While some rivers are running high and dirty this week, making fishing a little difficult, others are still quite fishable.
Places to target are the Bighorn River, which continues to fish well on nymphs, and the Missouri below Holter, where there is action on scuds, MFGs and egg patterns. Also, the three large Helena-area reservoirs are a fun place for fly anglers right now.
Reservoir fishermen will be happy to hear that Nelson is free of ice.
Ackley Lake: It is fishing steady in the afternoon with bait. — Don’s, Lewistown.
Bighorn Lake: Anglers can launch at Barry’s Landing and Ok-A-Beh, but not at Horseshoe Bend because lake levels are being dropped in anticipation of the mountain runoff. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Bighorn River: Flows are constant at 6,500 cubic feet per second. With record snowfall this winter, expect flows to be above normal all spring. Expect runoff to be murky from Soap Creek as we did receive some snow Saturday evening. 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: Recent melt has left portions of the river near Big Timber fast and off-color. Larger stonefly nymphs like girdle bugs, rubber legs, bitch creeks or North Fork specials (sizes 6-10) as well as San Juan worms can be effective in high, fast and slightly off-color water. Hare’s ears, pheasant tails, psycho prince nymphs and copper Johns would all make a legit dropper off of the larger stonefly nymph. Streamer action can be good. —East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: The ice is all gone from the lake. Some are jigging with minnows or a worm for walleye and having success in 18 to 20 feet of water off the points. Bank fishing is productive for trout. — Boysen Lake Marina.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: With the recent cooler and snowy days, fishing has been slow. Try trolling for rainbows with Mepps No. 2 lures in pink and yellow, black and white or red and white. A size 2 Panther Martin in black with yellow spots would work. Frozen sucker meat will work for lake trout. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir: Some guys are braving the wind and finding rainbow trout. Flicker Shads have been a good lure. No news on walleyes. The water levels are low at the boat ramp. The reservoir is ice free. — The Silos KOA Store.
Clarks Fork, Wyo.: It is clear all the way to the Montana line. Try a hare’s ear, big golden stone or big rubber legs. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Cooney Reservoir: Approximately 90 percent of the lake was ice free as of Monday. Marshall Cove still had a lot of ice. Fishing is picking up for trout and walleye for boaters. Shore fishing is fair for trout, with a couple walleye mixed in. As soon as the ice completely melts off the lake, the boat docks will be installed. — Cooney State Park.
Deadman’s Basin: No new reports. Fishing pressure has been light because of the bad weather. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: The back bay is ice free and Nelson Creek is open. The main lake is 25 percent open. Fish from shore with minnows and a bobber or toss jigs. — Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Anglers are catching a few fish from the bank and boats in Duck Creek Bay. Use a Lindy rig or a jig with a minnow. There is still quite a bit of ice but it is breaking up. On the Missouri below the dam people are hooking northerns, walleye, rainbow and brown trout. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: It is open and the boat ramp is open. On the main lake there is still some ice. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: The main lake is still iced over, however, Hell Creek Bay is open. Everything from Hell Creek west should be open by the weekend. A few guys have been catching some nice northerns and a few walleye off the bank. The Tough Guy walleye tournament is Saturday starting at 8 a.m. and running until 4 p.m. There is a banquet in Jordan at the VFW Friday night. Fishermen can register at the banquet. For information, call Joe Herbold at 406-557-2383. — Hell Creek Marina.
Gallatin River: It is fishing alright. Check the flow gauges to look for bumps in the runoff. The upper river is fishing well on rubber legs. A key is caddis larva and caddis pupa. The Mother’s Day caddis hatch isn’t too far off. San Juan worms and egg patterns will work. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir: The entire lake is clear of ice. A lot of trout have been caught at Lakeside, York Bridge and the Causeway. Marabou jigs will work. Try a floating Rapala in size 5-7 if trolling. Some walleye have been boated at York Bridge. — Sportsman’s Warehouse, Helena.
Holter Reservoir: It is completely ice-free. Trout fishing is phenomenal and walleye fishing is picking up in the Oxbow. For trout, Gates of the Mountains to Hauser Dam is the place to target. Flies, jigs and Rapalas will work. Spawn sacks will work for spin fishermen. Egg patterns are a good fly. — Sportsman’s Warehouse, Helena.
Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: The ice is too poor to fish off. There is open water where anglers could fish from the bank. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.
Madison River: The lower river was muddy on Monday. When the water clears, use baetis. Underneath use crayfish, worms, eggs, baetis nymphs and rubber legs. The upper river is clear and fishing well with stonefly patterns and Delektable stones. Eggs will also take trout, as will yellow streamers. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Martinsdale Reservoir: It was so cold this weekend that most people stayed off the lake. Fishing should improve when the weather stabilizes. Use the traditional baits and methods. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.
Missouri River, below Holter: The water flow was 7,360 cfs on Monday. The water temp is 41 degrees. There is a lot of action on scud patterns, MFGs and egg patterns. Streamers are working. Tie on a Thin Mint or a Nick’s perch. Sculpins will entice trout. At Canyon Ferry, Hauser and Holter reservoirs, fly fishermen are doing well on rainbows with leech or egg patterns and scuds. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: It is blown out and not fishing well. — Don’s, Lewistown.
Nelson Reservoir: It is clear and ready for spring fishing. The cooler temperatures kept most fishermen off the water over the weekend. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Rock Creek: Anglers might find clear water from Roberts upstream. Stonefly patterns like girdle bugs, rubber legs, bitch creeks, or nymphs like a hare’s ear, prince, pheasant tails, copper John, psycho prince or San Juan worm will take trout. Also can throw woolly buggers in black, olive or white. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
Shoshone River, Wyo.: On the North Fork the flows are up. Take bear spray as grizzlies are out. The South Fork should be fishing well. Pack along North Fork specials and hare’s ears. On the lower river there are high flows but the side channels are fishable. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Spring Creek: It is muddy, muddy, muddy. — Don’s, Lewistown.
Stillwater River: Go upstream for clearer water. Beadhead nymph patterns are the best bet, such as various prince, copper John, hare’s ear, and stonefly patterns. In off-color and/or higher water, fish the edges with a San Juan worm or bugger pattern. There has been sporadic midge activity, so a small midge nymph fished in a shallow setup should do the trick. There are spawning rainbows that have moved upriver. The water still needs to warm up a bit to get March browns hatching. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Tongue River Reservoir: The ice is gone and the marina is open. Some crappie have been caught and a few walleyes. There haven’t been too many fishermen. The Tongue River Reservoir National Bass Anglers Association team tournament is Saturday. — Tongue River Marina.
Yellowstone River, Columbus: The river has been running off-color. With cooler nights, there may be a window of clearer water before runoff is here to stay. If the water color gets the least bit green, fish it now. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Huntley: Catfish are hitting and ling are hit-or-miss. Minnows and cut bait are the top choices for catfish. For ling, it is minnows and worms. Walleye and sauger fishing will be slow until the water clears. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.
Yellowstone River, Livingston: It is pretty brown and unfishable. If it clears, throw yellow or black streamers. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.