Statewide MT Fishing Report Compilation 3.4.24
By angelamontana

Posted: March 5, 2024

Please check the fishing regulations before fishing.


Hell Creek General Recreation Information (March 4, 2024)

Click here:  CLICK HERE for Hell Creek webcam.

Arod Ice Update (March 1, 2024)

A.H.: It was about 10 yards of slush along shore with open water in a lot of spots a few weeks ago. Couldn’t even get out far enough to see how much ice. Didn’t look like anyone had drilled any holes on it.

Castle Rock Ice Update via Castle Rock Live Bait Shop (February 29, 2024)

2/29/24 3:44 pm 61 deg. I would say 75% of Castle Rock is open water. Ice on the west side. The wind will probably break that up soon enough. There is a boat out and the ramp is open water

Yellowstone River Fishing Report by Bozeman Fly Supply (March 4, 2024)

As we move into March, the fishing over on the Yellowstone will start to pick up! Just check the wind forecast before venturing out to the river. 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 (March 4, 2024)

Missouri River Fly Fishing Report by Yellowdog Fly Fishing (March 4, 2024)

Flow Data: Missouri River below Holter Dam near Wolf Creek, MT

The weather in Craig is decent today but gets cold heading into the weekend with some snow expected. Overall the fishing has been good when the weather has been nice. Nymphing has been consistently OK but not excellent. This could change overnight. Scuds, sowbugs, and midges are the aquatic 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. There have been some midges hatches but not much for fish looking up. The warm weather this week could provide some great midge hatches and, finger crossed, rising fish, if the conditions are favorable.

Chancy and Dave’s Fish Camp Fishing Report (March 1, 2024)

  • Lower Stillwater- lots of ice – good numbers of perch 8 to 12 inch range, Pike also good.
  • Ashley Lake- excellent numbers of smaller salmon, also some nice perch.
  • Bitterroot Lake- South end of lake good numbers of salmon, try deep, 200+ feet for bigger fish.
  • Lake Mary Ronan- good, perch, action hit and miss try 30 to 35’ of water, few salmon.
  • Loon Lake (Bigfork)- Early morning good for trout and perch.
  • Little McGregor- lots of small perch, few brookies.
  • Lake Five- lots of smaller salmon, some nice perch.
  • Echo Lake- White fish and salmon in main lake, check bays for bass and crappie.
  • Blanchard- Lots of small crappie and perch, also a few pike.
  • Dickey- It’s slow, few nice salmon.
  • Smith Lake- Nice perch, lots of small pike.
  • Koocanusa- It’s all open, a few reports of rainbows and lots of bulls.
📸 Submit your fishing pictures weekly for a chance to be chosen best picture of the week and win a $20 gift card!

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

-no new report-

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 (March 4, 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 8-10 inches of ice.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Lake Frances Ice Update (February 27, 2024)

T.C.: We live in Valier. Yesterday the shore was muddy. Ice will be good on Lake Frances for a while. 16 inches of good ice with about an inch of frozen slush.
JSV: My husband was there Wednesday to Friday last week. Said ice was about 20 inches and solid.

Kootenai River Fishing Report by Linehan Outfitting (February 21, 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 (March 1, 2024)

Fresno is 23% full and rising. I got blown off the reservoir yesterday. There was still about 2’ of ice but the pressure ridges are opening with the warm temps and wind. With the water level rising the shoreline will get unstable. If the warm temps and wind continues the reservoir may be open in a couple of weeks. I then continued to Nelson where it was a very nice day with light south breeze. Still about 2’ of ice, I fished the west end of the reservoir in 6’ – 8’ of water using tip ups with live minnows and did well on walleyes. The reservoir should be open by April. 2024 fishing licenses are now required. Check ice conditions before fishing and good luck.

Canyon Ferry Fishing Report via FWP (March 4, 2024)

Rainbows are being caught around Confederate and from Hole in the Wall to south of the Silos while using pink or orange jigs and worms.  Perch and a few walleye are being caught north of the Silos to Hole in the Wall and around Duck Creek on bright colored jigs (white, chartreuse or pink) or lures with maggots or worms.  An occasional burbot is being caught as well.  Stay away from the pressure ridges on the south end of the reservoir and be careful when accessing the ice.  There is 3-10 inches of ice from the Silos down to the ponds and 10-12 inches of ice around Duck Creek and Confederate. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena

The Paradise Valley spring creeks have really started to fish well recently. Some untrained fish have moved in from the Yellowstone, making for some really great fishing. Mildly consistent midge hatches in late mornings/evenings, as well as some sporadic BWO hatches in early afternoons. Try nymphing a scud with a midge if surface activity is slow.


– Hi-Viz Griffiths #18
– Morgan’s Midge #20
– Scud Muffin Grey/Olive #14
– Hale Bopp Leech Olive #10
– Sprout Midge Grey #20

Bighorn River Fishing Report via Yellow Dog Fly Fishing (March 4, 2024)

Flow Data: Bighorn River near St. Xaiver, MT

With warmer temperatures than the Bozeman area, fishing the Bighorn will be a good fishing option. Nymphing has been the best strategy to catch fish so far this winter. 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 (March 4, 2024)

The Gates of the Mountains area has unsafe ice. The Lower end of the Reservoir has ice that is receding from the shorelines and not many anglers have been heading out onto the ice. A few perch are being found out from Departure Pont while using various jigs near the bottom in 30-50 feet of water. Departure Point has around 4 inches of ice.   Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena

Upper Madison River Fishing Report by River’s Edge (March 4, 2024)

64 CFS @ Kirby – Spring hasn’t sprung quite yet up around Ennis, but the rainbows seem to think so. Fishing on the Upper Madison has been great, more and more midges by the day, so now’s the time to fish the Upper before the summer crowds arrive. If fish are rising, a small midge cluster should do it. If not, a stonefly and a midge under a bobber.


– Epoxyback Stone Brown #10
– Hi-Viz Griffith’s #18
– Jim Dandy Worm Wine #12
– Shop Vac #16
– Silk Kitty White #2

Headhunters Fly Shop Missouri River Fishing Forecast (March 1, 2024)

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

The first thing that most anglers ask on the phone is if we are gonna have high water. The second question is if we will have low water. Then the third is if we know when the PMD’s will come.

The only answer we definitively know the answer to is the latter. The first couple? We can guess. Mother nature is a cruel & nasty girl and she will not let us know until it happens. Not before.

March is a wet one. So is April, May and June. But the wet season starts in March. Historically. And that Mother Nature lady is showing us that it is indeed March.

So we answer those folks on the phone with this statement, “Who knows if we will have high or low water this year. We do know it has been not as wet as we prefer. We know that snow dances can work. 

Missouri River March Water Flows

The water managers up there at Holter Dam, tucked away in some concrete laden office with a tiny 40 watt lamp, looking at a damp desk coaxing the slide rule into coughing up some sort of extrapolated formula that tells us…

That’s what Stephanie Micek is saying in the faxograms from the United States Department of the Interior. Official info. Although sometimes even the Bureau of Reclamation guess wrong.

More water. More snow. Fish like more water. More oxygen. More habitat. 

More is better.

Not as much water as the river historically held this time of year. Or even all winter. 5K-6K was common 20 years ago. But, times have changed. The water management style has changed. My understanding of the current policy centers around “better safe than sorry.” Do we agree? We are certainly not educated hydrologists. Row boat guides? Yes, we got that part.

Currently 3750 cfs. Quite low for the balance of the winter. A great time to get out there and learn a bundle about the bottom of the river. You can literally see every roll, bucket, undulation that the Mo has to show you. She currently has her pants down for all to see. Get it while you can.

Missouri River March Hatches

Midges. That’s it.

Look for more and more on the water as the month moves onwards. Been pretty good already. Better than average. Winter overall has been pretty good fishing! Will we have a strong midge hatch? Boy I don’t know. Let’s hope so. We will let you know after it happens. Just like any decent reporter. I’ll tell you exactly how it went down. In April of course.

We have not and a dandy in a few years. So, maybe our time has come. It kinda looks like that will happen?!?!

BWO’s in April. Not March. So sorry.

A few Skwala’s around. But only a few. Maybe late in the month. Smart to have half a dozen in your box. Fooling a big spring brown trout on a surface bug is awful fun man. Blind cast it out there and stare at it.

But the BWO nymph is active in the month of March. Flirt with it until she gives you the nod. Then rock her world. A common conversation in Joe’s Bar any March afternoon standing close to the fire goes as follows:

Angler: Hey fella, you a fishing guide?

Bearded Millennial: That’s what I tell my parents.

Angler: Whaat’d ya catch ’em on today?

BM: Gaudy pink patterns & baetis nymphs. Threw at a couple sporadic splashy feeders with an Adams, but no success.

Angler: But I didn’t see any BWO’s flying around? Are you sure?!?! BWO nymphs? You look kinda young to be a tenured fishing guide.

BM: Whadaya mean?!?! I’m 47. I’m what ya call a wanna be Millennial, man. If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.  That’s how I keep my youthful appearance. And Mr. Angler Dude, that mayfly lives and morphs subsurface for an entire year before it briefly inhabits (emerges and hatches) our atmosphere. Insects are quite active hidden below the watery barrier staging for their flashy moment in our airy environment. Of course you didn’t see them, they don’t hatch for another month.

True story. Think about what is to come, before we see it. Go fish it. Caddis, Mayflies, Stoneflies. All aquatic insects. Be smarter than you neighbor.

If you don’t want to get hung up on all that entomology stuff or learn about how to nymph in March, just fish a pink fly. Pink is strong through the month. Worms too. Sows. Pink and grey patterns.  Don’t forget fruit flavored beads adorning the heads of the fly.

Midges too. Zebra’s, or fancy gilled midge patterns too. They work.

As for dries. For the midge lovers. Try a small Adams, a large Adams, Griffith’s Gnats along with several derivation we have in the store. Posted, poly winged, those crinkly rabbit posted ones.

You can also hand-twist a small Zebra or a small black soft hackle up soft runs and do well. At least you will feel a bunch of them, those sneaky rainbows, sniff and peck at the fly.

Streamer Junkies like March. Water temps warming and the fish more active. They will chase a few flies beginning this month. More in April, and May is on fire. Water temps begin to move noticeably in March. Currently 35F-ish and the temps will move upwards to 40F if not beyond as we cross over the first into the second quarter of the year.

March signals the first time all winter/spring that you can give your fly some stripping action. Jigging is still quite popular but the slow strip is effective. Caught a few the other day with a young stud outta Helena stripping it faster than I would have…and he caught a couple bigger fish moving the fly.

With that in mind the swinging crowd is out there getting it done. A perfect month with some solace left. Come by the shop or call any one of our two handed staff for the answers to questions you may have. Demo any line or rod in the store for FREE. Stop in and see what all the buzz is about. Trout Spey answers at Headhunters of Craig.

Montana March Weather

Cold and shitty. Bring warm clothing.

Wool socks, base layer, insulated pants, waders. Base layer upper, wool sweater, puffball, Gore-Tex jacket, warm hat, lots of pairs of warm gloves. Handwarmers. Schnapps. Hot coffee. Hot soup or broth. Heaters.

March Missouri River Fly Fishing Forecast

There you have it folks. The March update. Hope that was enough info. Pretty much all truths. While this author has not been here as long as some, he has been here longer than most. This info is based on longevity, research, and  experience. We hope that you like this daily blog and look forward to seeing you again this spring, summer or fall. Let us help you learn more about this incredible resource, the Missouri River.

Headhunters is your education source for the hallowed waters of Missouri River Montana.

Hauser Reservoir Fishing Report via FWP (March 4, 2024)

Rainbows, perch, walleye, and ling are being caught on Lake Helena and near the Causeway while using various glow jigs tipped with crawlers, dead minnows, or meal worms in 5 to 20 feet of water. Rainbows are also being caught in open water from the Causeway Bridge with leech pattern flies and marabou jigs. There is 6-10 inches of ice near the Causeway. There is between 8-20 inches of ice on Lake Helena depending on where you go. There is open water and unsafe ice near York Bridge and Devil’s Elbow.  Chris Hurley, FWP, Helena            

Georgetown Ice Report (March 4, 2024)

DIF: There’s 16-18” of ice, 12” of snow cover with slush, 1-2” water on ice when uncovered! With the colder mornings this week hopefully the slush firms up, right now 0. Thanks to the snowmobile tracks firming up and easier walking.

Clark Canyon Ice Update (March 4, 2024)

L.K.: Out there today, 3-3, by west cameawait. 20 inches + and was by lone tree on 3-2 and there was 18 inches between lone tree and rebish island. Fishing was really slow. Edges were still okay. Was able to drive a 4 wheeler out.

The Causeway Ice Update (March 3, 2024)

J.M.: At the causeway yesterday and out 400 yds 7.5 inches of hard ice with four wheelers going to the power lines. I am carful but this ice is solid. Where the 4 wheelers are getting on the have wore out the ice but the water is 3 inches deep and you can pull a sled around it. Again I do not go out on poor ice and this is not poor ice.

Canyon Ferry at Silos Ice Update (March 3, 2024)

JM: North boat ramp from Silos Marina… Pressure ridge is super sketchy. The bridge is passable by foot but we watched a guy fall up to his chest right next to bridge a minute after we crossed. He got out quickly and I hope he had a change of pants for multiple reasons…. Please be careful around these areas

Hbegen Lake Ice Report (March 2, 2024)

Madison Adventures: 24” of ice, 10” of new snow but the storm as been so bad that I haven’t stepped out due to the wind!! Fishing is spotty I drill some holes and set my watch with a 20 min timer, if it goes off and I haven’t caught two fish then I move a minimum of 50 yards.

(Click here for image licensing information)
New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing