Montana fishing report: Cold wet weather helps rivers, lakes

2014-08-28T00:00:00Z Montana fishing report: Cold wet weather helps rivers, lakesBy JOHN LETASKY jletasky@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Stillwater Anglers in Columbus reports that despite last weekend’s rainy weather, fishing was fantastic on the Stillwater River.

The river saw a bump in flows and a drop in water temperatures and should fish well as summer winds down and throughout fall.

When the weather patterns cool for a time, shoreline fishing will once again become productive at one’s favorite lake and they can bait their hook, cast out, relax in a lawn chair and wait for the fish — hopefully a lunker — to bite.

Ackley Lake: The water is muddy. Fishing will be better when things dry out. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh: Fishing has been fair. There weren’t many people out over the weekend. Try tossing jigs or spinners close to the canyon walls for walleye and smallmouth. — Bighorn Trout Shop, Fort Smith.

Bighorn River: Flows remain steady at 2,500 to 2,600 cubic feet per second. The water temp is 62 degrees at the Afterbay. Water conditions are still good but with the recent rains there is a small amount of runoff, which has lowered the visibility to 5-8 feet. The grass is becoming more prevalent so be prepared to clean off flies every couple of casts. Streamer fishing has been good with buggers in mostly white or olive colors, sizes 4-6. Dry-fly fishing is more challenging this week, but there is still significant hatches of black caddis as well as lots of terrestrials. Also, there are good hatches of tricos in the morning as well as pseudo. The best dry-fly fishing has been around 2 to 4 p.m. until dusk using low profile black caddis such as black slow-water caddis (size 16-18) or black Hemingway caddis (16-18). Also, up to 8 to 9 a.m. fish trico spinners (male or female sizes 20-24). With the slight off-colored water San Juan worms (6-10 in red, orange or wine) trailed by anything small and black like a skinny Nelson, black baetis nymph or black midge pupae (18-20) are working. All Ray Charles sowbug patterns are working. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith.

Boulder River: The Boulder has already started to drop and should resume good wade fishing by the middle of the week. The cooler temperatures should improve fishing. Dry-fly fishing is still there using terrestrials like hoppers, ants, beetles or a chubby. If one likes to fish natural patterns try yellow stimulators, caddis, PMD, yellow Sally, green drakes and smaller BWO. Attractor dry-fly patterns like royal Wulff, royal trudes, humpy, purple haze, parachute madam X and parachute Adams can all bring a trout up. Nymph fishing remains an angler’s most productive bet. Drifting tried and true nymphs like copper John, blue Montana princes, Batman, lightning bugs, psycho princes, tan caddis pupa, black North Fork specials, hare’s ears, flashback pheasant tails or traditional prince nymphs can potentially always be effective when drifted over the right water. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: Trout are taking crawler harnesses tipped with crawlers. One could also try spoons. — Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: Heavy rains and a cold front made fishing a bit difficult this past week. Walleyes are still showing up, but a slow presentation is a must. Jigging with a Gulp! 3-inch minnow or a crawler has been working good, as well as a crawler harness pulled at a very low speed (under .7 mph). A few lakers were being caught prior to the cold snap. Look for these fish around the 60-foot mark and use a depth finder to find the fish. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir: Rainbow trout continue to be caught by boat anglers, using attractors (cowbells, dodgers or flashers) on the north end of the reservoir. Shoreline anglers are doing excellent using worms, spoons and woolly buggers from shore at Magpie Bay. The walleye bite really slowed down this past week. Try fishing 20 to 45 feet of water trolling worm harnesses (with worms or leeches), crankbaits or slow death rigs (with worms or Gulp! worms) and try jigging bay points (orange or perch colors) from mid-reservoir to the dam. Yellow perch continue to be caught while chasing walleye. — FWP, Helena.

Clarks Fork, Wyo.: Nymph the bigger runs to get to the bigger fish on the bottom. In the morning, nymph with a North Fork special or halfback, followed by a smaller North Fork special or bloody Mary. Try a hopper-dropper with the dropper being 2-3 feet underneath and use a size 12-16 beadhead nymph. Have caddis ready for the evenings. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cooney Reservoir: There wasn’t much fishing pressure over the weekend. Before the cold spell, anglers were targeting walleye during the evenings from their boats and using crankbaits. Trout fishing has been slow. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin: When it dries out, try dunking a worm and marshmallow. Some fishermen prefer corn. The ones having most of the luck trolling hardware this summer have been using silver colors. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: Smallmouth bass and walleye were biting well before the storm. Worms and leeches will work. The best color varies between chartreuse, purple and blue. Northern fishing is spotty. Try crankbaits. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek: With the crumby weather there weren’t many fishermen. Prior to the storm, channel catfish were biting while drifting a night crawler from the boat. There is a lot of debris in the water and it is also super muddy. The ramp is in good shape. The marina is open for Labor Day weekend and the store will close for the season after that. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Before the storms, fishing was really good with walleye, northern, smallmouth, lake trout and a few chinook salmon being caught. The walleye are 15 to 30 feet deep and the best tactic was a Lindy Rig or bottom bouncer and harness. For lake trout, use a flasher and squid or Evil Eye flutter spoon 100 to 120-feet deep. Dan Dupea and his grandson Eli, both of Billings, boated an 18- and 25-pound chinook salmon just before the rain started. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: The lake had come up a foot Monday due to all the rain. The access roads are probably really muddy. Prior to the rain, it was fishing well for smallmouth bass and crappie. For smallmouth, pitch tube jigs in shallows off the rocks. Crappie were taking crankbaits, which were aimed at walleye and northerns. Walleye fishing is slow. — Lewistown Sports.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Before all the rain last weekend smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing was really good. Walleye fishing is normal for this time of year and is a little slow. Most smallmouth and northerns are 10 to 20-feet deep running off the main lake points. Walleye tend to be scattered 16 to 35-feet deep. Bottom bounce crawlers and leeches for walleye. — Hell Creek Marina.

Gallatin River: It was off-color Monday. For best results fish above the Taylor’s Fork. Hopper fishing is decent, but the cold weather probably slowed it. Try nymphing with a copper John, lightning bug or rubber legs. San Juan worms will work, as well. Streamer fishing is picking up. A sculpzilla is a fine choice as are micro streamers. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir: Rainbows are being caught around Riverside from shore and boats. Shore anglers are using worms while boat anglers are trolling dark-colored crankbaits or jigs and a worm. Rainbows are also being caught on cowbells between Devil’s Elbow and Lakeside. The Causeway Bridge area has produced a few walleye and perch from shore while using a jig tipped with a worm. — FWP, Helena.

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir: The snagging season for kokanee salmon opens on Sept. 1 and will run through Oct. 31. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. — FWP, Helena

Holter Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is improving with the best action from Split Rock to Holter Dam while trolling cowbells tipped with a worm. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Walleye fishing has been decent around Cottonwood Creek and Split Rock on jigs and worms. Perch continue to provide great action especially in 8 to 12 feet of water in bays or around weeds. — FWP, Helena.

Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: Leeches and worms are both producing, although fishing was a little slow over the weekend. The best bet has been to bank fish for trout in the early morning with crawlers sitting on the bottom. Walleye fishing is sluggish. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.

Madison River: The lower river is again fishable with the cooler weather. An occasional BWO is coming off due to the cooler weather. Crayfish is a go-to fly. San Juan worms and wire worms are also staples right now. Standard attractor nymphs will entice trout. On the upper river there are quite a few more BWOs coming off. Hopper fishing will pick back up when the weather warms. Nymphs and streamers are the best choices. For streamers use zonkers and sculpin patterns and don’t be afraid to strip them fast. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir: Anglers are bank fishing and trolling. Use cowbells with wedding rings or two-spinners baited with a worm. Rapalas would also work. The Musselshell River is up and a little muddy. One could try spinners or wet flies. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River, below Holter: The flow was 4,700 on Monday with water temps running 64 degrees. It is fishing well. There are still some tricos and caddis are showing back up. Nymphing is good. If one can stay away from the weeds, streamer fishing is good on the gloomy days. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: The access roads are extremely muddy due to the recent storms. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir: Action was good in 30-feet of water jigging worms for large walleye and nice perch. A few guys were bottom bouncing with Smile Blades for walleye and did well. Using Smile Blades, one had to sort through a few smaller fish. — Westside Sports, Malta.

North Fork of the Shoshone River, Wyo.: It is clearing and should be fishable Thursday. It is hopper time. In the morning, nymph with a North Fork special or halfback, followed by a smaller North Fork special or bloody Mary. Try a hopper-dropper with the dropper being 2-3 feet underneath and use a size 12-16 beadhead nymph. Have caddis ready for the evenings. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Rock Creek: Dry-fly fishing is still there using hoppers, chubby, yellow or royal parachute madam X, stimulators, caddis, yellow Sally, PMD, ants, beetles and standard attractor dry flies like Wulff, trudes, humpy, purple haze or parachute Adams. Nymph fishing can be just as simple using princes, hare’s ears, pheasant tails, North Fork specials, copper John, psycho prince, Batman, lightning bugs, Shop Vac, caddis pupa or emergers. Early morning streamer fishing could yield some nice suprises. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Spring Creek: It was blown out on Monday. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: Fishing was fantastic during the rainy, cool weather. Flows have been recharged and the water temperature has dropped, so it should continue to fish well right on through the fall. The streamer bite and nymphing have been excellent and there has been a nice afternoon baetis hatch. As a more normal weather pattern returns, look for the typical big stimulator/attractor, dry/dropper rig to continue to work well. Suggested patterns are chubby Chernobyl, PMX, fat Franks, Yellowstoner chubby, club sandwich, Jack Cabe and stimulators for a top fly with a beadhead nymph like a Batman, copper John, hare’s ear, pheasant tail, red or purple psycho prince, or prince nymph. For rising fish, try a small dry like a purple haze, royal Wulff or parachute Adams. Standard nymphing the deeper runs and inside rifle corners will produce, as well. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir: Anglers are having to hunt for crappie. Use jigs with a yellow or chartreuse tail. Smallmouth bass are striking crankbaits thrown in to the shore and retrieved toward the boat. Find schools of baitfish and fish over the top of them with crankbaits for walleye. Northern pike action is quiet but should pick up with the cooler weather. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park.

Yellowstone River, Columbus: With the heavy rain the past week, flows spiked and the river gained some color. The river has been recharged and the water temperature has dropped. Action remains consistent on the big dry fly-hopper pattern. Use chubby Chernobyl, fat Franks, Sheila hopper, Yellowstoner hopper, more-or-less hopper and PMX. Purple, peach and pink are good body colors. The streamer bite has been good as well, particularly earlier in the morning, on a variety of patterns such as the Grinch and electric goldfish. Dead drifting a small streamer will produce. Drop a nymph like a rubber-leg prince off of the back. Nymphing has been good too, particularly on the edges, deeper runs and inside riffle corners. Smaller dry flies like the purple haze or parachute Adams have been producing in likely water and for rising fish. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley: Before the rain catfish action was fair. Minnows and blood shrimp are the go-to bait for catfish. The water has climbed and is muddy. The smallmouth and sauger bite will be off until the water clears up. When the water clears, 2- to 3-inch minnows or crawlers are working well for bass. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River, Livingston: It is blown out. When it drops, hopper fishing will be the way to go. Run a hopper-dropper. Run the dropper 2 to 3 feet below and use a zonker or a micro zonker. Rubber-legs or woolly buggers will also work as a dropper. When the water clears, streamer fishing will be productive. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

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