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Fishing report: As rivers drop, dry fly fishing gets hot

Fishing report: As rivers drop, dry fly fishing gets hot

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Aaron Conroy

Aaron Conroy from Helena caught this 29-inch walleye in 18 feet of water using a perch Glass Minnow jig while fishing at Crooked Creek on Fort Peck Reservoir recently.

The Kootenai River is in the best shape of the year right now. Dry fly action is hopping all day.

Dry fly fishing is also picking up as flows drop on the Beaverhead River. 

In the Billings area there's decent smallmouth bass fishing at Bighorn Reservoir out of Ok-A-Beh Marina. Fishing has been consistently good.

At Canyon Ferry, anglers looking for a walleye experience are boating toward the south end around the Ponds.

Dylan Sander took home the walleye first place, Paul and Patty Dull topped the northern pike competition and bass honors went to Wendi Ross at the Fishing for the Cure Tournament at Fort Peck Reservoir last weekend. Thirty-eight teams competed.

Here are the top picks of the week:

Top picks

Beaverhead River — We are still seeing some PMDs and yellow Sallies on the river. Look for these hatches to taper off, and we will move into Tricos and terrestrials this next week. Hoppers are starting to work on the lower river. Flows are starting to drop out of Clark Canyon Reservoir which will help the dry fly fishing. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Poppers, Frogs and Spooks have been consistently producing hefty smallmouth bass. — Scheels, Billings.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — The walleye bite has been good with the best action from Hole in the Wall and Confederate Bay to the Ponds. Bottom bouncers are working best with a worm in 10-15 feet of water. Try using pink, chartreuse or green spinner blades. Some perch are being caught along with the walleye. An occasional walleye is being picked up in these areas from shore as well. A few rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells or crankbaits 20-25 feet deep around mid-reservoir and at the north end. An occasional rainbow is being caught from shore while using worms around White Earth and Beaver Creek Bay. — FWP, Helena

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing for the Cure Tournament results are: walleye, Dylan Sander, 28.14 pounds (five fish); northern, Paul and Patty Dull, 33.90 pounds; bass, Wendi Ross, 17.5 inch, 18 inch (35.5 inches). — Rock Creek Marina.

Kootenai River — Discharge from the Libby Dam is now at 9,500 cfs and the river is in great shape. Caddis and PMDs continue to pop later in the afternoon. Make a good presentation and they’ll eat a Parachute Adams (size 14) or an Elk Hair Caddis (14). A Purple Chubby (12), or Bugmeister with a BH Pheasant Tail (16) will roll nicely. Nymphing is off the charts. Remember to get bugs down. Look for fish in slower currents, buckets, tailouts, and especially around cover and down rocky runs. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.


Ackley Lake — The muskie action is up using crankbaits. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Big Hole River — These waters are in a transition period from PMDs and caddis to terrestrials and tricos. We are seeing some PMDs in the morning hours. The hopper fishing below Melrose has been good. We are fishing small hoppers and ant patterns (10-14). Tricos have been spotted on some days below Divide. Look for the Trico hatch to thicken up this coming week. Streamer fishing and nymphing in the shallow riffle has remained productive. We are still using drift boats from Divide downstream. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Bighorn River — Conditions are prime for summer fishing. PMDs are still the main event. If you’re looking to hunt fish on the surface, plan on about 1 p.m. till dark. PMDs and a handful of black caddis will keep the fish entertained. A variety of PMD Cripples and Spinners seem to be the best choices. Nymphing has been very productive, although not as hot as it was last week. Carpet Bugs, Ray Charles, Pheasant Tails, Quills, Split Case PMDs and various PMD nymph patterns have been the go to. The fish are starting to move up into some of the faster shelves, so don’t overlook those areas. We’re still picking up a handful of fish on Hoppers. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Bitterroot River ­­— The lower river is getting pretty warm, so the mornings are really the only time to fish. We are starting to fish more and more hoppers as fish are looking for them. There’s a few fish eating rusty spinners in the mornings. The upper river is a better all day fishery with the water temps not getting as high. Fish are eating attractor dries as well as Hoppers and a few small Goldens on the upper river. Droppers have been the go-to on the whole river with Perdigons, Pink San Juans, Jig PTs and Jig Princes. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Blackfoot River — The water temperatures are heating up. Spruce moths have been hit or miss. Hopper/dropper action has been the go-to. Small Hoppers (12-14) with a jig nymph or San Juan off the back, as well as attractor dries like Royal Wulff’s, Stimi’s, P-Hazes and Brindle Chutes are other good bets. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Boulder River — The fishing is really good. Hopper/dropper combos are working well. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Clark Fork River, Deer Lodge — Anglers fishing with caddis and terrestrials have been effective. Good nymphs to use are Ray Charles (16), Sowbugs, Superflash Pheasant Tails (14-18), red or chartreuse Copper Johns (14), SJ Worms (14-16), Olive Scuds. Streamers to use are Lemon Drop, Sculpzilla and Miller’s Brew Time. Dries to use are Missing Link Caddis (16-18), Purple Haze (16-18), and Rocky Mountain Mint (16-18). — The StoneFly Fly Shop, Butte.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — These waters are fishing well in the morning. Hopper fishing is starting to get better with the grasses drying out and hoppers jumping around. Make sure to drop a Perdigon, Jig PT, Prince or San Juan off the back for better odds. A few PMD spinners are around. If you see fish sipping tie on a spinner (16-18). — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Clark Fork River, St. Regis — The river is fishing really good throughout the day. Anglers are bringing in 14- to 18-inch rainbow, cutthroat, and cutbows. Purple Haze flies and a variety of Hoppers are working very well. — Joe Cantrell Outfitting, St. Regis.

Cliff and Wade Lakes — These waters are fishing very well this time of year, especially when the spruce moths show up. Focus on the steeper wooded banks in the morning hours and use a Summer Spruce Moth (14) to catch trout cruising the banks. Once the wind comes up in the afternoon, drifting along those same banks and casting a pink Thunder Thighs Hopper (10) or Longhorn Beetle can be effective. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Cooney Reservoir — This week the water temperature continued to climbed into the mid-70s. There has been constant boat traffic on the reservoir. Trout fishing seems to have picked up with the arrival of grasshoppers. Earlier in the day when the wind is low seems to be the best time. The perch and walleye bite has continued to be hit and miss. Evenings seem to be the best. Jigs and worms have been working for perch. Walleye have been tricky, some folks have had luck with jig raps, others have caught fish with bottom bouncers and worm harnesses. — Cooney State Park.

Flathead Lake (North) — Lake trout are biting cut plugs with maple sausage. Anglers are successfully trolling in about 30-60 feet of water. Be sure to have some whitefish jigs ready. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Flathead Lake (South) — Big Arm and Dayton Bay have been producing fat perch, while Dead Man’s Point has been producing lake trout and whitefish (in 40-50 feet of water) using green Rattle D Zastors. Lake trout numbers are up at Cromwell East. Blue Bay has been producing lake trout and whitefish in 40-60 feet of water using whole fish set-ups. City Docks (closest to the bridge) has been producing smallmouth bass on bait fish. The lake trout have also been biting at Safety Bay. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — The fishing has been steady. Two 32-inch walleye were caught bottom bouncing in 29 feet. Purple, gold and black were the colors of choice. Some anglers were successfully pulling cranks. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — The salmon bite is improving using bait cups and flies. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — The northern and bass bite is doing well. Northerns are running in about 14 feet using crankbaits. The bass bite is phenomenal right now in 4-40 feet bottom bouncing and pitching. The walleye bite has been good at 20-30 feet bottom bouncing. — Hell Creek Marina.

Gallatin River — The water flows are down and the fishing has been solid. This time of year is certainly dry/dropper season. Chubbies, Ants, and Hoppers are great dries as they can hold up a fairly heavy nymph. For a dropper, fish are eating attractor mayflies, caddis, PMDs, stones and soft hackles. Nocturnal stones have been hatching throughout the river and spruce moths are hatching in the canyon. Fishing a smaller Chubby with a Spruce Moth dry has produced some fantastic dry fly action. If you're not getting fish on the dead drift try twitching and skating those dries. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Georgetown Lake — Overall the kokanee, brook and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to decent. Best techniques are stripping leech patterns, or using Callibaetis nymphs, Damselfly nymphs, Scuds, dead-drifting Chironomids and Sowbugs. The southeast shoreline is open. — Flint Creek Outdoors, Phillipsburg.

Glacier National Park — The west entrance to the park is open to Avalanche Creek. Expect temporary closures at either Lake McDonald Lodge or the foot of Lake McDonald due to full parking lots and congestion. Nonmotorized boats are allowed. Areas of the North Fork, including the roads to Kintla and Bowman Lakes, are open. The following areas are closed to fishing: Kintla Creek between Kintla Lake and Upper Kintla Lake, Upper Kintla Lake, Akokala Lake, Bowman Creek above Bowman Lake, Logging Creek between Logging Lake and Grace Lake, Cracker Lake, Slide Lake and the impounded pond below the lake. The following creeks are closed for their entire length: Ole, Park, Muir, Coal, Nyack, Fish, Lee, Otatso, Boulder, and Kennedy Creeks, North Fork of the Belly River, North Fork of the Flathead River within 200 yards (183 m) of the mouth of Big Creek. For more detailed information regulations visit — GNPS

Hauser Reservoir —  Walleye anglers fared well this last weekend. Rainbow action has slowed a bit with the warmer temperatures. Some walleye are being picked up by anglers slip bobber fishing from shore at the Causeway and pitching jigs or trolling crawler harnesses inside the Causeway Arm. Boat anglers are picking up an occasional rainbow below Canyon Ferry Dam while pitching jigs along the shorelines. Your best chance at some rainbows is still trolling cowbells and Wedding Rings tipped with night crawlers around 15-20 feet down between York Bridge and White Sandy. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — Dry fly fishing has been a little up and down for the last few days. Some anglers have reported good numbers of Callibaetis and plenty of feeding fish. Try a Callibaetis Deer Hair Spinner (16) and Sparkle Duns, and don't be afraid to throw an ant like our Stubby Ant (14) if fish are rising sporadically. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbow and walleye fishing slowed down quite a bit over the weekend with warmer temperatures. Anglers trolling cowbells or crankbaits above suspended fish are still picking up an occasional rainbow in the lower end of the reservoir. Anglers fishing weed beds are finding a few perch while pitching small jigs tipped with crawlers in 10-20 feet of water between the BLM ramp and the Boat Loft area. Walleye action has slowed a bit but a few are still being picked up while tolling bottom bouncers, running slip bobbers and leeches or vertical jigging in 10-30 feet of water near Cottonwood Creek and on the lower end of the reservoir. — FWP, Helena.

Lake Mary — This week the perch bite has been decent while the best time for kokanee has been in the evening. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Madison RiverLower — Please fish early, get fish in quickly and handle fish as little as possible. Pinching your barbs to get a quick release is a good call also. Dry fly fishing early with Hoppers, attractors and Caddis should get you into fish and keep you out of the moss. Crayfish, worms, soft hackles, caddis pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our best option when nymphing. The tube hatch is in full force also, so plan accordingly. This year will be the first year for the lower to be permanently hoot owled from July 15th to August 15th. The daily closure will run from 2 p.m.-12 a.m. This closure covers Warm Springs fishing access down to the confluence. This closure doesn't include Bear Trap canyon. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The river is getting low and clear. Focus on mid-river structure to find bigger fish. Fish have lots of food options right now, so this is the time of year when it pays off to switch up flies often until you find what they are keying in on. A dry/dropper rig has been a great method lately. Don't be afraid to go small with your dropper nymph. Hoppers, stones, ants, yellow Sallies, caddis and PMDs are out. Streamer fishing has been hit or miss until clouds roll through. If the sun is high and you still want to streamer fish try throwing a Kreelex in copper or gold. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — The fishing was slow this week but improving. — John Scally, Martinsdale.

Missouri River, below Holter — We still have some PMDs around, but tricos and caddis are the main hatches. Nymphing has been steady. The fishing at the Gates of the Mountains has been steady. Tailwater Sowbugs and PMD nymphs are working the best in the river and Black Balanced Leeches and Chironomids in the lake. Dries that are working the best are: Film Critic PMD (16), Challeneged PMD (16), and Ninch’s Handman PMD (16). Nymphs and Streamers: 3-T Jigged Mossasin A-PMD (14-18), 3-T Jigged Mossasin A-MFG (14-18), and Psycho May PMD (14-18). — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, PN Bridge — Catfish, sauger and walleye have recently been caught. Night crawlers have been the bait of choice this week. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Pablo Reservoir — The pike and bass bite is good on dark tubes. Dark-colored plastic worms and crawdads have also been working. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Polson Bay — Big perch have been reported but just not in big numbers. Baitfish have been the bait of choice. Smallmouth bass are lurking and active. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Rock Creek (East) — The dry fly fishing has started to heat up. Recommended patterns include: Hoppers, naturals and attractors. Hopper patterns should be fished between sizes 8-12. Your best Hoppers to fish are Chubby’s, Pink Pookies, More or Less Hoppers in peach, pink or purple as well Rainey’s Grand Hoppers and Donkey Kong Hoppers. Natural dry flies to fish include Caddis (14) in tan or olive, PMDs (14-16), Yellow Stimulators (12-14) as well as ant and beetle patterns (12-14). Attractor dry flies like a Parachute Adams, Purple Haze, Royal Wulff, Trude or Humpys in sizes 12-16 round out our topwater suggestions. If you want to fish subsurface stick with your standard Caddis Pupa (14), Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, Batman, Hare’s Ear or Pheasant Tails in sizes 12-16. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Rock Creek (West) — These waters are fishing well. The spruce moths are there some days and the next they seem gone. Hoppers, ants (16-18) and beetles are becoming more of an option. Keep them in the 12-16 range and drop a small Perdigon or Prince off the back. Attractor dries like Royal Wulffs, P-Hazes, Para-Wulffs, Hippie Stompers and Stimiulators, especially on the upper creek, have been good options. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Spring Creek — Browns and rainbows have been caught using nymphs and dry flies. Might see a bump in flows due to some rainfall. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Water flows have continued to drop after a spike last week. The upper river is pretty much done for float fishing. Anglers are picking up fish on big dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabe and smaller size Chubbies in the early morning to midafternoon. Dropper nymphs like smaller Prince Nymphs, Red Copper Johns and Lil’ Spankers are picking up fish. Straight nymphing with a double nymph setup of a bigger rubberleg like a Girdle Bug or Pat’s Rubberleg along with a smaller beadhead nymph like a Prince or Batman has been productive. Some PMDs and yellow Sallies are still sporadically coming off mid-morning, so a PMD nymph as a dropper is picking up fish as well as a small dry pattern dropper. There may be an afternoon lull in the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon, look for caddis. A smaller size Stimulator should get some action. Another good combination has been to fish a double dry setup with a Purple Haze as a lead spotter fly trailed by a Jack Cabe (14) or Stimulator (14). Stillwater fish love the Jack Cabe. The rubberleg variant has been effective as a big dry pattern. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Swan Lake — The pike fishing has been slow recently. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.          

Tongue River Reservoir — The bass bite has been phenomenal. Multiple bass have been caught with presentations of jerkbaits, Twister Tails and spinners. The walleye bite has been decent from daylight to sunset with worms or jigs. Crappie have been caught in 20-30 feet vertical jigging with worms or trolling at about 1 mph. The northern bite is a surprise when searching for other species. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Hopper patterns like a Fat Frank, Yellowstone Hopper, Water Walkers or Chubby in peach, olive, purple or tan size 6-10 have been working. It’s also time to break out the Pink Pookie. Try fishing a double Hopper setup with a smaller hopper pattern like an Otter Hopper or Parachute Hopper trailed off the bigger pattern. During the afternoon fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water will produce. Nymph fisherman should have success with a big rubberleg fished down deep. Also try dead drifting Buggers. The Grinch and Electric Goldfish are always good for streamer fishing. Fish are being located in moving water that has some definition, deeper buckets and along gravel bars. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The smallmouth bass fishing has been very good recently using crawler harnesses. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — Hoppers, Stoneflies, Caddis, Drakes, PMDs and worms are all on the menu. Midday has been fishing a little tough with the high sun and lack of clouds. Morning Chubby/droppers for the nocturnals, and afternoon Hopper/dropper rigs tight to the bank have resulted in some big fish hitting the net, along with lots of whitefish on the dropper. We have had some good reports from anglers getting fish on streamers, as well. Try stripping small and flashy streamers through the faster water. The evening caddis hatch has been great and will have lots of fish looking up. Shorter nymph rigs with some serious split shot also be productive. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend  Trout, smallmouth bass, sauger and catfish have been caught at the docks. At the state line, walleye and bass anglers are catching. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dries later in the day on Caddis and Midges. We are having great success on float trips at Wedding of the Waters to Thermopolis. Lots of grass and moss due to the increasing water temps. Nymphs: Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, Yum Yum Scud, pink Soft Hackle Sowbug, Yuk Bugs, Pat's Rubberlegs, Jig-head nymphs, Midge Pupa, Wire Worm, and small North Fork Specials in black or tan. Streamers: Leeches, Woolly Buggers, Cone-Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies, Sex Dungeons and Muddler Minnows. The hatches popping right now are caddis and midges. Cicadas and hoppers are getting attention in the Wind River Canyon and on the float into Thermopolis. Dries: Griffith’s Gnats, Rojo Midge, Parachute Adams, Hemingway Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Dave’s Hopper, and Wade's Natural Horror. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Copper and silver spinners and spoons have been working very well recently. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — The river is fishable. Salmonflies and golden stones are on the water later in the day. Green drakes, yellow Sallies and caddis are also flying around. If you’re fishing the lower canyon section the water is still heavy. Wade the edges. Look for rattlesnakes! Mosquitoes are also a nuisance. Golden stones, salmonflies and caddis are active. Some green drakes and yellow Sallies near the canyon and downstream through the prairie country. Dry/dropper or going deep with weighted nymphs recommended. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

East and West Newton Lakes — The lakes are fishing OK. Water temps in the high 60s. East Newton is fishing fair except early morning or late in the evening. Trout numbers (rainbows, browns, tiger trout and splake) are down and the size of the lake has doubled, which spreads out the trout. Access and parking is limited to the southwest corner of the former parking lot. The West Lake is fuller compared to past years. Cutthroat are the only species of trout in the lake. Nonnative goldfish have been introduced into the West Lake. The West Lake is fishing well. Fish the trees and shoreline structure where the trout seem to be holding. A float tube, small pontoon boat or larger is better to fish from than wading the edges due to water levels. Callibaetis, midges, caddis and damselflies are active on both lakes. Ants, beetles and now hoppers are the terrestrial insects on the lake. Flies: Buggers, Ice Cream Cones, Chironomid pupae and larvae, Clouser Minnows, Scuds, Wade’s black North Fork Special, Wire Worms, Damsel nymphs, light Cahills, Parachute Adams, tan Sparkle Caddis, Wade’s Bow-Tie Midge and adult Damsels. Trina’s Ant, Wades’ Horror, Magic Beetle and Joe’s Hopper for terrestrial imitations. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lower Shoshone — Fish the canyon and the section through town. Wade carefully. Caddis, and golden stoneflies are out in the canyon. Some action on these flies in the slower sections. Not much dry fly action due to flows below town. Wet flies: Purple and Peacock Prince, San Juan Worms, Pat’s Rubberlegs, black Girdle Bugs and black North Fork Specials. Streamers: Orange Blossom, black, brown or dark olive Zonkers, darker colored Sculpinators, JJ Special Conehead, Black Peanut Envy, dark Sex Dungeons, black or brown Krystal Buggers and other dark streamers that have a lot of hackle or movement. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — The river has cleared, but flows are swift and heavy in the Wapiti Valley. Hatches: Green drakes, caddis, yellow Sallies, golden stoneflies. Hoppers are out on the lower river. Evening caddis and yellow Sally activity is good the entire length of the river. Wet flies: larger black North Fork Specials, Fat Bastard, Epoxy Stone, Double Beaded Stones, Pat’s Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugs, all in sizes 2-8. Dries: Tan, purple or gold Chubby Chucks, Green Drake Wulffs, Parachute Green Drakes, Royal Trudes, Royal Wulffs. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns have been very effective this time of year. Beadhead nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kick boat or float tube also works well. Scuds best if fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damselflies are out right now. Anglers should fish damsel nymphs, soft-hackled Bloody Mary’s and Midge Pupae. On the lower, larger streamers are effective for splake and tiger trout. In shallower water, Leeches, Scuds, beadhead nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-tie Midges and Wire Worms as do Hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park (Slough, Lamar, Soda Butte) — These waters continue to fish well when the conditions are clear. Recent rains have had them running high and off-color. PMDs have been going strong, with a few green drakes still in the mix. Terrestrials are also a great choice, so have plenty of foam flies to throw when fish aren't rising. Longhorn Beetles (10), Stubby Ants (12-14) and pink Thunder Thighs Hoppers (14) and Morrish Hoppers will all be great choices, along with PMDs (16) and Green Drake Sparkle Duns (12) and Razor Mayflies. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.


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Welcome to this year’s final week of Billings Gazette fishing report. It has been a solid year of fishing throughout the Big Sky.

Get your tackle and gear in order over the winter and we will be back next spring for another great Montana fishing season.

Meanwhile, here is are the top picks.

This week the Big Hole River is fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you still can.

The sauger bite is picking up near the state line if you’re on the Big Horn River.

For a sure thing, head to the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir for a fat kokanee, remember limit is 35 daily.

The rainbow action has picked up recently at Holter Reservoir. Head to Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant.

The Yellowstone River in the Huntley area is producing some nice sauger and bass on minnows and crawlers.

Top picks

Big Hole River — These waters are fishing well throughout the entire day. Get your attractor dry fishing while you can, as it will be streamer season before you know it. For now, hoppers, ants, caddis and Tricos are out, with ants being the hottest item on the menu. On cloudier days BWOs are also making an appearance. A hopper with an ant or dropper has been very productive as fish are looking up. Streamer fishing has been solid and we have had good reports on both small and larger streamers. Yellow, white, olive and black are all working depending on the conditions that day. Smaller flashy streamers have been getting eats when the sun is high and bright. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — The sauger bite is picking up by the state line in about 15 feet of water jigging and trolling crankbaits. Some small mouth have been caught just not a lot of them. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir — The snagging season for kokanee salmon opened Sept. 1 and will run through Oct. 31. Limits are 35 salmon daily with 70 in possession. Anglers are starting to pick up quite a few fish and the action should continue to get better throughout the month. Snagging near the Pump House and the Outlet has been pretty productive and popular and snagging near the inlet has been producing the best salmon numbers lately. — FWP, Helena.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbows action was pretty good over the weekend. Most fish were picked up while out trolling Cowbells tipped with crawlers in the canyon from the Oxbow Bend to the Sleeping Giant. Rainbow anglers are also picking up some nice fish from shore at the Departure Point and the Gates of the Mountains with crawlers and PowerBait. Perch action is still pretty good. The best bite has been between Split Rock and the Power Lines. Pitching jigs around weed beds in 10-12 feet of water is working well. Small green, orange or black jigs tipped with crawlers are popular choices. Walleye fishing was slow over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Bass and sauger fishing in the Huntley area has been very good. Minnows, crawlers and soft plastics have been working very well. The catfishing has remained steady. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.


Ackley Lake — The smoke has affected the fishing a little by mimicking cloud cover. The fishing overall has slowed down a bit. Hopefully things will improve with better weather. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The action has slowed down dramatically. We are having tough fishing from the Dam down to Barretts. The flows have dropped and the water coming out of the reservoir is off color and tons of moss is floating down stream. It is hard to fish anything other than a dry fly and maybe a streamer. If you throw any nymphs you will picking up a moss salad. Hopefully this improves but for now we suggest fishing elsewhere. — Sunrise Fly Shop.

Bighorn River — The fishing has been very good on the overall. We are seeing a fair amount of grass growth on the Upper 3, making the mid-lower river a better option.  Nymphing has been the most productive overall with Sow bugs (Carpet Bugs, Rays), Scuds, Worms (Chenille and wire) and some Caddis Pupa (PT's, poodle sniffers) here and there. The Tricos have shown up, but we haven't seen a whole lot of big fish looking up for them. Not a whole lot of dry fly options at the moment. Streamer fishing has been great on the cloudier days, but good overall. Smaller buggers and leech patterns are your best options. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.

Bitterroot River ­­— These waters are fishing well and the smoke from fires has actually helped by producing artificial clouds. The lower section is seeing consistent Trico fishing with spinners (20-22). A few Hecubas are hatching and a size 10-12 Bindle Chute, Lazer Pointe Drake, or Flash Cripple will get the job done. Hopper fishing continues to produce in the afternoons. Streamer fishing is another great option with the artificial clouds. Don’t forget to play with your retrieves from the dead drifting to stripping fast to see what they want. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Blackfoot River — These waters are fishing well this week. The smoke from the fires is producing a cloud cover effect. A few Tricos are out in spots in the later morning and afternoon as the temps cool down. A size 18 P-Haze or Adams with a Trico Spinner or dun off the back will help you track your Trico better. Hoppers in tan, pink or yellow with a San Juan, Jig Nymph, Rubberlegs or Copper John off the back. Streamer fishing is also another great option. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Boulder River — The water has dropped significantly. With the warmer weather a chubby or stimulator with an attractor mayfly nymph below is a good bet. Good reports of pink hopper and purple water walker have been coming in. With the cooler night, BWOs are out as well. The nymph and streamer game has picked up nicely. Try running a dark colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper. For streamers, stay on the small size in natural colors. Be careful wading. The river is still cold and slippery. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Walleye fishing has slowed down. A few successful anglers reported bottom bouncing and using jigs near Hole-In-The-Wall, Confederate and from Hellgate to Avalanche in 20 to 40 feet of water. Shore anglers are catching some walleye at Confederate in the mornings and rainbows in the evenings. Shore anglers are catching yellow perch on worms north of the Silos. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Fork River, Missoula — These waters are fishing great right now and the smoke cloud cover is helping the bugs hatch and fish rise. Tricos around noon to early afternoon are hatching consistently west of town. Light tippets and Tricos (20-22) are the name of the game. Presentation matters more than the fly at this point. Drag free, fly first presentations are a must. We are starting to see a few Mahoganies and Hecuba’s as well. Hopper/Dropper fishing is good in the afternoon with your favorite hopper and a San Juan, Jig Nymph or Rubberlegs off the back.  Streamer fishing will continue to be good with the smoky cloud cover. Smaller white or olive streamers are great on the Clarkfork like Zonkers, Mason’s Junior, Jewel Thief’s and Sparkle Minnows. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula

Cooney Reservoir — The cooler nights have dropped the water temperature down into the low 60s. Overall, the reservoir’s water has stopped dropping. All boating docks remain available for use. The fish cleaning station in Red Lodge Arm Campground will close after this weekend. Trout are being caught across the reservoir with worms and corn. Perch have been caught from the shore. Anglers have been jigging for walleye in the evening. — Cooney State Park.

Flathead Lake (North) — Lake trout are being caught jigging large Glow Tails and White Jigs in deeper water along ledges and shelves. Spoons are also effective on fair weather days, trolling in shallow rocky water. The whitefish bite is slow. The reports for them are few and far between. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Flathead Lake (South) — The whitefish bite never really caught on this year. The lake trout are being caught in 60 to 90 feet of water, but they are staging to spawn in 180 feet. There are a lot of perch fry in the weed beds. This has made for excellent perch (8-10.5 inches) fishing. From now until the ice forms, the fishing will slow down. The lake trout fishing will continue to get better on through their spawning season till the end of November. — Zimmer Tackle, Pablo.

Flathead River — The trout have been actively feeding, leading to fair success lately on the river. Grab your favorite spinner or Thomas Cyclone spoon and hit the bank. The whitefish should start working their way upriver in the next couple weeks, so grab some Anklebiters and Whitefish Jigs. — Snappys Sport Senter, Kalispell.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Salmon fishing is really slow right now. The lake trout bite is also slow. There has been a decent pike bite farther back in the Bays pitching spoon and pulling crankbaits. The walleye bite is on the slow side with jigging wraps and minnows in 25-35 feet of water. The small mouth are being caught in 30-40 feet of water with Slip Bobber minnows. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Gallatin River —These waters are a great option for fishing currently. The early fall allows an angler to fish their preferred method, whether it be dries, nymphs or streamers, the option is wide open. On any given day you might have to use each of these tactics. Hoppers and other terrestrials are tapering off, but dry hopper rigs are still picking up fish here and there. Most anglers are digging out their bobbers, as the nymph bite has been very consistent. A darker colored stonefly with a pheasant tail dropper is hard to beat right now. Other popular choices include caddis pupa, soft hackles, mayfly attractors, worms and midges. Streamer fishing has picked up and should continue to get better. Stick to smaller steamers in olive, white and black. A sink tip or an extra split shot or two can certainly help . You may see and abundance of green algae right blow Big Sky. Above Big Sky or in the lower canyon may be a better option for fishing if you are in this area. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Georgetown Lake — The best techniques here are stripping leech patterns, callibaetis nymphs, scuds, and dead-drifting chironomids and sow bugs. Try an Adams or callibaetis is a size 16. Anywhere you can put a fly will work. Sight fishing is 1-3 feet of water is optimal. The best time to fish is in the early morning or late evening. Fishing will be good through the fall until the ice is on. The wind this week will pick up mid-day but will calm down in the evenings. Best fly patterns: callibaetis adults and nymphs, leeches, scuds, sow bugs, chironomids, and baitfish patterns. — Flint Creek Outdoors, Phillipsburg.

Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows were caught over the weekend. Most are being picked up around York Bridge, White Sandy and Black Sandy while out trolling Cowbells with Wedding Rings 10-20 feet down in the water column. Shore anglers are also picking up a few rainbows around Black Sandy and the Causeway Bridge as well with plain crawlers and marshmallows. Very few walleye and perch were seen over the weekend. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The window is closing fast on the dry fly opportunities. There are still a few bugs out there but they are coming later in the day and aren't lasting long. A few of the guys have been doing ok with black buggers and Barr's Boufaces up in the Madison Arm, where some fish have staged before they make their run up into the park. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Kootenai River — The Libby Dam outflows will decrease from 8,000 cfs to 7,000 cfs on Sept. 13 over two hours then drop from 7,000 cfs to 6,000 cfs on Sept. 14 and will hold through the end of Sept. The water temp is at about 56 degrees and the clarity is terrific. The water is gin clear this time of year. Dry fly action is great throughout the entire day. Caddis and PMDs are waning but still active in specific areas. Hecuba spinner falls are getting better each day but also still occurring in the mornings over riffles and down through run. If you see bugs, you will likely see rising fish. Make a good presentation and fish will eat a Parachute PMD (16), rusty or cream colored spinner, or an Elk Hair Caddis work perfectly well. Downsize your bug or consider natural materials if the bite is looky lue. Look for fish in 2-6 feet deep and especially in boulder gardens and deep riffles. The past couple days have been very good. Water temps have been a perfect 56 degrees at Libby Dam. The trout are feeding aggressively. Remember to get the bugs down deep and keep them down. Keep an eye on your indicator and if you notice even the slightest change in speed, LIFT! Also look for fish in slower current, buckets, tail outs, and around cover and rocky runs. Slip your bugs above and below boulders in the cushions as fish will be concentrated in soft pockets. Fish streamers slowly with a pulse now and again to make them look like struggling baitfish. Patterns: Parachute Adams, purple Chubby, red Chubby, hopper patterns, terrestrial patterns, parachute PMDs, Rusty Spinner, Spent Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, caddis pupae, and Prince Nymph. — Linehan Outfitting Company, Troy.

Lake Koocanusa — The kokanee have been very slow lately because of spawning. The rainbow fishing is picking with the cooler weather. Anything black, silver and red is hitting right now. — Koocanusa Resort and Marina, Libby.

Madison RiverLower — Water temperatures are looking great on the lower. Overall, the fishing has been fairly consistent. No need to head out too early, as the fishing improves with the rising water temps throughout the day. There is still the occasional fish eating a hopper, but nothing like they were a week or two ago. However, with the clouds and rain, BWOs are out and the fish are taking notice. Don't head out this way without some in your box. Along with the cooler water temps, the nymph bite has been solid lately. Crayfish, worms, soft hackles, caddis pupa, and attractor mayfly patterns are our go-to tactic. Streamer fishing is taking off and some big browns fell victim for some bigger flies in yesterday's rain. For now, smaller natural colored streamers have been working best, as the big articulated flies are getting more refusals than eats. Don't ignore the Woolly Bugger. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The upper has been fishing well these last couple days with nymphs, dries, and streamers. We have had reports of anglers having better fishing in the afternoon and others in the morning. It just depends on the day and the weather. Focus more on mid river structure to find the nicer fish. We are just starting to see fall BWOs out in certain sections, but the bulk of the other hatches are done and over until next year. Small and flashy is the name of the game if you decide to nymph. Green Machines, $3 dips, purple deaths, and zebra midges are all good bets. The hopper bite has slowed down quite a bit, but some bigger fish will still eat them on occasion. Streamer fishing has been spotty with fish on the chase for a short window, and other times not wanting a big fly at all. When the streamer bite is on, try natural colors and smaller profile streamers. Varney Bridge is open to traffic. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

­Rock Creek — The higher up you go the better the fishing gets. The lower is being fished quite a bit. This is making for a picky fish. It is terrestrial and attractor dry fly time. Hoppers (12-14) or P-Haze (14), Adams, Bindle Chutes, Stimulators or Royal Wulff’s are great options. Don’t overlook fishing ants and beetles either. Nymphing the runs has been good as well with any Jig Nymphs and San Juans. Streamer fishing continues to get better as the days get shorter and the night cooler. Brown/yellow streamers are great options. — Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop, Missoula.

Spring Creek — Hopper flies and caddis nymphs have been productive on the trout bite. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — With the leaves turning, flows are still hovering in the 500 cfs range. The river is bony, but still floatable in the lower sections. Although it’s slowed down a bit, hopper fishing will still continue on most afternoons as it warms up. Big dries like PMXs, Stimulators, Jack Cabe and smaller size chubbies (10-14) and hopper patterns like Fat Franks in peach, purple, gold, olive and tan have been working well too. Dropper nymphs have been successful with smaller size Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, red Copper Johns, and Lil’ Spankers picking up fish. Straight nymphing with a double nymph setup of a bigger rubberleg like a Girdle Bug or Pat’s Rubberleg along with a smaller beadhead nymph like a Prince, Optic Nerve, Batman, Lightning Bug, Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear have been productive as well. On poor weather days, look for BWOs to pop. If so, fish the old reliable Purple Haze in a smaller size.  Another good combination has been to fish a double dry setup with a Purple Haze as a lead spotter fly trailed by a size 14 Jack Cabe or stimulator. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Although, still continuing most afternoons, the hopper bite has started to become more sporadic. Try nymphing in the morning before the hoppers get going early afternoon. Nymphing early with a bigger lead fly like a rubberleg Prince Nymph, or Batman with an Optic Nerve, Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail, Lil’ Spanker, or Hare’s Ear as a trailer should produce. There may also may still be some Trico spinners in the mid-morning with fish rising to them in the slicks and back eddy water. If so, a small size Purple Haze or Parachute Adams should do the trick. If the fish are on the hopper in the afternoon, patterns like a Fat Frank, Yellowstoner Hopper, Water Walker or Chubby in peach, olive, purple, pink, red or tan size 6-10 have been working well. Try fishing a double hopper setup with a larger top pattern and a smaller trailing hopper smaller hopper pattern like an Otter Hopper, Parachute Hopper, Micro Chubby, or Fat Frank. Space them well apart to cover different lines of current on the water. During the afternoon, fishing a double dry fly setup of a Jack Cabe and a Purple Haze searching likely water is a good option as well.  Also try dead drifting buggers. Now’s the time to start think about streamer fishing, and The Grinch and Electric Goldfish are always good choices. The Hecubas have started to show up on some days and a big size 10 Purple Haze or Parachute Adams has been picking up fish in the afternoon. With cooler water temperatures, fish are being found all over the river. Don’t just pound the banks. There’s no hurry to get on the water this time of year as it’s best to let things warm up a bit. Note that Twin Bridges remains closed for access while the railroad bridge is undergoing repair. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The water flows are running around 1,880 cfs but still proceed with caution when floating as wave trains and hydraulics are nasty in some sections. The water temps are looking good and should drop more with an extended forecast that looks promising with much colder overnights. Hoppers aren’t our first choice of flies right now, but if it warms back up we might see a few more big browns eating them on top. Look for BWOs, as these cloudier days have the fish looking up. If it’s slow on top, try throwing a selection of nymphs. Stoneflies, worms, soft hackles, and attractor mayflies are all on the menu. We have had some good reports from anglers getting fish on streamers as well. Time to break out the big rods and sink tips. Natural colors such as olive, white and black seem to be the hot colors. Size and profile have been varying day to day with the weather. Dead drifting a sculpin or baitfish under a bobber has resulted in some big fish hitting the net. Before you go, be sure to check out your boat ramp options, most are in good shape but some tend to change quite a bit after the runoff. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.


Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Nymph and streamer fishing is the name of the game with some dry action later in the day on caddis, midge pupae and dropper patterns. Anglers are having a lot of success on float trips at Weddingof the Waters to Thermopolis. A lot of grass and moss now due to the increasing water temps. This can be a nuisance but manageable. Water flows are at 1,200 cfs. Flies: Nymphs- Zebra Midges, San Juan Worms, and Yum Yum Scuds. Streamer patterns: Leeches, Woolly Buggers, and Cone Head Zonkers, Double Bunnies and Muddler Minnows are also taking trout. Hatches are Trico’s, caddis and midges. Dries: Griffith’s Gnats, Rojo Midge, and Parachute Adams, Hemmingway Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, Dave’s Hopper, Wade’s Yellow Ho Candy, and Wade’s Natural Horror. — North Fork Anglers, Cody

Upper Clarks Fork — The upper from Painter Bridge MT to the MT state line is low but in gereat condition. Please do not try floating this section even to kayak. There are water falls and drop-offs one cannot see from the raod. Beadhead nymphs (8-18) are working well. North Fork Specials in tan or black, Prince, Pheasant Tails, Copper John’s, Zebra Midges, Hare’s Ears and soft hackles all work. Dry fly action is best using attractor patterns such as Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Royal Trudes or Wulffs.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone —The water flows are at 364 cfs and are almost too low to successfully float anywhere on the river now. Private property laws apply when floating below the US Forest boundary through Wapiti Valley to Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Be prepared for encounters with land owners if not obeying the water laws. Guided trips have gone well through early August for Float or Walk/Wade Trips. We are now Walk/Wading the river since the flows are now marginal for floating the lower river. Dry fly action has been good throughout the length of the river. You must have in your possession a valid Wyoming Fishing License. Hatches: caddis, and very small Trico’s. Flies: Wet – tan or black North Fork Specials (10-14) are working very well, especially the black bodied red or purple tungsten bead versions! Other wet flies (6-16) that are working: Fat Bastard, Epoxy Stone, double beaded stones, Pat’s Rubberlegs, Girdle Bugs, bead head or regular Prince, Copper Johns, Hare’s Ear or Peacock Soft Hackles. Dries: Tan, purple or gold Chubby Chucks (6-12), Wade’s Ho Candy Yellow or Purple (8-12), gray Drake and or Royal Wulffs (10-16), Parachute olive or gray (14), Natural Horrors (8-12), Panty dropper Hoppers (10), Dave’s Hoppers (4-12), yellow Stimulators (8-16), yellow or red Humpies (10-16), Royal Trudes (8-14), yellow Sallies (16), Elk Hair Caddis (12-18). — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Leech patterns are very effective. Bead head nymphs stripped or slow trolled behind a kickboat or float tube also work well. Scuds are effective fishing the bottom near the shoreline. Damselflies are out on upper now. The upper is mostly stocked with cutthroat. Fishing pressure is the reason for the diminished size. The trout are also taking Callibaetis, Parachutes Adams, Hoppers, ants, beetles and Elk Hair Caddis. Fish Damsel Nymphs, soft hackled Bloody Mary’s and midge pupae for best results on the upper. Hoppers, ants and beetles are working on top. Some imitations that do well for dry fly anglers such as: Ho Candy yellow, Joe’s hopper, Chubby Chuck gold, Parachute Adams, Foam Beetles, Magic Beetle, and red or black ants. On the lower, larger streamers are effective on the splake and tiger trout in the lake. In shallower water, leeches, scuds, bead headed nymphs, Zebra Midges, Bow-Tie Midges and Wire Worms work well as do hoppers and larger ant or beetle patterns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park (Slough, Lamar, Soda Butte) — Let the water warm up a bit, but the fish are still willing to take hoppers, beetles and ants in the afternoon. Morrish and Thunder Thighs Hopper in pink and tan (14), Longhorn Beetles, Parachute Ants and Improved Killer Bees are what you'll want. The Drake Mackerels are still very much in play in this section of the park along with Baetis as well. Make sure to have with you Sparkle Dun Drake Mackerels (12) and Baetis (20).  — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.


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