Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation 2.20.24
By angelamontana

Posted: February 21, 2024

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Hell Creek General Recreation Information (February 20, 2024)

Click here:  CLICK HERE for Hell Creek webcam.

Cooney Reservoir Ice Update (February 19, 2024)

R.H.: Cooney was good yesterday.16” of ice where we were and about 4” of snow on top. Edges were good.

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (February 20, 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

  • Dry Fly

    Parachute Adams (16-20), Purple Haze (16-18), Griffiths Gnat (16-20), Buzz Ball (16-14)

  • 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 (February 20, 2024)

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Yellowdog Fly Fishing (February 20, 2024)

The fishing can be great on the MO through the winter with the water near the dam usually fishing the best. This winter storm is hitting the Craig area and temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until next week. Once the weather clears fishing should be good once again. Scuds, sowbugs, and midges are the bug imitations to use throughout the winter. Tailwater Sowbugs, Pill Poppers, Manhattan Midges, and Amex are a few of our favorite winter Missouri Nymphs. A worm in wine or red will also trick MO fish this time of the year. Missouri fish hold primarily in the water that is moving at a walking pace and sometimes even slower when the water is this cold. Swinging can be a good option all winter long with small buggers or streamers. You may see some trout rising but the midge hatches are not usually great until late February. If you do encounter risers, a peacock cluster is the best way to fool these fish.

Holter Reservoir Ice Report (February 19, 2024)

T.R.: Sketchy at best. Popped a hole at 8 inches the moved over 10 feet and popped a few and was on 2 inches of clear and 2 of rot

S.D.: We went to prairie dog town yesterday and there was 7 inches but 3 of it was rotten. Lots of slush developing in areas with snow on them.

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (February 16, 2024)

🎣🎣 Chancy and Dave’s Fishing Report 🎣🎣
🔹 Bitterroot Lake- Some decent salmon action early morning south end 30-50’ of water over 120’. Try deep 250’ for bigger fish.
🔹 Ashley Lake- Good numbers of smaller salmon, try west side of lake 25-40’ of water over 80’. Few nice perch 30-40’ on bottom.
🔹 McGregor Lake- Rainbow action along shoreline 6 to 15′ water look for lake trout at 80 to 100’ .
🔹 Echo Lake- Some good white fish and crappie action early mornings. Main lake for a few bass.
🔹 Blanchard Lake- Lots of small crappie, few nice perch.
🔹 Whitefish Lake- 5-6” of ice, try near state park early morning for lake trout.
🔹 Upper Thompson- Good perch action 15-30’ of water, try 6-12’ for pike.
🔹 Lake Mary Ronan- Lots of perch 20-30’ of water. Ice is about 12”, some slush.

Flathead Valley Fishing Report by Snappy’s Sport Senter (February 12, 2024)

Carry Safety Gear and Always Check Your Ice

  • Church Slough – 6″ of ice. The evening bite has been good for panfish. We are still getting reports of some pike on tip-ups.
  • Smith Lake – 10+” of ice. Still hearing about decent numbers of pike. Try using jigging spoons or dead bait.
  • Rogers Lake – 10+” of ice. The bite has slowed significantly.
  • Lower Stillwater – 10″ of ice. Reports indicate still some good perch fishing. Try fishing around 25′ using small glow tungsten jigs with waxies.
  • Loon Lake (Ferndale) – 6″ of ice. Decent trout bite using RatFinkees or JT Ice Bugs.
  • Lower Thompson – 8-10″ of ice. Lots of perch being caught using red or pink jigs with maggots or waxies. Also, the occasional pike being caught on tip-ups with dead bait.
  • McGregor Lake – 5″ of ice. The bite has slowed up, but still seeing some lakers caught on white tubes or spoons jigging around 75′-100′.
  • Ashley Lake – 6″ of ice. The salmon bite has been good. We have been seeing some limits caught on JT taildragger or KB Tackle.
  • Bitterroot Lake – 5″ of ice. The Salmon bite has slowed up a bit, but still some good fish being caught in 120′. Be careful of forming pressure ridges!

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (February 20, 2024)

Kokanee and perch fishing has been great while jigging Hali or Sweedish Pimple type ice jigs tipped with maggots or corn in 20-35 feet of water. Kokanee can be anywhere from 10 feet below the ice to the bottom and perch are right on the bottom. There is 12-15 inches of ice with slush on top.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Tongue River Marina Update (February 18, 2024)

With the forecast projecting mid 60’s this week and rapidly deteriorating ice conditions, and lack of minnows, this will be our last weekend open for ice fishing. We’ll see y’all for Soft water fishing!!! Stay tuned for “ice-off “ updates!!
Thank you all for the support this winter!!

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (February 15, 2024)

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 (February 15, 2024)

Fresno is 22% full. For best results fish the remaining basin areas, near the dam may be your best bet. Nelson is 75% full. I fished there on Monday targeting perch in about 30+’. Fishing was good but catching was slow. There were several fishermen out spread across the reservoir. Lots of ice on both bodies, be cautious around the pressure ridges and gas pockets. There is a report of a utv finding a gas pocket on Nelson, the occupants got out but their machine is in about 25’ of water. Be safe!

Canyon Ferry Fishing Report via FWP (February 20, 2024)

Rainbows are being caught between Pond 4 and the Silos in 8-12 feet of water.  Rainbows, walleye and perch are being caught between the Silos and Hole in the Walleye and around Duck Creek in 20-30 feet of water.  Most action was while using yellow, pink or green glo hooks or yellow, orange or green jigs.  Worms or maggots are the bait of choice with a few using salted minnows. There is 15-16 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds, 13-15 inches of ice around Duck Creek and Confederate and there is 5-7 inches of ice on the north end of the reservoir.  Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena

Bugs continue to fly at the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and although small, fish are still rising! Midges have been the staple the past few months, and will be even more so until we hit BWO’s in March/April. A great rig we have been using is a larger midge dry, with zebra midge or PT 6-12″ below, or a heavier rig with a leech and a scud.


– Sprout Midge Grey #20
– Thin Mint BWO #18
– Ray Charles Dead Tan #18
– Morgan’s Midge #20
– Balanced Leech Black #10

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Yellow Dog Fly Fishing (February 20, 2024)

Fishing the Bighorn will be tough with the cold weather this week but should improve when the storm passes on Sunday. Once the weather is bearable nymphing will be the best strategy to catch fish after the 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 (February 20, 2024)

The perch bite continues to be great on the lower end of the reservoir from Departure Point to the BLM boat ramp while using various jigs tipped with maggots, meal worms or crawler pieces in 25 to 55 feet of water. Rainbow action has been great at the Gates of the Mountains, Log Gulch and near the BLM boat ramp while using black, brown, or green ice flies and crawler pieces 5 to 10 feet below the ice. The Gates of the Mountains has ice near the road ranging from 30 to 100 yards off the road and there is 3 to 7 inches of ice. Log Gulch and Departure Point has 3 to 7 inches of ice. The Prairie Dog Town has 3 to 5 inches of ice.   Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Upper Madison River Fishing Report by River’s Edge (February 15, 2024)

864 CFS @ Kirby – The Upper Madison has been fishing well as expected this time of year, and should only get better until runoff. The walk/wade section has been most productive, especially around $3 and Raynolds. Midge hatches are mildly consistent, with some good dry fly action on those calm, overcast days. For bobbers, a prince nymph and a midge.


– Zebra Midge Black #18
– Mr. Rubberlegs Prince Nymph
– Para Hi-Viz Emerger Grey #16
– Mini Boogieman Olive #6
– Glo Bug Light Roe #14

Headhunters Fly Shop Message (February 17, 2024)

Spring, Summer, and Fall Foreshadowing?

True? Could be.

Does Mother Nature have a hand in how the season shakes out? Certainly.

The only way you can improve your season is by handling a fly rod more often than you did last year.

Nobody, ever, got better by watching fly fishing videos.


Hauser Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (February 20, 2024)

A few rainbows are being caught at the Causeway and out from Black Sandy while using pink, white or green jigs or ice flies tipped with crawler pieces in 10 to 20 feet of water. Most walleye and perch are being found near the powerlines in the Causeway Arm while using various jigs near the bottom. There is 10-12 inches of ice at the Causeway, 12 inches of ice on Lake Helena, and 10 inches of ice out from Black Sandy.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena          

Nelson Reservoir Fishing Report (February 13, 2024)

S.T.: Was super slow all weekend we spent 4 days on the ice and barely caught anything think 5 fish all weekend

Cooney Reservoir Ice Update (February 19, 2024)

B.L: Was there today. Edges are good but will not be a few days. You should be good tomorrow.

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