Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation 5.17.23
By angelamontana

Posted: May 17, 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.


Canyon Ferry Fishing Report via MTFWP (May 15, 2023)

Rainbows are being caught from shore on the north end of the reservoir at the Outhouse, Shannon and Hellgate while using leech or egg pattern flies, worms or egg sacks.  A few walleyes are being caught between the Silos and Hole in the Wall and around Goose Bay by anglers trolling bottom bouncers with white, green or chartreuse spinner blades or crankbaits in 15 feet of water.  Rainbows are also being caught with this same gear setup.  Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena

Hell Creek information via Hell Creek Marina (May 5, 2023)

May 5th: Decent walleye bite west near Fourchette and the narrows. Some smaller eating size walleye in Snow Creek, Sutherland, and Hell Creek. Northern are about done spawning and are starting to bite in the bays in shallow water. Lakers hitting from Hell Creek east in about 25 ft.

Friends of Hell Creek Update (May 14, 2023)

J.G.: Another call today about launching boats at Hell Creek.
It’s not an issue and will not be!
Currently the lake is one foot over normal pool.
I have been coming to Hell Creek, starting in 1986 and have never not been able to launch my boat.
The low water boat ramp is currently 14 feet under water.

Hell Creek General Recreation Information ( May 17, 2023)

Click here:  CLICK HERE for Hell Creek webcam.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (May 14, 2023)

Spring is here and with spring comes warmer temps and more water. The river is big right now but the fish still have to eat! The further up Paradise Valley you go the cleaner 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. Stay out of the water, it is moving fast! 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 Black/Rainbow (4), Urchin Bugger (4), Sculpzilla Black/ White/ Natural (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 (10-18), Jigster Baetis (14-18), Prince Nymph (10-18), BH Hare’s Ear (12-18), Sizzlin’ Hot Spot Squirrel (14-16), Zebra Midge (16-22), San Juan Worm, Matt’s Shagadelic Mop Tan/ Brown/ Green/ Cheeto (10), Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)

Fresno and Nelson Fishing Report via Brian Olson (May 11, 2023)

Fresno is full of water. Water is stained temps in 50-60s. Walleye fishing is good. Jigging in 5’-10’ of water in gravel areas is working well. Crank baits are also working, when you catch one make multiple passes in that area. Kremlin and Kiehns Bay areas are holding fish. Nelson is 80% full and rising. Water is clear with temps in the 50-60s. Walleye fishing is good. Jig with minnows in 10’ in the gravel areas are working. Also minnow live bait systems are working. The island area and surrounding areas are holding fish.

Cooney State Park Information via FWP (May 17, 2023)

Holter Fishing Report via MTFWP (May 15, 2023)

Shore anglers are still catching rainbows at the Gates of the Mountains, the BLM boat ramp, and the Log Gulch boat ramp while using egg patterns, black and red leech patterns, Power Bait, night crawlers, spawn sacks or spinners. A few perch are being caught from the Log Gulch docks while pitching small green jigs tipped with crawlers. Boat anglers are finding good numbers of rainbows and an occasional kokanee on the lower end of the reservoir while trolling cowbells and wedding rings with lead core line, and while pulling a variety of crankbaits.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Headhunters Fly Shop (May 15, 2023)

Flows forecast to go to 6K today. Will it happen? It could.

Flows currently 6360cfs. DB 851cfs, LPP 324cfs. Monday Morning Missouri River Fishing Report 5.15.23gthjn trips somewhat colored. Not enough to factor into fishing difficulties. Not enough color to put the fish off.

Headhunters Audio Fishing Report 406-235-3447 ext 3 for a 4 minute audio fishing report. Check it our for more info!

Midge and BWO will get it done on top. Overcast seems to be the key. Or early morning, late evening sun off the water periods also. Cripples and Midge Clusters. Adams on the way soon. Put a caddis ro two in your hand as the Mo Days Caddis is near.

Nymphers like the BWO as the primary fish catcher. Firebeads, sows and scuds and worms are still in the mix. PMD nymphs in the water column as well. Get your Frenchie Fly fix at HH of Craig. Lots of versions for your nymphing delight. New nymphing line this year? Well, you should. The fly line is the most important part of the rod, reel, line equation. Don’t believe me? Well, then you must not like performance, comfort, and cleanliness. You must not like clean socks, new tires, good clean oil for your car, clean dishes, clean sheets, a clean car…

Strippers are on the white.

Swingers are becoming fewer as the dry fly bite is near. But, swinging the fly is good. Pre-weed infestation here is a good time to get the Scandi line out and enjoy the cast, the upper water column swing, and the soft hackle bite. HH is your Trout Spey HQ in all of the NW!

Lots of lodging options here in Craig at

The big two months are nearing us. Not much room left in either the guiding or lodging calendar as we move into June and July. Looking forward to a great dry fly bite. Praying to the fishing gods nightly!

Headhunters Fly Shop open daily 7am with Dearborn Shuttles, Mo River Shuttles, then Best Flies Under the Big Sky, SIMMS, Skwala, NRS, Orvis, Howler Bros, Headhunters Logo Wear, Galvan, Sage, ACR, Redington, Loomis, ad so much more!

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (May 5, 2023)

🔹 Echo Lake- Bass are moving up on shoreline pre spawn, look for good numbers of fish in bays. Bass jigs and jerk baits have been good. There is a few nice white fish I’m in the main lake.
🔹 Lower Stillwater- some nice perch biting at the west end, try slip bobber and live leeches.
🔹 Swan Lake- Good pike on south end on smelt or dead bait.
🔹 Dickey Lake- Salmon starting to hit mid lake jigging pimples.
🔹 Rodgers Lake- Good grayling action on small black flies or spoons. A few nice cutts.
🔹 Flathead Lake (East Bay)- Lots of smaller perch 7-10” range, a few jumbos.
🔹 Loon Lake (Ferndale)- Nice rainbows on shoreline, try small spoons or nymph flies.
🔹 Koocanusa- Rainbow and bull trout action good. Troll Dave’s plugs in purple colors or large trolling flies on planer boards.
🔹 Blanchard Lake- Lots of small crappie, few nice bass.
🔹 Fennon/Church Slough- Good bass and crappie action in both sloughs.

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (May 5, 2023)

  • Flathead Lake – East Bay is still producing good numbers of perch between 8″-10″.
  • Flathead River – Water levels are rising above 30,000 cfs and pushing lots of debris downriver. Not good for fishing at this time.
  • McWenneger Slough – We have gotten a few reports of pike and perch being caught in the early morning.
  • Church Slough – The crappie bite has been picking up with the occasional pike being caught as well.
  • Echo Lake – Both smallmouth and largemouth bass being caught. Best to try slow moving jerkbaits or soft plastics.
  • Lower Thompson – Handful of reports of a few salmon being caught of the launch in 30′ of water in the later evening hours along with lots of perch!
  • McGregor Lake – Good rainbow fishing using crawdad imitations along with a few lakers being caught of the lodge.
  • Smith Lake – Pike are being caught off the dock using dead baits or slow moving baits. Can get a bit congested though.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (May 2, 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

How is it already mid-May? This year is absolutely flying by. But the quicker days are just bringing the prime time of fishing closer!

First, a quick update on snowpack. The higher temps we had earlier this month pushed a good bit of snow out of the mountains, and our snowpack around here has dropped to the high 80s-low 90s percentile of average for most of our local area. Don’t worry too much though – there is still a ton of snow up in the high country.

With the higher temps in the forecast, we can expect runoff to kick off in a big way this coming week. What does that mean for anglers? Read on!


Over the past week the Yellowstone River did get a window of fishable conditions. Flows dropped quite a bit and visibility cleared up to between 6-12”. As of this morning flows are coming back up, and are sitting at around 7,400 cfs. This is changing on an hourly basis, and you can get the most updated info on theUSGS website here.

With flows on the rise, and the high temps in the forecast, we don’t expect things to stay fishable for too much longer. Now would be a great time to get out and throw big streamers at the banks, or dead drift a streamer or big stonefly pattern with a caddis pupa behind it. We have seen quite a few caddis out and about on the river, but getting a fish to rise in these conditions is challenging.

We try to post clarity updates and short videos on our Instagram stories on a regular basis, be sure to follow us there for the latest.


Not much has changed on the Upper Madison since our last report. The river below the West Fork is going to be getting a bit dirtier as snow continues to melt in the higher temps, but it should remain fishable for a while yet. There are march browns, Baetis, caddis and even a few midges left for the dry fly folk, and now is a great time to be throwing big streamers.

MOTHERS DAY CADDIS ARE HERE! The Lower Madison has seen a good hatch of the Mother’s Day Caddis this week, and it should continue for a while yet. This is the first big dry fly hatch of the year, and it can be awesome. If you aren’t seeing fish rising, swing an emerger or fish a pupa behind a crawfish under an indicator. Putting an emerger behind an adult and fishing it in the surface film is a great idea.

This hatch draws people from all over the region, and for good reason. It can offer some really good days. Just be patient, remember everyone else is out there for the same reasons you are, and give everyone plenty of room. There’s enough river for everyone.

If you don’t have a dedicated Mother’s Day Caddis pattern, don’t worry. They’re smaller and darker than their mid-summer cousins, so a size 16-18 Black or dark Brown Elk Hair Caddis can work just fine. Purple caddis are also a good bet…


The Gallatin River also had a big drop in flows over the last week. They’re starting to tick back up, but things should be fishable for a few days yet. The river through the valley is going to be dirtier than in the canyon, and be careful when you’re moving around at accesses. The higher water can make wading through some of that more challenging than you remember from last summer.

You’ll still find some BWOs here and there, and midges up in the canyon. March Browns should be out down lower and you might even see some caddis in the afternoons. The river above Big Sky is finally melting out enough to fish, and that can be a fun outing for fish that haven’t seen flies all winter long. Expect the river below Taylor’s Fork to be dirty.


Talking to some people in the shops lately, sounds like things are still fishing quite well if a few weeks behind. Be really careful when you’re out on the spring creeks as spawning fish are still around. Days are beginning to book quickly for the spring, and summer is filling up fast.

As always the fish are super picky, and now there’s a wider array of options to serve them. BWOs, March Browns, midges, even some caddis. Have a fully stocked fly box, bring the 5 and 6x tippet and 10-12’ leaders, and go into your day on the creeks fully expecting to be humbled. It’s a great challenge, and that’s part of the fun.


Mother’s Day is today, and we hope you have a great day celebrating the wonderful moms in your life! If you’re a last minute shopper, we’ve got lots of great options here at the store. Not quite sure what you’re after? A gift certificate is always a great idea.

We’ve got everything you need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable out in Montana no matter what you’re doing. We’re getting into biking, hiking and backpacking season and there is no shortage of places you can go and things you can do! We’ve got it all for you.

Tight lines this week!

Castle Rock Reservoir via Castle Rock Live Bait Shop (May 16, 2023)

My coworker Kyle who has been around 5 decades said his favorite bait was plastic lizards at Castle Rock. We have several colors of Zoom Bait lizards.

Hauser Fishing Report via MTFWP (May 15, 2023)

Shore anglers are still catching rainbows at the York Bridge boat ramp and Black Sandy while using egg pattern flies, Power Bait, night crawlers or spinners. Boat anglers are finding most rainbows and an occasional kokanee while trolling cowbells or dodgers with a wedding ring and while using orange or silver crankbaits. The walleye bite on Lake Helena has turned on, and most are being picked up while trolling perch-colored crankbaits and bottom bouncers with various colored walleye spinners or floating jigs tipped with crawlers.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Bighorn Trout Shop (May 17, 2023)

Water flows are at 4,200 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good on nymphs. It’s typical spring fishing: one day the fish are on the feed, the next day they’re hard to come by. We’ve been catching fish on Baetis nymphs, midge pupa, scuds and sowbugs. The best fishing has been mid morning through early afternoon. There are a few dry fly opportunities but the fish can be selective. Baetis and midges are hatching. Streamer fishing has been slow but should pick up as water temperatures slowly rise.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report via Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing (May 8, 2023)

This Yellowstone River fishing report is valid from May 8 through approximately June 25, when we expect spring runoff to begin fading.

Blown out due to an early surge of spring snowmelt. It may drop into some sort of ship midweek, but it’ll only remain there for a couple days. Fish stonefly nymphs, big San Juan Worms, and maybe dark streamers fished primarily on a dead-drift in good lanes.

Once the river blows back out again, there might be brief clear windows through mid-June, but only during cold spells of several days (preferably without rain). Most of the time, the river will be shot due to the melt. We expect spring runoff to end a bit earlier than we did a few weeks ago, since it started early. Look for the Yellowstone to begin dropping into shape around June 25 to July 1.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report – Relevant Links

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