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.
K.Z.: Everything is open besides cooney
J.N.: Not really anymore as of yesterday
S.D.C.: was out yesterday. Watch the shorelines as they can go quick. The open water is creaping north slowly. The water temp Saturday out about 3/4 of a mile toward the middle was 36 degrees and the river temp is at 40 today. There was still 16 inches were I went but that can go fast. To predict if you can get on the ice Friday or Saturday would be a total crapshoot.
Hell Creek Recreation Information ( April 6, 2023)
J.G.: Looks like this may be the last weekend for ATV and side by sides. Losing the shore line, ice is still good but won’t be able to drive on.
M.D.: No ice total open water
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)
D.M.: Sophie lake in Eureka not safe anymore 2 people broke through yesterday just a heads up
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- Good numbers salmon fishing north end. Try 15-30’ in over 100’ of water. Try shallow for rainbows in 5-10’ of water.
Ashley Lake- Excellent salmon fishing, try west shore early mornings.
Lower Stillwater- Good perch on north end near islands.
Lake Mary Ronan- Good perch fishing in 20-25’. Try white rock bay or sunken islands.
Dickey Lake- Nice salmon, but still a little slow.
Flathead Lake- lake trout action good near the Delta, fish whole dead bait on bottom. Try West shore to Painted ￼Rocks jigging deep. East bay is still froze.
Crystal Lake- Good salmon action out in front of boat launch.
Koocanusa- Rexford is still froze, should open soon. You can launch at Peck Gulch- Good bull trout, few rainbows.
-No New Report-
- 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
-No New Report-
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
Good lord did we get some snow over the last week! Wow. That was pretty insane. Definitely one of the bigger snow events of the entire year, and there is still more in the forecast! This is excellent news for snowpack, but not so good for everyone ready for this long winter to be over. The tulips in the backyard I saw trying to come up last week are wishing they were still deep in the ground ha.
How big of a boost did we get for snowpack? A pretty darn good one. All our regional drainages in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are looking stellar for this time of year. Remember last year we got the bulk of our snowpack late season in late March and April? We shall see if that’s the case this year!
Here’s what’s happening around our area rivers:
The Yellowstone River has seen a bit of color over the past week, especially as this heavy snow has started to melt. When (if?) temps rise, expect more color as runoff hits the river. Surprisingly the wind hasn’t been too bad at all lately, and the fishing has been pretty decent.
While you can find some fish eating midges here and then on the warmer and cloudy days, staying under the surface remains the best choice. If you just want to get some action and have a bent rod all day, tie on two shiny flies with a bit of weight and be ready to wrangle some whitefish. If you’re after trout, a larger point fly like a big Prince or Perdigon with a midge larva behind it is a great choice.
Is it time for BWOs? Nope, not yet. But it is time to start thinking about streamer fishing, should that tickle your fancy. Fish are slowly getting more aggressive, and your retrieve can match that energy. Is now the time for super quick, active strips? Probably not. But, can you add some flair and bumps and wiggles to your fly instead of just a dead drift or swing? Oh yes.
Be mindful of ice on the river, especially mid valley. The situation has been changing on an almost daily basis with the warmer weather, so check before you put the boat in. And as always – exercise caution and remember no trout is worth putting yourself in danger for.
The report on the Madison River remains pretty close to the same. From Ennis Lake to above 8 Mile is still pretty darn icy. The river above there is starting to fish a bit better, with some decent midge dry fly action on the warmer days. Is it worth the drive from Livingston? Well… If the roads are clear it’s a really nice drive.
The Lower Madison is a lot closer and has been fishing very well. Ice isn’t much of an issue until you get down past Grey Cliff, and the classic Warm Springs to Blacks Ford stretch is free and clear and makes for a great quick float to get the boat out this time of year. Midges are still around in pretty good numbers and the streamer bite is picking up. Walking up Bear Trap Canyon with a sharp eye and a dry fly rod sounds like a really good time right now… Watch the hidey holes in the rock gardens for noses and be ready to make some good casts.
The Gallatin River in the valley is still pretty locked up, making wade fishing access difficult. While there are a few spots here and there that are easier and safer to fish, there is better access up the canyon. Things are very snowy and icy up there still, especially after this latest storm, but winter fishing in the Gallatin Canyon is something special. The river downstream from Big Sky remains reasonably warm enough to stay clear, and the fishing is pretty decent this time of year.
Midges remain the key food source, and all your classic winter nymphs should be in your box. Water temps are still quite cold, and fish are sluggish. Find the deep and slow stuff and fish it well with Perdigons, Princes, Lightning Bugs, Zebra Midges and Copper Johns. Keep adding weight until you either find the fish or find the bottom.
With the weather we’ve had over here lately, the spring creeks have been shining. A few days of little wind in March? Sign us up. Midges have been popping off, and the fishing has been quite good. As always it’s extremely technical, but it’s a fun challenge. Winter rates still apply for a few more weeks, so get out and enjoy it while you can!
LIVINGSTON AND THE SHOP
Spring is a time of renewal, and our store has been undergoing a seasonal renewal as well. Our winter apparel and gear is phasing out and being replaced by lots of great spring options. From clothing to hiking, biking, and technical fishing gear, we are in full on spring mode!
We’ve got a few fly tying classes happening in April, and will begin offering some exciting casting classes and lessons. Stay tuned for that! There is lots of exciting stuff happening all over Livingston and our local area as we move past winter. Tight lines this week!
This Montana fishing report is valid from March 29 until WE FINALLY SEE SOME SPRING WEATHER
Normally we fish a lot and guide some in late March and early April, but so far this year it has been very cold and wet. 18″ of snow here in Livingston in two days ending two days ago, for example. While good for late summer water conditions (snowpack in the Yellowstone Basin in Montana is at 111% of normal), we really need a bit of a warm up to get excited about fishing. In particular there’s no way we can get a boat in the water for float trips yet. Last year we ran our first of the season two weeks ago!
The Yellowstone River will probably get muddy the first time it warms up, then fish well. Fish stonefly nymphs, slow-dragged Woolly Buggers, and egg patterns absent a hatch. Hatches are only likely to include BWO and midges and will be sparse. No point in starting until about noon until we have a few days straight in the 50s.
The lower Madison River is largely in the same boat as the Yellowstone, exacerbated by its shallowness.
The Paradise Valley spring creeks are still on winter rates of $40/day. Definitely the best bet until a warm-up. Fish midge pupae, slender San Juan Worms, slender BWO nymphs, and perhaps midsize Woolly Buggers. As we get into April, it will be more and more important to beware of rainbow trout spawning over shallow gravel. It’s okay to fish eggs in the deep holes downstream of them, though. Winter rates continue until mid-April.
The Missouri River is a long way to drive, but it’s also a good bet. Fish various pink nymphs, BWO nymphs, Zebra Midges, and streamers on the swing. Some midge and BWO hatches are possible but will intensify in late April.
Yellowstone Park’s fishing season is closed until May 27.
Note: Montana Outdoor‘s website is the only commercial external site authorized to use this content. Please let us know if you see it anywhere else (Parks’ Fly Shop’s report is similar, since Walter writes that one too).
Well there may be a bit of shore to fish this weekend. Still ice everywhere else. (CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO)
M.D.: Was on there Saturday. Still plenty of ice, over 2 feet. Edges are starting to get slushy and open. Bring a plank to get on and you should be fine this week. Starting Saturday temperatures will start to get in the 40’s and 50 by Tuesday.
C.T.: The shoreline has open water, but once you get past that it has about 10″ combined. 4 or so inches of clear ice on the bottom and 6 or so inches or cloudy white slush ice on top is what we encountered out from the boat ramp this evening.
The stream is still flowing a little below 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: 3970 cfs
Level: 60.98 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