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Catfishing

Billings fishing guide Eddie White said the Yellowstone River has been great for catfish this spring."The high water has made this one of the better bites we have seen in years," he said. "Locating cats is relatively easy: look for current breaks, log jams and in feeder creeks. Cut sucker, goldeye, night crawlers and chubs have worked great."

While runoff still has some rivers running high, the end is nearing and rivers generally are becoming more and more fishable.

There are also plenty of opportunities to reel in a few fish while enjoying time at many of the region’s lakes and reservoirs. And to top it off, for the most part temperatures haven’t been overly warm making for favorable fishing conditions.

Be aware there may be more traffic and congestion at your favorite fishing hole this weekend due to the Fourth of July.

Here’s the weekly fishing report: 

Top picks

Bighorn River — Flows are on the drop again and water temps are still prime, but not getting too warm like last year. The river was scheduled to be at 8,500 cfs by the end of June 28 and was expected to sit there for the weekend. We’re not sure what happens next, but as inflows to the lake drop, our section will drop as well. Fishing has been awesome. Big Sowbugs are the name of the game. Variations of Carpet Bugs and Ray Charles will produce. Run a Worm (chenille or wire) on top of your rig below Greycliffs area and that’s pretty much the program. There’s definitely a bit more vegetation in the water below Three Mile, but it’s not too bad overall. Streamer fishing has been decent. Summer dry fly fishing is just around the corner and things are lining up great. A few PMD and black caddis have been spotted, and hopefully in another week or two it will be on. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Fishing is awesome and you never know what type of fish you’ll reel in. Walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish and drum are all biting. The perch being caught are small. Bottom bouncing or jigging with a worm is producing. The fish are in 3 to 20 feet of water. The walleye are running 18 to 24 inches. Any color will work, but in the muddy water dark colors work better. Crawlers are the bait of choice. Leeches are also working. Some anglers are running to Fourchette to find clear water, but the walleye are biting on the mudline as well. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Anglers are doing well. For walleye pull bottom bouncers with leeches and crawlers in 8 to 12 feet. One can also pitch a jig in 2 to 3 feet of water for walleye, as the walleye are in the shallows chasing baitfish. Smallmouth bass are being picked up while fishing for walleye. For northerns pull crankbaits in 10 to 15 feet of water. — Hell Creek Marina.

Hebgen Lake — Anglers came off Hebgen very happy this past week. All kinds of fishing styles seem to be working for browns and rainbows. Fish are still close to shore in about 8-15 feet or 15-25 feet of water, depending on where you are. Trolling in circles close to shore on the west end of Horse Butte also was productive. The tried and true firetiger Needlefish worked well for many. Brown trout and rainbow pattern Rapalas also worked well, which suggests Flatfish would also be a good bet this week. The lake is just about at full pool, with surface temps around 60 degrees in the afternoon (cooler in the mornings). Daytime temperatures are getting into the 70s with lows at night in the 40s. — Kirkwood Resort & Marina.

Nelson Reservoir — 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. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Spring Creek — It is fishing well and is in good shape. There are caddis and mayflies coming off. Panther Martin, Mepps and Blue Fox lures will work. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Montana

Ackley Lake — It has been a little on the slow side as the recent thunderstorms have roiled up the lake. Anglers are catching a few rainbow trout and tiger muskies. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — We are not seeing as many fish by the dam, but the fish being caught are fat trout. Use small PMD nymphs. The PMD hatch is just getting going. There are fish rising around Henneberry as the PMDs are hatching there. There are good opportunities if you are patient to hook into rising trout. After Grasshopper Creek dumps in, try San Juan Worms or Golden Stones. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Big Hole River — The river is running a little lower than average and is very approachable compared to what it can be this time of year. Dry fly fishing is good in the mornings and evenings. Overall, streamer fishing has been the best technique. With the river dropping nymphing is productive, which will also catch whitefish. In the evening there are caddis out. There is a banner PMD hatch on cloudy days. Golden stones are crawling back out now early in the morning and evening. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Tube baits and Senkos should work for bass. — Scheels, Billings.

Boulder River — The recent high temperatures and thunderstorms have brought the Boulder back up to levels that make the fishing pretty tough. It looks like the final gasps of runoff are upon us and we expect the flows to drop throughout the week and the fishing to improve. When the river drops another 1,000 cfs or so, fishing should improve considerably. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow trout are being caught from shore throughout the reservoir on jigs tipped with worms. Walleye and some yellow perch are being caught trolling worm harnesses, crankbaits, and Slow Death rigs in 10 to 30 feet of water. Shore anglers are also catching walleye and perch using jigs, standard and floating, tipped with worms or leeches in 5-25 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.

Cooney Reservoir — Water temps are around 68 degrees at Red Lodge Creek, 64 degrees at Willow Creek and 61 degrees at the dam. Trout fishing is slow. Walleye fishing is good from boat and shore using leeches. Perch are also biting. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin — It is fishing OK. From a boat try worms or spinners. Shore anglers could try worms or PowerBait. The Broadview Pond is still producing some fat rainbow trout, but the water is starting to get mossy. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing is picking up. Smallmouth bass, northerns and walleye are biting. Use worm harnesses and bottom bouncers. Leeches are a good bait. Plastic baits are also working for smallmouth. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — The lake trout bite is very slow. Some very big walleye are being caught in 10 to 12 feet of water. Pull crankbaits or worm harnesses with worms. Northern pike are very active. Smallmouth are being caught while pitching a lure to rocky points. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — It is fishing well for walleye. Pull worm harnesses and a bottom bouncer. Pike fishing has slowed down. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Fresno Reservoir — Anglers are doing well on walleye while trolling or fishing from shore. Leeches are working the best, but worms, and white and yellow plastic worms are also working. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — The Gallatin is looking good above the Taylor Fork and is fishable all the way through the canyon. The water is pumping hard, so be very careful, but the fish will be pushed right up against the banks and in the softer water pockets. Make sure your big Stones, Worms, and Mayflies are ready to roll. Last week there were some salmonfly sightings in the canyon. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — Rainbows are being caught from shore at Riverside below Canyon Ferry Dam while drifting jigs. Rainbows are also being caught in the Causeway near White Sandy while trolling cowbells. Walleye are being caught at the Causeway Bridge and in the Causeway on jigs with a leech. A few perch are being caught in the Causeway on jigs. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Night fishing for rainbows is good along the cliffs from Departure Point to Split Rock while trolling cowbells. Walleye and perch are being caught on jigs and worms along the east shore from Indian Trail to the Boat Loft. Most action has been around weed beds in 20 to 25 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.

Madison RiverLower — Water temperatures have risen to 61 degrees. For the week to come it looks like we will have a resurgence of summer weather. The caddis and PMDs should be back. In the evenings there have been a few drakes. The fish will be feeding on dries in the mornings and evenings, but along the banks there is action with a small Chubby or an Adams throughout the day. Get it while you can out here. This river heats up quickly, especially with low flows. We may only have a week or two more before temperatures are at lethal levels for the fish. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — Last week, salmonflies arrived on the lower portions of the upper Madison. Working a big dry this time of year can certainly come with big rewards. 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, big Caddis Pupas, and streamers. Keep an eye out for caddis popping throughout the day and into the evening. An olive Elk-Hair Caddis will get the job done for rising fish. The West Fork is still dumping a little bit of mud. Clarity is still fine all the way down to town. Nymphing has been the most consistent producer with Worms, Stones, and smaller Mayfly nymphs being the best options. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — While fishing from the north shore, bank anglers are doing well using worms or PowerBait. From boat, try trolling silver cowbells and worms. Silver lures are also working. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Missouri River, below Holter — The flow was 4,860 cfs on Monday and water temps were 60 degrees. PMDs and caddis are out. Fish are taking PMD spinners. Dry fly fishing is hit-or-miss, but nymph action has been good. A Frenchie Nymph and Psycho Mayfly Nymph will work. Crack Back PMD Nymphs are effective. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — Some catfish continue to be caught. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Rock Creek — A surge in rain and then heat has kept Rock Creek in full blown runoff. There is good water clarity on Rock Creek in and around the Red Lodge area although finding trout holding water will be difficult. Rock Creek’s three tributaries — which include the Main Fork, Lake Fork and West Fork — may also be mostly fast and not fishable. Should an angler explore Rock Creek’s tributaries recommended dry fly patterns to fish include a Purple Haze, tan Caddis or a Parachute Adams all in sizes 12-14. Recommended nymphs include red or chartreuse Copper John, Montana Prince in blue, a Batman Nymph or a good old San Juan Worm. Most nymphs can be fished in sizes 10-14. As previously recommended, the runoff season means lake and pond season. Luce and Hogan lakes, located south of Clark, Wyoming, offer a nice setting for rainbows and cutthroat trout fishing using a variety of Damsel and Callibaetis nymphs and dry fly patterns. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Stillwater River — The Stillwater continued its late spring and early summer pattern of fluctuation. Flows came up significantly over the weekend and were extremely swift, making for some challenging float fishing conditions. It should be stabilizing and start a downward tick. Nymphing a short leash setup on the edges has been the best option, with a darker body Stonefly along with beadhead patterns like a Prince Nymph, red Copper John, Lil’ Spanker, Hare’s Ear, Batman or Pheasant Tail. Streamer fishing has been fair. It’s been tough but fish are starting to look up at the big dry flies like a Chubby, PMX or Jack Cabe with a beadhead nymph dropper in the softer inside water. As the water warms up just a bit more a larger Purple Haze fished as tight to the bank as you can get it can produce some fish when floating. The river will likely continue to fluctuate in response to temperatures and rain. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tiber Reservoir — It is fishing well for walleye. Jigging is working in 4 to 8 feet of water. Some are also pulling crankbaits. A few northerns have been reeled in. Anglers are catching quite a few perch. In the heat of the day the fishing slows down but turns back on when it cools down. Water levels remain high. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.

Tongue River Reservoir — It is starting to act more like summer, so fishing is picking up. A few walleye have been caught close to shore in 8 feet of water. The best action remains from the bank. A silver Blue Fox has been working for walleye. Others are using worms and a bobber. A few bass and an occasional crappie are also being caught by shore anglers. Boat anglers should focus on trolling near the shorelines. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Although improving, it’s still running on the high side and a bit off-color. It needs to drop a bit more and gain a little more clarity for fishing. It’s still likely a week or so away. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The river is down a little bit, so some boat anglers are showing up. Anglers are having decent luck on catfish. Shrimp is starting to work. Cut bait and live minnows are still the bait of choice. At Castle Rock Lake anglers are catching a few small northerns, crappie and smallmouth bass. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — 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. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — It is still high and dirty. Catfish and shovelnose sturgeon continue to bite. Crawlers are the best bait. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.

Wyoming

Beartooth Lakes — Water temps are coming up and the trout are beginning to respond to spinners, bait and flies. Midday to early evening has been the best time to fish. Mosquito repellent and bear spray are recommended. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend  Black crappie and catfish are the flavor of the week at Horseshoe Bend. We had several anglers report that sauger action is starting to pick up as the water clears. The lake level is still rising, so it's a little tricky on finding the right spot. Most of the action is coming from Crooked Creek Bay on bottom bouncers with minnows and worms. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Flows were 5,000 cfs on Monday and the river was fishing well. Most anglers were still using wet flies. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — The walleye bite has been steady for the last week; use crawler harnesses with worms or leeches. The rainbow trout bite is good. A few crappie were caught. — Boysen Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Above Gibbs is open for fishing. The rest of the reservoir opens up July 15. Keep an eye out for thunderstorms. Clear water proves to offer better fishing. Anglers are still catching perch at Beck Lake and New Cody Reservoir.  — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — Water conditions in the Shoshone Forest are better than those found near Clark. Salmonflies and golden stones are active from Eidelweiss to the Clarks Fork Canyon. Orange or yellow Stimulators, Ho Candy, and Chubby Chernobyl will work for dries. Large Stonefly nymphs are recommended for fishing deep. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — West and East Newton lakes are fishing very well. West Newton is where people go to use bait, spin gear or flies. East Newton is flies and lures only, and catch and release only. At Upper Sunshine Reservoir flies are working well from shore or a boat. Leech patterns are still best, however, Damselflies and Callibaetis are receiving attention. Hogan Reservoir is put and take for cutthroat trout. Flies, lures and bait are all working. General limits apply at Hogan. At Luce Reservoir, Ants, Beetles and adult Damselfly dry fly imitations are hot. Anglers are also doing well using Leech patterns, bead-head Midge Pupae, soft-hackled nymphs and Damselfly nymphs. Flies and lures only. Catch and release regulations are enforced. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Fishing has been touch and go due to the weather. Some big lake trout, from 9.5-11 pounds, have been caught. Worms and multi-colored PowerBait with glitter will work. Some are fishing straight worms or PowerBait and some are tipping half a crawler with PowerBait. Some walleye and rainbow have been reeled in by shore anglers. Try trolling spinners. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Lower Shoshone — The visibility was 15 inches. Fishing has been good with spinners, streamers and two-fly nymph rigs above Sage Creek. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — The North Fork opened to anglers for its entire length on July 1, from Red Pole Bridge upriver to Yellowstone National Park. Waters are still high, and likely muddy, in Wapiti Valley. The west arm of Buffalo Bill Reservoir will remain closed until July 15 east of Red Pole Bridge. There is no low water law in Wyoming. Permission is needed to fish private property. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — The upper reservoir is fishing well using crawlers. Action on the lower reservoir is on the slow side. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Yellowstone National Park — The colder weather has made the Firehole more productive than usual at this point in the season. We were still seeing strong PMD and white miller caddis hatches. There were also Baetis hatches on colder, cloudy and rainy days. When there is little to no activity on top, we have been swinging soft hackles. For soft hackles we have had the most success with Peacock & Partridge, Peacock & Starling, Nick's Soft Hackles, and Partridge & Green. During a white miller hatch, swing a White Miller Soft Hackle if the fish are taking emergers. As for PMDs, the Firehole PMD Sparkle Dun (16) has been our go-to fly. The Madison is also fishing later into the season. We are still seeing PMDs and a few white miller hatches. We have been spending most of our time upriver from 8 Mile, especially from Mt. Haynes to the junction. As far as nymphing, Rubber Legs, Zebra Midges, Serendipities and Pheasant Tails have been most productive. As far as Lamar, Slough and Soda Butte, unfortunately we cannot report that the northeast corner is fishing. The same cold weather that has allowed the Madison and Firehole to fish later has pushed back fishing in the northeast corner. We are expecting it to start fishing around the middle of July, but if we get some hot days it may fish a bit sooner. — 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

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