Hell Creek General Recreation Information (January 28, 2024)
Winter is here but on the right day the Yellowstone can fish well, just watch for slush. A safe place to avoid slush is fishing around the various creek confluences on the river. 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, or egg. A larger Hares Ear Nymph has also been getting bit. If you see fish rising they’re most likely rising to midges. Griffiths Gnats, small Purple Haze, and Buzzball midges have all been successful when there is fish rising.
Suggested Fly Patterns
Parachute Adams (16-20), Purple Haze (16-18), Griffiths Gnat (16-20), Buzz Ball (16-14)
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)
Water flows falling this week to 4200cfs. That is low. The verbiage from the DNRC below…
Reclamation is making a 500cfs decrease to conserve water for storage based on forecasted inflows.
And what does that mean? Well, it means the current situation of the river along with the anchor ice, look it up, is up in the air? To me at least.
Anchor ice forms on the bottom of the river, or lake, irrespective of bottom formations. The problem is the anchor ice is volume. Volume or mass displaces the water, ice, in the river to move, outside of the river. Placing more water outside the banks. The water is moved from the river due to the volume of anchor ice and displaced in the fields, or roads, or otherwise outside the river confines. Most of th time the DNRC, river managers, raise the level of the water during these exceptionally cold periods to alleviate the continued formation of anchor ice, along with continued water displacement.
But, with the lower than average snowfall, rain, and precipitation this fall and early winter, the water managers are holding back water believing that the water gods will not respond to the current lower than average annual and winter precipition aggregates.
My question is this, “Does anchor ice prevent or encourage gravel migration? Does it change the subsurface winter/summer environs enough to change subsurface formations and/or topography?”
So, where does that leave us? Boy I don’t know. We will have to wait to see if the Craig Flats waters that are easy to evaluate standing on the Craig Bridge change at all after the anchor ice leaves. Will be monitoring of course. And passing findings along to you, the Mo River Lover!
All good in Craig beyond the winter weather. Still below Zero. Snowed a bundle yesterday and possibly today. Winter has arrived in the big way. Bring on more snow please. Stack it up in th hills and mountains.
Fishing here locally? Not for. while. Want to talk about trout fishing or book your summer trip today? Call the shop 406-235-3447 for trout chat!
16th Annual Poplar River Ice Fishing Contest (February 3, 2024)
Bitterroot Lake- 5-6” of ice. Excellent salmon bite. Try 100’ of water, fish are at 35-40’ down. JT Tail Draggers and Hali jigs working well.
Ashley Lake- 4-6” of ice. Salmon bite is good, smaller fish but lots of them.
Dickey Lake- 4-6” of ice with lots of slush, slow salmon bite.
Lake Mary Ronan- 6-8” of ice with slush. Good perch action 25-30’ of water. Salmon bite at night.
Loon Lake (Ferndale)- excellent trout, few big perch.
Crystal Lake (TCL)- Good salmon, bite near boat launch.
Whitefish Lake- 5” of ice, catching some white fish and lake trout.
East Bay Flathead Lake- 12-16” of ice. lots of perch 7 to 10”, few nice pike.
Beaver Lake- 5” of ice, the road is plowed getting in there.
February 3- Perch Assault- Lower Thompson
UPDATE- February 3- Ryan Wagner Memorial Derby- Murphy Lake MOVED TO FEBRUARY 17th
February 10th- Teena Frank FREE Family Derby – Lake Mary Ronan
February 17-18th- Fisher River- Thompson Chain of lakes
February 24-25th- Fishing Derby-McGregor Lake
March 2-3rd- Margo’s March Madness- Bitterroot Lake
Carry Safety Gear and Always Check Your Ice
- Church Slough – 4-6″ of ice with lots of slush. Some good pike on tip-ups. The pan fish bite has been better in the evenings.
- Smith Lake – 10+” of ice. Good amounts of smaller pike. For the best results try Lindy Flyers or Buckshot spoons.
- Rogers Lake – 10+” of ice. A few Greyling being caught in the morning hours using Ratso’s and blue Forage Minnows.
- Lower Stillwater – 9″ of ice. Hearing mostly a few pike mixed in with good perch fishing. Try fishing in the 12′-15′ depth range.
- Loon Lake (Ferndale) – 6″ of ice. Lots of rainbows biting in 20′-25′ of water. Try using JT Tackle Ice Bugs for some great bites.
- Upper Thompson – 7″ of ice. Good eater perch being caught in about 10′ mixed in with some good pike fishing.
- McGregor Lake – 5″-6″ of ice. Still seeing good Laker action in 80′-100′ of water, using hair jigs or spoons. The Zimmer Glo Grubs or Flathead Tackle glow heads have been good options.
- Ashley Lake – 5″ of ice. Reports of decent salmon bite on the west shore using KB Tackle or JT Taildraggers.
- Bitterroot Lake – Good salmon bite early in the morning. Get out where the depth is 100′-120′. Try using KB Tackle or JT tail draggers suspended at 40′-60′.
Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (January 22, 2024)
Kokanee fishing has been good, and most are being picked up while jigging Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with maggots or corn in 25-30 feet of water. A few perch are being caught while using the same equipment near the bottom. There is between 11 and 12 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
Cooney Reservoir Ice Report via MT Fishing Addicts 2.0 (January 27, 2024)
K.B.: Was there today, ice is good 15+ where we were. There were 3 trucks on the ice by the dam. Gettin on the ice from south shore boat ramp is a little sketch from the trucks bombing through the water and broken ice but once you get past that or around it, it’s good. We fished most of the day and marked a ton of fish but nothing would bite.
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 (January 25, 2024)
Fresno is 22% full. There is 18” and more ice most areas. Fish the basin areas in about 20’ jigging or tip ups with salted minnows for results. Saturday is the annual ice fishing tournament. Contact the Fresno Tavern for more info. Today I fished on Nelson. Nelson is 75% full. I drove to the area I fished finding about 24” of ice. I targeted perch doing pretty well landing some nice jumbos along with a keeper walleye and 3 northerns. Saturday is also the annual ice fishing tournament held out of Sleeping Buffalo. Good luck and be safe!
Canyon Ferry Fishing Report via FWP (January 22, 2024)
Fishing around Duck Creek and Confederate has been productive for rainbows, walleyes and perch. Rainbows are hitting on jigs or silver spoons with maggots, or worms with a drop shot, while suspended in 15-20 feet of water. Walleyes and perch are being caught in 30 feet of water on green or yellow jigs with maggots. The Silos area is producing some fish as well in 10-25 feet of water. There is 15-16 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds, 14-15 inches of ice around Duck Creek and Confederate and there is 5-6 inches of ice on the north end of the reservoir. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Hoping to see some fish rising? Head on over to the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks. Subsurface is still going to be your best bet to get the net wet, but there have been reports of some phenomenal midge hatches recently. A great rig to cover both bases, is a midge cluster with a zebra midge/PT nymph about 6-12″ below.
– Hale Bopp Leech Olive #10
– Foldover Baetis #18
– Hi-Viz Griffith’s #20
– Jig Mini Bugger Tan #10
– Morgan’s Midge #20
Flow Data: Bighorn River near St. Xaiver, MT
The weather on the Bighorn improves significantly by Saturday. Fishing will get better and better the closer you get to the dam. Nymphing will be the best strategy to catch fish after the extremely cold weather. Scuds, sowbugs, worms, and midges are Bighorn winter fare to imitate. Ray Charles, Pill Poppers, Tailwater sowbugs are great choices followed by a Manhattan midge or Zebra Midge. When none of these smaller flies seem to be working a Wire Worm or a Squirmy Worm will trick a few trout. Small streamers swung or fished deep and slow can pick up fish as well. In the event that you find fish rising to midges a Peacock Cluster or Griffith’s Gnat will fool a consistently rising fish with a good cast and presentation.
Holter Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (January 22, 2024)
Perch fishing has been amazing and good numbers are being found in 30-45 feet from Log Gulch to the Prairie Dog Town while using various ice jigs tipped with maggots or perch eyes. Rainbow action has been awesome in shallow water at the Gates of the Mountains, Log Gulch, and other small bays on the lower end of the reservoir. A few Burbot are being caught while using sucker meat near the bottom. There is around 9 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena
853 CFS @ Kirby – The Upper Madison has hit it’s winter stride, making it perhaps one of the best “close-ish”options. The ice dam from Ennis Lake has made its way to Varney, but anywhere upstream is fair game. Nymphing has been quite productive with sculpins/stoneflies trailed with a worm/egg. Great dry fly fishing can be had on midges too!
– TA Bunker #2 Tan
– Zebra Midge Black #18
– Unreal Egg Bright Orange #12
– Montana Mouthwash Olive #6
– 20 Incher #10
Location: Missouri River
Temperature: 33 Degrees below Holter Dam
We are deep in a cold period. The river is mostly frozen from Great Falls to above Mountain Palace. Shelf ice runs all the way to Holter Dam. Boat landings are now ice and snow covered. It looks like it will be warming up this weekend, but if you venture out, be careful.
Trout Spey: Now is prime time for swinging. Buggers like the Thin Mint are always on the menu along with Balanced Leeches in dark colors. The Foxxy Clouser, Flare-A-Bou, Trout Spey Bugger, Trout Spey Intruder, Montana Intruder, Mini Montana Intruder, Bald Eagle, Pocket Rocket and many more will find connections. As fish tank up, Scandi set ups with leechy tung head flies will work for fishing the soft inside zones. Swing Skagit tips with streamers over the buckets, deeper runs and shelves. T-8 tips in 5/5 and 10’ or the OPST tips in the Riffle (S2/3), Run (S4 or S6) and Bucket (S9) Series will cover all bases.
Dry: A few midges out there. Not much dry fly action to speak of.
Nymph: Running longer leaders with split shot is the norm. Sow Bugs are the primary standby imitation throughout the winter months. Some are fishing their sow behind a worm. Others drop a Zebra Midge off their sow bug. Running a double sow bug rig with beaded and non-beaded versions is also popular. If you want to get technical, anglers find success short leashing midges (flies 2-3′ under Palsa Tab indicators) in the slow edges, channels and back waters.
Streamers: Smaller weighted streamers like Flash N’Grabs, Flare-A-Bou, Chicago Overcoat, Jig Thin Mint and the She Demon Bugger will provide action. Cold water slows things down. Whether you choose a floating line or a sink tip, get them down and move them slowly
Hauser Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (January 22, 2024)
Rainbow fishing has been good at the Causeway and out from Black Sandy while using various jigs or ice flies tipped with crawlers or maggots in less than 10 feet of water. A few walleye and perch are being found in Lake Helena and the Causeway arm while jigging near the bottom. There is around 10 inches of ice. Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena