Dry fly fishing on the Bighorn River during the afternoon black caddis hatch is the best so far this season.
There’s no reason to get up early, either, according to Duane Schreiner from the Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop. The best time to fish is from 2 to 4 p.m.
Water releases from Yellowtail Dam are keeping the flow steady at 2,500 cubic feet per second as other rivers around the state are quickly dropping as August’s dry spell continues.
There’s been no rain at Fort Peck Reservoir to help beat the heat, but anglers are still reporting good catches of the usual suspects — walleye, northern pike and bass with a few lake trout and chinook salmon mixed in. As the water is warming, anglers are fishing deeper and deeper.
In the high country, though, persistent rain has sent plugs of muddy water into the Yellowstone, Gallatin, Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone and the Shoshone rivers. Too bad a little of that moisture isn’t moving east a bit.
Ackley Lake: Hot weather means warm water means slow fishing. Try fishing deep early in the morning or late in the evening. — Don’s, Lewistown.
Bighorn Lake, Wyo.: Some walleyes are taking leeches and night crawlers fished 25 to 30 feet deep. Those venturing as far as Black Canyon are picking up a few trout. Watch out for the driftwood, which continues to be floating throughout the reservoir. — Pryor Creek Bait Co.
Bighorn River: Dry fly fishing is the best we have seen thus far this summer with significant hatches of black caddis as well as lots of terrestrials. The best dry fly fishing has been from 2-4 p.m. till dusk using low profile black caddis such as black slow-water caddis (size 16-18) or black Hemingway caddis (16-18). Also try black ants (14-16). Even though there are very few hoppers present, some fisherman have been having success on Fat Franks in tan or gold (10-12). The usual suspects in nymphing are San Juan worms as a lead fly (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). All Ray Charles sowbug patterns are working. Flows remain constant at 2,500 cfs. The water temperature is 60 degrees. Water conditions are excellent down to Mallard’s Landing. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith.
Boulder River: August means dry flies and the recommended natural patterns include spruce moths, stimulators, caddis, yellow Sallys, PMDs, BWOs as well as hoppers, ants and beetles. Attractor dries like chubby Chernobyls, parachute madam X, royal Wulffs, royal trudes, humpys and a purple haze are all effective surface patterns. For nymphing try a caddis sparkle pupa, RS 2s, girdle bugs, bitch creeks, rubber legs, copper Johns, hare’s ear, flashback pheasant tails, prince nymphs, psycho princes, Montana princes, lightning bugs, Batman as well as a simple San Juan worm. A hopper-dropper setup can be especially effective this time of year. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: Just when fishing was getting better, heavy rains again slowed fishing down a bit. A few smaller walleye are being caught, not much for size though. There were still a few reports of trout being caught, but you really have to work for them. Look for fishing to improve once the water clears. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir: A few rainbow trout continue to be caught by boat anglers near the dam, around Cemetery Island and midreservoir trolling attractors/flashers, tipped with worms. Shoreline anglers are doing well using worms at Magpie, Confederate and Duck Creek. The walleye bite continues to be good throughout the reservoir. Try fishing 20 to 25 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) in 5 to 45 feet of water, from midreservoir to the dam. For walleye, try a little deeper this time of year, but don’t overlook the shallow south end as it continues to produce fish. Some nice yellow perch are being caught while chasing walleye. — FWP, Helena.
Clarks Fork, Wyo.: Rain in the high country has muddied the water again. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Deadman’s Basin: Shore anglers seem to be doing better than the boaters by soaking worms and marshmallows. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: It’s a typical August fishery with the walley 20 to 35 feet deep taking worms and leeches. Fish are still being caught, including a 31-, 20- and 28-incher. Anglers are “catching the heck” out of northerns and smallmouth bass using crankbaits, spinners and spoons on the points and along the edges of weed lines and trees in 5 to 30 feet of water. Lake trout anglers are trolling 90 to 110 feet deep with downriggers at Haxby Point and York Island pulling blue, orange or red and white spoons. — Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: Walleye fishing is still good with lots in the 3- to 6-pound range hitting crankbaits, Lindy rigs and crawlers and leeches. Northerns and smallmouth bass are taking cranks and spoons. Lake trout fishing is excellent at 115 to 120 feet deep using flashers and squids or Evil Eye Flutter Spoons. A few salmon between 16 and 22 pounds have been boated. The chinook will take squid rigs about 11 inches behind a flasher in 60 to 80 feet of water. Or try spoons with no flasher in blue and green or chartreuse. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Walleye and pike are still biting in water about 20 to 25 feet deep, but where they are biting seems to vary depending on the wind and temperature. One 23-inch walleye was caught over the weekend. Usually the more sure bet is to fish around structure using worms and leeches. Toss crankbaits, spinners and worm harnesses for some good-sized bass and the occasional perch. Anglers are also still reeling in catfish. — Hell Creek State Park.
Gallatin River: A plug of mud from rain has moved through. There’s hopper action in the valley and spruce moths in the canyon. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is slow with a few being caught from shore at Riverside on worms or PowerBait and from boats while jigging with worms or trolling olive-colored crankbaits. Walleye and a few perch are being caught in the Causeway while using jigs and leeches. The Causeway Bridge area has produced a few walleye from shore while using a jig and worm combination. — FWP, Helena.
Holter Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is good in the upper reservoir around Gates of the Mountains while trolling cowbells tipped with a worm. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Walleye fishing is good with the best catches occurring at night around Split Rock using jigs and worms in 8 to 20 feet of water. Perch are everywhere with most fish 7 to 8 inches in length. — FWP, Helena.
Madison River: The lower river is still too hot to fish, starting out the morning just below a lethal 70 degrees. Fish on the upper river are getting picky because of all the pressure. Toss small caddis, pale morning duns, tricos and the occasional hopper. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Missouri River, below Holter: Hopper action is starting to kick in. Toss a purple chubby in size 12 if you have one, the pink ones will work, too, along with a purple paraWulff or rooster. Midge clusters, tricos, a CDC parachute emerger, an outrigger caddis and PMDs will also work. For nymphs try an MSG in 16 to 18, a Quasimodo, rainbow Czech nymph or Bloom’s wake fly. The water temp was 65 degrees and the flow 4,240 cfs on Monday. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Nelson Reservoir: Fish 35 to 40 feet deep using worm harnesses or jig over deep water. Anglers can also pull bottom bouncers or crankbaits. — Westside Sports, Malta.
North Fork of the Shoshone River, Wyo.: With rain falling almost every afternoon, fly anglers are scrambling to find clear water. The best bet is to go high up the drainage and fish a hopper and dropper or tandem nymph rig. Try club sandwiches or BLT hopper patterns. North Fork Special and prince nymphs are good choices. The creeks along Chief Joseph Pass are clear, like Sunlight. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Rock Creek: The dry fly fishing is solid using smaller stimulators, royal or yellow PMX, hoppers, pink pookies, chubbys, ants, beetles, caddis, yellow Sallys, PMDs, BWOs, royal or grey Wulffs, royal trudes, as well as the ever popular purple haze. The nymph fishing is also good using caddis pupa and emergers, red or chartreuse copper Johns, prince nymphs, hare’s ear, pheasant tails, Montana princes in blue, Batman, psycho princes, girdle bugs, rubber legs, or bitch creeks. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle
Spring Creek: The creek is fishing well with a lot of PMD action in the morning and evenings, as well as an evening caddis hatch. The brown trout in the creek are fat and sassy. — Don’s, Lewistown.
Stillwater River: The best fishing is in the morning. The typical big stimulator/attractor dry/dropper rig has been consistently taking fish. Suggested patterns are chubby Chernobyls, PMXs, Jack Cabe, fat Franks, Yellowstoner chubby, club sandwich and stimulators for a top fly with a beadhead nymph like a copper John, hare’s ear, pheasant tail or prince nymph. Fish have also been hitting small dries like a purple haze, royal Wulff or parachute Adams. There have been some PMDs as well as occasional caddis. Nymphing the deeper runs and inside rifle corners will produce, as well. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Tongue River Reservoir: Walleye are hanging out between 20 to 27 feet deep. Jig with crawlers or troll bottom bouncers, worm harnesses or crankbaits. A 13-pound northern was caught by a bass angler pulling a crankbait. A lot of 3 and 4 pound bass being taken on jigs baited with crawlers, pulling fire tiger or blue tiger crankbaits or tossing watermelon-colored platics. For crappie, try a 1/16-ounce tube tail jig or a Mister Twister. — Tongue River Marina.
Yellowstone River, Columbus: Action has picked up on the big dry flies like a chubby Chernobyl, fat Frank, Sheila hopper, Yellowstoner hopper, rubber leg Jack Cabe and PMXs. Purple, peach and pink are good body colors. Hopper patterns are starting to produce also. The streamer bite has been good, particularly earlier in the morning, on a variety of patterns such as the Grinch and electric goldfish. Dead drifting one of these streamers or a beadhead pepperoni yuk bug will produce, as well. Drop a nymph like a rubber-leg prince off the back. Or nymph with big, ugly rubber-leg stonefly nymphs, bitch creek, girdle bug, San Juan worms and buggers on the edges, deeper runs and inside riffle corners. On bright sunny days, the fishing usually slows by early afternoon. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Huntley: The catfish and smallmouth fishing have been good from Huntley east. From Hysham east the sauger, catfish and smallmouth are taking bladed jigs and a minnow or crawler. Cutbaits are picking up catfish. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.
Yellowstone River, Livingston: A mud plug passed through the Paradise Valley over the weekend. Now that the water has cleared, fishing is good with hopper-dropper rigs, streamers or a double nymph rig in the middle of the day. Try small princes, lightning bugs and PMD emergers. Green goblins and small woolly buggers are another option. — Montana Troufitters, Bozeman.