Trout are biting well and walleyes are, too. It’s a great time to be fishing, almost no matter where you go across Montana. The heavy flows of mountain snowmelt are about done. Rivers are dropping and clearing. Trout are responding to great flows, pleasant water temperatures and abundant hatches of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies.
Fly fishing is good pretty much everywhere.
Montana reservoirs are fishing well, too. The walleye bite produced great catches at the Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival last weekend, with a winning weight of over 71 pounds for 10 walleyes – better than a seven-pound average.
Here’s the weekly fishing report:
Beaverhead River: Fishing is very good with a PMD hatch during the day and a good caddis hatch in the evenings. Use standard caddis and PMD patterns when they’re on top. And don’t be afraid to try nymphs. They’re working well, too.
Big Hole River: River levels are dropping fast. Caddis, golden stones and PMDs are all coming off. Nymph and streamer fishing is very good when the bugs aren’t on top.
Bighorn Lake: Some nice perch and crappies are being caught. Smallmouth bass are biting well. There are huge numbers of emerald shiners.
Bighorn River: The best action is down under with all the usual suspects – sowbugs, scuds and San Juan worms. Ray Charles, black quill nymphs and black thread midges are also producing.
Bitterroot River: The best dry fly action is in the upper reaches of the river with good nymph and streamer fishing in the lower reaches. Flows are healthy. A few hoppers are starting to show up amid the hatches of caddis, drakes and yellow sallies.
Blackfoot River: Caddis, PMD’s, golden stones and drakes are on the water with some good dry fly fishing to be had. Nymphs and streamers are also producing well. Fishing is good.
Canyon Ferry: Walleye fishing has been pretty good on the south end of Canyon Ferry. Most action has been off pond 4 near the river mouth. Jigs, bottom bouncers with crawler harnesses and cranks have all been working well. Rainbow anglers have been doing well trolling cranks 20-25 feet deep between Hole in the Wall and White Earth.
Clark Fork: There’s an outstanding caddis hatch coming off in the evenings with great fishing on the lower river. During the mornings, go deep with big nymphs and streamers. Look for drake hatches and yellow sallies in the afternoons.
Cooney Reservoir: Anglers are catching 12-14-inch walleyes with leeches the hot bait in just about any presentation that you choose.
Deadman’s Basin: Trout are still biting very well with fish running up to two to three pounds. Bank fishermen are using nightcrawlers while trollers are having luck with Rapalas.
Flathead Lake: Lake trout are biting in the Blue Bay area and on the river delta on the north end of the lake. Both jigging and trolling are working. Big lakers are hitting in the Narrows. The perch are biting in Big Arm Bay.
Fort Peck Reservoir: Anglers are reporting big numbers of walleyes running 13-14 inches with bigger fish being caught along the way. All methods are working including jigs and bait, bottom bouncers and spinners and crankbaits. Work 6-20 feet of water. Lake trout are biting well in the dam area on downriggers with fish about 90 feet down.
Fresno Reservoir: A decent walleye bite has begun with a lot of small northern pike also biting. All fishing methods are working.
Gallatin River: It’s dropping and clearing. Salmonflies are in Gallatin Canyon up toward Big Sky.
Georgetown Lake: Fly fishing is good with sheep creek specials, leech patterns and woolly buggers producing. Spoons and spinners in silver are best bets for lure fishermen.
Hauser Reservoir: A few rainbows are being caught around Black Sandy in the morning hours. The rainbows have moved to deeper water and anglers are having success while trolling deep-diving Rapalas or spinners. Shore fishing has been slow. Walleye fishing has improved with fish being caught in the Causeway while trolling bottom-bouncers with leeches or worms.
Holter Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is fair in the Split Rock area. Most rainbow action has been from trolling deep with cowbells and a wedding ring tipped with a crawler. Shore fishing has been slow. Walleye are being caught off of points and in bay areas. Jigs and leeches are working best. A few perch are being caught as well.
Kootenai River: Water levels are dropping with good conditions for fishing. Caddis and PMD's are on the water. Pheasant tails, prince nymphs and woolly buggers are good wet fly choices.
Lake Frances: Walleye fishing is very good. Creel surveys show that the average size for walleyes on the lake is 16.7 inches. All methods are working to take them.
Lake Mary Ronan: Kokanee salmon are being taken in good numbers up to about 16 inches long. Fluorescent pink Glo Hooks, pink LMR specials and Wedding Rings tipped with maggots are among the good choices.
Madison River: The lower Madison is getting warm and full of tubers. The salmonfly hatch is pretty much done but caddis are coming off and attractor patterns and nymphs are also taking trout.
Missouri River: Below Holter: Mayflies and caddis are hatching and the river is in good shape with some good top-water fishing. Nymphs, streamers and woolly buggers are also good choices for this river.
Rock Creek: Yellow sallies, green drakes, PMDs and caddis are all on the water and conditions are excellent. It’s a time of year that just about everything works, so match your hatch or go down under with beadhead nymphs or streamers.
Smith River: Flows are dropping. Golden stimulators, golden stones and hoppers are working. Brown drakes and green drakes are also on the water.
Tiber Reservoir: Fishing is good for anglers using either jigs and bait or bottom bouncers and spinners. The average size of walleyes is 13.8 inches, according to a creel survey being done on the lake.
Tongue River Reservoir: Crappies are moving deeper, but fishing remains good. The best time is in the early mornings and evenings. Some pike, walleyes and smallmouth bass are also being caught.
Yellowstone River: It’s recovering from high water and starting to show enough visibility to offer good fishing. The salmonfly hatch is above Yankee Jim Canyon. Caddis are coming off on the rest of the river. Nymphs and streamers are working well.
This is a brief synopsis of fishing conditions and reports from select waters across the state.