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.
Walleyes and a few perch are being caught in 25-30 feet of water from the Silos to the Hole in the Wall area and north of White Earth on the west shore while using bottom-bouncers with worm harnesses with chartreuse or silver spinner blades or tiger perch-colored crankbaits. Shore anglers are catching walleyes at Duck Creek on worms or lures. Rainbow fishing is slow. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Hell Creek General Recreation Information (September 26, 2023)
The recent rain has put some color into the river but the fish are on the move. Olive and yellow streamers have been our go to flies as of late, with flashy flies like sparkle minnows or kreelex minnows being a good option when the sun is high. Nymphing has also been picking up some fish lately! Try running the middle of the river and heavy water with a large stonefly or sculpin followed by something small and flashy.
Suggested Fly Patterns
Parachute Adams (12-18), Chubbies Pink, Olive, Tan (8-12), Morrish Hopper Pink, Purple, Tan, Brown (10-14), Thunder Grass Hopper Tan (10), Donkey Kong Hopper Tan (10-14), Fat Albert Pink (12-14)
Woolly Bugger (4-12), Mini Dungeon Black/ Natural/ White (6), Montana Intruder (4), Sparkle Minnow JJ’s, Silver (4-8), Double Gonga Black/Rainbow (4), Sculpzilla Black/ White/ Natural (4-8)
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), Matt’s Shagadelic Mop Tan/ Brown/ Green/ Cheeto (10), Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)
The Rainbow fishing has been great in the Gates of the Mountains area while fly fishing with Prince Nymphs, trolling Rapalas near Split Rock, and while fishing from shore with nightcrawlers at Departure Point and Black Beach. Good numbers of perch are still being found while pitching small jigs and crawler pieces around Mann Gulch, Ming Bar, Cottonwood Creek, and the BLM boat ramp docks. A few walleyes are being caught in the same areas as the perch. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Finishing up the month. September. Headed into one of our favorite months, October.
But before we leave this preliminary fall month let’s talk a bit about the nymph bite.
Deep vs. Shallow
Many beginning the day fishing deep. A split shot attached to your nymph rig, getting to the fish on the bottom. Bugs live in the weeds, the silt, the gravel, on/in/around the bottom. A valid location to begin your nymphing session. Standard rigs with a Zirdle, worm, Thin Mint, White or Black Leech, Frenchie, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, Purple or Gold Weight Fly, Scud, Bubble Yum, or Sow. Second fly a Zebra/midge/black fly larvae, one of the many great Euro Style nymphs/Perdigon etc, Little Green Machine, S & M, Tailwater Sow, Two Bit Hooker, Military May, Magic Fly, Firebead Sow…
Some switch to the Short Leash after lunch while some start with it in the am. Fish to those fish as they move up higher in the water column as the insects embark on their daily journey to the surface. Skinnier water with big trout. Find waters that are 18″-36″ and fish it! Palsa Tab Indicators are great for their discipline. Headhunters carries these essential Indi for Mo River Success.Two small flies are the general method for this technique. Two Zebras, a beaded fly on the top and an unweighted fly not he bottom? Start fooling around with this method and the sky is the limit. Come in the shop nd we will instruct you and the positive outcomes of this very deadly fly rig.
Streamer anglers are enjoying the last couple weeks with the rain in the Mo River Neighborhood. White and black seem to be the flavor of choice during the late September period. Will it continue? Our ever increasing selection of streamer and meat flies will keep you in the game this year. Hundreds of streamer patterns for your desires!
Streamer lines for the fall ahead? Yeah, we really do have the greatest selection of fly lines in the canyon. We pride ourselves on knowing all about lines! Need an intermediate line to freshen up your streamer game? Lines from RIO, Scientific Anglers/SA, Orvis, OPST, Wulff, and Airflo.
A new Streamer Fly Line will help you feel better. Slippery fly lines require less energy to create good long casts. The time and length of the cast increases the time int he water. Therefore increasing your opportunities. Think about this efficiency theme here. Think about it. Or, you can clean your fly line. Not a new concept here on this blog, but a new thing for many anglers. Clean Fly Lines casts better with less energy! A fly line cleaner from RIO in the individual packages is $0.99. If you cannot spend that amount on your experience, then, then you must not like using the net much. Ninety-nine cents to casting freedom!
Trout Spey Anglers
More and more seen everyday. The next two months and occasionally into the Christmas month is the period of wonderment for the two handed gang. More on them later, but we are ramping it up now. Headhunters is your Trout Prey and Two Handed Rod HQ. Bar None. Stop in and let us help you catch more fish on the swing. More on the swing angler as we move into October.
Guided Trout Fishing Trips
A good way to introduce yourself to this often complex fishery. Take a guide trip for a day or two and rent a boat for a day or two and wade fish a day or two. That is a common path to understanding this mega trout rich river. Headhunters has a large staff of tenured guides to accelerate your learning curve. A good bet to hedge your, bet. Headhunters guides work all year ’round. Guides available 364 days a year. We are closed on Christmas Day. The rest of the year? Ready for action!
Casting Lessons @ Headhunters of Craig
You bet. Contact us to get better this year!
CraigLodging.com for a variety of on the banks of the river, Craig Trout Camp in downtown Craig, and more! Your one stop for lodging locally.
39 rental properties for you to peruse here on the Mighty Mo.
Neil Diamond takes us into this late September Morn!
Lake Mary Ronan- Excellent perch bite still going! Try 25’ water near Camp Tuffit or White Rock Bay. Jigging spoons or gitzits working well.
Lower Thompson- good perch bite on east end 20’ of water, also still some salmon action near boat launch.
Ashley Lake-￼ salmon bites still good trolling cowbells or small dodgers, 30’ of water.
￼Tobacco River/Graves Creek- salmon snagging still good on both streams.
Blanchard Lake- good numbers of smaller Crappie also a few nice bass.
Smith Lake- lots of small pike, few big perch.
Rodgers Lake- grayling and cutts starting to hit early morning.
Flathead Lake- ￼￼ Troll large spoons, 50 to 70’ ￼of water, Lakeside to west shore for Lake Trout.
Beaver Chain of Lakes- good numbers of rainbows, bait fishing offshore.
- Flathead Lake – Seeing some lakers move up shallow around 50′-60′ down. Fish around the cliffs and rocky shelves. Try trolling cut plugs and FLC tackle, also jigging VMC hair jigs or Mission Tackle Tubes off the delta is having some success.
- Flathead River – Trout fishing is still good. Hearing good reports using Prince Nymphs or Pheasant Tails under a Humpy or small Hopper pattern.
- Tobacco River – Lots of salmon moving up the river and schooling in deeper holes. Still good quality fish!
- Smith Lake – Lots of pike being caught. Try using weedless spoons or pike hangers with smelt or pea mouth.
- McGregor Lake – Slow fishing for rainbow and macs, but still lots of smallmouth being picked up in 5′-15′ of water using drop shots or craw patterns.
- Middle Thompson – Perch being caught around 15′ using Gitzits and small jigs tipped with maggots or nightcrawlers. There are still a few pike biting on spinner baits and buzz baits.
- Murray Lake – Trout fishing is picking up from shore using small spoons and Rapalas. You can also try sinking PowerBait or marshmallows off the bottom.
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
Fresno and Nelson Fishing Report by Brian Olson (September 21, 2023)
Fresno is 28% full. Inflow 25 cfs & outflow 100 cfs. Walleye fishing is fair. Best fishing is on the southern half and dam areas. For best results fish very slowly dragging light jigs on the bottom tipped with crawlers. Nelson is 82% full. Walleye fishing is good. Bottom bouncers with crawler or live minnows is working well at whatever depths you find fish. Water temps are cooling and the fish are getting very active. Tight lines & sharp hooks.
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It’s really feeling like fall out there these days. Leaves are beginning to turn in the river bottoms and we’ve had a few mornings where it’s downright cold. Fall fishing is coming up fast and we are ready for it.
Cooler nighttime temps are helping keep water temps down, but still do your best to limit stress on the fish you catch. Keep them in the water, get them released quickly, and make the fights as short as possible. These fish have had a long and busy summer and as responsible anglers, it’s our job to respect and help protect the resource.
Here’s what happening in the local area:
The Yellowstone River has had some off color days recently with heavy storms in Yellowstone National Park, but nothing that has impacted it too badly. Hoppers are still the main course, with streamer action slowly picking up especially on cloudy days. Don’t overlook terrestrials such as ants and beetles, hoppers aren’t the only terrestrials in the game! Fishing an ant pattern in the surface film or just under it behind a chubby or hopper can be deadly.
We are still waiting for our prime fall hatches, but you’ll find some caddis in the afternoon. If you can find a grassy bank or ag field next to the river on a windy day fish a hopper tight to the bank and land it with a resounding “splat”. These larger bugs get blown into the river on breezy days and the trout know it.
Caddis pupa, rubberlegs, and attractor nymphs like Lightning Bugs, Perdigons, and Spankers are all good options to hang below a bigger dry fly. Definitely switch to something sub surface midday when the sun is really bright, and leading into the evening caddis hatch.
The Lower Madison remains busy even during the week. While fishing is improving, we’re still recommending giving it a bit more time. See how it goes next week.
The Upper Madison is a great option this time of year. Conditions are lining up for a fun fall, and while we’re still waiting for the best fall hatches there is plenty of action. Terrestrials are still in play, as are evening caddis. These trout have seen a lot of pressure this summer so consider dropping down a tippet size and being a little more sneaky. Don’t be surprised if they’re quite a bit more picky than you’d expect.
If you’re walk wading, be willing to invest a bit of time walking away from accesses to get away from more pressured areas. Keep your head on a swivel and be aware of wildlife in your area. The walk/wade areas on the upper river especially require some more attention.
Now until winter is a really beautiful time in the Gallatin Canyon. Leaves are changing, the summer crowds are lessening to an extent, and the fishing remains consistently good. From the Canyon Mouth to Big Sky will see the bulk of the pressure, but also the bulk of the water. Above Big Sky to the park boundary remains pretty low. There’s definitely still places to fish, but you might have to search a bit more for them.
Terrestrials and small caddis are the main dry fly fare. Nymphing has been productive with caddis pupa and jig style nymphs. The lower river is coming into shape, especially with these cooler days.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Fall in Yellowstone National Park is one of those experiences every angler needs to have at least once in their lifetime. It’s beautiful, a little less crowded, and the fishing gets considerably better than during late summer. We’re right on the cusp of the good fall fishing, so now until the season closes is game on.
Terrestrials, caddis, and a growing number of BWOs are all in play here in Yellowstone. Bring the fine tippets and your A-game. Fish in heavily pressured places are getting quite picky. We’re still a few weeks away from the real beginning of fall dry fly fishing, but it’s only going to get better. The entire park is fishing well, but we are of course partial to the waters of the Northeast Corner.
LIVINGSTON AND THE SHOP
The summer tourist madness is slowing down, but there is still lots to do here in Livingston and Southwest Montana. Fall is the season of the more seasoned angler, and while the general tourist traffic is slowing, we’re seeing a lot of serious fishermen here in town and in the shop. We’ve got live music, events, festivals, great food and drink and a lot more to offer all who are fortunate enough to visit. Even with fall on the doorstep, there is tons of biking, hiking, fishing, rafting, and backpacking to do still.
The shop is getting more and more of our fall apparel and merchandise every week, and we’re slowly changing things over with the season. Come by and check it out, get outfitted with everything you need, and tell us a fish story!
Tight lines this week.
A few walleyes and rainbows are being picked up from shore below Canyon Ferry Dam and from the Causeway Bridge while casting perch-colored jigs or Rapalas and while using crawlers on a floating jig. Trolling cowbells with wedding rings or floating Rapalas between Black Sandy and York Bridge is also producing a few rainbows. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
It’s quieting down a bit on the river, traffic wise. Fishing has still been fairly good, even though they’re still working on repairs on gates at the dam. Water temps have been up and down, so overall making fishing a bit different each day.
The Tricos are strong most days and there is a good window of fish up in the morning hours taking advantage of them. Psuedos are showing up in the afternoons and getting some big fish up, but they’re picky!
Nymphing with Worms, Frenchies, PT’s, Hare’s Ears, small perdigons and Zebras has been productive.
We’re seeing more color in the water on the upper river and clearing as you head downstream. The grass is here, but not as bad as past years.
The streamer bite has been pretty good in the faster /shelf type water and should continue to be strong through October. Pete’s Buggers, Lil’ Kims, Sparkle Minnows, Thin Mints and big Leeches have been the goods.
Bitterroot River via Montana Fishing Addicts 2.0 (September 19, 2023)
C.E.: My son Tucker Ewalt caught this tonight. We are in the Bitterroot Valley and he caught it out of the Bitterroot river. We know it’s a sucker but although we have long nose sucker, that head almost looks more like a white sucker which we don’t have here as far as I know… anyone have any weigh in? It was 2.5 pounds and 21.5 inches long!
Hebgen: Hebgen should begin to slow down as the weather continues to cool off. We’re still seeing some callibaetis when the days warm up. When you aren’t seeing fish rise it may be worth stripping leeches, larger streamers, or large damselfly nymphs in the upper reaches of the arms, as migratory Browns and Rainbows are likely beginning to stage.Flies: #8 Black or Olive Simi Seal Leech, #6 Balanced Squirrel Leech Black, #6 Olive or Black Hot Bead Leech, #8 Thin Mint, #12 Balanced Damsel, #20 Trico Spinner, #16 Callibaetis Sparkle Dun, #16 Found Link Callibaetis, #16 Purple Missing Link, #16 Long Tailed Callibaetis Spinner
Inflow to Hebgen Lake: 848 cfs
Hebgen Lake Outflow: 1039 cfs
Kirby Flows: 1120 cfs** Flows as of 3 pm September 19th, 2023 **
Upper Madison: Not much has changed on the Madison since last week, It’s still nymphing very well. Smaller mayfly and caddis nymphs, as well as dip style midges are what we’re throwing lately. Hoppers are all but over down there now that we’re getting frost. We’re seeing an impressive Trico and Baetis Hatch near Quake Lake as well. Other terrestrials are moving fish on slower days. Streamers are heating up on the upper as the weather changes.
Flies: #16-18 Redneck, #16-18 Shop Vac, #18 Black Crystal Dip, #18 Olive Micro Mayfly, #18 Hogan’s S&M Black, #16 Olive Hot Spot, #18 BWO Comparadun, #16 BWO CDC Comparadun, #20 CW Trico Spinner, #18 Parachute Baetis, #6 Black Hot Bead Leech, #4 Brown Sculpinator, #4 Olive/White Barely Legal
YNPThe NE Corner should be slowing down, but the western side of the park is just starting to pick up!
Madison near West Yellowstone: 370 cfs
Yellowstone below Yellowstone Lake : 1030 cfs
Gibbon: 111 cfs
Gallatin near Big Sky: 387 cfs
** Flows as of 3 pm September 19th 2023 **
Gallatin: The Gallatin is low, clear, and cold enough that you don’t need to be there before 10/11am. Terrestrials, and small mayfly/caddis nymphs are fishing well on the Gallatin lately. A hopper dropper is a good way to search around this river. Smaller attractor dries like Royal Wulffs and Stimulators should also entice a rise.
Flies: #16-18 Shop Vac, #16-18 Black Krystal Dip, #16 Pink Chili Dog, #14 Royal Chubby Chernobyl, #18 Parachute Adams, #16 Orange Spruce Moth, #16 Rocky Mtn Mint PMD, #14 Royal Stimulator, #16 Arrick’s Ant, #14 Royal Wulff, #16 Bionic Ant Brown
Madison/Firehole/Gibbon: Temps on the western side of the park are finally falling enough to make the Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon viable destinations again. The Firehole is getting a touch warm mid day however. The Madison and Gibbon are fishing well with nymphs, soft hackles, and streamers. some early lake runs have been seen a good way into the park on the Madison.
Flies: #8-10 Partridge and Orange, #8-10 Partridge and Pheasant Tail, #14 Prince Nymph, #16-18 Frenchie, #14 Diving Caddis, #6 Olive Slump-Buster, #6 Olive Montana Mouthwash, #8 Black or Olive Hot Bead Leech
Yellowstone/NE Corner: The Yellowstone is slowing down drastically as the season continues. The Lamar and its tributaries are all fishing well with fish looking up, however, with recent weather the Lamar could be higher than average in the lower reaches. Look for fish rising on Tricos and small BWO’s. Pink, purple, and red chubbies, as well as other terrestrials like will also fish well. Streamers should fish well if dries are slow.
Flies: #18-20 Parachute BWO, #18 Guide Winna Spinna, #10 Yellow Thunder Thighs, #16 Rocky Mtn Mint Adam’s, #16 Butch Sally, #14 pink/purple/red Chubby Chernobyl, #6 Black Hot Bead Leech, #6 Olive Slump-Buster, #6 Olive/Black Crystal Bugger
Tiber Reservoir Fishing Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (September 19, 2023)
T.C.: As always depends on who you ask. We have been picking up quite a few walleye on the Marias arm trolling crank baits. Concentrating on weed beds and water 6-14 feet in depth moving at 2.4 mph. 25 feet back on boards or 45 to 60 feet back on the line counters. Starting to have some pike move in as well as the water temperature begins to drop. Not sure how the bait bite has been.
The snagging season for Kokanee Salmon opened on September 1st and will run through October 31st. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena