River fishing conditions changed drastically throughout much of the region last week because of the many rainstorms that passed through.
However, there is still fly fishing opportunities on area rivers; just monitor the situation or get out there and try it. Remember that if the water is moving fast exercise caution.
To avoid the runoff muck, the Bighorn River and Missouri River below Holter, both dam tailwaters, are fishing well.
Walleye fishermen are having success at Tongue River Reservoir.
Bighorn Lake, Barry’s Landing: Some sauger and plenty of small smallmouth bass are biting. Some smallmouth are between 2-3 pounds. Sauger are hitting on worms and smallmouth on crankbaits. Catfish are hitting worms. – Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh: The marina closed for the season on Sept. 15. – Ok-A-Beh Marina, Fort Smith.
Bighorn River: Dry fly fishing is still very good. There’s consistent and numerous hatches of black and tan caddis with some midge, baetis and PMD activity. Hatches are starting in earnest around 10 a.m. and are constant till dusk. Best results have been using black Hemingway caddis (size 16-18, or tan in sizes 14-16) trailed by a Bighorn caddis emerger or diving caddis (16-18). Remember to allow the caddis rig to swing at the end of the cast as most takes are on the emerger as they begin to come toward the surface. We are also beginning to see some decent trico hatches in the early morning hours. Use a trico spinner or female trico spinner in sizes 20-22. Flows remain constant at 1,900 cfs. Subsurface activity is still very good with mostly sowbug or scud patterns. Ray Charles or soft-hackled Ray Charles with firebeads have been the best patterns. The most productive colors have been tan, Bighorn orange and dun in sizes 14-16. As for the trailer, use anything small and black like zebra midges, black quill LBF, or UV JuJu baetis (all in 18-20). — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop.
Boulder River: Until things clear up, dry fly fishing will be dramatically tougher so concentrate on nymphs and streamers. Drift larger nymphs like girdle bugs, bitch creeks and rubber legs; as well larger copper John, princes, hare’s ears, pheasant tails, psycho princes, Batman, and blue or olive Montana princes. Streamer fishing can be effective in this kind of water, as well. Fish black, olive, or white buggers either by stripping the streamers or dead-drifting a streamer with an indicator. Focus on pools or slower areas where trout tend to congregate during increasing water flows. – East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: In the canyon, anglers who braved the conditions did well on walleye. – Boysen Lake Marina.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: With all the thunderstorms, fishing is hit-and-miss. Locate the lake trout with a fish finder, park on top of them and use a heavy spoon or jig tipped with sucker meat. Rainbows are hitting standard trolling rigs. With cooler weather, lake trout fishing should pick up. – Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir: Rainbow trout continue to be caught midreservoir to the dam using cowbells or other attractors, tipped with worms, at depths primarily around 20 feet. Shoreline anglers are catching rainbows using worms and/or marshmallows. Walleye anglers continue catch fish throughout the south end and midreservoir areas using Slow Death rigs, worm harnesses or crankbaits. Vertical jigging for walleye on bay points and shelf transitions is producing some fish throughout the reservoir. Nice yellow perch are being caught while searching for walleye, but also try worms and a slip bobber near submerged vegetation. – FWP, Helena.
Clarks Fork, Wyo.: With the rains, the lower river dirtied but was fishing well with gray drakes and hoppers before the river rose. Use bigger, brighter hoppers on the lower river. The water temps are very good. Pale evening duns are out and a few BWOs. – North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Cooney Reservoir: All boat ramps are still usable. The campground expansion project is starting on the Red Lodge Creek campground, but the site is still open. The fishermen who were out between storms did fairly well trolling along the south shore for walleye. Shore fishing is slow for walleye. Trout fishing is slow. The best trout bait would be yellow and orange PowerBait. – Cooney State Park.
Deadman’s Basin: Fishing has been slow. – Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: Fishing was hit-and-miss for northerns and walleye. Most of the fish caught were eating-size. The PikeMasters Fun Day is Saturday. – Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Fishermen are taking walleye 20-30 feet deep off of the main lake points. Worm harnesses, crankbaits and jigs are all working. Northern pike and smallmouth fishing is really good. For smallmouth, fish the rocky points or face of the dam in 6-15 feet. Lake trout are 110-120 feet deep. A few 14-20 pound chinook salmon have been caught. For the salmon, use flashers and squids 70-75 feet deep off the face of the dam. – Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: Fish 15-25 feet of water with worm harnesses for 13-20 inch walleyes. Quite a few smallmouth are being caught. – Don’s, Lewistown.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: On Saturday there weren’t many fishermen with all the wind. Northern pike activity is constant, with fish ranging from 9-13 pounds. The walleye are sluggish, with a few eating-sized ones being boated. Smallmouth bass fishing is still hot. – Hell Creek Marina.
Gallatin River: It was a bit green from recent moisture. Dry fly fishing in the morning is good until approximately 10:30 a.m. Tricos are the most abundant bug in the morning. Stimulators with a dropper work midday. In the afternoon, nymphs like copper John, lightning bugs and small princes dropped under a dry fly or fished with rubber legs will catch trout. Brown trout are looking at streamers on cloudy afternoons. – Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is very good especially in the Devil’s Elbow area while trolling cowbells tipped with a worm. Black Sandy has produced some rainbows from shore while fishing with worms or PowerBait. Some small walleye are being caught in the Causeway and around York Bridge and the Causeway Bridge. Most walleye are being caught while using bottom bouncers with a worm. – FWP, Helena.
Holter Reservoir: Rainbows are being caught in the upper reservoir on flies or nymphs. Trolling cowbells throughout the rest of the reservoir has produced inconsistent results. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow with a few being caught on worms. The perch are really biting in the lower reservoir in 6-10 feet of water while using worms. A few walleye are being caught with the perch as well, but overall walleye fishing is slow. – FWP, Helena.
Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: There haven’t been many fishermen, so no new reports. – The Lake Stop, Buffalo.
Madison River: Hoot owl restrictions have been lifted on the lower river. Try a crayfish under a hopper or chubby on the lower stretch. There are reports of BWOs. On the upper river, there is action on hoppers and ants. Droppers to use include a prince or rubber leg. Sculpins are a good choice on cloudy days. – Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Martinsdale Reservoir: Trout fishing is OK with worms and PowerBait from the shore. – Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Missouri River, Below Holter: It is fishing well. Hopper fishing has improved and tricos are still taking trout. Caddis will entice trout. – Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: The catfish bite is improving. – Don’s, Lewistown.
Nelson Reservoir: A few fishermen are bottom-bouncing crawlers in 12-18 feet of water for walleyes. Fish crankbaits for northerns in 8-10 feet of water. – Westside Sports, Malta.
North Fork of the Shoshone, Wyo.: The lower river is muddy. On the upper river, there is 2 feet of visibility at Pahaska Tepee. The smaller fish are up high. Gray drakes are coming off, as are PMDs. The bigger fish are in the lower river, as there is more water. – North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Rock Creek: Runoff 2.0 has begun. Until this changes, dry fly fishing will be tough so focus on nymphs and buggers. Cast girdle bugs, rubber legs, bitch creeks, Montana stonefly nymphs and attractor nymphs like princes, copper John, pheasant tails, psycho, Montana princes or North Fork specials. This is a good opportunity to start throwing some streamers. – East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
Spring Creek: It is fishing well on PMDs, BWOs and Adams. – Don’s, Lewistown.
Stillwater River: It is high, muddy and fast. The flow was 1,700 cfs on Monday. When the river drops, pink and peach hoppers, assorted dry flies and streamers will work. – Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Tongue River Reservoir: Fishing pressure is light, but fishing remains good. On Saturday, a 10.1, 5.7 and 5.1 pound walleye were caught on the north end using worm harnesses. Some crappie have been picked up, but northern pike activity has slowed. Smallmouth bass fishing remains steady for 2-3 pound fish. This is the last weekend the marina will be open. – Tongue River Marina.
Yellowstone River, Columbus: When the river comes down, pink and peach hoppers, purple haze and streamers will work. A green copper John had been working. – Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Huntley: When it clears smallmouth fishing will be good. Use jigs and bright-colored tails. Catfish are still biting on minnows or crawlers. – Minnow Bucket, Huntley.
Yellowstone River, Livingston: BWOs have been working in the early mornings. Hopper action has slowed somewhat. On hot, bright days trout and whitefish are hitting nymph rigs. Streamer fishing is getting better each week as we approach brown trout spawning season. – Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.