Big northern

Jason Weathers of Belgrade was fishing with a minnow when he recently caught this 45-inch, 20.2-pound northern pike in Fort Peck Reservoir's Dry Arm near Rock Creek Marina.

Anglers are thinking about brown and brook trout more and more as these fish spawn in the fall.

For fly anglers, streamer fishing is picking up, and those who prefer to spin fish may also feel the tug of their fishing rod while retrieving a spoon.

Autumn is also a good time to be out for those who enjoy viewing the fall colors as the leaves change from green, to gold, yellow and red.

Following is The Gazette’s final fishing report for the season:

Top picks

Bighorn River — Fishing has been decent. Water clarity and grass have been an issue, but big fish are being caught. Streamer fishing has really picked up on the cloudier days. Black or olive Buggers seem to be the best picks. Nymphing with Orange Scuds, Carpet Bugs, Sunk Trico Spinners and Soft-hackle Ray Charles has been the most productive. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Cooney Reservoir — The walleye bite is getting better with the cooler weather, but is still slow compared to the beginning of the season. Walleye are being caught on jigs and leeches. The trout bite has gotten better. Most are being caught with crappie rigs and night crawlers. Trout seem to be favoring the Red Lodge Arm and Fisherman's Point areas. — Cooney State Park.

Gallatin River — With all the rain over the weekend the upper canyon stretch is muddy. In the lower section we are seeing the mud dissipate and going back to a green color, perfect for nymphing. A double nymph rig with a black Pat’s Rubber Legs to a Worm or Lightning Bug is hard to beat fished tight to the bank. Streamer fishing with black streamers will be picking up also with the cooler temperature and off-color water. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison RiverLower — Water temperatures are great and the flows have been kept steady for five days. A lot of the floating moss has cleared up, however, you will still encounter moss on the river bottom. Dry fly action has been consistent so long as the wind doesn't pick up. Cloudy days have baetis hatching and the fish looking up. Nymphing has been good with Crayfish, Caddis Pupas, mayfly imitations and Worms. Fish are holding in the buckets and taking Chubbies and other attractor dries on top on warmer days. Streamer fishing has been picking up nicely; olive has been the hot color. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Missouri River, below Holter — The flows were 5,550 cfs on Monday and the water temps were 62.1 degrees. October Caddis are out. Match a Chubby Chernobyl (12) in a Pteronarcys (stonefly) pattern. Chubby Chernobyl Royal in purple will work. There is still some Hopper action. Ants are also picking up fish. Purple Para Wulff (16-18) will work. Corn Fed Caddis are an awesome choice. There is still grass in the river. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.


Ackley Lake — Action has been quiet. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The river is fishing OK. There is still some Hopper fishing. Streamer fishing is picking up. One should stay below High Bridge due to the grass and moss, unless they are a dry fly angler. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Big Hole River — Hopper-dropper fishing is a good method. On cloudy days fish streamers. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Anglers are starting to target near the state line for the sauger bite. Try crankbaits for smallmouth bass. — Scheels, Billings.

Boulder River — The Boulder is still fishing well. On warm days the fish continue to show an interest in Hoppers and terrestrials. On cooler days look for Blue Winged Olives hatching, especially on more cloudy days. Recent rains have brought the river flows up a bit. Try a light nymph rig or Hopper/dropper rig for the slightly off-colored water that accompanies the high water after our fall rains. Work a streamer downstream in flats and tailouts, as the browns should be getting aggressive as they start their trip upstream to spawn. Stop in the shop for the most up to date reports. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — As walleye fishing is slowing down the rainbow bite is picking up. Rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells or perch, pink, purple or red crankbaits near White Earth, Duck Creek and Hellgate. A few rainbows are being picked up from shore on worms or crankbaits. Walleye action is slow with a few being caught from White Earth to Hellgate on crankbaits or bottom bouncers in 8 to 15 feet of water. An occasional perch is being caught from shore around the Silos. — FWP, Helena.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Anglers are reeling in bass and walleye and the northern pike are starting to bite again. Some are using worms and others are presenting crankbaits. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Fishing is still pretty slow. The reservoir turned over and there is floating moss on the water. The surface water temp is between 62 to 63 degrees. Some anglers are using jigs and plastic bodies with paddle tails or grub bodies with a piece of worm at depths of 18 to 25 feet and finding a few walleye. Pike action is also slow, with the occasional 5- or 6-pounder being reeled in at the same depths. Fishing should pick up in a couple weeks once the water settles. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Fishing is slow for lake trout and salmon. An occasional walleye has been boated on the reservoir. The walleye being caught were at depths of 20 to 30 feet. Try jigs and minnows or jigs and plastics. Shiver Minnows are working, too. One could target the bays near the weed beds and pull crankbaits for pike. A few walleye are being caught on the Missouri River in the dredge cut area. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Fishing is consistent for big pike and smallmouth. The walleye bite is on and off. Around Snow Creek anglers can target smallmouth using tube jigs and wacky rigs. Pull crankbaits at depths of 12 to 18 feet. Wind has been a challenge. — Hell Creek State Park.

Hauser Reservoir — Rainbows have been on the bite. Fishing from shore at the Causeway has been productive. Various flies are catching a few, and the standard worm and marshmallow rig is also working well. Most boat anglers are having success trolling cowbells tipped with worms around White Sandy and Black Sandy. Riverside Campground area has also been producing a few rainbows from shore with the same equipment. Walleye and perch fishing has been pretty slow. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — A few rainbows have been picked up fishing from shore around Departure Point with plain crawlers. Boat anglers have been having success trolling cowbells tipped with crawlers or Rapalas around the lower lake. The perch bite has slowed a little but there’s still some being picked up around the Mann Gulch and Sleeping Giant areas to the dam, with the best action being around weed beds in 12 to 30 feet of water on jigs and worms. An occasional walleye is being caught by anglers targeting perch. — FWP, Helena.

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Madison River, Upper — Attractor dry fly fishing has slowed down with the colder nights, but anglers will still pick up some fish on warmer, sunny days. Nymphing has been consistent with Worms, Stones, and smaller flashy mayfly nymphs being the best options. It’s starting to feel like fall and is time to dust off the bigger rods and sink tips. This week, with cloud cover and rain, could produce some awesome streamer fishing. The Cameron Flats section is the one area fishing tough at times. Be mindful when wading certain sections of the river, even at low flows, this is a difficult one to maneuver. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — Anglers are catching a few pan-size trout while sinking worms from shore. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — The river is mossy and fishing is slow. Hanson Dam and East Fork Reservoir are good options for local anglers. At Hanson, anglers are hooking into some trout and at East Fork you can catch perch and northerns. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir — The best bet is a minnow jigging over deep water for walleye, northerns and perch. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek — Heavy rain last week bumped Rock Creek’s stream flows but it has receded back to normal and the water has cleared. With each passing day the dry fly fishing will get tougher. If you still want to throw some dries on this mountain fed stream now is the time to do it. Until then, there will still be a Hopper bite albeit much later in the morning if not early afternoon. Recommended Hoppers to fish include Pink Pookies, Chubby Chernobyls as well as your classics like Dave’s, Joe’s or Parachute Hoppers. Additional dry flies to fish in the early fall are a Caddis in a size 14, Blue Wing Olive’s (16-18), yellow Stimulators (14), as well as your standard attractors like a Parachute Adams, Purple Haze or a Royal Wulff, Trude or Humpy (12-16). The nymph patterns to fish on Rock Creek include stonefly patterns like Rubber Legs, Girdle Bugs, Bitch Creeks, and North Fork Specials in black. Most stonefly nymphs can be fished in sizes 8-12. Additional nymph recommendations include Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ear, Prince Nymphs as well as Copper Johns, Psycho Princes and the Batman Nymph. Fall means streamers on Rock Creek. If you want to catch fat brown trout fish Sparkle Minnows, Grinches, and Krystal Flash Buggers in black or olive. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — The creek fished well on Mayflies, Caddis and Hoppers. Fishing conditions will change when the weather changes. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Flows bumped up a bit after last week’s rain. The lower river is comfortable to float. For wade anglers the best bet is to head up above Absarokee where it’s much easier access. With cooler mornings fishing usually picks up by mid to late morning and on into the afternoon. Nymphing is a good way to go early, or use a long dropper with a beadhead nymph like a Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Batman, or Prince Nymph off of a searching dry fly pattern like a Jack Cabe, PMX, Stimulator, or Purple Haze. By late morning fish are looking to take the small dry fly on top. Smaller dries like a PMD, Caddis or Purple Haze are working well in the afternoon. There are still hoppers out in the warmer afternoons. Look to fish smaller Hoppers, too, like a Fat Frank, Yeti, Yellowstoner or Schroeder’s in peach, pink, grape, tan or olive. The cooler, cloudy, wet weather in the forecast should make for some nice BWO hatches. Use a smaller Purple Haze or Parachute Adams. It’s time to break out the streamer rod. Basic streamers like the Grinch, Sparkle Minnow, and Clousers can always trigger a reaction from a nice pre-spawn brown trout. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir — Fishing pressure was light with the weather. Bass and northerns are being caught. Anglers are finding fish around the island on the north end and also on the south end of the reservoir. Orange was a good color for jigs. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Now is the time to float fish the river. Fall colors have come on, crowds are thinned and fishing can be excellent. The river has started to clear back up after being off-color following last week’s rain. Hopper fishing has slowed from what it was, but is still active on most days from late morning on. Several types of Hoppers are taking fish. Try the Yellowstoner Chubby, Yeti Hopper, Fat Frank, More or Less Hopper, Otter Hopper and Pink Pookie in tan, pink, peach, olive, yellow or grape (10-14). Nymphing can usually be a good way to start out the day early as fish have been gorging on nocturnal stones. Try fishing a big rubber leg nymph like a Girdle Bug, Pat’s Rubber Leg or Bitch Creek. Make sure to use a long enough leader and weight to get it down in the heavy water. It’s a good time to consider streamer fishing using the Grinch, Kreelex, Bow River Bugger, Sparkle Minnows, and basic black Buggers. Pre-spawn brown trout will start being aggressive. Fish may be eating the dry fly early, too, so fish a Jack Cabe, Stimulator, PMX or Purple Haze. If they’re not hitting the big dry or Hopper consistently, drop a beadhead nymph on a long dropper off of it. Also keep a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams and Caddis handy for any rising fish. The cloudy, overcast and showery weather days should produce some nice BWO hatches. Look for pods of rising fish in the tailouts and slicks. Use a smaller Purple Haze or Parachute Adams. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Due to the rain, fishing pressure was light. Before the rain smallmouth bass fishing was excellent from Huntley to Pompeys Pillar. Use minnows or crankbaits. Anglers are catching sauger while jigging minnows or tossing big spoons in red and white or black and white. A Five-of-Diamonds will work, too. An angler can still catch catfish. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — Try fishing dark Stones or black streamers tight to the bank or in any soft water. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — The river looked like chocolate milk on Monday. When the river clears fishing will improve. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend  The fishing is really good right now. The catfish and bass are biting at the fishing dock. From the state line south is producing bass, crappie, sauger and catfish. The water is pretty clear and a lot of action is happening in the south narrows with sauger and catfish.— Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Flows are low, but the river is fishing well. Crayfish and terrestrial patterns will work. Caddis flies will produce early. Trout are also biting worms. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Clarks Fork — It is fishing well in the canyon. Use a Hopper-dropper. North Fork Special and various soft-hackle jigs will work. Anglers are starting to pull a lot of Buggers. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — Water temps have cooled. It is a good time to get out there and fish. There are sporadic rises. Fishing midges is a good option. It is the time of year to pull streamers, such as Woolly Buggers and Leeches. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lower Shoshone — It is fishing well. Fish are rising to hopper patterns and Parachute Pale Morning Duns. The streamer bite is starting to pick up. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — This time of year one catches resident fish. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

South Fork of the Shoshone — It is fishing well on Hoppers. Streamers are coming into play as well. Sculpins are a good choice.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Anglers are catching fish at both. From the bank anglers are using worms. Spinners will work from the bank and boat. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Yellowstone National Park — The Gallatin has been a little frustrating for some over the past week.  Remember the water is very cold in this section and needs time to warm up before the fishing will kick in, and there is a fairly short window from about 1-3 p.m. where it will fish well. The runners on the Madison have been slowly showing up and we are seeing a slight increase in the numbers of fish moving up from Hebgen Lake. If you like swinging flies, try a Shakey Beeley, Blew on Blue, Full Dressed Red or Lucky Bucky. These patterns have been successful over the past week and have been go-to flies for us for years. Streamers should be effective, too, so try brown/yellow and black Prospectors, tan Super Buggers, or orange and claret Super Squirrels. If you'd rather nymph, Pat's Rubberlegs (8), Guide Dips (14-16), Baker's Hole Buggers (10), Hungarian Prince (6) and San Juans are what you'll want to carry with you. The Firehole has been good and swinging soft hackles has been the best bet with White Miller Soft Hackles (16), Tungsten Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles (16) and Partridge & Orange (14). During the rainy, cold days we have been seeing Baetis and Bucky's Upright Baetis or a Baetis Sparkle Dun (20) along with Baetis Soft Hackles (20). Keep your eye on the flows for Lamar, Slough and Soda Butte as the rain moves in again. You can bet that the Lamar and Soda Butte will most likely become off-color. Slough will typically stay clear even with a hard rain. The Drake Mackerel emergences have been getting better and better over the last week and the Baetis will often come off around the same time. Don't count out terrestrials in the northeast corner, along with drakes and Baetis. Make sure you have a few Hoppers and never forget the Longhorn Beetle. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

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