the Bighorn fishing report often.
Rate: 2740 cfs
Level: 60.11 ft
Afternoon Water Temperature: 48 degrees
FORT SMITH WEATHER
Recommended Trout Flies:
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin and Articulated streamers, size 6/4
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
Blue-winged Olives: size 16 nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others
Midges: Blood, Cream sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults