Fishing Guide: Cooler weather will spur fish to feed

Fishing Guide: Cooler weather will spur fish to feed


The time is fast approaching that many anglers have been awaiting.

It is starting to cool off at night and the days will soon be cooler. This is already happening on given days, but shortly it will be on a consistent basis. That means the water temperatures in rivers and lakes should drop and give fish a break from the constant heat they've been experiencing. In turn, fishing should improve.

And it will probably be more fun to fish, too. Whether sitting on the bank of a lake, in a boat, or walking a river, it is undoubtedly more pleasant fishing when temperatures are in the 70s.

Here's The Gazette's weekly Fishing Guide:

Montana Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains — The lakes are fishing well. Use blue damsels, caddis, hoppers, parachute Adams and royal Wulffs for dries. If using nymphs, go to Copper Johns, golden princes or pheasant tails. — Marlene Pirtz, Outdoor Supply/Stillwater Angler, Absarokee.

Beaverhead River — The water is low and very off-color. The plan is to drop the flows down to 25 cfs and leave fishing open. There hasn't been much for hatches coming off. Some anglers are using scuds. — Todd Ruble, Watershed, Dillon.

Big Hole River — It is fishing really well in the mornings. The water is extremely low. Use a purple haze. A parachute Adams is working well, too, or attractor-type patterns. Anglers are asked to stop fishing by 1 p.m. — Todd Ruble, Watershed, Dillon.

Bighorn River — The cfs was still at 1,500. There is a decent black caddis hatch. Hoppers are tailing off a little bit. Nymph fishing remains good with scuds, sowbugs and midges. Try pheasant tails. — Chip Warren, Bighorn Fly and Tackle, Billings.

Bighorn Lake — Fishing is slow for the few people out fishing. There are sightings of a lot of minnows on the Barry's end. There is 24 feet of ramp left at Ok-A-Beh and Barry's and there should be plenty of water through the fall. Fall hours at the Osprey are 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The store is closed Sundays. — Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Boulder River — Terrestrial and nymph fishing is good. Try beadhead princes and beadhead pheasant tails. — Rainbow Run Fly Shop, Billings.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow fishing really hasn't picked up yet. As the temps drop the fish will move toward the southern part of the lake and fishing should warm up. For walleyes, most of the action is in the northern half of the lake. Walleye fishing isn't real good, but some 16- to 17-inch walleyes have been caught. For walleyes, fish the usual places but fish 24-30 feet deep. — Terry McArdle, Townsend Marine.

Castle Rock Lake — It is real low and not many people are fishing. Those fishing aren't having much luck. Anglers can only get hand-launchable boats into the water. — Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Cooney Reservoir — Use slip bobbers, leeches and crawlers in 16 feet of water for walleyes. Fish close to the bottom. Jigs produce, too, with crawlers and leeches. A few guys are pulling silver Shad Raps and doing well over 8-11 feet of water. The water levels are dropping but anglers can still launch boats. — Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Deadman's Basin — Paul Meyers of Billings caught a 40 1/2-inch tiger muskie near the dam on a No. 5 silver Mepps Sunday. — Garlynn Wedin, Super D, Ryegate.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Big Dry Arm — A lot of northerns have been caught, but walleye fishing was a little slow last weekend. Use crankbaits over the weedbeds for northerns. — Jerry Quick, Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Dam Area — Salmon fishing is spotty. The salmon being caught are 12-20 pounds. Fish around 82-90 feet. For lake trout, fish 100-115 feet deep. Some nice walleyes were caught over the weekend. Fish 20 feet deep for walleyes. — Gene Moore, Lakeridge Motel, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Fourchette Bay — At Bone Trail, a group of guys caught one big 32-inch walleye, with a lot of 12-inch walleyes caught in between. Smallmouth bass are biting well. — Robert Twiford, Malta Marine.

Gallatin River — It is fishing consistently well. Up in the canyon use attractor dry flies. Further south towards Big Sky fish terrestrials. Nymph fishing through the day is decent. Try pheasant tails and prince nymphs. — Kris Kumlien, Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hebgen Lake — It is fishing really well, especially on the west shore and Grayling Arm. Use baetis spinners. — Bob Jacklin, Jacklin's Fly Shop, West Yellowstone.

Madison River: Ennis — The river is running a little bit low — 875 cfs Tuesday. It is fishing well. Dry flies are a little slower than they were. Try hoppers, royal trudes and royal Wulffs. Or try an irresistible Wulff. During the cooler mornings, try sculpin patterns. Or in the cooler mornings, prince nymphs will also work, as will streamers or olive woolly buggers with a beadhead white lightning dropper. Beadhead pheasant tails or beadhead prince nymphs will also work as droppers. — Glen Gallentine, The Tackle Shop, Ennis.

Martinsdale Reservoir — Bank fishermen are catching nice trout off worms and marshmallows. Fish the bottom. Fishing is slow for trollers. — Dan McLaughlin, Mint Bar, Martinsdale.

Missouri River: Below Holter — There are some tricos left early in the mornings. Use nymphs in the afternoons. There are still caddis in the evenings. — Garry Stocker, Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Nelson Reservoir — Fishing has picked up. Use crawlers with bottom bouncers and worm harnesses. Fish in the 25-foot range. The fishing should pick up as the nights cool down. — Robert Twiford, Malta Marine.

Spring Creek — Anglers are catching a few on medium-sized hoppers. Beadhead prince nymphs and Copper Johns are working. A beadhead hare's ear is working well in the evenings. — Dave Snyder, Don's, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: Lower — Fishing has slowed. Hopper fishing is fair. The best fishing is nymphing with princes, pheasant tails and Copper Johns. Early morning fishing is best. — Jim Yeager, Outdoor Supply/Stillwater Angler, Columbus.

Stillwater River: Upper — Fishing is pretty good in the morning until midday. Hoppers with droppers are working. There is a little PMD action. — Rainbow Run Fly Shop, Billings.

Tongue River Reservoir — Fishing is good. Crappie and bass fishing is really good. Use minnows or a white Mr. Twister and worms for crappie and bass. Walleye fishing was slow. A couple pike and some channel catfish were caught. McKay MacCarthy of Sheridan, Wyo., did well on crappie. The marina will close for the season Sunday. — Keith Cooley, Tongue River Resort Marina.

Yellowstone National Park — We're into the summer conditions; it's not quite fall conditions yet. Fish flying ants, grasshoppers and small royal Wulffs. The hottest place is the Lamar Valley. As long as we don't get rain, the Lamar will fish well. — Bob Jacklin, Jacklin's Fly Shop, West Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River: Columbus — Restrictions have been lifted. Early morning fishing is good with hoppers and buggers. — Jim Yeager, Outdoor Supply/Stillwater Angler, Columbus.

Yellowstone River: Huntley — Catfish are still biting well. Fish from Huntley down. Find a deeper hole and fish with minnows or shrimp. Smallmouth bass are biting well in the Custer-Hysham area. Fish a minnow or crawler with a bobber along the cliffs or rip-rap. Sauger fishing is picking up. Fish below the Waco area with jigs and minnows. The limit on sauger is one fish per day. No reports on walleyes yet. — Will Suralski, Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River: Livingston — The cooler weather is dropping water temperatures. Hoppers are still happening. Ants and beetles are also working. Woolly buggers are picking up some fish. A few mayflies and caddis are out in the evenings. — Nate Anderson, Dan Bailey's Fly Shop, Livingston.

Northern Wyoming Bighorn Mountains — There are still fire restrictions in the mountains. Only those in designated Forest Service campgrounds can have fires. At Crazy Woman Creek the brook trout are active. Try Adams flies. — Sheri Gould, Just Gone Fishin', Buffalo.

Boysen Reservoir — Walleye fishing was slow this weekend. Anglers are catching some nice trout. Troll with anything meant for a trout. The lake turned over last week. Some nice catfish were caught right in the reservoir with minnows and worms. — Gary Hackett, Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Anglers are trolling a red-colored Russell lure. Troll fairly slow. — Denny Benson, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — It's in real good shape. The water is clear and low and the water temperatures are dropping. Hoppers and caddis are working. — Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

Clear Creek — Use beadheads or bait. — Sheri Gould, Just Gone Fishin', Buffalo.

East Newton Lake — The surface temperatures are starting to cool. If it stays reasonably cool, the fish will get active. The best days to fish have some cloud cover. — Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

Healy Reservoir — Use beadhead nymphs and little Jake's lures. — Sheri Gould, Just Gone Fishin', Buffalo.

Keyhole Reservoir — Not many people were out over the holiday because of rainy weather. There have been cooler temperatures at night, so fishing should start to pick up. — Dennis Tebeau, Keyhole Marina.

North Fork of the Shoshone — The water is low and clear and looks good. Hoppers and caddis are taking fish. Or try a prince nymph. Anglers should use smaller bugs because the water is low and clear. — Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

Shell Reservoir — Dry flies and lures are picking up trout. — Rex Martin, Quik Sak, Sheridan.

Sibley Lake — Flies and lures are picking up trout. A lot of fish are rising. — Rex Martin, Quik Sak, Sheridan.

Ten Sleep Creek — The creek is still pretty low and clear. Hoppers are everywhere. At Paint Rock, the fish are striking hoppers but aren't taking them. So try a small H & L or small mayfly. — Melanie Stine, The Outdoorsman, Worland.

The Billings Gazette Fishing Report runs each Thursday in The Billings Gazette, MontanaFlyline at and the Gazette Online at For comments or questions, contact Gazette outdoor editor Mark Henckel at (406) 657-1395, or


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