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.
O.S.: Some edges were opening up and the pressure ridge was open this morning. Still pretty thick otherwise, but be careful. I didn’t venture out very far fyi.
B.N.: Last weekend there was still a foot but the edges were starting to get soft.
The rainbow bite has been great near the shorelines while using pink jigs, nightcrawlers or spawn sacks in 4 to 10 feet of water out from most of the public access points. Perch fishing has been awesome on the lower end of the reservoir while using Hali jigs, Swedish Pimples, or other jigs and maggots near the bottom in 20 to 40 feet of water. Ice is getting soft and upper Holter has very little ice and is cracked and broken. The lower end of the reservoir still has ice and is accessible at Indian Trail and Log Gulch boat ramps but is becoming more difficult to access as the shorelines open up. There is a plank being used to access the ice near the Prairie Dog Town. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
R.B.: I fished it last Sunday and it was a good 12” solid clear ice still.
M.K.: great in places and opening up in others. Still easy to get on.
Hell Creek Recreation Information ( March 30, 2023)
J.G.: Yes, not much change yet 20 to 25 ” of ice shore still good and weather reports are good for a couple days, Saturday and Sunday are warm then it cools back down.
W.K.: Made it up there Sunday. 2 feet of slush on the edges
A.D.: 3 feet of snow up that way
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.K.: 37” on Hebgen Lake
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. The ice is getting soft and beginning to open up along the shorelines but can still be accessed at the Lake Helena and Black Sandy boat ramps. Open water can be found at the Causeway, York Bridge, Devil’s Elbow and Riverside. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Missouri River Spring-ish Week
All good here in downtown Craig Montana. A couple big events this past week in Craig include the opening of Izaak’s Restaurant for the season. Open 5 days a week, Wednesday thru Sunday, for the remainder of the month 4-9pm for ribs, appetizers, house made cocktails and great beers on draft, cans, and bottles. www.Izaaksrestaurant.com
Kelli Wilson with Mo River Eats is OPEN for the Season. Order the best river lunches and have them delivered to Craig daily. Yep. Add some flavor to your day with MoRiverEats.com
Water temps 34.5F with water flows at 4000cfs.
Shop open 8am til at least 5pm with shuttles, guides, lodging, the Best Flies Under the Big Sky, and new products on the shelf this spring. Soft goods and outerwear are filling the shelves along with flies galore.
The Swingers are out there and enjoying the depth, colder temps, and bite. Leeches, Buggers, Thin Mint-ish bugs, small articulated flies, with dark being the most common color theme. Get out your soft hackles as the BWO and MIdge will get those swing fish excited as well. Soft hackle selection at House of Headhunters like no other in Montana. Your Trout Spey HQ is here on the MO!
The medium depth tips like the iMOW 5×5, 7.5’int.x2.5. T-8 is good too. Intermediate Tips have been seen on the water and are getting attention as well. Stop in for any education, gear, suggestions, types of water you should look for and the like. We are the Spey Education Leaders in Montana. Call today to Gert your Spey Trip this spring to learn, enjoy, and net some Missouri River beauties!
Strippers taking it slow. Stripping it slow as well. Medium speed water has seen some Rainbow Trout action in knee to waist deep water, or deeper. The Brown Trout are in deeper and slower water. With the high and bright sun look for them near structures and buckets. How about a new Streamer Line this Spring? It’ll cast like Butter!
Nymphers? All good too. Sow, pink, dark water, bobber, sometimes split shot. Don’t fish that sexy water for another couple months. BWO’s in the water column. Midges too. Water temps 34.8F. Looks like a cooler week ahead with the air temps not exceeding the mid 40’s. Snow off and on as well so dress accordingly. SIMMS, Skwala, NRS, Orvis StellyZips products in store to keep you warm and dry out there. Find the boring, non-descript, and watch the bobber. Got the New OROS bobber in stock. Check it.
Midges? Oh yeah. Not a ton yet. But coming soon! Singles, clusters, and the always good and effective Griffith’s Gnat. We have several derivations of this hyper popular multi-generational pattern that not only is great of the Midge hatch, but for Trico’s, etc. A fly you gotta have as a tailwater angler!
We will see you at the shop this week and weekend. Love to see your smiling faces! Open daily 8am.
Bitterroot Lake- Excellent salmon bite, try North end off Lions Camp. 100’ of water, try 20-40’ down. Pink or red colors in pimples or Hali jigs.
Lake Mary Ronan- Lots of perch, 7-10” range, few good fish 12-14” range, try 20-25’ of water near west end. Small tungsten fire tiger jigs are good.
Ashley Lake- Good salmon action near west side, also try for nice perch and rainbows.
Flathead Lake- Jigging near painted rocks or East shore near Yellow bay or Blue bay. Try 150-180’ of water. Try the delta in 60-80’ of water, large tubes or whole bait on bottom.
Lower Stillwater- Good pike numbers, also lake trout action.
Rodgers Lake- Try early morning south end with small black ratfinkies.
Crystal Lake- Lots of good salmon off of boat launch, few nice rainbows also.
Save the date, APRIL 15th Spring Fishing Exp
….. more details to come!
The Kokanee bite has been great lately while using pink, or green Hali jigs, tipped with maggots or corn in 25 to 35 feet of water. A few perch are being found while using the same equipment near the bottom. The ice is beginning to open up along the shorelines but can still be accessed in certain spots. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
- Flathead Lake – Open water on the north end is fishing well in 50-90 feet of water. Lakers are being caught on white tubes and dead bait along the bottom.
- Lake Mary Ronan – 13+ inches of ice. Patches of snow and slush. Reports of decent perch being caught in the 25′-30′ depth range using small tungsten jigs and spoons.
- Smith Lake – 18+ inches of ice. Still getting reports of some pike being caught off dead bait. However, perch fishing is slow.
- Bitterroot Lake – 14+ inches of ice. The Salmon bite is heating up. The salmon are being caught suspended 30′-60′ down in 80′-100′ feet of water. Great success just off the Lions camp.
- Dickey Lake – 12+ inches of ice. Some good salmon are being caught in the early morning around 40’down. Try using glow Hali’s and Swedish Pimples for the best results.
- Ashley Lake – 13+ inches of ice. Decent salmon numbers are being caught 30′-40′ down on glow Hali’s tipped with maggots or corn.
- Swan Lake – 15+ inches of ice. A few lakers are being caught around 80′-100′ down. Try using white tubes or large grub tails for the best results.
- Lower Thompson Lake – 16+ inches of ice. Reports of a few perch being caught around 15′-25′ down. Use red maggots for the best bite. Occasional Pike are still being caught off dead bait as well.
- Whitefish Lake – 10+ inches of ice. Lakers are still being caught in 60′-100′ of water. Get out in front of Les Mason or the state park for your best chances.
- Echo Lake – 10+ inches. Hearing a few whitefish being caught along with the salmon. Lots of small perch in the shallows as well
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.
Fishing is good around Broadwater Bay and south of the Silos for rainbows, perch and walleye while using white, red, yellow, or green colored jigs tipped with maggots or nightcrawlers in 13-15 feet of water. An occasional burbot is being caught on the bottom as well. Be careful around the pressure ridges on the south end of the reservoir. There is 18 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds. Other areas of the reservoir to the north of the Silos are starting to get soft ice. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
The East has been fishing well if you focus on the lower river. While nymphing a worm pattern with a small baetis or midge nymph has been the most productive, dead drifting or slow stripping small streamers can be very effective as well. Fish are still somewhat stacked in the deeper and pockets bends but will start to be less concentrated as the water gets warmer. On the right warmer day you can find some good dry fly fishing with baetis and midge patterns.
The Months Ahead:
The East should continue to fish well leading up to run off. Once warmer weather becomes more of a factor the East can be a little less predictable as the lower elevation tends to push some water and color into the river.
3.29.23 Last group I know went out over a week ago. The edges are obviously wet on the north side. Not sure on the south side. The deep end by the tower and boat ramp is beginning to open up. Over nights in the 20s but late afternoon in the 40, so if your gonna try, be prepared that it may or may not have a place to get on the ice and it’s going to be late spring ice conditions.
R.M.: Yesterday. 10 to 12 inches of good ice by the parking area. 4 wheelers were down by the power lines. As always, be real careful if you get near the open water.
S.H.: I was there last weekend. Still about 18 inches of good ice. I couldn’t find the fish, tho.
-No new report-
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