Hell Creek General Recreation Information (December 5, 2023)
Yellowstone fishing report
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)
December Missouri River Fishing Forecast
All good here on the Mo this early winter. Above average daily temps, along with the ubiquitous wind. Above average numbers of anglers this past November. A good fishing month overall with the dry fly bite conceivably better in November than October. The swing bite pretty good, but could be confusing at times.
Historic Average high daily temperates come in at 35F. The lows in the cellar at 15F. So pretty cold overall. But not this month or this early winter. Nope. Not too many moderate days as you well know. Pretty windy on and off. Seems like 1 of 2 are windy, per week. The good news is that you can certainly find some lee shores to shield yourself against the wind. Reasonable conditions are possible in this month of December as well. And, we at the shop open daily @ 8am for all you last minute and fly pattern needs. Demo rods on sale too!
Below average precipitation in the books this fall and does not look all that wet in the near future.
Flows are average at 4k. Will continue at this level throughout the coming winter. So wade fisherman and boat anglers alike at taking advantage of the river travel opps. Yes you can certainly learn about the subsurface structures as most are exposed. I love to get out and just walk. Walk in the water and check things out. Boots on the ground. Buckets, dips, declines, riffles, runs, tailouts, and the like. Put it all in your memory banks for when the conditions are not as friendly.
Nymphers like the Sow and Scud combo. You could use the Zebra too. Soon we will be in the Pink Fly Game that will run through March into April as well. No reason for split shot at the current time, but when the trout get into that deep and slow winter holding water you will find a split shot adding weight to your rig quite helpful.
Most will focus on the upper river for the nymph bite. The dam is once again popular for the wade and boat gang. Fishing to Craig is the other option. Although last winter many were fishing below the Craig section and enjoying success in the canyon.
Streamer anglers love it too. Getting out and wading around islands or stripping your bugger through a run on foot. Boat anglers will find lots of opportunities for bank angling. A nice depth for the entire river. Heavier sink tips required now, but I have found a couple streamer rods rigged for different depths can get you closer to the prize. Headhunters jammed full of streamer lines if you are Streamer-Curious this winter.
Swingers Unite. Lots of trout spey anglers in and out of the shop learning, buying, filling in tip kits, finding accessories for the spey game and getting the best local intel daily. Also Headhunters is your Trout Spey Education Center. Whether you want to get a casting lesson, a guide trip, or lodging for your weekend trip give us a shout first and we will guide you toward spey success.
Lots of Trout Spey Action out there this month as the bugs have been knocked down a couple notches for the trout food diet scale. Yessir. Leeches, Carey’s and Sparrows, buggers, and some flash will get it done. HH carries the Best Flies Under the Big Sky with the only Trout Spey fly selection on the Mighty Mo.
Dry Flies? Maybe? You will have to out there when it happens. The BWO’s are here? Some good afternoons with the mysterious BWO showing this past mid-week Midges maybe. Occasional opportunities for the dry fly guy. Localized for sure. I’d toss a cripple at them. Or an Adams. Or a Griffith’s Gnat.
Lodging is discounted locally too. Call 406-235-3447 to chat with Julie or Sara for lodging options in your price range. Lodging for a couple guests available in downtown Craig.
Shop open daily @ 9am. Some days a bit later if it is shitty out and the commute is in question. If it is near ZERO we may not be in the shop. Always call in advance if it is crappy and you are headed our way. The only daily shuttle biz all winter long here in Craig, rental boats, lodging, flies, hot coffee, local river info, maps, and so much more all December long…
And, don’t forget about Headhunters for your fly fishing gifts. We deliver to your doorstep!
Happy December. Let us know how to help this winter, this spring, this holiday period with gifts from the shop on the banks of the Mighty Mo. Headhunters is your source!
Rodgers Lake- 3 to 4 inches of ice on certain areas of the lake. North end has a little better ice. Grayling and cutts biting small jigging spoons or pink or white small jigs with bait.
Please be careful some areas of lake unsafe.
Smith Lake- 2 to 3 inches of ice in areas, no reports of anglers on it yet. It’s still iffy.
Several small waters around the valley froze, but no reports.
other lakes to check- Lynch, Blanchard, Skyles, Dollar.
Flathead river- still good numbers of white fish, biting in upper section. Lower and near sportsman‘s bridge. Try for lake trout and white fish. Be sure to check the regulations.
McGregor Lake- rainbows and lake trout action is good trolling.
ICE FISHING EXPO TONIGHT AND TOMORROW!
Don’t Forget Snappy’s Annual Fish-On Ice Event
Saturday Dec 9th – All Day
Free Seminars – Swag Giveaways – Product Demos
Check out the Latest and Greatest Ice Fishing Gear
More Info Here
- Flathead Lake – Lakers showing up shallow. We are hearing good numbers trolling Spinfish and Flatfish in around 35′-50′ of water.
- Flathead River – Still some whitefish being caught. Both Old Steel and Columbia Falls have been a good bet to find some of those fish.
- McWenneger Slough – Ice has capped over. No reports on thickness yet!
- Smith Lake – 1.5″-2″ of ice. Be Safe! Scattered reports of a few perch being caught.
- Rogers Lake – 3″-5″ of ice. Fishing for greyling has been good. There have been a few Cuts being caught in the morning too.
- Dog Lake – 2″-4″ of ice. Good numbers of both perch and pike being reported.
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 30, 2023)
Fresno is 25% full and Nelson is 80% full. Both reservoirs have a thin layer of ice. I have received no reports of fishing. Be careful if you venture out on the ice!
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.
Harrison (Willow Creek) via Montana Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 5, 2023)
T.R.: Mostly capped over, but the wind opened up some of the main lake today.
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
Canyon Ferry Ling Fishing Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (December 5, 2023)
C.K.: Their cruising shorelines should be able to catch some below any dam with cut bait