The Mother’s Day caddis hatch has begun on the Yellowstone River in the Livingston area, but it will be up to the weather and water conditions to determine how good the fishing might be.
Water clarity is becoming a problem on the trout rivers of south-central Montana as lowland snowmelt and rains have the waters in various stages of turning brown. At this time of year, it’s a balancing act of cool weather clearing rivers and making them better, while rain and runoff make them higher and dirtier.
Walleye anglers are still waiting for an end to the spawn and higher water temperatures on the reservoirs to spark a strong bite. Reservoir rainbows remain one of your best bets as they cruise the shorelines.
Here’s this week’s Billings Gazette Fishing Report:
Bighorn Lake: Some walleyes, sauger and trout are biting in the Barry’s Landing area. The water is warmer there than on the Ok-A-Beh end of the lake. Minnows are your best bet. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Bighorn River: Midges are giving way to baetis, and there’s some good dry fly fishing to be had in between gusty winds. Algae growth is early this year, making nymphing tougher and tougher each day. BWOs will be the predominant hatch for near future, with midge hatches coming in spurts. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle.
Boulder River: The river below Boulder Forks is high and muddy due to rains and lowland snowmelt. Up above, the river remains clear and fishable. March browns are the primary hatch. — Rainbow Run Fly Shop.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir: Fishing has been good for those pulling hardware in the upper five feet. However, recent warm weather has caused some lowland runoff on the North Fork, hence muddy water. South Fork arm is currently in much better shape. — Robert Crooks, Cody, Wyo.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir: Warm water has the rainbows cruising the shoreline throughout the reservoir. The trout bite on the north end has been exceptional over the past two weeks. The walleye bite continues to be very slow. Walleye are currently spawning and not really feeding, but look for the bite to pick up substantially post-spawn. — FWP, Helena.
Cooney Reservoir: A few walleye and some nice trout are being caught, mostly in the early morning and evening. Nightcrawlers and leeches both are working. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Deadmans Basin: Trout are biting well on orange Power Bait or yellow Power bait. Bright colors are working. No reports of tiger muskies yet. — Super D, Ryegate.
Flathead Lake: A new record of 20,829 lake trout has been turned in during the Spring Mack Days Fishing Event through seven weekends. Last Friday, 11 anglers turned in 50-fish totals. — Cindy Bras, CSKT.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Walleye action remains slow with the spawn on. Some nice lake trout are being caught. Anglers are using deep-running crankbaits off Haxby Point, Bear Creek and Bell Point. Very few pike are coming in. Water temps need to warm up for the fish to turn on. — Lakeridge, Fort Peck.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Lake trout fishing is good with anglers trolling crankbaits down 20 to 25 feet. Some eater-size walleyes are biting caught in Snow Creek and west toward Timber Creek. Jigs and minnows are your best bet. — Hell Creek Marina, Jordan.
Gallatin River: With flows up, water clarity is a problem. With cooler weather, they may improve. They may not. It’s not fishable right now. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir: A few rainbows are being picked up while trolling Krocodiles or olive colored crankbaits between York Bridge and Black Sandy. The Causeway Bridge is providing some walleye action while using jigs and leeches. Lake Helena has been producing some small walleye while trolling crayfish or perch colored crankbaits. — FWP, Helena.
Holter Reservoir: Rainbow fishing has slowed up a bit around the Log Gulch and Holter Lake boat ramps. However, there are still trout to be had while using wooly buggers, bead head nymphs and spawn sacks. Boat anglers are doing well while trolling perch colored crankbaits. Walleye fishing is slow. — FWP, Helena.
Madison River: Caddis are out on the lower Madison, but it’s not a blizzard hatch. Nymphs and streamers remain productive. The upper Madison is fishing well with nymphs. Sculpin patterns are also working. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Missouri River, below Holter: Nymph and streamer fishing has been great and the river has had some good midges hatches. Baetis are showing up, but there are not a lot of fish eating them yet. That will change as the hatch develops. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: Water is running higher and muddy. Sturgeon and catfish are biting, but no walleye or sauger. The water needs to clear for the walleye and sauger to bite. — Don’s Store, Lewistown.
Nelson Reservoir: Slow, slow, slow. Water remains cold. Just a few fish coming in. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Spring Creek: A midge hatch is coming off and providing some topwater action. Hare’s ear nymphs are also working. The creek is fairly clear and is still fishable. — Don’s Store, Lewistown.
Stillwater River: March browns are here and caddis are starting to show up. Baetis have been coming off in the afternoons. The river below Absarokee is clearing and the upper river is clear and very fishable. — Rainbow Run Fly Shop.
Tongue River Reservoir: A lot of nice bass came in last weekend during a bass tourney. Walleyes are also biting well. Not a lot of talk of pike. Crappie action has started to pick up, including some fish a pound to a pound and a half. — Tongue River Marina.
Yellowstone River, Billings: Catfish are biting in the Pompeys Pillar and Custer areas on minnows, cut bait and shrimp. A few smallmouth bass are biting as well. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Yellowstone River, Livingston: Mother’s Day caddis are hatching around and below Livingston and trout are feeding on top. Water clarity will depend on the weather. Flywise, it’s always a good idea to have a bigger dry on you that you can see and spot in case the blizzard hatch comes off. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.