Subscribe for 17¢ / day

There is plenty to be excited about this week as paddlefish season opens today at the Intake Fishing Access on the Yellowstone River and Montana's general fishing season opens Saturday.

Another date to mark on the calendar is May 24. That is when Yellowstone National Park's waters open to anglers.

A lot of people stayed off the area's lakes and rivers last week as storm fronts moved in and out. If and when the fronts ever stop moving through and the temperatures rise with sunny days, the runoff will hit full force and slow river fishing.

Here's The Gazette's weekly Fishing Guide:

MontanaAckley Lake It is filling up and discolored. Fishing is slow. —Charlie Pfau, Don's, Lewistown.

Bighorn Lake It shot up 5 inches Monday. As of Tuesday morning, we need 7 inches to fish. With the warm weather, Bighorn Lake should be fishable any day. When the lake is opened to fishing try jigs and minnows. Try the first five miles up from Ok-A-Beh. On the Barry's end, go up until you hit the dirty water. Leeches would probably be a good bait in the dirty water. —Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Bighorn River Fishing is spotty and Soap Creek is dumping in a lot of mud. For dry flies, use parachute Adams (size 16-20), CDC BWO (16-18) and Griffith's gnats (16-20). For nymphs, use BWO Wonder nymphs (16-18), black quill nymphs (16-18), olive pheasant tails (16-18) and thread-midge larva (18). Other good flies to have are natural sowbugs (16-18) and pink or orange scuds. —Ryan Stefek, Bighorn Fly and Tackle, Billings.

Boulder River It is still low and clear and fishing well. There are lots of caddis. Use a elk-hair caddis or parachute caddis (size 16). Your favorite beadheads will work. Try a prince nymph, olive hare's ear, pheasant tail or Copper John, all in beadhead and in size 12-14. —Jim McCall, Rainbow Run Fly Shop, Billings.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir The rainbows are still biting excellent up on the north end of the lake near the dam. Rainbows are cruising the shorelines and people are doing well and landing some between 4-5 pounds. Fishermen from shore are using spawn sacs. Kit's marabou jigs are working well for spin fishermen. Walleye fishing is slow. If the weather warms, maybe walleye fishing will improve. —Terry McArdle, Townsend Marine.

Castle Rock Lake Fishermen are reporting some walleyes being caught. One group said they caught three 3-pounders and some nice bass one day in the stormy weather last week. The water is clearing up. The water temps are in the low 50s. Use jigs and minnows. —Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Cooney Reservoir It is clearing and fishermen are reporting it's slow from the bank and boats. I did hear one guy caught some nice walleyes using a No. 18 Rapala trolling by the dam. The water still isn't over the spillway. —Scott Lundin, Osprey Fin/Feather Supply, Billings.

Deadman's Basin Fishing has slowed due to the wind and rain. Some guys are braving the weather and trying it, though. —Bob Rogers, Super D, Ryegate.

Flathead Lake Fishing at Gravel Bay is poor until reaching a 190-foot depth. Many smaller fish were hitting, but also some dandies. A 15-pound lake trout was caught on a Pink Lady LMR Special baited with maggots above a Pink Lady one ounce Trilobite tipped with trout nectar-flavored cutbait. Joe Halleck, of Lander, Wyo, caught an 18-pound lake trout. —Dick Zimmer, MacMan, Pablo.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Big Dry Arm Fishing is pretty good. Anglers are catching dandy walleyes with a bucktail jig and a minnow. Missoula's Brian Sailer has caught two walleyes over 31 inches and weighing over 9 pounds. Fish in the McGuire Creek area. During the day, the fish are 14-22 feet deep. Toward evening, the walleyes move in to 8-10 feet. Some decent northerns are being caught from time to time. The pike are in shallow, muddy water. —Bill Schriver, Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Dam Area Fishing is really good. Lake trout action is good at a depth of 20-35 feet. A few salmon have been caught. Deep-diving cranks and flutter spoons are the rule. Walleye action is good down the Big Dry. Some 11-12 pound walleyes have been caught on jigs and minnows and Lindy Rigs. Smallmouth fishing is good in the Big Dry Arm, too. —Gene Moore, Lakeridge Motel, Fort Peck.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Fourchette Bay Fishing has picked up quite a bit for walleyes. Jig with a minnow or nightcrawler. Chartreuse is the best color. —Susan Twiford, Malta Marine.

Fort Peck Reservoir: Hell Creek The weather has been less than hospitable, so there hasn't been a lot of people out. A few guys caught a couple good walleyes trolling cranks down east while they were fishing lake trout. Near Hell Creek a couple of walleyes were caught using jigs and minnows. —Joe Herbold, Hell Creek Bar, Jordan.

Fresno Reservoir Fishing is slow. There is a kid's tournament here Saturday. The Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited is putting on the tourney. Entry is free for kids under 14, with prizes and a free lunch. There is a rules meeting at 7:30 a.m. Fishing goes from 8 a.m. until noon. There is a barbecue and casting contest after fishing. There are prizes for the largest northern and largest perch. For information, call Jim Rettig at 378-2176 or Howard Stromberg at 265-3441. —Howard Stromberg, Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River It is fishing well. A darker caddis is coming off. Try a peacock or a black caddis. Parachute Adams will also work. The river is clean and clear. —Grant Soukup, Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir Rainbow fishing was good over the weekend for anglers trolling around the Causeway. Troll Needlefish, Rooster Tails and brass spoons. Shore anglers are using crawlers or spawn. Perch, walleye and kokanee fishing is poor. —Eric Roberts, Steve Dalbey, Helena Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Holter Reservoir The rainbow spawn is winding down. A few large rainbows were caught from the boat ramp at Log Gulch and a few at Departure Point and Black Beach. Worms and spinners were effective and black woolly buggers. Trollers are using Rapalas and white Rooster Tail spinners for rainbows. The BLM Holter Lake Campground is closed for construction until June 30. Log Gulch will be closed from July 15-Oct. 30 for construction. —Eric Roberts, Steve Dalbey, Helena Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Hebgen Lake It is still fishing well. We're getting lots of good reports. Try streamers. Woolly buggers have been the most popular. Also try midge patterns. —Jonathan Heames, Jacklin's Fly Shop, West Yellowstone.

Madison River: Ennis The river has a little color, but nothing to bother anything. Fishing is good. A few caddis are coming off, especially on warmer days. Take some Mother's Day caddis or peacock caddis and put a soft-hackle pheasant tail behind it. Some Mayflies and some blue-winged olives (size 14-16) are coming off. Anglers are using woolly buggers, woolly bombers and yuk bugs with a beadhead prince and Copper John dropper behind. A natural-colored zonker will take fish. —Glen Gallentine, The Tackle Shop, Ennis.

Madison River: Lower It is fishing well. There is a good caddis hatch. A few March browns and bigger mayflies are coming off. There is some baetis. Some guys are stripping buggers and doing well. The nice fish are taking the bugs subtle. The caddis are pretty thick through the Bear Trap when the weather conditions are right. —Grant Soukup, Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir It has been cool and windy and not too many people are fishing. The good news is that it looks like they are getting enough water that people might be able to go out for Memorial Day. —Rick Hinand, Ray's Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River: Below Holter The cfs was 4,880 Tuesday. Fishing is OK. There is baetis, so use a parachute Adams, parachute baetis or baetis transitional. MFG's, lightning bugs and streamers are also working. —Garry Stocker, Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River: Fred Robinson Bridge Paddlefish anglers are doing really well. The biggest one reported this week was 60 pounds. —Susan Twiford, Malta Marine.

Missouri River: Williston, N.D. There were 509 paddlefish taken as of Tuesday. The largest was 108 pounds. The second largest was 106 pounds. The third largest was 94 pounds. The best action is at the confluence. The pumphouse area is good, too. —Donna Schroeder, Scenic Sports, Williston, N.D.

Musselshell River: Lower The river has plenty of water. Fishing should be good. —Tracy Goffena, Roundup General Store.

Musselshell River: Upper The river is high and not many people have been fishing due to the weather. —Rick Hinand, Ray's Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Nelson Reservoir The walleyes are about 34 feet deep. The walleyes being caught are small, meaning under 14 inches. —Susan Twiford, Malta Marine.

Smith River It was flowing at 455 cfs Tuesday and is fishing all right. Use brown and black buggers, brown and black yuk bugs and electric buggers. I've heard there are some salmon flies around. Try a Henry's Fork salmon fly. —Garry Stocker, Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Spring Creek Small elk-hair caddis are working. The creek is just starting to clear up, so try small PMDs. Copper J's and lightning bugs should work. —Charlie Pfau, Don's, Lewistown.

Stillwater River: Lower The river has some color and is fishing slow. The conditions could change by this weekend. Lots of caddis and a few March browns are coming off. The better fishing is in the afternoon and late evening. Fishermen using prince nymphs, pheasant tails, bitchcreeks and a dead-drifted bugger are doing fair. —Jim Yeager, Outdoor Supply, Columbus.

Stillwater River: Upper It is fishing well, but the time is growing short as the runoff could start soon. The river is still clear, but it has come up a little from rainwater. There are a bunch of caddis, March browns and some baetis. Beadheads, a March brown spider, prince nymphs and pheasant tails (size 12-14) will work. —Jim McCall, Rainbow Run Fly Shop, Billings.

Tongue River Reservoir The water is into the willows and the lake is full. Crappie fishing is starting to get really good using minnows and little white jigs. Crappie are suspended at 10 feet. Walleye fishing is temperamental. Leeches on the bottom are starting to work for walleye. —Keith Cooley, Tongue River Resort Marina.

Yellowstone River: Billings The river is coming up and getting muddy. Catfish continue to bite. The cats are running up to 11 pounds. The bait of choice has switched over to cut bait. Traditionally, as the water warms up, cut bait and stink bait works better than minnows. From Custer east is best. —Will Suralski, Minnow Bucket, Huntley.

Yellowstone River: Columbus Water is stained but fishable. There is good action in the late afternoon on dry flies. Caddis and March browns are coming off around 3 p.m. Morning fishing has been slow. Big, weighted nymphs and buggers are taking fish. —Jim Yeager, Outdoor Supply, Columbus.

Yellowstone River: Livingston Fishing has been good. The river is in good shape. We're still seeing Mothers Day caddis. There are March browns and baetis on overcast days. —Alex Nixon, Dan Bailey's Fly Shop, Livingston.

Northern WyomingBighorn River Fishing is fair. The water is still clear. With the weather changing conditions could change. —Ken Johnson, Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir The walleyes are showing a little more interest and the trout are fairly cooperative. An occasional crappie or two is also being taken. For crappie, use a small jig and a chunk of worm. For walleyes, use a jig and crawler or jig and minnow. Walleyes can be caught from shore off the points in the evenings. For trout, a wide variety of bait will work. Launching conditions are fairly decent. —Gary Hackett, Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir With the rainy weather, not many people fished this weekend. —Denny Benson, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork Toward the canyon it has cleared and is fishing well with deep drifted nymphs. —Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

East Newton Lake It's fishing pretty well. Use midges and as the weather warms use baetis mayflies. Fishermen do better when there is wind chop. Use a thin tippet. —Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

Keyhole Reservoir There was ugly weather Saturday at the tournament, but a lot of nice, big walleyes were caught. The winning total was 44 pounds of walleye for two days. The winning team said they pulled crankbaits in 15-25 feet of water. The biggest walleye caught was about 11 pounds. Northern pike are starting to bite. Some nice crappie been caught. —Dennis Tebeau, Keyhole Marina.

Lake DeSmet The trout are spawning. Fly fishermen are doing well on the south end of the lake. Use beadhead pheasant tails, prince nymphs and hare's ears. Anglers can bait fish with marshmallows, worms and Power Bait. —Rex Martin, Quik Sak, Sheridan.

North Fork of the Shoshone It fished really well over the weekend as the water cleared due to the cooler temperatures. The fish are eating large stonefly nymphs (size 6-8). Try a halfback. —Johnnie Stafford, Absaroka Angler, Cody.

Ten Sleep Creek The creek is coming up a little bit, so fish higher up in the canyon. Try a beadhead underneath the surface. At Paint Rock, the water is a little high because of recent rains. —Melanie Stine, The Outdoorsman, Worland.

Tongue River Above the reservoir where the water is muddy, anglers are catching nice catfish with stink bait. Some sauger are also being caught. —Rex Martin, Quik Sak, Sheridan.

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