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.
Hell Creek General Recreation Information (November 28, 2023)
With this long fall, the fishing has been great on the Yellowstone. As it cools off and we move into more winter type patterns, slowing things down will help you increase success. Streamer fishing has been good, nymphing has been consistent, and on the right day fish will rise to dries. For streamers, we’ve been fishing Dragons, Dungeons, and Fresh Water Closures. Small sculpin patterns and buggers have also been working on indicator rigs or stripped. With the indicator rigs, trail that sculpin or bugger with your favorite little Baetis Nymph, Zebra Midge, worm, egg, or mop pattern. If you see fish rising they’re most likely rising to Psudeos, we like to keep small parachutes, sparkle duns, smoke jumpers, and film critics in rotation.
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)
12 Month Missouri River Flow Chart
River came up on Friday to over 4K. A big change. According to the DNRC this flow will hold for some time.
Looking for an average water year ahead. Will it snow a ton this winter? Ohh, maybe. Only Mothe Mo knows.
Flathead River- Good white fish going on. Old Steel Bridge to Columbia Falls Bridge. Also nice cuttthroat and rainbows in the river. Try 1/8 oz jigs in green with smaller tubes or gitzits.
Flathead Lake- Lake trout shallow spawning along shorelines. Try Woods Bay Point or the bay itself. West Shore State Park to Painted Rocks, Shelter Island area. Troll big spoons 15-30’ of water.
Rodgers Lake- Good numbers of cuttthroat and some grayling biting.
Echo Lake- Small mouth action good along Highway side or near river mouth.
Beaver Chain of Lakes- Good rainbows on Woods and Murray Lakes.
Koocanusa- Trolling Rexford to long bridge with flies or Dave’s PlugIt plugs with planer boards.
Black Friday Specials
ICE FISHING EXPO DECEMBER 1st-2nd
Join us Friday, December 1st for some Chili, meet some local tackle makers, fishermen and factory reps. 6:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday December 2nd- Seminars, FREE lunch, factory reps. Check out the new 2023-2024 gear.
- Flathead Lake – Good Lake trout action. Try trolling Spin Fish in 40’-60’ of water or you might have some luck jigging VMC Bucktail jigs off the delta.
- Smith Lake – Fishing has slowed down a bit. We are getting reports of a few pike biting off dead baits though.
- McGregor Lake – Good Rainbow fishing from shore. Try sinking power bait or worms off the bottom. Small spoons like Lil Cleo and Kastmasters have also been working as well.
- Bitterroot Lake – Rainbow fishing has been good. Trolling flies off planer boards or using Lyman plugs have both been a good option.
- Flathead River – Still some good whitefish being caught. Mostly around Old Steel bridge and Columbia Falls bridge have been a good bet. Try JT Tackle or KB Tackle for that local touch that “just works”.
- Loon Lake (Ferndale) – Still catching some smaller perch from shore using Gitzits and Crystal Bullets. Also a few rainbows being caught as well using small Maribou jigs.
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 (November 23, 2023)
Fresno is 25% full, inflow 12 cfs & outflow 40 cfs. Fishing is slow. At the time of this report, Fresno may be iced. View the webcam or call the Fresno Tavern for conditions before you trailer a boat. Nelson is 81% full with no in or out flows. Fishing for walleye, northern, and perch is excellent. Jig raps or shiver minnows in 20’ of water near points and humps are working. Again before trailering a boat check conditions as water temp last Saturday was 38 degrees. Happy Thanksgiving.
It sure seemed like winter was upon us a few weeks ago, but things have mellowed out nicely. Now, we’ve got clear skies and days in the high 40s and 50s for the foreseeable future. An odd fall weather year to be sure, but we’ll take it! Any day on the river with sunshine and halfway warm temps is hard to turn down.
While lots of people have hung up their waders for the season, there’s no reason to – yet. Here’s what’s happening in our local area waters.
Fall fishing has been pretty darn good lately. The bright skies haven’t helped dry fly anglers, but you can still find a few BWOs here and there on the more cloudy days. The other factor that is very present and almost always constant is the wind. We are pretty officially in the windy season now and will be for the next long stretch of months. Don’t even ask, it’s basically always blowing. Plan accordingly and be ready for it.
Since the dry fly fishing has been hit or miss with the conditions, going subsurface is your best bet. Nymphing with classic winter stuff – something larger like a rubber legs, Mega Prince, or small streamer with a BWO nymph, perdigon, or Rainbow Warrior. Water temps are definitely on the cold side, but they haven’t quite plummeted down to winter lows. You can still find fish in their fall hiding places, instead of mid-winter haunts
The best success we’ve heard lately is from people throwing streamers. Big ones, small ones, articulated ones, fished on the swing, quick strips, slow strips… It’s all working pretty well right now. With the bright conditions we’ve had lately, we would start with something small-ish and brightly colored. Yellow, white, gray, sparkle minnows and the like. If you’re into swinging flies (and if you’re not you should be), opt for something with a stinger hook and lots of natural movement.
The Yellowstone River slows down drastically in the winter, but fortunately we aren’t quite there yet!
Both the Upper Madison River and Lower Madison River are pretty stellar now. Fall is when the Madison River truly shines, and although we are easing into later in the season there are plenty of fish to be caught. You can find BWOs on the cloudy days still, and midges are starting to show up in decent numbers on the upper river.
Beware the wind, and we’re getting to that point in the year when it’s a good idea to check both your ramps for ice and clearance if you’re floating. You don’t find many other anglers out there, but you will find wind!
The Lower Madison River is a great spot for a quick outing, especially if you’re based out of Bozeman. You can find some excellent dry fly fishing in the rock gardens up Bear Trap Canyon, look for BWOs still and some midges are starting to show up as well. The majority of days are pretty windy, which can impact dry fly fishing. The steamer bite has been decent and dragging a crayfish pattern with a midge nymph behind it through the buckets in the Warm Springs to Black’s Ford can be a great choice.
Unlike the Yellowstone, as a tailwater the Madison is a great winter fishery and we can expect several more months of good fishing here.
Late fall and winter on the Gallatin is an interesting time. Things can slow down pretty drastically, but the Gallatin remains a solid option. Below the canyon can get super sketchy with ice jams and obstructions with colder weather, but we certainly haven’t had much of that lately.
The canyon is a solid late season fishery from Big Sky on down. The river stays reasonably clear, and the deeper pockets and runs can yield some really good fishing. You might find some BWOs here and there, but midges will start showing up in good numbers here soon. Nymphing with a jig-style fly and a midge nymph behind it should yield fish. Be careful on the road.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
The 2023 fishing season in Yellowstone Park is now closed! Thanks everyone who fished this year and enjoyed it. It’s never too early to start planning next year’s trips!
PARADISE VALLEY SPRING CREEKS
The spring creeks of Paradise Valley – Depuy’s, Nelson’s and Armstrong’s – are the cream of the crop for winter fishing in our area. They flow consistently year round and offer some of the most technical and fun fishing of the season. We’re seeing some BWOs and good numbers of midges as well. There is a full season of great fishing and reduced rates ahead of us!
LIVINGSTON AND THE SHOP
The big news around our shop these days is the Pray For Snow Celebration, coming up next week on Thursday, Nov 16th and Friday, Nov 17th. We’re showing the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival on Thursday, with our classic party, raffle and silent auction on Friday at the Depot Center. This event is not one to miss!
It’s finally turning around! The Afterbay is beginning to fill and clarity in the river is slowly improving. We’ve had some fantastic weather and great fishing the past few days and should continue to get even better!
Streamer time is here. Dredging with tips is the preferred method this time of year. Rusty Trombones, Lil’ Kims, Pete’s Buggers and leeches are top producers.
Nymphing has actually been a bit hit and miss, but look for that to improve with the water clarity getting better. Still the Big Orange Scud/Sowbug deal. Worms down lower.
The crowds are light with everyone hunting, so it’s a great time to come out and fish!
Just a reminder the shop is in Winter mode and will be closed Monday – Thursday. Friday – Sunday we’re there from 8 AM – 12 PM. If you need a shuttle, give us a call and we can help you out.
Fishing Suggestion for Lake Helena via Montana Fishing Addicts 2.0 (November 18, 2023)
K.S.: You have to go below Maroney Dam for Drum, catfish, pike, sauger , walleye and sturgeon. You can catch perch almost anywhere, but burbot seem to like the Deep Rocky holes with a muddy bottom along the Missouri. I fish for them from around 11 to 3 at night. I use sucker meat about the size of my finger tip. Get out and enjoy nature while you hunt for the great honeyhole.
THE GALES OF NOVEMBER
The legend lives on! November has brought mild temperatures to the Madison Valley with only one great snowfall to date. Water levels are still looking great as we’re sitting around 1060 CFS at Cameron and 825 CFS flowing out of Hebgen. Water temperatures dropped to 34.52 degrees at Cameron, the lowest mark we’ve seen in the last week. We’re throwing the snowpack chart back up so keep an eye on that throughout the winter. As of now, The Madison basin is at 91% of our normal Snow Water Equivalent for this time of year.
November is typically a nymph oriented month on the Upper Madison. Euronymphing can be especially effective on the upper reaches of the river as the temperature begins to drop. If fishing out of the boat, running a Pat’s Rubber Legs as the lead fly is always a foolproof plan. We’re beginning to downsize our tippet and fly size dramatically to help catch wary fish.
Streamers: Olive Mini Dungeon, Black Dungeon, Black Silk Kitty, Olive Mini Loop, Lil Kim, Black Screamer, Olive Trevor, Sparring Partner white/gold.
Dry Flies: Parachute Purple (14-16), Griffith’s Gnat (18-20), Parachute Adams (16-18), Missing Link Caddis (12-14),
Nymphs: May It Be Baetis (18-20),Jiggy Micro May Pheasant Tail (16-20), Lightning Bug Gold (16-18), Spanker Red #14, Prince (14-16), PMD (14-16), Black Rubber Leg (8-10), Pheasant Tail (14-16).
We’re in the midst of our annual Fly SALE. Checkout our SALE flies here for killer deals on your favorite patterns. If you’re interested in what the river looks like here in town, give the live cam a gander below!
– MRFC Guide Danny Eiden
4320 CFS @ Holter – Perhaps one of the best options with the colder weather, the Missouri has been great. A few fish are rising to tiny mayfly patterns, but prefer the midge. Nymphing has been similar, small BWO nymphs, zebra midges, scuds, or your favorite egg pattern. Streamer fishing has been good with small flashy patterns jigged deep and slow.
– Pill Popper #16
– Roe Peach #14
– Hares Ear Jig Pink #16
– Balanced Leech Black #10
– Sprout Midge Black #18