Montana fishing report: Crowded waters likely over holiday

2014-07-03T00:00:00Z Montana fishing report: Crowded waters likely over holidayBy JOHN LETASKY The Billings Gazette

The Fourth of July is Friday so expect heavy crowds at your favorite fishing hole.

With warmer temperatures expected, it would be a good idea to pack plenty of water and sunscreen.

Those wanting to fish the salmonfly hatch could venture to the Gallatin and Madison rivers. Boat anglers would probably also have a good time at Fort Peck Reservoir, where there is plenty of water, or the three large Helena-area reservoirs. Fishing has also been good at Tongue River Reservoir.

Ackley Lake: It is fishing fair, despite the wind. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: Fishing conditions continue to be poor. This past week’s heavy rains didn’t help to improve water quality. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh: Fishing is slow. There has been a lot of personal watercraft on the lake. We are expecting big crowds at the marina over the holiday with a free barbecue July 4 from 4:30-8 p.m. and a performance by the Jared Stewart Band. There is a free shuttle service from Fort Smith to the marina for day users on July 4 starting at 4 p.m. — Ok-A-Beh Marina.

Bighorn Reservoir, Wyo.: Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good. Fish tend to be hanging around 8 to 12 foot deep. A variety of soft plastics are taking fish along with suspended jerk baits. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Bighorn River: Flows remain constant at 3,000 cubic feet per second. Water clarity is good downstream to Mallards Landing but fluctuates depending on afternoon thunderstorms. We have had quite an issue with a proliferation of grass and floating grass but it is a bit less every day. With the decreased flows there is a much greater opportunity for dry fly fishing, mostly during the evening hours. We are seeing consistent baetis and midge hatches.Try wonder nymphs and black baetis (sizes 18-20) trailed behind pink or tan firebead sowbugs (14-16). Also try smokejumpers in red, olive and black (18-20) trailed behind an Adams parachute (14-18). As usual, also have some black, cream or red midge pupae (18-20) on hand. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith.

Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: Most fishermen are pitching jigs tipped with worms or leeches to shore and retrieving them for walleye. Anglers are also pulling plugs in the middle of the lake. A few trout have been caught on crankbaits. — Boysen Lake Marina.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir: Anglers continue to catch rainbow trout throughout the reservoir. Shoreline anglers are catching fish, primarily using worms and/or marshmallows, at east shore and the south end access points. Boat anglers are catching some rainbows trolling attractors tipped with worms in 5 to 30 feet of water. The walleye bite continues to be excellent throughout the reservoir. Anglers are doing well trolling in 15 to 45 feet of water using crankbaits (orange, green or firetiger), worm harnesses (orange, green and pink) or while vertical jigging bay points. Yellow perch continue to be caught while searching for walleye. — FWP, Helena.

Clarks Fork, Wyo.: Toward the canyon there might be 18-30 inches of visibility. Fish the edges with smaller nymphs. Beadhead halfbacks will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cooney Reservoir: Anglers are jigging for walleye. Fishing is best in the evening or early morning. Trout fishing is slow. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin: It’s been windy. On Saturday fishing was tough and the fish are deep. A few rainbows were caught by anglers trolling. Bair Reservoir and Lake Sutherlin are full. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: At least two 42-inch pike were landed last week. Walleye fishermen are catching pike. Crankbaits are a good choice. Worms and leeches are also prompting fish to strike. A 32-inch walleye was caught and several other nice ones. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek: Catfish are biting in the mouth of the Musselshell out in front of the marina. Nash Zimmerman caught a 10-pound northern bank fishing. There is 5 feet of water on the end of the boat ramp, so there is no problem launching. The marina will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of August. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Fishing is good, but anglers had to battle wind over the weekend. Jigs, worm harnesses or crankbaits are working. For bait, minnows, leeches and crawlers are taking fish. Flat Lake, Bear Creek, Skunk Creek, Duck Creek, Skunk Cooley and the Pines are good places. The seventh bridge just past the pines is another good section. Walleyes, smallmouth and northerns are all active. Lake trout in the Haxby and Bear Creek area are 60 to 65 feet deep. Use Evil Eye flutter spoons. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: There have been a lot of fishermen. It is fishing well, although the fish are in 10 to 25 feet of water. Lindy Rigs, bottom bouncers or crankbaits will take fish. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Fishing was a little slow due to the weather. Smaller walleyes have been caught. Crankbaits or bottom bouncers will work. The walleye are in 16 to 20 feet of water. — Hell Creek Marina, Jordan.

Gallatin River: It is still flowing big, so avoid wading. The water has a greenish tint. Try fishing on the bank lines. Salmonflies are in the bottom part of the canyon and just starting to come off. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir: Rainbows are being caught trolling cowbells around the Black Sandy area and trolling crankbaits below Canyon Ferry Dam. Shore fishing has been good while using worms or PowerBait around Black Sandy. Small walleye are being caught at the Causeway Bridge and in the Causeway Arm on bottom bouncers and a leech or worm. Some walleye are also being caught around Riverside on jigs. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir: Good rainbow fishing continues for those trolling cowbells or yellow and red crankbaits throughout the reservoir. An occasional rainbow is being picked up from shore around Gates of the Mountains on worms. Small perch are being caught throughout the reservoir in small bays and around the boat docks. Walleye are being caught around Split Rock and Indian Trails in 8 to 14 feet of water on worms or leeches. — FWP, Helena.

Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: Trout and walleye are hitting garlic white marshmallows and worms. The fish are running up to 20 inches. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.

Madison River: A lot of PMDs and yellow sallies are out during the day on the lower river. Once those taper off, a lot of caddis are out. On the upper river, fishing is phenomenal. From Varney Bridge up there is real good salmonfly and golden stone action. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir: Fishermen did well over the weekend. Troll cowbells and a worm harness. Bank fishermen did OK. Bair Reservoir is fishing well. The Musselshell River is clearing up and looks good. Try big nymphs, girdle bugs, Rapalas or Panther Martin lures. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River, below Holter: It is fishing well on calm days. A purple para Wulff or purple chubby Chernobyl (size 10-12) are good choices. A bat wing BWO emerger (16-18) has also produced. Even though we aren’t seeing a lot of caddis, the trout are keying on them. For nymphs, a Quasimodo and MFG are working, as are zebra midges. Extended-body PMDs (16) are drawing strikes. Try a Brook’s sprout or Lawson’s cripple. Have hot bead soft-hackle (14), green machines and psycho MFG in your fly box. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: Catfish action is steady on crawlers or cut bait. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir: A lot of the walleye are running 10 to 12 inches, however, there are a few decent-sized walleye being caught. Most action is on bottom bouncers and a worm, while some are jigging with worms or leeches. A few anglers are still using minnows. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Shoshone River, Wyo.: The lower river is coming into shape and is fishing well with a dry-dropper or streamer from a boat. Shoreline fishing is difficult with the flows and debris. A black North Fork Special will work, as will a red copper John in size 10-14. A larger royal trude or grasshopper imitation will work. Golden stones will also hook fish. Drop a nymph below. Yellow or orange stimulators have been effective. East and West Newton Lakes are on fire. Luce Reservoir is fishing hot on damsel flies. Also, zebra midges and small red worms (16) are good flies to have at Luce. Some ants, beetles and terrestrials are on the water. Lake caddis are starting to get active. Once water temps improve, fishing will pick up on olive-body lake caddis (8-10). — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Spring Creek: It is fishing well with dry flies and wet flies. For dry flies, try a black CDC or elk-hair caddis. BWOs will work. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: The river shot back up to more than 6,000 cfs. It’s on a downward tick, but is still running higher than normal. The clarity has improved a bit. Up higher or on some of the smaller tributaries or side channels are probably the best bet. For the main river, try big, rubber-leg patterns, San Juan worms, or darker bugger patterns right on the edges. A big stimulator/attractor dry-dropper setup may work in some of the softer water. Golden stones should be showing up anytime. The river is very swift and cold, so use caution. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir: Walleye and crappie fishermen are doing great. The walleye are between 15 to 18 inches with a few 8-pounders mixed in. A 2.6-pound crappie was caught. Northern pike fishing is picking up. Bank fishermen are doing well for pike using smelt. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus: The flows are running close to normal for the date, but it is still running high and dirty. It’s still tough to fish the main river. As the river starts to clear, look for a foot or so of visibility. Try big, ugly rubber-leg stonefly nymphs, San Juan worms and buggers on the edges. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley: The river flows have been fluctuating. Fishing is fair. Catfish are running between 1 to 6 pounds. Blood shrimp is the best bait. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River, Livingston: The river is big, but on a downward trend. The flow is near 12,000 cfs, so we are recommending experienced oarsmen only. Give it one to two weeks and it should be fishable. — 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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