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Fishing report: Fat walleye still lurking at Crooked Creek

Fishing report: Fat walleye still lurking at Crooked Creek

Jesse Ketchum

Billings angler Jesse Ketchum reeled in this 33-inch walleye recently.

Crooked Creek on Fort Peck Reservoir is still cranking out walleye. Jesse Ketchum of Billings reeled in a 33-incher recently. Head to the Narrows for some serious action.

The Clark Fork River has finally dropped and cleared. From Missoula to St. Regis anglers searching for hefty trout will find cutbows and rainbows.

For the angler looking for an early morning or late evening dry fly excursion, try the Clark Fork's tributary of Rock Creek. The conditions couldn’t be any better.

Top picks

Beaverhead River — The Beave continues to produce fantastic fish this year. The water flows out of Clark Canyon Reservoir, sitting around 700 cfs this morning, have come up substantially due to irrigation needs in the valley. Wade fishing will be very tough right now, so your best option is floating. With these higher flows the best dry fly fishing will be near the dam. The farther downstream you go the dry fly opportunity will be tougher. We have hatches of PMDs, caddis and yellow Sallies. Look for hopper fishing to pick up in a few weeks. The upper water has had great dry fly opportunities on PMDs and the caddis fishing in the evening has been fantastic. Recommended flies are: Jewel Thief (size 6), Sparkle Minnow (4), Little Kim Copper (4), Split Case PMD (18), Bubba Back PMD (18), Chubby Chernobyl (12) in UV, gold or purple, PMD Comparadun (18), PMD Film Critic, Headlight Sallie (14), Spanish Bullet (18), Bloom Caddis (12), Purple Haze 18). — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — It’s go time! The water is big for this time of year, but in great shape and fish are hungry. There are PMDs, yellow Sallies and a few goldens out there. Chubby/dropper setups have been good with a Rubblerlegs, 20 Incher, Prince or Jig nymph off the back.  Use golden stones for the “Chubby” part of the rig. PMDs on the cloudy days, and we should see some spinners soon. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Clark Fork River, St. Regis — This is a great time to fish here. Cutbow and rainbow trout fishing has been phenomenal. Red Chernobyls, P-Hazes, and assortment of different lures are working. The river is at 7,000 cfs and dropping. — Joe Cantrell Outfitting, St. Regis.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — The fishing has been great. A 33-inch walleye was caught dragging through 5 feet of water by the Narrows. Bottom bouncing in 12-25 feet of water has been choice this week for catching fat (16-24 inches) walleye. Some northerns and crappie were also caught. Purple, pink, chartreuse, and white have been the hot colors. — Crooked Creek Marina.

­Rock Creek (West) — The dry fly fishing has been pretty darn good. The best luck has been in the morning and evenings. The midday fishing has still been worthwhile. There are caddis hatches in the evening, and golden stones, PMDs, and yellow Sallies available during the rest of the day. For dry flies use Chubby Chernobyls, Stimulators, Bullet Head Stones, Stubby Chubbies, P-Hazes, Elk Hair Caddis, Tilt Wing PMDs, Last Chance Cripple, and Never Sink Caddis. For subsurface patterns use Micro Stones, Pheasant Tails, Pat’s Rubberlegs, San Juan Worms, Caddis Pupae, Perdigons, and Purple Princes. Darker streamers have also been working. — The Kingfisher, Missoula.


Ackley Lake — Lake trout have been hitting on PowerBait and crawlers while muskie are consistent on herring and Rapala setups. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Big Hole River — We have been enjoying fantastic fishing. Currently the flows around Melrose are 1,070 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. The streamer fishing in the shallow riffles are producing great brown trout right now through the day and even in the bright sun. Recommended flies: Smokin’ Mirrors (4), Mini Loop Sculpin (4), Little Kim Silver (4), Pat’s Stone (6), Pearl Lightning Bug (14), Chubby Chernobyl (10) in UV, gold, or purple, Purple Craze (12), Comparadun (12) in a purple or yellow, Red Copper John (14), Jig Lightning Bug (14), Bloom Caddis (12), and a Jig Spanish Bullet (14). — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose

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

Bighorn River — The water flows have been up and down, but are looking better at around 2,500 cfs. The fishing has been really good. The fish are dialed into sowbugs and a few smaller random bugs (midges and baetis), but for the most part keep it simple and fish a Double Sow Rig. Carpet Bugs, Eddie Vedders and Rays are all great choices. Smaller (16-18) has been better. You will pick up a few fish on PMD and caddis patterns. Fish are starting to look for hoppers. Pink, tan or gold foamies (6-14) are a wise choice to have in your arsenal. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.

Bitterroot River ­­— This river continues to fish well. Dry fly fishing has been hit or miss this week. A Chubby/dropper setup has been the go-to rig with a few fish eating the Chubby. Fish will eat a stonefly bug like a Chubby, Henry’s Fork Golden, Pete’s CDC Stone or Jake's Blackout Stone. Droppers have been mainly jig nymphs like Perdigons, PTs, Princes or Hollow Points. When you do see bugs there are yellow Sallies, PMDs and caddis (evening). — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Blackfoot River — Our stonefly hatches are starting to slow down. A few are still out there with yellow Sallies and even a few goldens and salmonflies still up in the canyon. PMDs are there on cloudy days, but those are few and far between. We should start to see Spruce Moths soon. A Chubby/dropper setup has been the best way to prospect for fish with jig nymphs like Hollow Points, Quill Bodies, PTs and Princes. If you decide to do an evening float there are some fish eating caddis. Way more caddis than fish eating them, but if you skate one around you’ll get some violent eats. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Boulder River — The green drakes are hatching around midday. Spruce moths, yellow Sallies and PMDs are also good. The lower river is getting much more wadeable. Anglers should try Golden Stone dries with a Prince Nymph dropper. Anglers need to watch for PMDs, yellow Sallies and caddis flies. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — The walleye fishing is decent, especially around mid-reservoir in 20 to 30 feet of water. They are being caught on a variety of lures including bottom bouncers, jigs, spoons or crankbaits with chartreuse, green and orange being the colors of choice. The Ponds are also producing a few walleyes, but the fish seem to have moved into deeper water. Fair rainbow fishing can be found while trolling cowbells or crankbaits 20 to 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 have been successful. Good nymphs to use are Ray Charles (16), Sowbugs, 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.

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. Leeches 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.

Deadman’s Basin — Fishing has been a little slow lately. Night crawlers and worms are going out. No new reports. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

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) — Big Arm and Dayton Bay have been producing fat perch, while Dead Man’s Point has been the place for lake trout and whitefish (in 40-50 feet of water) using green Rattle D Zastors. Lake trout numbers are up at Cromwell East. Blue Bay has been producing lake trout and whitefish in 40-60 feet of water using whole fish setups. City Docks (closest to the bridge) has been producing smallmouth bass on bait fish. Lake trout have also been biting at Safety Bay. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Flathead River — Below the dam the water is dropping. This week the pike bite is down and the smallmouth bass was limitless. Above the lake the river is still running high and conditions are muddy. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — The walleye fishing has really picked up over the last week, while the pike bite was a little slower. The water conditions overall have been decent. Bottom bouncing with green leader line attached to a Rapala or spinner has been a good choice. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — The fishing has been hit-and-miss this week fishing for walleye and pike. Anglers are pitching jigs and pulling cranks. The water temps are 68-70 degrees. Lake trout are being caught in 70-110 feet of water. A few salmon have been caught in 50-90 feet in 120-150 feet of water. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fresno Reservoir — This reservoir is located 12.4 miles from Havre. Preferred fishing methods on the reservoir are: Fly fishing, spinning and bait casting. The best times to fish the Fresno are late evening to early morning (10 p.m.-2 a.m.). — Hook and Bullet.

Gallatin River — The river from Gateway to Big Sky is the place to be. Flows are down and the fishing has been solid. If you head this way you can catch them on streamers, nymphs, and dries. Pick your poison. We've heard good reports of anglers doing well with the dry/dropper rig. Chubbies, Ants, and Hoppers are great dries for this rig. For a dropper, fish are eating attractor mayflies, caddis, PMDs, stones and soft hackles. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Georgetown Lake — Fishing has been decent. Best techniques are stripping leech patterns, Callibaetis Nymphs, Damselfly Nymphs, Scuds, dead-drifting Chironomids and Sowbugs. 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. — GNPS.

Hauser Reservoir — Anglers trolling cowbells and Wedding Rings tipped with crawlers are catching some fat rainbows between York Bridge and Dana Point. White Sandy is also a go-to spot for consistent rainbow action while trolling with attractors. A few walleye are being picked up by anglers slip-bobbering from shore at the Causeway and pitching jigs to shore from inside the Causeway Arm. Shore and boat anglers are picking up a few walleye below Canyon Ferry Dam while pitching perch- or silver-colored jigs along the shorelines. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The callibaetis hatch is starting to pick up. It still is not in full force, but the bug numbers are increasing. Callibaetis, Sparkle Duns, Deer Hair Spinners, Razor Mayflies and Foam Spinners (all in size 16) will be great patterns to fish this week, with a Beadhead Driskill’s Callibaetis Nymph (16) dropped underneath if the rises are on the sporadic side. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Holter Reservoir — The rainbow action has picked up at the lower end of the reservoir. Anglers trolling cowbells or crankbaits above suspended fish are doing well. A few walleyes are being picked up by boat anglers in the canyon near the Gates of the Mountains. Anglers fishing weed beds are finding some perch while pitching small jigs tipped with crawlers into the weeds in 15 to 20 feet of water. Some fat walleye are also being picked up while tolling bottom bouncers, running slip bobbers and leeches or vertical jigging near Cottonwood Creek. — FWP, Helena.

Kootenai River — Discharge from Libby Dam will be decreasing through the week. Big water is over and great fishing conditions will be here in a few days. Wading is still minimal. It’s all about drifting until the flows reach approximately 12,000 cfs. Meanwhile, caddis, and PMDs continue to pop later in the afternoons. Make a good presentation and they’ll eat a Parachute Adams (14) or an Elk Hair Caddis (14). A Purple Chubby (12), or Bugmeister with a BH Pheasant Tail (16) will roll nicely. Nymphing is still the most consistent technique this time of year. Remember to get bugs down and keep them down. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.

Lake Frances — Nothing to report recently due to the water conditions (muddy). — Roberts Bait & Tackle, Great Falls.

Lake Koocanusa— Rainbow trout are starting to go deeper so the action is starting to slow down. They are biting on darker colors at about 20-40 feet. Wedding Rings and Kokanee Killers have been used successfully. Reds and pinks are the hot colors. — Koocanusa Resort and Marina, Libby.

Lake Mary — This week the perch bite has been decent while the best time for kokanee has been in the evening. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Madison RiverLower — The lower is running at 67 degrees out of the dam and much warmer around Blacks Ford. Fish as early as possible and get fish in quickly. Dry fly fishing with PMDs and caddis should get you into some fish and keep you out of the moss. Crayfish, Worms, Soft Hackles, Caddis Pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our best options while nymphing. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The river is getting low and clearing up. Focus more on midriver structure to find the bigger fish. Salmonflies, golden stones, yellow Sallies and PMDs are out depending on what stretch of the river you are on. Salmonflies are up high right now. Also, Worms, Caddis Larvae, Soft Hackles and larger mayfly attractors are all working subsurface. Streamer fishing has been hit or miss lately but afternoon storms have had some big browns on the chase. White still seems to be the hot color. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Marias River — The water conditions are still a little too muddy for any decent fishing if anglers are not interested in catfish, sturgeon or goldeneyes. — Roberts Bait & Tackle, Great Falls.

Missouri River, below Holter — Dry flying has begun. PMDs, Yellow Sallies and Caddis are the name of the game right now. Nymphing has been great, as well as the use of Worms, Scuds, Sowbugs, and Soft Hackles. The PMD emergers have also been hot with a split case PMD, Rainbow Warriors, Hunchbacks, Short Winged Emergers, and Loop Wings. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Pablo Reservoir — Pike and bass are hitting dark tubes. Dark-colored plastic worms and crawdads have also been working. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Polson Bay — The water is still running high and fast. Big perch have been reported but not in big numbers. Baitfish have been the bait of choice. Smallmouth bass are lurking and active in various sizes. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Rock Creek (East) — The water is running right below 300 cfs. The lower section of the creek is looking better. Caddis are popping like crazy with fish eagerly eating them off the surface. Stimulators and Galloups Butch Caddis are the name of the game. Nymphing is always a great game plan. There are a lot of caddis larvae and stonefly nymphs in the water. Streamers: Tungsten Thin Mint, Complex Twist Bugger. Nymphs: BH Caddis Pupa - Olive (16), Hare's Ear Robinson Special (14), BH Rubberleg Prince Nymph (14), Silverman’s BH Epoxy Back Red Tag Sally (14). Dries: Yellow Stimulator (14), Headlight Sally (14), tan or orange Chubby Chernobyl (14), Galloups Butch Caddis (14), Keller's Rocky Mountain Mint Purple (14). — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — Trout have been caught using Panther Martin spinners or a variety of caddis patterns. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — The water flows have dropped and cleared throughout except for some color kicking in at the Rosebud. Wade fishermen should head for the upper river where flows are lower. Fishing on the lower river is excellent right now. Bigger dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabes and smaller size Chubbies have been taking fish throughout the morning into 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. 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 size 14 Jack Cabe or Stimulator. The rubber leg variant has been effective as a big dry pattern. The upper river is getting pretty bony for float fishing. Water temperatures on the lower river are heating up, so play and land fish promptly. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Swan Lake — The pike bite has been slow. — 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 — Fish have been eating the big bugs. Hopper patterns like a Fat Frank or Chubby in peach or tan have been working. During the afternoon, fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water will produce. Nymph anglers should have success with a big rubber leg fished down deep. Also try dead drifting buggers. Fish are being found in moving water that has some definition. Now is a good time to fish hoppers before the fish have been inundated with them. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley —The water has cleared up and is in really good shape. Catfishing continues to be the most consistent draw, but over the weekend the smallmouth bass fishing picked up and was very good. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The water flows are around 5,500 cfs. Float and wade with caution. Depending on what section you are in, Hoppers, Stoneflies, Caddis, Drakes, PMDs and Worms are all on the menu. Fishing has been slow midday with the high sun and lack of clouds. The very last of the big bugs are up high past Gardiner. Hopper/dropper rigs tight to the bank have resulted in some decent fish hitting the net, along with a lot of whitefish on the dropper. Anglers are reporting good results using streamers. Short nymph rigs with some serious split shot have also been productive. Fish are holding in the seam below islands. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

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


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — Anglers are catching trout, smallmouth bass and catfish off the docks. Walleye, sauger and bass are reported near Crooked Creek. Near the state line anglers are catching walleye and bass. Minnows are the bait of choice. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dries later in the day on Caddis and Midges. The water flows are at 1,384 cfs. Nymphs: Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, Yum Yum Scud, pink Soft Hackle Sowbug, Yuk Bugs, Pat's Rubberlegs, Jig-head nymphs, Midge Pupa, Wire Worm, and small North Fork Specials in black or tan. Streamers: Leeches, Woolly Buggers and Cone-Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies, Sex Dungeons and Muddler Minnows. The hatches popping right now are caddis and midges. Cicadas and hoppers are getting attention in the Wind River Canyon area and 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 — The southern part of the the reservoir is still hitting consistently with Dardevles. Water conditions are getting better. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — The river is fishable. Salmonflies and golden stones are on the water later in the day. Green drakes, yellow Sallies and caddis are also flying around. If you’re fishing the lower canyon section the water is still heavy. Wade the edges. Golden stones, salmonflies and caddis are active. Some green drakes and yellow Sallies near the canyon and downstream through the prairie country. Dry/dropper or going deep with weighted nymphs recommended. The water flows are 2,900 cfs at the Clarks Fork Fish Hatchery. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lower Shoshone — The water flows are at 2,293 cfs. The Buffalo Bill Reservoir is completely full. Fish the canyon and the section through town. Caddis and golden stoneflies are out in the canyon. Some action on these flies in the slower sections. Not much dry fly action. 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, darker colored Sculpinators, JJ Special Conehead, Black Peanut Envy, dark Sex Dungeons, black or brown Krystal 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 2,470 cfs and are rapidly dropping. The water quality is improving. 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. Wet flies: 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 Wulffs. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns have been very effective. Beadhead nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kick boat or float tube also work. Scuds best if fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damselflies are out. Anglers should fish damsel nymphs, soft-hackled Bloody Marys and Midge Pupae for the best results. On the lower, larger streamers are effective. In shallower water, Leeches, Scuds, beadhead nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-tie Midges and Wire Worms work as do Hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park — We haven't heard any reports from yesterday's opener, but expect a smattering of green drakes, salmonflies and golden stones, a variety of caddis, yellow Sallies and PMDs. And as usual with cutthroat, it's never too early to try some terrestrials. Gold Chubby Chernobyls (10-12), Green Drake Sparkle Duns (12), Foam Spinners, PMD Sparkle Duns, PFD Parachutes (16), Corn Fed Caddis(14-16) and yellow Summer Stones (14) will all be must-have flies for the Yellowstone, and don't be afraid to try a pink Thunder Thighs Hopper (14), Longhorn Beetle (10) or Stubby Ant (14). — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

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