MT Statewide Fishing Report Compilation 12.21.23
By angelamontana

Posted: December 21, 2023

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Hell Creek General Recreation Information (December 21, 2023)

Click here:  CLICK HERE for Hell Creek webcam.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (December 18, 2023)

With this slow start to the winter, fishing has been great on the Yellowstone. As it cools off more, slowing things down will help increase your 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, Hum Dingers, 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. A larger Hares Ear Nymph has also been getting bit. If you see fish rising they’re most likely rising to midges or psudeos. Griffiths Gnats, small Purple Haze, and Buzzball midges have all been successful when there is fish rising.

Suggested Fly Patterns

  • Dry Fly

    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)

  • Streamer

    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)

  • 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), Matt’s Shagadelic Mop Tan/ Brown/ Green/ Cheeto (10), Hare’s Ear (14-18), Dirty Bird (12-16)

Cooney State Park Information via FWP (December 21, 2023)

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Headhunters Fly Shop (December 7, 2023)

Missouri River Montana Projected Seasonal Flows & Fishing Report

Waters fluctuating as we move through the off season here on the  MO.

But, daily air temps crept over the 60F mark yesterday. And it was quite nice. Along with some SW wind. Lots actually.

Tons of anglers not he water yesterday with these quite seasonal uncommon conditions. Today, wind and cooler weather along with overcast skies.

Fishing Report? The Trout Spey rod the primary tool we saw out there yesterday. Lots of anglers swinging the 2 handed rod. And hook ups too!

You can pretty much stash the Scandinavian Lines til spring. Keep the Skagit line on your reel along with a Tip Wallet full of Skagit tips on your hip. Fished in a few water zones yesterday. Caught them near the surface with a Type 1 Tip. Just hovering within a couple feet of the surface. Yes, that worked. Also fishing a RIO Triple Density Tip the I/S3/S4. Also a 10′ IMOW 5×5 Light. And finally a 10′ T8 Tip. All of them garnered trout.

Were the trout hammering the fly? Nope. Soft takes and the fish was just on type of bite. But, lots of looks, several connected, and a several lost. You know, kinda just like fishing. Fish were on the strip, on the jig, on the swing, and on the dangle.

Spoke with Scumliner this week and his last swinging day(s) he found a similar plight of yesterday’s bite. Some runs the fish were active, others, not at all. Fish where you find them, move on when the fish do not seem amenable to your cause. Reluctant trout are out there. Water temps and flows are in flux. Keep that in mind.

So the upshot of this report is this: If the fish are there, fish them. IF you find nobody is home, keep moving.

The fish are holding in those deeper buckets as the water temps continue to fall. And I believe we will see this as we move into deeper winter. We think? Not much for precipitation in the long term forecast.

Water temps are 40F. Cooler as we move through this month.

Water flows are currently 4500cfs. In the parameters of normal flows for the fall and winter.

Shop today at your favorite Mo River Fly Shop. Call today get a package in the mail! Do it.

We Remember Pearl Harbor Day today. 

Cooney Boat Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 18, 2023)

N.H.: As of yesterday morning most of lake was frozen with an open spot in the middle, we were at Red Lodge campground and there was about 3 inches of ice close to the edge didn’t go out far

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (December 15, 2023)

⚠️ be careful with ice conditions changing daily⚠️
❄️ Lower Stillwater- 3-5” of ice. Good perch, fishing, few pike, and lake trout.
❄️ Island Lake- 3” of ice. Lots of small perch, and a few pike.
❄️ Lynch Lake- 5” of ice, few small pike.
❄️ Rodgers Lake- 3-4” Of ice, good, grayling, action, try using small pink jigs, few nice cutts.
❄️ Smith Lake- 3” of ice, few nice perch, lots of small pike.
❄️ Smaller lakes in Thompson chain- Little loon, Upper Thompson- various depths 2-4”
❄️ Lion Lake- Frozen 2-3” of ice, few small perch.
❄️ Koocanusa- Rexford area, good rainbow, fishing, trolling with flies and plugs.
❄️ Flathead Lake- good Lake, trout action, jigging, deep or shallow near Delta or Big Arm area.

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (December 21, 2023)

Carry Safety Gear and Always Check Your Ice

  • Flathead Lake – Lakers Showing up shallow, and we are seeing good numbers trolling Spinfish and Flatfish in around 35′-50′ of water.
  • Church Slough – 1″-2″ of ice so far. NOT SAFE!
  • Lone Lake – 3″-4″ of ice. Reports saying there have been a few good perch between 7″-10″ being caught.
  • McWenneger Slough – Ice has capped over, but no reports on thickness yet.
  • Smith Lake – 4″ of ice. Hearing about lots of pike caught using dead baits. Also hearing a few perch showing up as well.
  • Rogers Lake – 5″-6″ of ice. The fishing for Cuts has been slow but hearing good reports of Greyling out toward the 10′-12′ depths.
  • Dog Lake – 5″ of ice. Still good numbers of eater perch and some decent pike being caught.
  • Lower Stillwater – 6″ of ice. Perch being caught out by the islands in around 18′-20′ of water.

Canyon Ferry Ice Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 21, 2023)

C.M.: there’s ice in the bay at the silos. Was there yesterday. Could probably bust it with a boat if you tried. Not super thick and may be gone by now. Just a thin cap

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (November 27, 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

Fresno and Nelson Fishing Report by Brian Olson (December 14, 2023)

Fresno is 25% full with a light covering of ice. Nelson is 80% full with a light covering of ice. I have not received fishing reports on either the past week. If you venture out on early ice beware.

Salmon Lake Ice Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 19, 2023)

J.P.: Salmon had people on the north end Sunday. Read 5 inches

Happy December everyone. Things have been a bit quiet on the fishing report end for a bit, with a couple good reasons too. First, it’s late fall. We’re in that awkward phase before the really good winter fishing kicks off and after the bulk of the fall hatches have come and gone. Second, things have been BUSY around the shop. We had our annual Backcountry Film Festival (two nights this year!), the change of seasons and remerchandising of the store, and the busy Christmas season is right around the corner. Lots going on as we close out the year! 

The fishing of late has been characterized by two main things: it’s slow and it’s windy. Sure, you can still catch fish these days and have some really good days on the water, but you’ve got to work for it these days. Water temps are low, fish are sluggish, and there isn’t a lot hatching at the moment. Focus on the deeper, slower water and bring some weight. Keep adding it until you find fish or the bottom. 

The wind has been another key factor for anglers lately. It has been HOWLING. Sure, there are spots you can get out of it but if you aren’t after a couple mind clearing hours of being on the water the gale can make you rethink things. Be aware that you’ll be dealing with it on almost all of our local waters, and pack accordingly. 

This past week in the store Rob called this “low commitment season”. Meaning you can go out and hit the water with a low commitment, fish for a few hours or until you get tired of the wind, and come home without a worry in the world. During the summer it’s easy to talk yourself into the need to be out all day, or fish hard the entire time. Not so much this time of year. 

As far as reliable fishing goes, our go to options right now would be the spring creeks if you want to stick close to Livingston, the Missouri by Craig if you want to get the boat out, or the walk/wade section on the Upper Madison by Reynold’s Pass. If you can get a break in the wind you should be able to find midges around at all of those places, and likely not a lot of people. The spring creeks are all on their winter rates now, and a nice fire and warm lunch in a hut on Depuy’s is never a bad idea in the winter… 

If you do make it out, dress warmly and be careful out there. If you need the right gear to keep you warm, dry and comfortable stop in. We’ll make sure you get what you need. Or break out the vise and start working on the winter’s fly tying. There’s always lots to do! 

We know this time of year can be incredibly busy, hectic, and even stressful. If taking a couple hours to stand in a river helps with that, go for it. If you can’t make it out fishing with all the holiday activities and family in town, you’re not missing out on much. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is the slowest period of the literal entire year for fishing – but it will improve before long!

Stay tuned. 

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Bighorn Angler (December 6, 2023)

The Bighorn has finally cleared and fishing is great!  A few folks around, but not too bad.  Our Bighorn Brown Trout are in full spawn mode so please stay off the redds!

Nymphing with BIG Sowbugs, Squirmies and Orange Scuds are still about all you need.

We’ve seen some BIG fish showing up to chase the streamer.  The Rusty Trombone has been hard to beat most days and any similar Olive/copper flash buggers.  White has been a good choice as well.

Tiber Ice Report via Montana Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 15, 2023)

T.C.: Took a drive today to check that very thing. Started at Millers bottom where the river comes in and there is open water. Most concerning is how low the lake is down there with lots of exposed mud that would normally be under water. Went up to north Bootlegger and nothing but open water. I could have launched my boat today. Predicted weather won’t see any change soon.

Madison River Fishing Report by River’s Edge (December 21, 2023)

875 @ Kirby – The Upper Madison has been a wade anglers dream. If weather cooperates (wind mainly), some great dry fly days on midges/BWO’s can be had. Streamer fishing has been productive, especially smaller patterns dead-drifted under a bobber. A bobber rig with a prince/worm trailed by a midge or baetis nymph can save the day too!


– Shop Vac #16
– Mini Boogieman Olive #6
– 20 Incher #10
– TB Bruised Baetis #18
– Hi-Viz Griffith’s Gnat #18

Missouri River Fishing Report via River’s Edge (December 21, 2023)

4160 CFS @ Holter – Perhaps the best option close-ish to Bozeman, the Missouri has been fantastic recently. The river has been quiet, the weather has been terrific, time to make that drive! Nymphing below Holter has been great on leeches, midges and scuds. Fish are still rising to midges, usually around sunrise and later in the afternoons.


– Kreelex Silver/Gold #6
– Pill Pooper #16
– Glo Bug Light Roe #14
– Brook’s Sprout Midge Grey #18
– Balanced Leech Black #10

Gates of the Mountains Boating Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 21, 2023)

C.M.: It’s open for now. Little ice on the shore line the other day but was gone before noon.

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