Montana fishing report: Time to tie on a grasshopper

2014-07-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T07:03:04Z Montana fishing report: Time to tie on a grasshopperBy JOHN LETASKY jletasky@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

We are headed straight for grasshopper season.

Anglers are starting to use hopper imitations on the Clarks Fork and Shoshone River in Wyoming, along with the Missouri and Yellowstone in Montana.

For those who prefer to fish reservoirs, the Pines area at Fort Peck Reservoir is offering tremendous fishing for walleye. Nelson Reservoir also continues to fish well for walleye.

The Hell Creek men’s walleye tournament is Saturday and Sunday at Fort Peck Reservoir from Timber Creek to Crooked Creek East. For information, call Calvin Thomas at 557-2311 or 351-1617.

Ackley Lake: With the heat, the fish have moved deep and action has slowed. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh: Leeches have been the top bait. Crawlers are working, too. Neon yellow and neon green jigs are producing. Walleye and smallmouth bass have been caught. — Ok-A-Beh Marina.

Bighorn Lake, Wyo.: Smallmouth fishing continues to be good as well as the catfishing. There are a few saugers showing up. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Bighorn River: On Monday flows were reduced to 4,500 cubic feet per second as flows into Bighorn Reservoir continue their downward trend. Watch for more decreases throughout the week. With these lower flows, dry fly fishing has improved greatly. Water temperature is 59 degrees. We are seeing significant hatches of black caddis as well as other terrestrials. Best success has been using low profile black caddis such as slow-water caddis sizes 16-18 or black Hemmingway caddis (16-18). Also try black ants in (14-16). 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 in (18-20). All Ray Charles sowbug patterns are working. — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith.

Boulder River: It has dropped dramatically in the last week and is low enough to wade. Dry-fly fishing is the way to go for anglers that seek top-water excitement. Recommended patterns include chubby, pink pookies, hoppers, yellow or orange stimulators, yellow or royal parachute Madam X, caddis, PMD, BWOs, yellow Sally, royal Wulff, royal trudes, royal humpy, purple haze, as well as ants and beetles. A lethal two dry setup is a pink pookie up top, with a foam ant dropper. Nymph fishing is there. Nymph patterns that can be deadly right now include girdle bugs, bitchcreeks, black North Fork Specials, green or yellow psycho prince, blue or olive Montana prince, Batman, hare’s ears, pheasant tails, copper John, prince, tan caddis sparkle pupa, olive RS2 or yellow Sally nymphs. A dry-dropper combination is deadly as streamflows continue to decrease. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Boysen Reservoir, Wyo.: Use a pink or gold crawler harness with a crawler or leech in 16 to 18 feet of water for walleye. One can pull cowbells or crankbaits for trout. Silver or pink Shad Raps or Husky Jerks will also take walleyes. — Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyo.: Fishing has been a little slow still due to the higher water. A few walleye are showing up on lines, though. Trolling crawler harnesses and jigging off points have been best way to find the fish. With the hot, sunny days of late, fishing has been best at dust and dawn. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir: A few rainbow trout continue to be caught near the dam, around Cemetery Island and mid reservoir trolling attractors, tipped with worms, or using worms from shore. The walleye bite has been very good with consistent weather patterns and warmer water temperatures. Fish the south end of the reservoir by trolling worm harnesses, crankbaits or Slow Death rigs and try jigging bay points (orange or perch colors), in 5 to 45 feet of water, from mid reservoir to the dam. Yellow perch are being caught while chasing walleye. — FWP, Helena.

Clarks Fork, Wyo.: The lower river is still pretty high and a little off-color. The upper river is clear and fishable. Dry flies will work. Try an elk-hair caddis (size 14-16). Grasshoppers are starting to work. Yellow stimulators (12-14) and Adams (14-16) are good flies. Subsurface, try prince nymphs, beadhead hare’s ears or copper John, all in size 14-16. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cooney Reservoir: There aren’t many fishermen, but there are plenty of pleasure boaters. The best time to fish is 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. with boat fishermen catching both walleye and trout. A 20-inch rainbow was caught last week by a youth fishing from the bank. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin: Fishing has been slow. However, those catching trout are using silver-colored spoons or silver cowbells. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm: Walleye, smallmouth bass and northern are all striking presentations. Crayfish patterns, blue or silver are hot colors. Jigs, crankbaits and bottom bouncers all seem to be working equally. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek: Some fishermen had luck and others didn’t. In the Fourchette area, quite a few smallmouth bass were boated. Crappie, northern and walleye were also caught. Most species are being caught while anglers are bottom bouncing crawler harnesses for walleye. The fish are running between 21 to 24 feet of water. There is some action from the bank in the boat ramp area. Catfish anglers are using cut bait or crawlers. Spoons or crawlers from shore have produced a few pike. Be mindful of rattlesnakes while out fishing. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area: So far, this has been the best walleye fishing of the season in the Pines area. And overall, fishing has been really good with some really nice fish being boated. Target 26 to 32 feet of water for walleye. Jigs, crawler harnesses and crankbaits will all work. Leeches and crawlers are the top bait. Northern are biting everywhere. The lake trout are in 100 feet of water off the submerged islands of Haxby Point, York Island and Bear Creek. — Lakeridge Motel and Tackle, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay: At Devils Creek, fish in 10 to 25 feet of water and Lindy Rig or bottom bounce. Some are experiencing success running crankbaits in 10 to 15 feet of water. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek: Fishing is a little tougher for walleye. Pull bottom bouncers between 1-1.5 mph in 24 to 30 feet of water. Leeches or crawlers are the top baits. For northern, run crankbaits between 14 to 15 feet of water. Smallmouth bass fishermen will have unbelievable success in 12 to 14 feet of water around the sunken islands using jigs and a leech or minnow. — Hell Creek Marina, Jordan.

Gallatin River: It is fishing awesome with dry-fly fishing best in the canyon. Fish attractors, like a PMX or a chubby. In addition, dry caddis flies and yellow Sallies are good choices. With bigger dries, one can drop a lightning bug or pheasant tail. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir: Rainbow fishing has slowed down with some action happening around Black Sandy and White Sandy while trolling cowbells 20 to 25 feet deep in the mornings. A few rainbows are being caught from shore at Black Sandy on worms or marshmallows. Walleye fishing is good throughout the Causeway while using a jig tipped with a leech or worm. Unfortunately most walleye are small. The Causeway Bridge area has produced a few walleye from shore while using the jig and leech or worm combo. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir: Rainbow fishing is good in the lower reservoir from Split Rock to Holter Dam while trolling cowbells or yellow crankbaits 20 to 25 feet deep in the mornings. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Walleye fishing is fair throughout the reservoir with the best action occurring around Split Rock, Cottonwood Creek and the Sleeping Giant area. Using jigs or bottom bouncing has been equally productive in 10 to 15 feet of water. A good perch bite is occurring in shallow bays and around weed beds. — FWP, Helena.

Lake DeSmet, Wyo.: A 10-pound walleye was landed by a five-year-old fisherman trolling cowbells and baiting it with a scented plastic worm. One could also try and troll crawlers coated with PowerBait attractant. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.

Madison River: The lower river has warm water temperatures, which stresses the trout and can cause fish mortality so most anglers are avoiding it. The upper river is still fishing well, especially further up the valley. A chubby with a dropper is effective. For dry flies, tie on a yellow Sally or PMD. Some are using caddis. Overall, nymph fishing is best with a caddis pupa, pheasant tail or soft-hackle. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir: Try dragging cowbells with a two-way spinner tipped with a crawler. Little Panther Martins or Thomas Cyclones would work behind cowbells. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River, below Holter: The word great describes the fishing. Purple para Wulff (size 16-18) have produced, as have baetis and purple chubby (10-12). Hoppers are appearing and the season is just starting. Caddis have hooked some trout. Try and outrigger caddis or clown shoe caddis (14-16). For nymphs, tie on a Quasimodo (16-18), MFG (16-18) and zebra midges by the dam. A tailwater sowbug is an option. Nick’s Perch and Thin Mint will work for streamers. Olive is a good color for streamers. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge: The water is murky and catfish action is holding steady using cut bait or crawlers. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir: It is still fishing well pulling chartreuse worm harnesses on bottom bouncers in 12 to 22 feet of water for walleye. For northern pike, pull crankbaits on the shorelines. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek: It is time to fish as stream flows are still fast, but the water is clear. It is all on the table regarding what flies to throw. Dry-fly fishing is there using one’s favorite hopper, pink pookie, chubby Chernobyl, PMX, parachute Adams, purple haze, stimulators, Wulff, trudes, yellow Sally, PMDs and BWO. Nymph fishing is just as easy as far as which patterns to fish. Bread and butter nymphs like red or chartreuse copper John, Montana prince, Batman, lightning bugs, psycho prince, hare’s ears, pheasant tails, along with girdle bugs, rubber-legs and bitchcreeks will work. — East Rosebud Fly and Tackle.

Shoshone River, Wyo.: Fishing has improved with the next two weeks the time to fish. The water is clear and there is a shot at some big trout. Subsurface, try a big, dark bitchcreek, beadhead halfback, North Fork Special, or Pat’s stone (size 4-6). Use a trailer nymph in size 12-16 and use a bloody Mary, copper John, beadhead hare’s ear or pheasant tail. Up top, hoppers are starting to come on. Use a foam or deer-hair hopper with a dropper two to three feet below. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Spring Creek: It’s fishing well. Use caddis or black CDC. Nymphs are enticing trout. — Don’s, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: Flows are running slightly higher than normal, and the downward tick has flattened out a bit. Clarity is good throughout, particularly above Absarokee. The upper river has fished exceptionally well the past week or so. The typical big stimulator-attractor dry-dropper rig has been consistently taking fish. Suggested patterns are PMXs, Jack Cabe, fat Frank and stimulators for a top fly with a beadhead nymph like a copper John, hare’s ear, pheasant tail or prince nymph. There have been some PMDs in the early afternoon and a fluttering of caddis here and there later. If that’s the case, fish an appropriate emerger as a dropper. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir: A lot of crappie and walleye are being boated. Troll a worm harness for crappie, or try jigging with a crawler or leech. Both methods will work for walleye, too, along with trolling crankbaits in firetiger or redtiger. Flicker Shads are the best. Smallmouth bass are taking crankbaits. Or try jigging plastic worms for smallmouth. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus: Flows are running above normal for the date, but are on a downward trend and clarity is improving. In the main channel, it’s best to work a nymph rig that gets down in the current and depth. Try big ugly, rubber-leg stonefly nymphs, bitchcreeks, girdle bugs, San Juan worms and buggers on the edges. If there is decent visibility on the edges, try tossing streamers off the bank, or fish a big dry-dropper set up. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley: Blood shrimp is the best bait for catfish. The water is starting to clear and drop. Smallmouth are hitting both minnows and crawlers. The river is still running high and fast east of the confluence with the Bighorn. — Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River, Livingston: It is fishing great, especially through town. Dry-droppers are working. Try a chubby with a big prince nymph or rubber-leg below. Hoppers are starting to show up. One could try a hopper-dropper. Streamers are fishing well. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

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