Fat walleye

Scott Anderson of Joliet caught this 31-inch, 11-pound walleye on June 29 using a pink, blue and purple butterfly blade on his worm harness. He was fishing in 10 to 12 feet of water near Crooked Creek at Fort Peck Reservoir and released the fish.

Anglers continued to have success fishing for walleye at Nelson Reservoir this past week.

At Fort Peck, anglers did well at Fourchette Bay and the Hell Creek area.

The Governor’s Cup walleye fishing tournament is set for July 11-13 at Fort Peck Reservoir.

Here’s The Gazette’s weekly fishing report: 

Top picks

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — Anglers did really well. Try worm harnesses or crankbaits for walleye. Northerns and smallmouth are also biting, but most people are fishing for walleye. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Fishing has been good with some anglers catching their limit of walleye. Bottom bounce with a crawler harness with a leech or a worm. Pitching a jig toward the bank in 2 to 4 feet of water will work. Hot colors are chartreuse, purple and white. Quite a few big pike have been reeled in. The water temperature is sitting around 75 degrees in the shallow areas. — Hell Creek Marina.

Gallatin River — The Gallatin has been fishing very well. The big bugs are around but not in huge numbers. The flows are still pumping, so take precaution wading. A good rig to try is a big foamy salmonfly on top with a stonefly dropper below. If the fish aren't taking the salmonflies switch to a smaller Chubby. Nymphing has also been productive running a rubber legs up top with a smaller Mayfly or Caddis dropper. The river is starting to see more pressure. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Holter Reservoir — Fishing is good at night or very early mornings for rainbows and walleye, especially in the lower reservoir. Rainbows are being caught on jigs and worms or while trolling cowbells. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Perch continue to be caught around the docks and weed beds in the lower reservoir in 8 to 18 feet of water on jigs and worms. Walleye are being caught while using bottom bouncers or jigs and leeches in 8 to 15 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.

Nelson Reservoir — The reservoir is still full. It has been hot for walleye. Fish in 17 to 26 feet of water. Pull a worm harness or a leech. Some fat perch are being caught in deeper water. There are lots of small northerns being caught. — Westside Sports, Malta.


Ackley Lake — Action is slow for tiger muskies. Evening and morning is the best time to fish for them. Trout fishing is OK trolling with cowbells and spinner rigs. A few are still using flies near the intake and catching rainbows. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — Pale morning duns are coming off. A few big fish are eating the dries and the rest are locking in on the nymph drift. Expect increasing numbers of PMDs to hatch, with the emergence of strong yellow Sally hatches from lunch time through the afternoon. There are big caddis hatches in the evenings. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Big Hole River — Fish are starting to key on golden stones. Below average temperatures in the latter half of June slowed down the usual daytime flurry of multiple hatches, but water temperatures have normalized and the river is fishing well on cloudy days and slower on sunny days. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Overall it is fishing well. Smallmouth bass are taking minnows. — Scheels, Billings.

Bighorn River — It is fishing well, with the best success using nymphs. There are scattered PMD and caddis dry hatches. The water levels are stable at 8,500 cfs and water temps are 56 degrees. We anticipate water levels to drop in the next seven to 10 days. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Boulder River — The flows are still high, yet coming down ever so slowly. Wade fishing is still difficult as the holding water is pretty scarce, yet the bugs are showing up. Yellow Sally, golden stones, caddis and PMDs are all hatching. As the flows decrease, fishing is picking up. Fish big dries with a  Stonefly dropper (14) or nymph fish a Golden Stone Nymph and a smaller Stonefly. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow trout are being caught from shore throughout the reservoir with the most action occurring in Confederate Bay while using jigs tipped with worms early in the morning. A few rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells from White Earth to the Silos. Walleye and some yellow perch are being caught from the river to north of the Silos in 15 to 20 feet of water while using bottom bouncers or yellow jigs with leeches or worms. The area from Duck Creek to Goose Bay is producing walleye as well. Walleye and perch are being caught from shore throughout the reservoir using jigs, standard and floating, tipped with worms or leeches in 10 to 25 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.

Cooney Reservoir — Walleye are biting and several have limited out. Try jigging with leeches or worms. Trout fishing is quiet. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin — Fishing has been good for 10- to 12-inch rainbows trolling silver cowbells. From shore, a few trout have been caught using garlic marshmallows and worms. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Anglers reeled in some walleye, pike and bass. Jigs, crankbaits and bottom bouncers are all producing. Leeches or worms are the bait of choice. Some anglers are still using minnows, but minnows are not available at the marina at this time, so bring your own minnows. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Try bottom bouncing worm harnesses with leeches for walleye. Crankbaits are just starting to work for walleye. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — It is a shallow bite for walleye at 10 to 12 feet. A crawler or leech with a plain hook and a bead is a good presentation. Lake trout action is once again picking up. Northern pike are very active. Smallmouth are being caught while pitching a lure to rocky points. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fresno Reservoir — There were a lot of pleasure boaters and anglers on the reservoir last weekend. Anglers had been doing well on walleye using worms and leeches. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows are being caught from shore below Canyon Ferry Dam while using worms or PowerBait. Rainbow fishing is fair while trolling cowbells deep between the Black Sandy area and Devil’s Elbow. Numerous small walleye are being caught in the Causeway on bottom bouncers or jigs tipped with a leech. Walleye are also being caught at night from shore at the Causeway Bridge. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — It is at full pool and the water surface temperature has warmed up to about 61 degrees. The fish are a little deeper, but still easily accessible. They have been finding them fairly close to shore about 25 feet down, give or take. Orange/gold and yellow/white/gold Kamloopers brought a lot of fish into boats this past week. Air temps are supposed to rise quite a bit (finally), so that will affect the water temps and where the fish are as we get closer to next weekend. — Kirkwood Resort & Marina.

Madison RiverLower — Flows are back on a downward trend. The temperatures have risen to 65 degrees. With the overcast conditions, the caddis and PMD bite should be decent. If you are fishing late, look for fish eating drakes. The fish will be feeding on dries more so in the mornings and evenings, but along the banks there is action with a small Chubby or an Adams throughout the day. With the drop in flows, nymphing will be your best bet. The crayfish bite has picked up with fish holding over the weed beds. This river heats up quickly, especially with low flows. We may only have a week or two more before temperatures reach lethal levels for fish. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — With the recent weather system that has been moving through the salmonflies have been slowed down a bit. We have had reports of the big bugs all through the upper river. Working a big dry this time of year can certainly come with big rewards. If you're trying to catch the hatch you will want to either fish above or below the hatch. Do not head this way without a few big orange dries in your box. We can expect this river to rise again with warm weather approaching. Down lower, fish your big stones, Yellow Sallies, big Caddis Pupas, PMD nymphs, and emergers. PMDs have made an appearance and the fish have taken notice. Also, keep an eye out for sedge caddis popping throughout the day and into the evening. If you see fish rising, an olive Elk-Hair Caddis or an Extended Body PMD will get the job done. Clarity has improved throughout the whole river. It has a nice green tint to it. Nymphing has been the most consistent producer with Worms, Stones, and smaller Mayfly nymphs being the best options. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — Those trolling are doing best using silver cowbells. PowerBait is a productive bait from shore. Many anglers are coming close to limiting out. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Missouri River, below Holter — The flows were 5,240 cfs on Monday and water temps were at 60 degrees. PMDs and caddis are out. Nymphing has been effective and the hatches are starting. There are hints of tricos in the lower section. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — All the way to the Rock Creek boat ramp is fishing well for large catfish. Use cut bait or live minnows. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek — Rock Creek continues to be high and fast due to continued snow melt and all the rain our region has seen. Rock Creek’s water clarity is clear the closer you get to Red Lodge, but do expect to see high and fast flows. It is possible to find somewhat better fishing conditions by exploring Rock Creek’s three tributaries which include the Main Fork, Lake Fork and West Fork, although they will also be a challenge due to high flows. Should an angler find some safe and acceptable holding water, recommended dry flies include a Purple Haze, yellow Stimulator, tan Caddis or a Parachute Adams in sizes 12-14. Nymphs to fish during runoff include San Juan Worms and Stonefly nymphs in sizes 8-12, as well as Copper Johns, Montana Princes in blue, or the Batman Nymph in sizes 12-14. As long as water in our area streams remains high there are several quality lakes to fish. Those lakes include Emerald and West Rosebud lakes, which are located near the Mystic Lake Trailhead, as well as Mystic Lake. These lakes can be fished effectively stripping Woolly Buggers or leech patterns, as well as indicator fishing with a Balanced Leech with an Ice Cream Cone Nymph dropper. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — All the recent rainstorms have clouded the water and slowed the hatches. Streamers and attractor flies are good choices. Use some weight to get them down. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — The river has stabilized and started to drop. The lower river is still on the high side and off-color due to the rain. The upper river has been clear and dropping. Fish have started to hit the big dry flies like a Chubby, PMX, Jack Cabe or Stimulator with a beadhead nymph dropper in the softer inside water. Beadhead patterns like a Prince Nymph, red Copper John, Lil’ Spanker, Hare’s Ear, Batman or Flashback Pheasant Tail have been good dropper nymphs. PMDs have started to show up by midafternoon and trout will hit a smaller size Purple Haze. Salmonflies were active on the upper river from Nye to Cliff Swallow over the Fourth of July weekend and a big foam salmonfly pattern fished to the banks was steadily producing. It’s hard to predict how long they’ll be coming off. Look for the fishing to really take off once flows get to 3,000 cfs or less. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tiber Reservoir — It is fishing well for walleye, perch and pike. Try bottom bouncing or jigging with crawlers for walleye and perch. Fish the shallow, grassy areas for both species. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.

Tongue River Reservoir — The water temps are in the low 70s. Water levels are receding slowly. Walleye, bass and a few northern pike have been caught. The best bait has been minnows. Boat anglers are catching fish in the coves. From the shore, people have hooked into mainly bass, but have also caught a few northern pike and walleye. An occasional catfish has been caught. Crappie fishing is slow. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park. 

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Although improving, it’s still running on the high side and a bit off-color. It’s not too far off, but still needs to drop a bit more and gain a little more clarity for fishing. In the meantime, search out lakes, smaller tributaries and tailwaters. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The river is still running high. There haven’t been many boat anglers, but those fishing from bank are doing very well for catfish. Fish pools just off the current using minnows, cut bait and shrimp. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The Yellowstone has been slowly dropping and flows are down to 10,400 cfs in Livingston. This is still a very dangerous flow on this river, but clarity is enough to do a little fishing. Use extreme caution if you head this way. Work the banks and soft water with large nymphs or streamers. There is still a lot of snowpack on the east side of the mountains, so the clarity may not last. This is a good river to keep an eye on, but if you are planning a fishing trip this week there are still better options around. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — The river is still high and dirty. The catfish bite remains decent. Minnows, shrimp, stink bait, crawlers and cut bait will all work. The river will probably need to clear up before other game fish start to bite. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend  The south narrows are producing 3- to 4-pound cats regularly. The Horseshoe Bend fishing dock has produced sauger and bass on minnows this week with a slower catfish turnout than usual. The north narrows are producing crappie and bass and Crooked Creek anglers reported walleye, sauger and bass on a diving Rapala and minnows. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — The flow was 4,000 cfs on Monday. Fishing is average and some big fish have been reeled in. Most anglers are using flies. There are a lot of caddis out. Plenty of people in kayaks and rafts are enjoying the river. Action in the Wind River Canyon is good and some big fish have been caught. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Fishing the river above Gibbs Bridge has been hit-or-miss with rain and snowmelt. The whole lake opens up July 15 for fishing. At Beck Lake and New Cody Reservoir, fishing has been good for perch and trout. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — The flow is 4,360 cfs and the water has a greenish-gray tint. Salmonflies and Club Sandwiches would work, along with Bitch Creeks, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Sparkle Stones and North Fork Specials. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — Damsel nymphs and dry flies and Callibaetis nymphs are working well. Bow Tie Midges and Ice Cream Cones are also producing. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Lake trout, walleye and rainbow trout are all biting. A half crawler and multi-colored PowerBait with glitter is a good presentation for lake trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. Bank anglers can catch walleye sinking worms. From boat, fish by the islands near the north dam.— The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Lower Shoshone — It is off-color but fishable along the edges. The flows are 5,272 cfs. North Fork Specials, Halfbacks and Pat’s Rubber Legs are good flies. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — It is coming down and the water has a green tint. It is fishable. Sparkle Stones, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Halfbacks, North Fork Specials and Double Beaded Stoneflies will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

South Fork of the Shoshone—It is high and dirty.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — The upper reservoir is fishing really well, while the lower reservoir has become tougher. On the upper, fly anglers are doing well, as are those trolling and fishing with bait from the bank. Try in the early morning or late at night when fishing the lower reservoir. The fish are deep on the lower reservoir and the key is locating them. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Yellowstone National Park — We won't be fishing the Firehole River much now that the water temperature is consistently reaching 72-plus degrees during the day. If you plan to fish here in the next week it would be best to stay above Midway Geyser Basin, where the water is cooler, and to start and end your day early. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

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Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL