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Fishing report: Fat walleye being caught in the Crooked Creek area at Fort Peck Reservoir
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Fishing report: Fat walleye being caught in the Crooked Creek area at Fort Peck Reservoir

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Attison Craig

Attison Craig caught this 30-inch walleye in the Crooked Creek area at Fort Peck Reservoir recently. 

BILLINGS — Even with the heat, the Big Hole River is offering fantastic brown trout fishing. 

If you are in the Yellowstone Park area, head to Hebgen Lake for the opportunity to catch some large brown and rainbow trout.

Rock Creek is fishing great. The water couldn’t be any better as flows are perfect, wadeable and clear. Your chances of catching a fat trout using a variety of flies are second to none.

For the chinook salmon bite, the Fort Peck Dam area has been fishing decently throughout the hot conditions.

Several nice, 30-inch walleye have been caught in the Crooked Creek area at Fort Peck Reservoir. A 30-inch walleye was reeled in by Attison Craig bottom bouncing with a purple Smiley Blade worm harness.

Top picks

Big Hole River — We have been enjoying fantastic fishing here recently. Currently the flows around Melrose are 1,230 cfs. We are having hatches of PMDs, caddis, yellow Sallies and nocturnal stoneflies. Dry fly fishing in the early morning hours on nocturnal stoneflies has been good and then PMDs around 10 a.m. have had the fish looking up. You will have yellow Sallies midday and caddis in the evening. Streamer fishing in the shallow riffles is producing great brown trout right now through the day and even in the bright sun. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Gallatin River — The river from Gateway to Big Sky is the place to be. The water flows are down and the fishing has been solid. If you head this way you can get them on streamers, nymphs, and dries. However it’s certainly dry dropper season and this is a tough rig to beat this time of year. Chubbies, ants, and hoppers are great dries for this rig as they can hold up a fairly heavy nymph. For a dropper, fish are striking attractor mayflies, caddis, PMDs, stones and soft hackles. We are also starting to see the first of the nocturnal stones and spruce moths should pop any day. If you are planning to go down low on this river please stick to fishing it in the early morning as the water temps in the afternoon have peaked above safe fishing temperatures. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — The chinook salmon are biting decently with Brad Bait Cups and Beevis Trolling Flies. Lake trout are biting at 80-100 feet of water with spoons and Beevis Trolling Flies. The walleye are being caught in 14 feet of water using crawlers and leeches. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — The walleye fishing has been phenomenal. Three 30-inch walleyes were caught over the weekend. From shallow 3-8 feet deep to 18-30 feet deep the fishing is terrific. Anglers are bottom bouncing with night crawlers. The hot color this week is purple. Anglers were also puling cranks successfully. The fish are deep right now due to the rising temperatures. Anglers are very pleased. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Rock Creek (East) — These waters are in prime form right now. The flows are wadeable, clear and fishing dry flies so get out there. A fly Angler can fish anyway he or she chooses right now and that includes Dry’s, Nymphs or Streamers. Recommended Dry Flies in late July include tan or olive Caddis (size 14), Yellow Sallies (16), as well as orange or yellow Stimulators (12-16). Hoppers are beginning to work so dust off your Pink Pookies, Chubby Chernobyl’s, and Parachute Hoppers and drift some big bugs. Most Hopper sizes can be fished in sizes 8-12. Summertime Nymphs: Stone Fly Nymphs like Girdle Bugs, Bitch Creeks and Red Fox Squirrel Nymph all in sizes 8-10. A Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail in sizes 8-14 or Caddis Sparkle Pupa (14) never disappoint. Of course Copper Johns in red, or chartreuse, Prince Nymphs, or the famous Bat Man Nymph are all solid recommendations. Euro Nymphs like Perdigon and Red Tag patterns are more effective than any traditional fly patterns. Streamers are an extremely effective way to catch the brown trout of your season. Sparkle Minnows, Sex Dungeons and Barely Legal Streamer patterns are all you need. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings

Montana

Ackley Lake — The muskie action is improving. Spinner and crankbaits have been working really well. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The waters have reached their crest. The mornings fished well all through the period as irrigators needed more water in the hot July sun and rising flows hit at midday. The afternoons were off, as debris and some downright large pieces of wood entered the water column by afternoon. The river dropped a little today, and the fish responded with gusto. Expect high but stable flows over the next week, and dropping flows with stellar dry fly fishing as we enter August and throughout the month. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — The smallmouth bite has consistent on tubes and top water baits such as: Poppers, Frogs and Spooks. — Scheels, Billings.

Bighorn River — These waters are getting into prime summer mode. The PMDs have made their appearance providing for some excellent dry fly fishing. We're starting to see some caddis as well, and expect that to get better and better. Nymphing has been very good with Carpet Bugs, Split Case PMDs, Pheasant Tails, Ray Charles and Eddie Vedders. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.

Bitterroot River­­— It’s going to be a hot week this week. This river has plenty of water so that should help, but getting out early will be the key to better fishing. Evening fishing will be tough with temps in the 90s. The upper river is still fishing well and will have cold water in it through this heat wave. Some Bitterroot Stones still around, yellow Sallies, PMDs and caddis. The middle river to Missoula is more of a hopper/dropper game with a few PMDs and caddis still around. Fish are starting to take small hoppers like Yeti, More or Less, Morrish and Chernobyl Hoppers with a Perdigon dropper. A few PMD spinners will be around if you see fish sipping something, throw on a rusty spinner or PMD spinner. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Blackfoot River — Spruce moths are out. It’s one of our favorite hatches of the summer. This is a morning thing when the moths come out of the trees to go to the water. The fish love them. Put on a spruce moth in the morning like Potter’s Moth, MFC’s Spruce Moth or even a yellow PMX. Later in the day switch to a Hopper/Dropper rig.  We are starting to fish small hoppers even. Drop a Perdigon, Hollow Point or Spanish Bullet off the back. A few PMDs are still around and in the evening we should see caddis, until it gets really hot next week. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Boulder River — The water flows are good for the wade fisherman. PMDs, yellow Sallies, caddis flies, spruce moths and terrestrials are all good choices. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — The walleye fishing continues to be good mid-reservoir around White Earth and Goose Bay in 20-30 feet of water while using bottom bouncers or crankbaits with chartreuse and green being the colors of choice. The ponds are also producing a few walleyes. A few rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells or crankbaits 20-25 feet deep around White Earth and the north end. An occasional rainbow is being caught from shore while using worms around White Earth and Goose Bay. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Fork River, Deer Lodge — Anglers fishing with caddis and terrestrials has been effective recently. Good nymphs to use are Ray Charles (16), Sow Bugs, Superflash Pheasant Tails (14-18), red or chartreuse Copper Johns (14), SJ Worms (14-16), Olive Scuds. Streamers to use are Lemon Drop, Sculpzilla and Miller’s Brew Time. Dries to use are Missing Link Caddis (16-18), Purple Haze (16-18), and Rocky Mountain Mint (16-18). — The StoneFly Fly Shop, Butte.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — It’s going to be hot this week. If you’re going fishing, get out early to get the best fishing of the day. We have plenty of water to help through this hot spell, but it’s still good to get out early. Evening fishing will be tough with the temps in the 90s. Hoppers are becoming more of an option with Morrish, More or Less, and Rainy’s Grand hoppers. Drop a Perdigon, Jig Prince, PT, Rubberlegs or Tungsten Reckoner off the back.  A few PMDs are still out with some spinners being sipped and caddis are an option as well. We will see if the heat affects them at all. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Clark Fork River, St. Regis — The river is fishing decent. The water blows out in the afternoon. Anglers should try get out as early as possible for optimal fishing. — Joe Cantrell Outfitting, St. Regis.

Cooney Reservoir — The water level on the reservoir is going down, the water temperature remains in the upper 60s. It seems the trout have stopped biting. The afternoon bite has been productive for walleye and perch. Leaches are still doing the trick. Rapalas or jig raps are producing in deeper waters. Not many groups are catching limits, just one fish every couple hours. The recreational boaters are out in force, so try later in the evenings or at night. — Cooney State Park

Flathead Lake (North) — Lake trout are biting cut plugs with maple sausage. Anglers troll in about 30-60 feet of water. The whitefish are starting to bite in a few areas so be sure to have some whitefish jigs at the ready. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Flathead Lake (South) — Huge bass have been reported at Rocky Point. The perch bite has been picking up along East Shore and at Elmo and Big Arm (25-30 feet of water) as well. Finley Point is also producing using whole fish setups. Dead Man's Point is sporadically producing lake trout in 45-60 feet of water along with some whitefish using Green Rattle D Zastors. Cromwell East and Blue Bay in 40-60 feet of water is producing lake trout. City Docks (closest to bridge) has been producing smallmouth bass using small Rattles and Flicker Shads. Bottom weight setups are producing perch as well. Big lake trout are hitting at Safety Bay in about 160 feet of water. Yellow Bay is producing smallmouth bass and cutthroats are being caught where the creek comes in with Mepps and perch setups. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Flathead River — The waters above the lake are still high and muddy. Smallmouth bass have been reported at Sloan's Bridge.— Zimmer Tackle, Pablo

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — The northern pike bite has been best boating south while presenting crankbaits. The walleye have been elusive and are migrating north right now.  — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — The water conditions are good. The pike and bass bite has been great bottom bouncing, jigging and trolling. The walleye fishing has slowed a bit. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — Preferred fishing methods on the reservoir are: fly fishing, spinning and bait casting. The best times to fish are late evening to early morning (10 p.m.-2 a.m.). — Hook and Bullet.

Georgetown Lake — Overall, the kokanee, brook and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to decent. Best techniques are stripping leech patterns, or using callibaetis nymphs, Damselfly nymphs, Scuds, dead-drifting Chironomids and sow bugs. The southeast shoreline is open. The wind has been picking up midday but calms down in the evenings. — Flint Creek Outdoors, Phillipsburg.

Glacier National Park — The west entrance to the park is open to Avalanche Creek. Expect temporary closures at either Lake McDonald Lodge or the foot of Lake McDonald due to full parking lots and congestion. Non-motorized boats are allowed only. Areas of the North Fork, including the roads to Kintla and Bowman Lakes are open as well. The following areas are closed to fishing: Kintla Creek between Kintla Lake and Upper Kintla Lake, Upper Kintla Lake, Akokala Lake, Bowman Creek above Bowman Lake, Logging Creek between Logging Lake and Grace Lake, Cracker Lake, Slide Lake and the impounded pond below the lake. The following creeks are closed for their entire length: Ole, Park, Muir, Coal, Nyack, Fish, Lee, Otatso, Boulder, and Kennedy Creeks, North Fork of the Belly River, North Fork of the Flathead River within 200 yards of the mouth of Big Creek. For more regulations information, visit https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/fishing.htm — GNPS

Hauser Reservoir — A few walleye are being picked up by anglers slip bobber fishing from shore at the Causeway and pitching jigs or trolling crawler harnesses inside the Causeway Arm. Anglers trolling cowbells and Wedding Rings tipped with crawlers around 15-20 feet down are catching some nice rainbows between York Bridge and White Sandy. Boat anglers are picking up a few walleye below Canyon Ferry Dam while pitching perch pattern jigs along the shorelines near weed beds. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The lake has been good the last few days, with positive reports from both the Madison and Grayling Arms. Look for a warm, calm day, and expect to see plenty of large rainbows and browns gulping on the surface. Callibaetis Sparkle Duns, Deer Hair Spinners, Razor Mayflies and Foam Spinners all in a size 16 will continue to be go-to patterns, with Driskill's Callibaetis Nymphs and Split-Case PMDs in size 16 being excellent choices for dropper nymphs. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Holter Reservoir — Some nice rainbows are showing up in the canyon near Gates of the Mountains. Anglers trolling cowbells or crankbaits above suspended fish are doing well. Anglers fishing weed beds are finding some nice perch while pitching small jigs tipped with crawlers into the weeds in 10-20 feet of water on the lower end of the reservoir. The walleye action has slowed a bit but a few are still being picked up while tolling bottom bouncers, running slip bobbers and leeches or vertical jigging near Cottonwood Creek and on the lower end of the reservoir. — FWP, Helena.

Kootenai River — Discharge from the Libby Dam is now at 10,000 cfs and the river is in great shape. The water temps are terrific. Dry fly action is outstanding throughout the entire day. Caddis and PMDs continue to pop later in the afternoon each day depending on the section. If you see bugs, you’ll likely see rising fish. And they’re hungry this time of year. Make a good presentation and they’ll eat a Parachute Adams (14) or an Elk-Hair Caddis (14) perfectly well. You could surely run a dry/dropper rig all day if you wanted.  Depending on what stretch your fishing, you will see bugs. A Purple Chubby (12), or Bugmeister with a BH Pheasant Tail (16) will roll nicely if that’s your preference. Nymphing is off the charts. Water temperatures are warming up and trout are feeding more aggressively. Remember to get bugs down and keep them down. Keep a keen eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, lift. Look for fish in slower currents, buckets, tailouts, and especially around cover and down rocky runs. Slip your bugs above and especially below boulders in the cushions as fish will be concentrated in soft pockets. Also, water temps will likely be a few degrees warmer as you get downstream from the Libby Dam. Be brave and confident. Get out the bigger rods and throw streamers. Fish streamers slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.

Lake Frances — Fishing is still slow due to the muddy conditions. — Roberts Bait & Tackle, Great Falls.

Lake Koocanusa — The rainbow fishing is slow. The kokanee bite is fair. There is really no hot color right now (bait). The fishing overall has slowed up a bit. — Koocanusa Resort and Marina, Libby.

Lake Mary — The kokanee bite has improved this week. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Madison RiverLower — The lower is running at 69 degrees out of the dam and much warmer around Blacks Ford. If you do happen to head this way please fish early, get fish in quickly and handle fish as little as possible. Pinching your barbs to get a quick release is a good call also. Dry fly fishing early with hoppers, attractors and Caddis should get you into fish and keep you out of the moss. Crayfish, worms, soft hackles, caddis pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our best option when nymphing the lower. The tube hatch is in full force also, so plan accordingly. This is the first year for hoot owl restrictions from July 15 to Aug. 15. The daily closure will run from 2 p.m.-midnight. This closure covers Warm Springs fishing access down to the confluence. This closure doesn't include Bear Trap canyon. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The upper has been fishing well these last couple days with nymphs, dries, and streamers. The river is getting low and clear. Focus more on mid-river structure to find the nicer fish. Fish have lots of food options right now, so this is the time of year when it pays off to switch up flies often until you find what they are keying in on. A Dry Dropper rig has been a great method. Don't be afraid to go small with your dropper nymph, it can sometimes be the difference between catching fish and simply fishing. Hoppers, stones, ants, yellow Sallies, caddis and PMDs are out depending on what stretch of the river you are on. Streamer fishing has been hit or miss but if the clouds roll through there should be some nice fish on the chase. Varney Bridge is open to traffic. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Marias River — Water conditions are improving as is the fishing. — Roberts Bait & Tackle, Great Falls.

Martinsdale Reservoir — The fishing has been slow this week. The expected cooler weather should bring in better opportunities. — John Scally, Martinsdale.

Missouri River, below Holter — The river is fishing really good right now. We still have some PMDs around, but tricos and caddis are the main hatches going on right now. Nymphing has been steady. The fishing at the Gates of the Mountains (LOG) has been steady. Tailwater Sow Bugs and PMD nymphs are working the best in the river and Black Balanced Leeches and Chironomids in the lake. Dries that are working the best are: Film Critic PMD (16), Challenged PMD (16), and Ninch’s Handman PMD (16). Nymphs and Streamers: 3-T Jigged Mosassin A-PMD (14-18), 3-T Jigged Mosassin A-MFG (14-18), and Psycho May PMD (14-18). — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, PN Bridge — Catfish, sauger and walleye have recently been caught here. Night crawlers have been the bait of choice this week. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Pablo Reservoir — The pike and bass action is doing well using dark tubes. The weeds are up. Dark plastic worms and night crawlers are also working well. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Polson Bay — The water is still running high and fast. Big perch have been reported, just not a lot of them. Bait fish setups are working best. Smallmouth bass in various sizes are there but being elusive. The perch are biting at 25-feet of water anywhere there is lake trout. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

­Rock Creek (West) — These waters will fish well into this heat wave with plenty of water in it and the water staying colder than our bigger rivers. Spruce moths are out in the mornings and making for some great dry fly fishing. Potter’s Moth, MFC’s Spruce Moth or a cream Elk Hair fished in the mornings is doing the trick. In the afternoons switch over to a small hopper/dropper rig with a Morrish hopper (18) and Tungsten Jig Nymph. Caddis in the evenings are still going off. We will see if the heat does anything to them. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Spring Creek — The water is clear has been fishing really well. Browns and rainbows have been caught using nymphs and dry flies. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — The water flows continue to drop. The upper river is pretty bony for float fishing, so is only recommended for a light load and experienced oarsmen. The fish are eating the big dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabe and smaller size chubbies in the early morning to midafternoon. Dropper nymphs like smaller size Prince Nymphs and Red Copper Johns, and Lil’ Spankers are picking up fish as well. Straight nymphing with a double nymph setup of a bigger rubber leg like a Girdle Bug or Pat’s Rubberleg along with a smaller beadhead nymph has been productive as well. Some PMDs have been sporadically coming off midmorning, so a PMD nymph as a dropper is picking up fish as well as a small dry pattern dropper. There may be an afternoon lull in the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon, look for caddis. A smaller size stimulator should get some action. Another good combination has been to fish a double dry setup with a Purple Haze as a lead spotter fly trailed by a Jack Cabe (14) or stimulator. Stillwater fish love the Jack Cabe. The rubberleg variant has been effective as a big dry pattern. The water temperatures on the lower river are heating up, so play and land fish promptly. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Swan Lake — The pike fishing has been slow recently. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Tiber Reservoir — The walleye bite has improved. While crankbaits, spinners, and leeches have been the baits of choice. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — The fish have been eating the big bug. Hopper patterns like a Fat Frank or Chubby in peach or tan size 6-10 have been working well. Try fishing a double hopper setup with a smaller hopper pattern like an Otter Hopper or parachute hopper trailed off of the bigger pattern. During the afternoon, fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water will produce. Nymph fisherman should have success with a big rubberleg fished down deep. Also try dead drifting buggers. Fish are being found for the most part in moving water that has some definition and along gravel bars.  Now is a good time to hit the Stone and fish hoppers before the fish have been inundated with them. Water temperatures are heating up, so play and land fish promptly. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — These waters are in great shape. Catfishing is very good. Minnows, shrimp and cut bait are working best. Bass fishing in the Huntley area is picking up. Jig minnows and crankbaits for bass. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — This river is running around 4,690 cfs but still proceed with caution when floating as wave trains and hydraulics will be nasty in some sections. Please check water temperatures before you float, as certain areas are getting up to 70 degrees. Hoppers, Stoneflies, caddis, drakes, PMDs and worms are all on the menu depending on which section you are in. Midday has been fishing a little tough with the high sun and lack of clouds lately. Morning Chubbie-droppers for the Nocturnals, and afternoon hopper-dropper rigs tight to the bank have resulted in some nice fish hitting the net, along with lots of whitefish on the dropper. We have had some good reports from anglers getting fishing on streamers as well. Try stripping small and flashy streamers through the faster water. The evening caddis hatch has been great and will have lots of fish looking up. Shorter nymph rigs with some serious split shot have also been productive. Also don’t overlook seams below islands, as lots of fish will be holding there. Before you go, be sure to check out your boat ramp options, most are in good shape but some tend to change quite a bit after the runoff. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — The catfish bite has been consistently good. The sturgeon have been hitting on worms. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.

Wyoming

Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — The water is clear. Dock fishing has produced trout, smallmouth bass, sauger and plenty of catfish. Near the state line, anglers are still catching walleye and bass. Minnows are the best bait right now. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dry action later in the day on caddis and midges. We are having great success on float trips at Wedding of the Waters to Thermopolis now. Lots of grass and moss now due to the increasing water temps. This can be a nuisance but we deal with it every year July through September. The water flows are at 1,403 cfs. Flies: Nymphs, Zebra midges, San Juan Worms, Yum Yum Scud, pink Soft Hackle sow bug, Yuk Bugs, Pats Rubberlegs, Jig-head nymphs. midge pupa, wire worm, and small North Fork Specials in black or tan. Streamer patterns, Leeches, Woolly Buggers and Cone-Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies, Sex Dungeons and Muddler Minnows are also taking trout. The hatches popping right now are caddis and midges. Cicadas and hoppers are getting attention in the Wind River Canyon area and now on the float into Thermopolis. Dries: Griffith’s Gnats, Rojo Midge, Parachute Adams, Hemingway caddis, Elk-Hair caddis, Dave’s Hopper, and Wades Natural Horror. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Copper and silver spoons and spinners have been effective. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — The (upstream from Painter Bridge to Montana state line) main stem of the river is dropping in flow and much more fishable. The upper river is still swift and difficult to wade in many places once you get below Crazy Creek. Please do not try floating this section, even in a kayak. There are waterfalls and drop-offs one cannot see from the road. Above Crazy Creek, the river is much easier to navigate for wade fishermen. Beadhead nymphs (8-14) are working well. There is dry fly action on attractor patterns such as large royal trudes, parachute Adams, royal Wulff and yellow stimulators. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lower Shoshone — The water flows are at 1,080 cfs. Buffalo Bill Reservoir is completely full, so the BuRec has to release more water to keep the dam from breaching. The water quality is getting better as the flows drop and Buffalo Bill Reservoir waters clear. Fish the canyon and the section through town. Wade carefully if in the canyon or swifter sections through town. Rafts, not driftboats, are recommended at these flows. Caddis, and golden stoneflies are out in the canyon. Some action on these flies in the slower sections. Not much dry fly action due to flows below town. Wet flies: Purple and Peacock Prince, San Juan Worms, Pat’s Rubberlegs, black Girdle Bugs and black North Fork Specials. Streamers: Orange blossom, black, brown or dark olive Zonkers, dark Sculpinators, JJ Special conehead, Black Peanut Envy, dark Sex Dungeons, black or brown crystal buggers and other dark streamers that have a lot of hackle or movement. — North Fork Anglers, Cody. 

North Fork of the Shoshone — The water flows are at 1,060 cfs and are rapidly dropping on the river now. The water quality is improving. Guided trips have done well even though the water is still high. The river has cleared, but flows are swift and heavy in the Wapiti Valley. Hatches: Green Drakes, caddis, yellow Sallies, golden stoneflies. Hoppers are out on the lower river through Wapiti Valley. Evening caddis and Yellow Sally activity is good the entire length of the river. Flies: Wet — larger black North Fork Specials, Fat bastard, Epoxy stone, double beaded stones, Pat’s Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugs, all in sizes 2-8. Dries: Tan, purple or gold Chubby Chucks, Green Drake Wulffs, Parachute Green Drakes, Royal Trudes, Royal Wulff. — North Fork Anglers, Cody. 

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns have been very effective this time of year. Beadhead nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kick boat or float tube also works well. Scuds work best if fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damsel flies are out right now. Anglers should fish damsel nymphs, soft hackled bloody Mary and midge pupae for the best results. On the lower, larger streamers are effective on the splake and tiger trout. In shallower water try, leeches, scuds, beadhead nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-Tie Midges, wire worms, hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park — The Yellowstone above the falls have been mixed. The water is still on the high side, and it seems the hatches have been inconsistent here, with some PMDs and green drakes providing good fishing on certain days, while other days not much seems to happen. The good news, however, is that when the hatches are on, anglers are reporting that there seem to be plenty of fish in the river. Try PMD Sparkle Duns (16) and PFD Parachutes (16), Green Drake Sparkle Duns (12) and CDC Para-Spinners (12), (10) purple and (14) pink Chubby Chernobyls, pink Thunder Thighs (10-14), and Longhorn Beetles (10). The Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte continue to fish well. It sounds like PMDs are the main hatch here, but a few Green Drakes continue to trickle off and provide some solid fishing, too. It's definitely terrestrial time here also, so have plenty of foam flies. #10 Longhorn Beetles (10), Stubby Ants (12-14) and pink Thunder Thighs Hoppers (14) and Morrish Hoppers will all be great choices, along with PMD (16) and Green Drake Sparkle Duns (12) and Razor Mayflies. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Email Mario Small at msmall@billingsgazette.com

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Welcome to this year’s final week of Billings Gazette fishing report. It has been a solid year of fishing throughout the Big Sky.

Get your tackle and gear in order over the winter and we will be back next spring for another great Montana fishing season.

Meanwhile, here is are the top picks.

This week the Big Hole River is fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you still can.

The sauger bite is picking up near the state line if you’re on the Big Horn River.

For a sure thing, head to the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir for a fat kokanee, remember limit is 35 daily.

The rainbow action has picked up recently at Holter Reservoir. Head to Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant.

The Yellowstone River in the Huntley area is producing some nice sauger and bass on minnows and crawlers.

Top picks

Big Hole River — These waters are fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you can, as it will be streamer season before you know it. For now, hoppers, ants, caddis and Tricos are out, with ants being the hottest item on the menu. On cloudier days BWOs are also making an appearance. A hopper with an ant or dropper has been very productive as fish are looking up. Streamer fishing has been solid and we have had good reports on both small and larger streamers. Yellow, white, olive and black are all working depending on the conditions that day. Smaller flashy streamers have been getting eats when the sun is high and bright. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — The sauger bite is picking up by the state line in about 15 feet of water jigging and trolling crankbaits. Some small mouth have been caught just not a lot of them. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir — The snagging season for kokanee salmon opened Sept. 1 and will run through Oct. 31. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. Anglers are starting to pick up quite a few fish and the action should continue to get better throughout the month. Snagging near the Pump House and the Outlet has been pretty productive and popular and snagging near the inlet has been producing the best salmon numbers lately. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbows action was pretty good over the weekend. Most fish were picked up while out trolling Cowbells tipped with crawlers in the canyon from the Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant. Rainbow anglers are also picking up some nice fish from shore at the Departure Point and the Gates of the Mountains with crawlers and PowerBait. Perch action is still pretty good. The best bite has been between Split Rock and the Power Lines. Pitching jigs around weed beds in 10-12 feet of water is working well. Small green, orange or black jigs tipped with crawlers are popular choices. Walleye fishing was slow over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Bass and sauger fishing in the Huntley area has been very good. Minnows, crawlers and soft plastics have been working very well. The catfishing has remained steady. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Montana

Ackley Lake — The smoke has affected the fishing a little by mimicking cloud cover. The fishing overall has slowed down a bit. Hopefully things will improve with better weather. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The action has slowed down dramatically. We are having tough fishing from the Dam down to Barretts. The flows have dropped and the water coming out of the reservoir is off color and tons of moss is floating down stream. It is hard to fish anything other than a dry fly and maybe a streamer. If you throw any nymphs you will picking up a moss salad. Hopefully this improves but for now we suggest fishing elsewhere. — Sunrise Fly Shop.

Bighorn River — The fishing has been very good on the overall. We are seeing a fair amount of grass growth on the Upper 3, making the mid-lower river a better option.  Nymphing has been the most productive overall with Sow bugs (Carpet Bugs, Rays), Scuds, Worms (Chenille and wire) and some Caddis Pupa (PT's, poodle sniffers) here and there. The Tricos have shown up, but we haven't seen a whole lot of big fish looking up for them. Not a whole lot of dry fly options at the moment. Streamer fishing has been great on the cloudier days, but good overall. Smaller buggers and leech patterns are your best options. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.

Bitterroot River ­­— These waters are fishing well and the smoke from fires has actually helped by producing artificial clouds. The lower section is seeing consistent Trico fishing with spinners (20-22). A few Hecubas are hatching and a size 10-12 Bindle Chute, Lazer Pointe Drake, or Flash Cripple will get the job done. Hopper fishing continues to produce in the afternoons. Streamer fishing is another great option with the artificial clouds. Don’t forget to play with your retrieves from the dead drifting to stripping fast to see what they want. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Blackfoot River — These waters are fishing well this week. The smoke from the fires is producing a cloud cover effect. A few Tricos are out in spots in the later morning and afternoon as the temps cool down. A size 18 P-Haze or Adams with a Trico Spinner or dun off the back will help you track your Trico better. Hoppers in tan, pink or yellow with a San Juan, Jig Nymph, Rubberlegs or Copper John off the back. Streamer fishing is also another great option. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Boulder River — The water has dropped significantly. With the warmer weather a chubby or stimulator with an attractor mayfly nymph below is a good bet. Good reports of pink hopper and purple water walker have been coming in. With the cooler night, BWOs are out as well. The nymph and streamer game has picked up nicely. Try running a dark colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper. For streamers, stay on the small size in natural colors. Be careful wading. The river is still cold and slippery. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Walleye fishing has slowed down. A few successful anglers reported bottom bouncing and using jigs near Hole-In-The-Wall, Confederate and from Hellgate to Avalanche in 20 to 40 feet of water. Shore anglers are catching some walleye at Confederate in the mornings and rainbows in the evenings. Shore anglers are catching yellow perch on worms north of the Silos. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — These waters are fishing great right now and the smoke cloud cover is helping the bugs hatch and fish rise. Tricos around noon to early afternoon are hatching consistently west of town. Light tippets and Tricos (20-22) are the name of the game. Presentation matters more than the fly at this point. Drag free, fly first presentations are a must. We are starting to see a few Mahoganies and Hecuba’s as well. Hopper/Dropper fishing is good in the afternoon with your favorite hopper and a San Juan, Jig Nymph or Rubberlegs off the back.  Streamer fishing will continue to be good with the smoky cloud cover. Smaller white or olive streamers are great on the Clarkfork like Zonkers, Mason’s Junior, Jewel Thief’s and Sparkle Minnows. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Cooney Reservoir — The cooler nights have dropped the water temperature down into the low 60s. Overall, the reservoir’s water has stopped dropping. All boating docks remain available for use. The fish cleaning station in Red Lodge Arm Campground will close after this weekend. Trout are being caught across the reservoir with worms and corn. Perch have been caught from the shore. Anglers have been jigging for walleye in the evening. — Cooney State Park.

Flathead Lake (North) — Lake trout are being caught jigging large Glow Tails and White Jigs in deeper water along ledges and shelves. Spoons are also effective on fair weather days, trolling in shallow rocky water. The whitefish bite is slow. The reports for them are few and far between. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Flathead Lake (South) — The whitefish bite never really caught on this year. The lake trout are being caught in 60 to 90 feet of water, but they are staging to spawn in 180 feet. There are a lot of perch fry in the weed beds. This has made for excellent perch (8-10.5 inches) fishing. From now until the ice forms, the fishing will slow down. The lake trout fishing will continue to get better on through their spawning season till the end of November. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Flathead River — The trout have been actively feeding, leading to fair success lately on the river. Grab your favorite spinner or Thomas Cyclone spoon and hit the bank. The whitefish should start working their way upriver in the next couple weeks, so grab some Anklebiters and Whitefish Jigs. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Salmon fishing is really slow right now. The lake trout bite is also slow. There has been a decent pike bite farther back in the Bays pitching spoon and pulling crankbaits. The walleye bite is on the slow side with jigging wraps and minnows in 25-35 feet of water. The small mouth are being caught in 30-40 feet of water with Slip Bobber minnows. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Gallatin River —These waters are a great option for fishing currently. The early fall allows an angler to fish their preferred method, whether it be dries, nymphs or streamers, the option is wide open. On any given day you might have to use each of these tactics. Hoppers and other terrestrials are tapering off, but dry hopper rigs are still picking up fish here and there. Most anglers are digging out their bobbers, as the nymph bite has been very consistent. A darker colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper is hard to beat right now. Other popular choices include caddis pupa, soft hackles, mayfly attractors, worms and midges. Streamer fishing has picked up and should continue to get better. Stick to smaller steamers in olive, white and black. A sink tip or an extra split shot or two can certainly help . You may see and abundance of green algae right blow Big Sky. Above Big Sky or in the lower canyon may be a better option for fishing if you are in this area. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Georgetown Lake — The best techniques here are stripping leech patterns, callibaetis nymphs, scuds, and dead-drifting chironomids and sow bugs. Try an Adams or callibaetis is a size 16. Anywhere you can put a fly will work. Sight fishing is 1-3 feet of water is optimal. The best time to fish is in the early morning or late evening. Fishing will be good through the fall until the ice is on. The wind this week will pick up mid-day but will calm down in the evenings. Best fly patterns: callibaetis adults and nymphs, leeches, scuds, sow bugs, chironomids, and baitfish patterns. — Flint Creek Outdoors, Phillipsburg.

Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows were caught over the weekend. Most are being picked up around York Bridge, White Sandy and Black Sandy while out trolling Cowbells with Wedding Rings 10-20 feet down in the water column. Shore anglers are also picking up a few rainbows around Black Sandy and the Causeway Bridge as well with plain crawlers and marshmallows. Very few walleye and perch were seen over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The window is closing fast on the dry fly opportunities. There are still a few bugs out there but they are coming later in the day and aren't lasting long. A few of the guys have been doing ok with black buggers and Barr's Boufaces up in the Madison Arm, where some fish have staged before they make their run up into the park. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Kootenai River — The Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 8,000 cfs to 7,000 cfs on Sept. 13 over two hours then drop from 7,000 cfs to 6,000 cfs on Sept. 14 and will hold through the end of Sept. The water temp is at about 56 degrees and the clarity is terrific. The water is gin clear this time of year. Dry fly action is great throughout the entire day. Caddis and PMDs are waning but still active in specific areas. Hecuba spinner falls are getting better each day but also still occurring in the mornings over riffles and down through run. If you see bugs, you will likely see rising fish. Make a good presentation and fish will eat a Parachute PMD (16), rusty or cream colored spinner, or an Elk Hair Caddis work perfectly well. Downsize your bug or consider natural materials if the bite is looky lue. Look for fish in 2-6 feet deep and especially in boulder gardens and deep riffles. The past couple days have been very good. Water temps have been a perfect 56 degrees at Libby Dam. The trout are feeding aggressively. Remember to get the bugs down deep and keep them down. Keep an eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, LIFT! Also look for fish in slower current, buckets, tail outs, and around cover and rocky runs. Slip your bugs above and below boulders in the cushions as fish will be concentrated in soft pockets. Fish streamers slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish. Patterns: Parachute Adams, purple Chubby, red Chubby, hopper patterns, terrestrial patterns, parachute PMDs, Rusty Spinner, Spent Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, caddis pupae, and Prince Nymph. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.

Lake Koocanusa — The kokanee have been very slow lately because of spawning. The rainbow fishing is picking with the cooler weather. Anything black, silver and red is hitting right now. — Koocanusa Resort and Marina, Libby.

Madison RiverLower — Water temperatures are looking great on the lower. Overall, the fishing has been fairly consistent. No need to head out too early, as the fishing improves with the rising water temps throughout the day. There is still the occasional fish eating a hopper, but nothing like they were a week or two ago. However, with the clouds and rain, BWOs are out and the fish are taking notice. Don't head out this way without some in your box. Along with the cooler water temps, the nymph bite has been solid lately. Crayfish, worms, soft hackles, caddis pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our go-to tactic. Streamer fishing is taking off and some big browns fell victim for some bigger flies in yesterday's rain. For now, smaller natural colored streamers have been working best, as the big articulated flies are getting more refusals than eats. Don't ignore the Woolly Bugger. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The upper has been fishing well these last couple days with nymphs, dries, and streamers. We have had reports of anglers having better fishing in the afternoon and others in the morning. It just depends on the day and the weather. Focus more on mid river structure to find the nicer fish. We are just starting to see fall BWOs out in certain sections, but the bulk of the other hatches are done and over until next year. Small and flashy is the name of the game if you decide to nymph. Green Machines, $3 dips, purple deaths, and zebra midges are all good bets. The hopper bite has slowed down quite a bit, but some bigger fish will still eat them on occasion. Streamer fishing has been spotty with fish on the chase for a short window, and other times not wanting a big fly at all. When the streamer bite is on, try natural colors and smaller profile streamers. Varney Bridge is open to traffic. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

­Rock Creek — The higher up you go the better the fishing gets. The lower is being fished quite a bit. This is making for a picky fish. It is terrestrial and attractor dry fly time. Hoppers (12-14) or P-Haze (14), Adams, Bindle Chutes, Stimulators or Royal Wulff’s are great options. Don’t overlook fishing ants and beetles either. Nymphing the runs has been good as well with any Jig Nymphs and San Juans. Streamer fishing continues to get better as the days get shorter and the night cooler. Brown/yellow streamers are great options. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Spring Creek — Hopper flies and caddis nymphs have been productive on the trout bite. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — With the leaves turning, flows are still hovering in the 500 cfs range. The river is bony, but still floatable in the lower sections. Although it’s slowed down a bit, hopper fishing will still continue on most afternoons as it warms up. Big dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabe and smaller size chubbies (10-14) and hopper patterns like Fat Franks in peach, purple, gold, olive and tan have been working well too. Dropper nymphs have been successful with smaller size Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, red Copper Johns, and Lil’ Spankers picking up fish. Straight nymphing with a double nymph setup of a bigger rubberleg like a Girdle Bug or Pat’s Rubberleg along with a smaller beadhead nymph like a Prince, Optic Nerve, Batman, Lightning Bug, Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear have been productive as well. On poor weather days, look for BWOs to pop. If so, fish the old reliable Purple Haze in a smaller size.  Another good combination has been to fish a double dry setup with a Purple Haze as a lead spotter fly trailed by a size 14 Jack Cabe or stimulator. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Although, still continuing most afternoons, the hopper bite has started to become more sporadic. Try nymphing in the morning before the hoppers get going early afternoon. Nymphing early with a bigger lead fly like a rubberleg Prince Nymph, or Batman with an Optic Nerve, Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail, Lil’ Spanker, or Hare’s Ear as a trailer should produce. There may also may still be some Trico spinners in the mid-morning with fish rising to them in the slicks and back eddy water. If so, a small size Purple Haze or Parachute Adams should do the trick. If the fish are on the hopper in the afternoon, patterns like a Fat Frank, Yellowstoner Hopper, Water Walker or Chubby in peach, olive, purple, pink, red or tan size 6-10 have been working well. Try fishing a double hopper setup with a larger top pattern and a smaller trailing hopper smaller hopper pattern like an Otter Hopper, Parachute Hopper, Micro Chubby, or Fat Frank. Space them well apart to cover different lines of current on the water. During the afternoon, fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water is a good option as well.  Also try dead drifting buggers. Now’s the time to start think about streamer fishing, and The Grinch and Electric Goldfish are always good choices. The Hecubas have started to show up on some days and a big size 10 Purple Haze or Parachute Adams has been picking up fish in the afternoon. With cooler water temperatures, fish are being found all over the river. Don’t just pound the banks. There’s no hurry to get on the water this time of year as it’s best to let things warm up a bit. Note that Twin Bridges remains closed for access while the railroad bridge is undergoing repair. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The water flows are running around 1,880 cfs but still proceed with caution when floating as wave trains and hydraulics are nasty in some sections. The water temps are looking good and should drop more with an extended forecast that looks promising with much colder overnights. Hoppers aren’t our first choice of flies right now, but if it warms back up we might see a few more big browns eating them on top. Look for BWOs, as these cloudier days have the fish looking up. If it’s slow on top, try throwing a selection of nymphs. Stoneflies, worms, soft hackles, and attractor mayflies are all on the menu. We have had some good reports from anglers getting fish on streamers as well. Time to break out the big rods and sink tips. Natural colors such as olive, white and black seem to be the hot colors. Size and profile have been varying day to day with the weather. Dead drifting a sculpin or baitfish under a bobber has resulted in some big fish hitting the net. Before you go, be sure to check out your boat ramp options, most are in good shape but some tend to change quite a bit after the runoff. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Wyoming

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dry action later in the day on caddis, midge pupae and dropper patterns. Anglers are having a lot of success on float trips at Weddingof the Waters to Thermopolis. A lot of grass and moss now due to the increasing water temps. This can be a nuisance but manageable. Water flows are at 1,200 cfs. Flies: Nymphs- Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, and Yum Yum Scuds. Streamer patterns: Leeches, Woolly Buggers, and Cone Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies and Muddler Minnows are also taking trout. Hatches are Trico’s, caddis and midges. Dries: Griffith’s Gnats, Rojo Midge, and Parachute Adams, Hemmingway Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Dave’s Hopper, Wade’s Yellow Ho Candy, and Wade’s Natural Horror. — North Fork Anglers, Cody

Upper Clarks Fork — The upper from Painter Bridge MT to the MT state line is low but in gereat condition. Please do not try floating this section even to kayak. There are water falls and drop-offs one cannot see from the raod. Beadhead nymphs (8-18) are working well. North Fork Specials in tan or black, Prince, Pheasant Tails, Copper John’s, Zebra Midges, Hare’s Ears and soft hackles all work. Dry fly action is best using attractor patterns such as Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Royal Trudes or Wulffs.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone —The water flows are at 364 cfs and are almost too low to successfully float anywhere on the river now. Private property laws apply when floating below the US Forest boundary through Wapiti Valley to Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Be prepared for encounters with land owners if not obeying the water laws. Guided trips have gone well through early August for Float or Walk/Wade Trips. We are now Walk/Wading the river since the flows are now marginal for floating the lower river. Dry fly action has been good throughout the length of the river. You must have in your possession a valid Wyoming Fishing License. Hatches: caddis, and very small Trico’s. Flies: Wet – tan or black North Fork Specials (10-14) are working very well, especially the black bodied red or purple tungsten bead versions! Other wet flies (6-16) that are working: Fat Bastard, Epoxy Stone, double beaded stones, Pat’s Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugs, bead head or regular Prince, Copper Johns, Hare’s Ear or Peacock Soft Hackles. Dries: Tan, purple or gold Chubby Chucks (6-12), Wade’s Ho Candy Yellow or Purple (8-12), gray Drake and or Royal Wulffs (10-16), Parachute olive or gray (14), Natural Horrors (8-12), Panty dropper Hoppers (10), Dave’s Hoppers (4-12), yellow Stimulators (8-16), yellow or red Humpies (10-16), Royal Trudes (8-14), yellow Sallies (16), Elk Hair Caddis (12-18). — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns are very effective. Bead head nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kickboat or float tube also work well. Scuds are effective fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damselflies are out on upper now. The upper is mostly stocked with cutthroat. Fishing pressure is the reason for the diminished size. The trout are also taking Callibaetis, Parachutes Adams, Hoppers, ants, beetles and Elk Hair Caddis. Fish Damsel Nymphs, soft hackled Bloody Mary’s and midge pupae for best results on the upper. Hoppers, ants and beetles are working on top. Some imitations that do well for dry fly anglers such as: Ho Candy yellow, Joe’s hopper, Chubby Chuck gold, Parachute Adams, Foam Beetles, Magic Beetle, and red or black ants. On the lower, larger streamers are effective on the splake and tiger trout in the lake. In shallower water, leeches, scuds, bead headed nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-Tie Midges and Wire Worms work well as do hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park (Slough, Lamar, Soda Butte) — Let the water warm up a bit, but the fish are still willing to take hoppers, beetles and ants in the afternoon. Morrish and Thunder Thighs Hopper in pink and tan (14), Longhorn Beetles, Parachute Ants and Improved Killer Bees are what you'll want. The Drake Mackerels are still very much in play in this section of the park along with Baetis as well. Make sure to have with you Sparkle Dun Drake Mackerels (12) and Baetis (20).  — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

 

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