Fishing report: Bighorn River nymphing action stays strong

2014-04-10T00:00:00Z 2014-04-10T09:13:05Z Fishing report: Bighorn River nymphing action stays strongBy JOHN LETASKY The Billings Gazette

Cold spring weather and runoff can interrupt or postpone fishing trips.

So why not pick a day, dress appropriately and head to your favorite fishing hole. That way you are sure to have early fishing stories to tell your buddies who stayed home.

Regional hot spots this week are the lower Yellowstone for catfish, ling and brown trout, the Gallatin and Madison rivers, the Missouri River below Holter and Holter Reservoir.

The Tongue River Reservoir National Bass Anglers Association team tournament is April 19 at Tongue River Reservoir. The entry fee is $100 per team and two-person teams must also join the NBAA for the year at a cost of $40 per person. There are five scheduled NBAA contests in Montana this year, along with a year-end championship Aug. 9 at Ok-A-Beh Marina on Bighorn Lake. For information, call Benny Wiles at 406-629-0822.

Ackley Lake: Fishing is best in the afternoon with bait from the shore. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Bighorn River: Flows were increased last week to 6,500 cubic feet per second. With record snowfall this winter, expect flows to be above normal all spring. Water conditions are clear all the way to the confluence with Soap Creek. Expect runoff to be murky from Soap Creek for the next few weeks. Fishing has been exceptional, mostly nymphing. Patterns producing fish have been San Juan worms (size 4-8) in red or fluorescent orange trailed with a sowbug pattern. Mostly Ray Charles, firebead Ray Charles or firebead soft hackle sowbugs (14-18) in colors dun (gray), tan and pink. Also taking fish as trailers are zebra midges or midge larvae (18-20) in root beer, red and black. Try cluster midges or Griffith’s gnats (16-20) for surface activity. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith.

Boulder River: It is in prime shape to fish. Nymph anglers can fish a flashback hare’s ear with rubber legs, a flashback pheasant tail, copper John in red or chartreuse, psycho prince, Batman, Montana prince, zebra midges in black or red, or larger stonefly nymphs like girdle bugs, bitch creeks or black North Fork specials. A San Juan Worm can be an effective nymph. The streamer fishing is just as basic. Focus on smaller woolly buggers in black, olive or one’s color of preference. For dry flies, a Griffith’s gnat to rising fish is likely all one will need. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: The ice is pretty well gone. The boat docks are in at the boat ramp. Some are jigging with minnows or a worm for walleye and having some success in 18 to 20 feet of water off the points. Bank fishing is productive for trout. — Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: Recent snow caused the reservoir to rise. Rainbows in the 15- to 22-inch range have been caught, with a few lake trout mixed in. Flies, spoons and bucktail jigs are all working. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir: The ice is melted off the reservoir for the most part. Boaters are able to launch at the Silos. Fishing has been good for trout shore fishing with baits. A couple of nice, 18-inch walleye were also reeled in. — The Silos KOA Store.

Clarks Fork, Wyo.: Below the canyon it is clear and fishing well. Where Paint Creek comes in all the way to Montana it is dirty. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cooney Reservoir: The ice is melting off at a pretty good pace. Shore fishermen are doing well for trout using worms and/or PowerBait, with a couple walleye mixed in. Walleye fishermen are trolling the north shore. Jig or bottom bounce. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin: Fishing has been slow. The Musselshell River is still fishing well for brown trout with spinners or Rapalas. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: The ice is off the shore in spots and anglers can bank fish with minnows. Walleye, northern and catfish have all been landed. A 10-pound northern was caught Monday. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: The ice is still unstable and the lake is still covered at the Lakeridge. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: It’s still frozen all the way to the ramp. Water is starting to show on some of the points. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Where there are open spots, anglers are starting to bank fish and catching a few northerns. There was a 12-pound northern caught on minnows. Boats still can’t be launched because of the ice. — Hell Creek Marina.

Gallatin River: It’s fishing great. There have been some spotty BWO hatches. Trout are keying on stoneflies, San Juan worms and attractor nymphs. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir: The Causeway is ice free and Lake Helena is ice free. Rainbow trout are hitting well on marabou jigs and Rapalas. — Sportsman’s Warehouse, Helena.

Holter Reservoir: It is completely open and fishermen are doing phenomenal on trout either fly fishing from shore or using marabou jigs and Rapalas from a boat. Below Gates of the Mountains anglers are picking up a few walleyes running bottom bouncers and jigs. Use a slow presentation as the walleye are sluggish. — Sportsman’s Warehouse, Helena.

Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: The lake is still iced over except in the coves. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.

Madison River: It is fishing well. Cherry Creek has a little bit of dirty water coming in. Try dry-fly fishing. BWOs are solid on the lower river. Crayfish, stoneflies, San Juan worms and baetis nymphs will take trout. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir: Fishermen have been taking nice trout from shore. Garlic Gulp spray squirted on crawlers will work. The Musselshell River is fishing well, too. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River, below Holter: The flow is stable at 6,430 cfs and the water temp is 39 degrees. Most fishermen are nymphing with pink scuds, pink lightning bugs and Czech nymphs. MFGs will work. For streamers, try a Thin Mint or a perch Clouser. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: Some catfish and sauger have been caught with a few walleyes. Use live minnows. There is a lot of mud on the bank. The boat ramps from Kipp Campground going east are not usable yet. At the PN Bridge the boat ramp is usable and fishermen are taking sauger, walleye and ling. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir: It is still frozen. The ice is too dangerous to fish. On the Milk River, fishermen are taking a few walleyes and catfish, but action is slow because of high water. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek: Successful nymph fishing can be achieved by throwing patterns like a copper John, prince nymph, hare’s ear, pheasant tail, Montana prince in blue or olive, varied stonefly nymphs like girdle bugs, rubber legs and North Fork specials. Streamer fish with smaller black, olive, white or brown and yellow buggers. The dry fly angler has a shot at rising fish using either a Griffith’s gnat in a size 18-20, or smaller attractor like a size 16 Grey or Royal Wulff. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Shoshone River, Wyo.: The flow is at 1,950 cfs on the lower river. It is fishable, but a little off-color. Use streamers. On the North Fork, above Newton Creek, it is open to fishing, and anglers are starting to catch fish. Use big, rubber-legged nymphs with a smaller North Fork special or a bloody Mary dropper. The South Fork is low and clear and fishing well. East and West Newton Lakes are fishing decent. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Spring Creek: It is off-color. Fly fishing is slow. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: The water is still pretty cold and has some color in the lower river. Nymphs are working. There might be a little bit of midge activity during the day. Use standard nymphs, like a copper John, prince, hare’s ear, stonefly and woolly buggers. A midge pattern on a shallow nymph setup would work. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir: The reservoir is open on the north end. However, with the warmer weather the reservoir should be open by Thursday. There were boats cruising the shorelines over the weekend and they could get out 50-60 yards. Anglers were catching some crappie and a few walleye. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus: Nymph fishing is your best bet. There is a little bit of streamer activity. Depending on the day and temperature there may be an opportunity for dry fly fishing with a smaller purple haze if there are rising trout. The water temps are still pretty cold. With warmer water, hatches will increase. March browns usually appear by now and caddis by the end of the month or first part of May. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley: Catfish are actively taking cut bait. Live minnows have enticed a few catfish, too. A 13.5-pound catfish was landed last week and the cats are averaging 5-9 pounds. Some brown trout and ling were caught from Huntley to Custer. Trout are hitting cut bait, too. Live minnows or crawlers are the top choice of ling. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River, Livingston: The color is greenish, which is good for streamer action. A few BWOs are popping. Stoneflies, zonkers and small sculpins are the way to go. If the water dirties, throw flashy, big streamers. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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