Brown trout

Richard Romersa shared this photo of a Rock Creek brown trout. The bigger fish are keying on large wet flies, Romersa said.

Grasshoppers are all over in Billings, appearing in backyards, fields, flower beds and parking lots.

There are so many grasshoppers they’ll occasionally even find their way into your vehicle, house or inside your shirtsleeve or pant leg.

Hoppers aren’t only abundant in the Magic City and can be found around many river and creek bottoms in the area. And while it is getting later into the hopper season, and trout have been gorging on them for a while now, various hopper patterns remain effective. In other words, trout have not tired of the hopper buffet.

Here’s the weekly fishing report:

Top picks

Bighorn River — Late summer fishing continues to be good on the Bighorn. There’s a few weeks of busy time left on the river, but crowds have cut down considerably — even this past week. Tricos are a bit hit-and-miss in the mornings, but fish are definitely up in spots. There are a handful of Black Caddis around in the evenings and Hopper fishing is good for seeing some of the bigger fish in the river. Nymphing with Orange Scuds, Softhackle Rays (tan or gray), Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears and Sunk Tricos has been steady. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — Fishing is hot for walleye, northerns, crappie and smallmouth. Anglers are catching walleye and northerns on minnows, worms and large crankbaits. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Missouri River, below Holter — Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, grasshoppers. The flows are 5,460 cfs and the water temp was 62.8 degrees on Tuesday. There are also caddis and tricos out. Ants are starting to work better all the time. For nymph anglers a Zirdle (8) on top with a Two Bit Hooker or Frenchie below it will work. Twitch the presentation. There is some moss in the water. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Nelson Reservoir — Fishing continues to be good for walleye and perch. Anglers are trolling bottom bouncers with worms. Some bigger fish are being caught on jigs tipped with a minnow in the deeper part of the lake. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek — The creek is in prime summer form. Rarely have we seen hoppers like we have in 2019. Recommended hopper patterns include the Pink Pookie, Parachute Hoppers, Dave’s Hoppers, Joe’s Hoppers and various Chubby Chernobyl colors. Fish hoppers in sizes 8-12. An excellent technique a hopper-dropper. Recommended droppers (14-16) include red or chartreuse Copper John, the Batman Nymph, Montana Princes in blue and Psycho Princes in varied colors. Additional dry fly patterns to fish include Caddis in tan or olive (14), Yellow Sally (16) and PMD (16). When it comes to dry flies the creek is an attractor pattern fishery. Those patterns include a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams, Royal Wulff, Trude or Humpy (12-16). Nymphs to fish right now continue to be Stonefly Nymphs (8-12) like Pat’s Rubber Legs, Girdle Bugs, North Fork Specials, or Bitch Creeks. Additional nymphs to fish include a Caddis Pupa (14), Zebra Midge (16), a Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail or a Red Fox Squirrel Nymph (10-16). An angler’s best bet continues to be fishing streamers. Not all the dry flies and nymphs on the planet could out-produce a Sparkle Minnow streamer. As we transition into fall, streamers will continue to be the ticket well into November. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.


Ackley Lake — Action is starting to pick up, but overall the bite is slow. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — Cranefly and Hopper fishing is still solid. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Big Hole River — We have been fielding a bunch of calls regarding the various closures on the upper and lower river, however in the stretches that are prime during this time of year all is well. The upper section has a low flow closure on it. It is not an uncommon closure. Likewise for the lower river closure below Notch Bottom. While those stretches are prime for spring and early summer conditions, they also see lower activity later in the summer and many of the fish move around the river system to find more suitable habitat. From Jerry Creek down to Glen we are seeing river conditions best suited for a raft. We are recommending hard boats float Browns to Glen or Glen to the Notch. We are seeing hoppers all over, and anglers looking to get into hopper eaters will want to fish ahead of the boat with small tan or pink Hoppers off a longer than usual leader. An Ant or a small Trico off the back is not a bad idea. When using this technique it can be important to cover plenty of water as after the first nice trout is caught in a spot, it is uncommon others will come to the surface after all the commotion. The best reports we are getting are those of small pods of trout taking Tricos in the river above Maiden Rock up to around Dickie Bridge. There are odd reports of spruce moths so anglers can use one as a first fly in a double-dry rig. An Ant or midsize parachute such as the Purple Craze would be a good choice. During the middle of the day, try a small mayfly nymph or a variegated Girdle Bug. We are sticking with the dry-dropper most of the time. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Bass fishing is phenomenal at depths of 15 to 30 feet using a plastic jig and a slow reel. — Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Lovell, Wyo.

Boulder River — The Boulder continues to fish well. Hoppers and hopper/dropper rigs are working the best. Early Trico and Rusty Spinner fishing has been good on the lower river and the fish are still taking Spruce Moths on the upper stretches. Stop in the shop for updates. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Shore fishing for all species continues to be slow. Walleye action was a bit slower this past weekend with the best fishing occurring around Pond 4 in 9-12 feet of water and between Duck Creek and Confederate in 10-15 feet of water. Slow trolling a bottom bouncer with a pink, purple or perch spinner blade tipped with a crawler seems to be producing the most fish. Slow Death rigs are working as well. Perch and an occasional rainbow are being picked up while anglers are targeting walleye using these methods. — FWP, Helena.

Cliff and Wade lakes — If you are looking for something different this time of year, consider giving Cliff or Wade a shot. Hatches are typically sparse, but you can pound up a surprising number of fish simply by drifting along the steep hillsides and pitching Hoppers and Beetles at the bank. A yellow Thunders Thighs (10) and a Longhorn Beetle (10) should be all you need for dries, and you can drop a Split-Case PMD underneath if you like. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Cooney Reservoir — The heat is starting to affect the fish, so night fishing is the best bet. Target the deep water. People are reporting walleye success with cranks and worms. We're seeing a handful of trout at the fish cleaning station every day. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin — Anglers are starting to catch a few 2-pound rainbows presenting worms and PowerBait from shore. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Overall, fishing has been fair but has slowed down. Salmon fishing is slow. However, Todd Kleppelid of Circle caught a 15-pound chinook salmon on Saturday at Bear Point fishing 60 feet below the boat. Walleye fishing is OK with a 28-inch walleye caught over the weekend. A few bass were boated. One could try fishing 25-plus feet of water with leeches for walleye. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Fishing is a little tough. Try worms and spinners for smallmouth bass. There have been a lot of drum caught. If an angler boats toward Ghost Coulee or Lost Creek the water clears and they’ll have better luck. Target 20 to 25 feet for walleye. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Chinook salmon fishing is up and down. Anglers are having to put their time in on the water to be rewarded when fishing for salmon. Lake trout fishing is good. The walleye bite is good in 15 to 30 feet of water with crawlers and leeches. The walleye and pike bite is good with crankbaits in 25 to 35 feet of water. The smallmouth bass bite is really good west of here with fat fish being caught in Crooked Creek Bay. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Overall fishing has slowed down, but for this time of the year it is pretty good. The walleye are biting while bottom bouncing and jigging a crawler or leech anywhere from 14 to 25 feet below the boat. For northerns, anglers are doing quite well pulling crankbaits in 8 to 14 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are scattered from 2 to 25 feet. Once one locates bass they should do well. Pitch plastics or jigs and crawlers. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — Anglers are doing well on walleye and northerns. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — During the evening, you'll see dry fly action with Hoppers, Chubbies, Ants, Beetles, Caddis, Tricos and PMDs. We are also seeing spruce moths in the canyon. If dries aren't your style, a Rubber Legs or San Juan Worm with a smaller Lightning Bug, Mayfly or Caddis dropper is a great rig. The Gallatin Valley has been a great place to be as of late for the hopper bite midday. A tan or pink Hopper with a beadhead dropper has been a great option for picking up fish in the riffles and deeper pools. The best bite has been from 1-4 with the time after that transitioning to Ants and Chubbies. Be aware that there is road construction in the canyon, so plan accordingly. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — Walleye are being caught in the Causeway, around the El Dorado dredge piles, and York Bridge on jigs tipped with a leech or crankbaits. A few perch were also caught in the Causeway on jigs and leeches. Rainbows are being caught at the Causeway on worms and Woolly Buggers. Trolling cowbells tipped with worms around White Sandy is also producing a few rainbows. — FWP, Helena.

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Hebgen Lake — Ants, Callibaetis, and Tricos are the name of the game here. Try a Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinner (18) or Callibaetis Last Chance Cripple when fish are keyed in on the mayflies, and definitely tie on a honey-colored CDC Flying Ant (16) if you see any ants on the water at all. If you're feeling like switching it up, try throwing a dry Damsel or Hopper, especially once the wind starts to blow a bit. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir — The snagging season for kokanee salmon opened on Sept. 1 and will run through Oct. 31. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. Early reports are that a number of fish are being caught, but average size is down from past years. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — Perch fishing is good from Cottonwood Creek to the dam, with the best action being around the docks and weed beds in 10 to 15 feet of water on jigs and worms. An occasional walleye is being caught by anglers targeting perch. Rainbows are being caught throughout the lower lake trolling cowbells and Wedding Rings. — FWP, Helena.

Madison RiverLower — Water temps have started to drop overnight but are still high and spiking during the high sun later in the day. Along with afternoon temps, the tube hatch is still in full force but with school beginning we will see less and less of them. If you do head out to the lower, fish early in the morning and land fish quickly. Double dries, such as a Hopper to a small Chubby will get fish looking up in the morning. The cooler nights have caused some of the river moss to break free of the rocks. You may need to keep checking your dropper to see if it needs to be cleaned. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — Hoppers are here and the fish have seriously taken notice. Dry fly fishing has been awesome. A hopper-dropper or Chubby-dropper is a great option and pretty tough to beat. Nymphing has still been consistent with Worms, Stones, and smaller flashy Mayfly Nymphs. With terrestrial season underway, Ants are another pattern you shouldn't leave home without. The Cameron Flats section is the one area fishing tough at times. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — Traditionally fishing starts to pick up here around mid-September. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — It is mossy, so fishing is slow. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Spring Creek — It is fishing well on flies and spinners. Hoppers are the hot pattern. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — The river continues to hold up. For wade anglers the best bet is to travel above Absarokee where it’s much easier access. For floating, below the Rosebud confluence from Jeffrey’s on down is best. 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 like a Jack Cabe, PMX, Stimulator, or Purple Haze. By late morning fish are looking to eat the small dry fly on top. Smaller dries like a PMD, Caddis or Purple Haze are working well in the afternoon. Look to fish smaller Hoppers, too, like a Fat Frank, Yeti, Yellowstoner or Schroeder’s in peach, pink, grape, tan or olive body colors. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tiber Reservoir — Fishing is pretty good with pike action kicking in. Fish the Bootlegger Arm for walleye. Some are bottom bouncing and others are pulling spinners. Crawlers are the bait of choice. Copper, pink and chartreuse are good colors. The marina will close for the season on Sept. 8. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.

Tongue River Reservoir — The water temperatures are staying warm and the bass are biting like crazy. One can use top-water gear like floating jigs or bobbers. Crappie fishing remains slow. An occasional northern is biting. To target walleye fish the south end of the reservoir. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — We’re heading in to a great time of year to be on the river. Although not on fire like it had been for a few weeks, Hopper fishing is still active. From mid to late morning on, fish are on the Hopper. With dropping flows, many river features, like shelves and gravel bars have opened up, so look to fish various types of water. Several types of Hoppers are taking fish in all types of water. 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 body colors (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. For streamer fishing use the Grinch, Kreelex, Bow River Bugger, Sparkle Minnows, Sculpins and basic black Buggers. Fish are eating the dry fly early, 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. Keep a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams and Caddis handy for rising fish. Tricos have been coming off most early mornings. Look for rising fish in the slick water tailouts and foam lines. If fish are on them and rising, a smaller Purple Haze or Parachute Adams will usually get the job done. Cooler mornings have helped the water temperature, but it’s still best to use as heavy of tackle as possible, play and land fish promptly and minimize their handling. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The river is fishing great. For catfish the Custer area is excellent and down at Hysham the walleye fishing has been very good. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston —  Be ready for full terrestrial season, meaning Ants, Beetles and big foam Hoppers. Some shop Hopper favorites are Morrish Hoppers, Triple Deckers, Fat Albert and Thunder Thighs. A hopper-dropper rig is pretty tough to beat and will pick up fish throughout the day. Fish are following hoppers downstream a lot before eating. Stack mending will help slow your fly in the current to entice trout. One aspect of droppers that is easily overlooked is the sink rate. For example, if you are running a rubber legs under a Hopper or Chubby be sure to pinch a small split shot onto your tippet. Tungsten beadhead nymphs also help get your fly to the proper depth. When the high sun comes out midday focus on the faster water and inside buckets and ignore the slower, deep slack water. Fish will be holding in the more oxygenated riffles right now. In the evenings, keep an eye out for caddis hatches. Tricos have also made an appearance. Fishing has been pretty slow in the morning, but has certainly started picking up around 10 a.m. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — Fishing is tough for walleye, sauger and bass. Try pulling crankbaits. The water temps are 72 degrees. When the weather cools fishing will improve. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend  Walleye are biting in Crooked Creek on a Mepps with worms attached on a slow troll. Sauger and bass are being caught at the Horseshoe Bend fishing dock. At the north narrows, bass are being caught along with a few catfish. Next Saturday we are having a catfish tournament. For information, call 307-548-7230. Leave a message if no one answers and someone will get back to you.— Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — It’s been very, very hot and river flows have dropped. Big bugs like Grasshoppers, are working. Early and late are the best times to fish. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — Fishing has slowed down for walleye. For trout, use crawler harnesses, worms or minnows. A few perch are biting minnows. On the Wind River anglers are catching trout. — Boysen Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Fishing has still been productive. With warmer weather and decreased inflow the trout have started to migrate to the main part of the lake. So trolling and cover water has been the most productive. Walleye and perch fishing has been good. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — Trout numbers are low, however, anglers are catching whitefish. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — At East and West Newton lakes the water is too warm to fish. At Hogan and Luce try terrestrials such as Ants and Beetles. A Hopper will work. Soft-hackles are good droppers. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Some anglers are having success and others aren’t. A 30-inch walleye was caught last week. Along with the walleye some lake trout, rainbow and brown trout are biting. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Lower Shoshone — The river is off-color, but fishing well. Hopper-droppers will work as will tandem nymph rigs. North Fork Specials, Bloody Mary and Sow Bugs will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — Flows are dropping and are at 357 cfs entering the reservoir. The lower one fishes on the river, the more fish they will find. A Hopper and dropper is working really good. There are good Gray Drake hatches. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — The reservoirs are fishing OK. The lower reservoir is a little harder to fish, but patient anglers are catching fish there. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Yellowstone National Park — In the northeast corner of the park drake mackerels have begun hatching, as have the tiny cream-colored fall Baetis mayflies. A Cripple Drake Mackerel is a great fly to have, along with Drake Mackerel Sparkle Duns and Foam Emergers. Have some little Slough Creek Baetis Sparkle Duns along, too. Definitely bring your Longhorn Beetles as well as black Morrish Hoppers (12) and pink Thunder Thighs (10). For droppers, try a Pheasant Tail Prince (14) or a Radiation Baetis (16). — 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