Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation – 4.20.23
By angelamontana

Posted: April 20, 2023

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.

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Browns Ice Report via 406 Ice Fishing (April 19, 2023)

M.P.: I drove by Brown’s on Sunday. It was still capped with no water showing at the shore by the boat launch.

J.C.:For those wondering. Drilled some holes up there today. Would say a consistent 18 inches. Yikes.

Echo Lake Report via 406 Ice Fishing (April 19, 2023)

R.W.: they are pretty hungry right now! I did very well last night.

Foys via Flathead Valley Fishing Report (April 20, 2023)

T.M.: Swan is half way there…………Van is starting to slush up…………….

H.H.: Wide open!

Canyon Ferry Fishing Report via MTFWP (April 18, 2023)

Rainbow action has been great near the shorelines around York Bridge, Devil’s Elbow, and the Causeway area. Pink, orange, or red nymph patterns or egg flies have been popular. Some anglers are also having success while using Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks or spinners. There is still some ice on the lower end of the reservoir.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Holter Ice Report via 406 Ice Fishing (April 19, 2023)

C.M.: It’s all ice but just turned to the liquid form of it lol. It’s all open water. No ice anywhere

C.S.: Log gulch nothing but ice still

K.J.: Was there on Saturday. No ice in the bays but main lake had tons left.

Hell Creek Recreation Information ( April 20, 2023)

Hell Creek Ice and Fishing Report via Friends of Hell Creek Inc (April 19, 2023)

J.G.: The bay is still iced over was disappearing rapidly until the cool weather hit today, the bay will open up quickly with some wind and warmer weather.

S.H.: I talked to Clint yesterday he said ice still in the bay but if the winds keep up the bay should be clear in a week or so.

Madison Adventures: Another Good day on Hebgen in a snow storm. 36+ inches of ice near the dam.

Willow Creek Reservoir (near Augusta) Ice Report via 406 Ice Fishing (April 13, 2023)

P.C.: Wide open and very low

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (April 17, 2023)

Spring is here and with spring comes warmer temps and more water. This being said, even though the water will have some color the fish are happy and still feeding. The further up Paradise Valley you go the clearer the water will be. Streamers are a great option right now as well as nymphing larger stoneflies, worms, eggs, and any of your other runoff favorites. If you get cleaner water on any particular day, there could also be some dry fly action on midges and smaller baetis. Caddis, march browns, and more baetis are on the way as we warm up as well so don’t discount caddis pupa patterns and bigger mayfly nymphs as well! 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

  • Dry Fly

    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)

  • Streamer

    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)

  • Nymph

    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)

Fresno Ice Report via 406 Ice Fishing (April 13, 2023)

Fish Head Assassin: muddy….They start working on the dam Monday…North side will be the only open side to fish from

Cooney State Park Information via FWP (April 19, 2023)

Holter Fishing Report via MTFWP (April 18, 2023)

Good numbers of Rainbows are showing up near the shorelines at the Gates of the Mountains. Pheasant tail nymphs, pink scuds and black leech patterns are working well. Using Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks or spinners is also producing some nice rainbows. There is still some ice on the lower end of the reservoir.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Headhunters Fly Shop (April 20, 2023)

It’s a Damn Snow Globe

As of Thursday morning here in Craig Montana It’s a Damn Snow Globe.

When will it stop?

Spring is a long time coming this year. Is it normal weather pattern. Yes, it really is.

But we as anglers, as humans, like the sunshine. We like emerging bugs. We like comfort in the boat and knee deep in a Montana stream.

We don’t like more snow!

Unless you are a trout. Or an aquatic insect. Or a worm.

The good news is that a week from this Saturday, the forecast predicts 73F.

And that, we like.

Guide trips out daily, shop open at 8am, check out our lodging page as well with lots of options from downtown here at the Craig Trout Camp, or many locales along the river.

Have a great weekend out there in Headhunters Land.

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (April 14, 2023)

🔹Murphy Lake- Open water, few bass hitting.
🔹 Carpenter/Sophie Lakes- Open water- no reports.
🔹 Koocanusa- Catching nice rainbows and bull trout, troll from Rexford to bridge. Dave’s plugs in various colors working well.
🔹 Flathead Lake- Good numbers of Lake Trout near delta, Painted Rocks and Yellow Bay. Somers Bay launch is now open. Try dead bait fishing the delta. Jigging deep 150-160’ of water around Painted Rocks and Yellow Bay.
🔹 Church Slough- Open water- check boating closure.

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (April 14, 2023)

Ice conditions are deteriorating rapidly, be sure to use your spud bars and have safety picks if you are going out on the ice. The ice fishing to open water transition is going to be a long one this year. We had lots of good thick ice and a slow start to spring temps means the ice will stick around

  • Flathead Lake – Jigging Lakers off the delta between 40′-60′ has been productive. Trolling between 80′-100′ down has also produced some results.
  • Flathead River – Look for deep pools and slow gravel beds. Pink has been the color of choice. Remember you cannot target pike or bull trout. Keep your fishing to the whitefish and rainbows only for now. We have been hearing some luck at Presentine Bar and Old Steel, however the river is starting to rise and blow out.
  • McWenneger Slough – Open water, no reports yet.
  • Church Slough – Starting to see open water, not safe!
  • Echo Lake – Shorelines are starting to break away so it is not safe at this point.
  • Thompson Chain of Lakes – Starting to see open water along the shorelines. Ice is getting soft making it not safe.
  • McGregor Lake – Pockets are starting to open along the shore. Ice is starting to get soft. Would not recommend attempting to get out on the ice.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (April 14, 2023)

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.

We look forward to hearing from you.  406-295-4872

Things are heating up both literally and figuratively, and spring is finally on the way. There is a definite hint of green in the grass, and everywhere you look spring flowers are starting to grow. Ahhhhhhhh. It’s been a long winter here in Montana, and across the West.

Our snowpack is still well above average, and any moisture we get in the valley and lowlands over the next few weeks is sure to boost that in the mountains. At this point it all depends on how quickly it comes out of the mountains, but we could be looking at an absolutely incredible summer of water in the rivers.

Here’s what’s happening in the rivers:


The Yellowstone has seen quite a bit of color over the past week. Warm temps, melting snow, and additional falling moisture midweek pumped quite a bit of dirty water from the Gardiner and various tributaries into the river, and for much of the week it was too dirty to fish effectively. However, the river is clearing as of today and is looking really good and fishable!

The Shields River had a flooding event last week, and was at one point running 4 times the volume of the Yellowstone. Flood waters have since receded, and we will see what happens this coming week. Even with the Shields running at lower flows, it is still pumping dirty water into the Yellowstone.

As water temps come up, we’re seeing decent BWO action when the wind isn’t blowing. There are still a few midges around, and it’s a bit early for caddis, but they are on the horizon! Fish are getting more active and more aggressive presentations such as stripping streamers are beginning to work a lot better. In the murkier water, a bigger fly that stands out in the gloom can be your friend.

If you’re looking for dry fly only all day, now is not the time. Chase a bobber until you’re seeing rising fish. A bigger point fly such as a big prince, rubberleg, or dead drifted streamer will attract attention and hang a Perdigon or Baetis nymph behind it 12-18”. Is it too early for caddis pupa? Probably…

Fish are still keeping mainly to the slower, calmer water and don’t be afraid of adding some weight to get your flies into their zone. If you just want to get outside and feel a tug on the line, fish something smaller and flashy all day and hope for whitefish. Spring fishing is just getting going here and it’s only going to get better.


The Upper Madison has been picking up, like everywhere in the state. You can still find midges around Reynolds Pass, and be on the lookout for BWOs as well on the cloudier and warmer days. The mid valley accesses can make for a great day, but be sure to check the lower ramps for ice before launching.

The Lower Madison is where we are hearing a lot more people from our area fishing, and with good reason. The Lower in spring is pretty fantastic, and you don’t have to deal with the summer tubers. Warm to Blacks is a great “get the boat out for a pre-season shakedown cruise” spot and can yield some solid fish. Fish the buckets, focus on subsurface, and be methodical.

Even though it’s the off season these fish get a decent amount of pressure and require a bit more finesse and thought than elsewhere right now. Crayfish patterns with a Baetis nymph behind it can be deadly. If you’re after dry flies, take a stroll up Bear Trap Canyon until you find a nice rock garden without a lot of people in it. Wait for midday on a warmer and cloudy day and you should have a good BWO hatch.


Not a lot has changed on the Gallatin River lately. The canyon is still fishing the best, and it’s slowly starting to look less like winter up there. Look for some Baetis around on the cloudy days, and midges as well. Standard nymphs like Copper Johns, Princes, Hares’ Ears and Zebra Midges are all a solid bet.

Lower in the valley the ice is melting, but there is still quite a bit around. Be very careful when you’re out and about. Things will continue to improve here during the coming weeks, at least until the start of actual run off.


The Spring Creeks are all off their lower winter rates, but are well worth every penny at this point. If you want technical dry fly fishing for large fish and consistent, good hatches of midges and BWOs, here’s where you need to be. Be patient, be sneaky, and be ready to be humbled.


As we mentioned earlier, spring is oh so close to springing onto Livingston. In the next couple of weeks we should be seeing our first flowers, leaves and green growth as winter is slowly peeled back. It’s a great time of year to be in Montana!

The shop is turning over into our summer seasons and we are full of great apparel, gear, information and more. From waders and boots to technical fishing gear, new fly rods, reels and lines, and of course all the flies you’ll need, we’ve got it!

We hope to see you in the shop this week, tight lines!

Castle Rock Reservoir via Castle Rock Live Bait Shop (April 13, 2023)

I have been a bit busy this week with work. The lake is ice free. The boat dock is still out. You just might see our mobile shop here Saturday morning. We got minnows and a fresh batch of crawlers today.

Jordan Walleys Unlimited Post RE: Jerry Johnston Tough Guy Tourney (April 19, 2023)

The Jerry Johnston Tough Guy tournament is being moved to Saturday May 6th. There is still ice on at Hell Creek so we had to cancel this Saturday the 22nd. The FWP approved the new date so we didn’t have to cancel the tournament this year. All entries will need to be submitted by Friday night May 5th. Rules and weigh cards will be handed out Saturday morning at check in.

Hauser Fishing Report via MTFWP (April 18, 2023)

Rainbow action has been great near the shorelines around York Bridge, Devil’s Elbow, and the Causeway area. Pink, orange, or red nymph patterns or egg flies have been popular. Some anglers are also having success while using Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks or spinners. There is still some ice on the lower end of the reservoir.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Bighorn Trout Shop (April 20, 2023)


Water flows have come up to 5,500 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good on nymphs. It’s typical spring fishing: because of the cold water, one day the fish are on the feed, the next day they’re hard to come by. We’ve been catching fish on scuds, sowbugs, and midge pupa. San Juan Worms have started to work with the higher water. The best fishing has been midday and early afternoon. When the wind and sun cooperates, we’ve seen some decent dry fly action, but only in a few spots. Both midges and Baetis have been coming off. Streamer fishing has been tough because of the cold water, but you can get a few out of the big, deep holes if you use a full-sinking line.


Detailed Forecast


Midges and Baetis





5,500 cfs
USGS Current Conditions


40 degrees



#14, #16 Soft Hackle Sowbug; #16 Jelly Bean (sowbug); #18 Red Midge Larva; #16 Orange Scud; #16 Jelly Bean Sowbug; #14,#16 Ray Charles (grey or tan), #14,#16 Two-Tone Scud; #18 Tung Teaser (black); #16, #18 Flashback Quill Nymph; #18 BP-3; #6 San Juan Worm (burgundy or brown color)


#20 Sipper Midge; #20 Griffith’s Gnat; CDC Baetis Sparkle Dun


#6 Grinch, #12 Mayer’s Mini Leech Jig (olive); #10 Black Leech; #6 Thin Mint Wooley Bugger (Hale’s favorite); #6 Olive Zonker; #4 Dirty Hippie (cream), #4 Meat Whistle (brown)

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