For anglers it’s a time of transition.
With autumn approaching, the area has experienced some cooler, overcast days.
With the change in weather fishing slowed at many spots, but when the weather stabilizes and with a change in fishing methods, action should improve.
Anglers are beginning to pick up more fish on streamers and bank fishing at many reservoirs is on the uptick.
Here’s the weekly fishing report:
Boulder River — Terrestrials are still moving fish, yet with the cooling weather anglers are moving to nymph rigs, streamer rigs and even Blue Winged Olives. Fall fishing seems to be here, at least until things warm up again. Try small olive streamers, small Baetis nymphs and attractors. Stop by the shop for our favorites. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.
Gallatin River — Cooler nights have slowed the hopper bite, but in the valley on sunny days fish will still be looking up. The Gallatin Valley has been a great place to be 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 p.m., with the time after that transitioning to Ants and Chubbies. Nymph and streamer action will be picking up with the cooler temperatures. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir — Walleye are being caught in the Causeway arm and below Canyon Ferry Dam on jigs tipped with a leech or crankbaits. Rainbows are being caught at the Causeway on worms and Woolly Buggers. Trolling cowbells tipped with worms around White Sandy and Black Sandy is also producing a few rainbows. — FWP, Helena.
Stillwater River — Flows are in the 500 cfs range but still doable. For wade anglers the best bet is to travel 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 eat 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 hopper patterns, too, like a Fat Frank, Yeti, Yellowstoner or Schroeder’s in peach, pink, grape, tan or olive. The cloudy, overcast and showery weather days are producing some nice BWO hatches. Use a smaller size Purple Haze or Parachute Adams. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Columbus — Hopper fishing has slowed from what it was, but is still active on most days from mid to 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). Fish are holding in all types of water, so do more than just pound the banks with a Chubby. Nymphing can usually be a good way to start out the day 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 also not a bad idea to break out the streamer rod first thing in the day using the Grinch, Kreelex, Bow River Bugger, Sparkle Minnows, Sculpins and basic black Buggers. Fish are 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 rising fish. Tricos are still coming off most mornings. Look for rising fish in the slick water tailouts and foam lines. If fish are on them and rising a smaller size Purple Haze or Parachute Adams will usually get the job done. The cloudy, overcast and showery weather days are producing some nice BWO hatches. Use a smaller Purple Haze or Parachute Adams. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Ackley Lake — With the rainy weather, very few people ventured out. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Beaverhead River — It is the tail end of hopper and cranefly season. Nymphs and streamers are being used more and more. Use streamers on overcast, cloudy days. White, yellow and black are good colors. Large Prince Nymphs will work. For Hoppers, deer and elk-hair patterns work best. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Big Hole River — Hoppers and ants are working really well. On overcast, cloudy days present streamers. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Anglers are doing well on bass and periodically picking up a walleye. The best method has been trolling with minnows for walleye. A jig and a worm along the shorelines will work for bass. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Bighorn River — With the recent weather change, fishing on the Bighorn has become a bit inconsistent. A handful of fish are still up on Tricos in the mornings, but they haven't been easy. Nymphing is good in spots, but with the grass in the river a good clean drift is a must. Ray Charles, Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears, Tungteasers, Carpet Bugs and Orange Scuds are all good choices. Streamer fishing has becoming a bit better with the cool down and should only get better. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir — The cool, stormy weather has slowed walleye and perch fishing. A few walleye are being caught around Duck Creek and south toward the ponds in 20 to 35 feet of water. Walleye are being caught on chartreuse or green crankbaits and bottom bouncers with red or purple harnesses. With the cooler weather the rainbow bite has picked up from shore and boats. Rainbows are biting on worms or crayfish lures. — FWP, Helena.
Cooney Reservoir — Action from shore was slow last week. Try trolling bottom bouncers with a worm harness for walleye. The majority of the walleye are between 13 and 15 inches, however, some are 18-plus inches. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Deadman’s Basin — Anglers are catching a few 1- to 1.5-pound rainbows while sinking worms from shore. One could try dry flies at the Broadview Pond. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing was pretty good before the weather turned. Lake trout and chinook salmon are hitting at the dam at depths of 50 feet and below. Anglers are using downriggers. Northerns are starting to come on and are hitting north and south of the marina. Fat bass are active and are striking worms and leeches while an angler is jigging. Walleye are hitting good north of the marina. Once you locate walleye fish depths of 20 feet and below. — Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — It rained all weekend so there weren’t a lot of anglers. There are bowhunters out, but it’s pretty muddy as of Monday morning. Fishing was slow due to the weather. Try jigging with a worm in 25-plus feet of water. One can bottom bounce or pull crankbaits in the shallows (10 to 15 feet below the boat). Once you locate fish, anchor and try jigging. — Crooked Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Rain, rain, rain and wind. With the crummy weather fishing pressure was light. Before the turn in weather, chinook salmon fishing was tough and lake trout fishing tailed off. For salmon, target the face of the dam 60 to 90 feet down and use blue and green patterns. Spoons in 100 to 120 feet of water will work for lake trout. Some anglers did well for walleye in 25 feet of water. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Northern pike and bass fishing was good last week and walleye action was slow. However, it rained all weekend and fishing pressure was light. Before the rainy weather anglers were fishing near the humps and submerged islands pitching jigs for bass and targeting depths of 4 to 20 feet. For northerns, anglers were pulling crankbaits at depths of 8 to 14 feet. Before the wet weather those having success on walleye were bottom bouncing or using crankbaits. The walleye were at depths of 10 to 16 feet. — Hell Creek Marina.
Fresno Reservoir — It rained all weekend and was still raining on Monday. No new reports. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.
Hebgen Lake — Fishing has been slow. There have been a few big rainbows boated. Try gold spoons. The marina will close for the season by the end of September. — Kirkwood Resort & Marina.
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Holter Reservoir — Perch fishing is good from Cottonwood Creek to the dam, with the best action being around the docks and weed beds in 12 to 20 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. Early morning fishing from Departure Point Beach is also producing some rainbows. — FWP, Helena.
Madison River, Lower — Water temps have started to slightly drop overnight but are still high and spiking during the high sun later in the day. 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 begin to break free of the rocks. You may need to keep checking your dropper to see if it needs to be cleaned. Keep an eye on this river, with the cool nights and rain in the forecast fishing should get progressively better throughout the month. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Madison River, Upper — The Hopper bite is starting to slow down with the colder nights, but during warmer, sunny days a Hopper-dropper or Chubby-dropper is still a great option. Nymphing has still 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 the cloud cover and rain could produce some awesome streamer fishing. The Cameron Flats section is the one area fishing tough at times. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Martinsdale Reservoir — Those using worms and PowerBait from the bank are reeling in a few 1- to 2-pound trout. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Missouri River, below Holter — The flow was 5,010 cfs on Monday. On sunnier days try a Parachute Trico (18-20), a purple Para Wulff (16-18), a Royal Chubby (14-16) and Grasshoppers. For nymphs, a Frenchie, Little Green Machine or Lightning Bug will work. Ants and Beetles are still producing. Low riding caddis patterns, such as Double Duck Caddis, Outrigger or Corn Fed Caddis, will work. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — A few sauger and catfish were reeled in. Try crawlers and cut bait. There were quite a few bowhunters out this weekend. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Nelson Reservoir — Anglers are jigging minnows in the deeper water for walleye, perch and northerns. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Rock Creek — It’s Prime Time on Rock Creek. Kids are back in school, Bow Hunting has started, and most of the tourists are gone. That means Rock Creek is back to being more and more like a “locals” fishery so go get on it before our weather gets tough. As we close out Summer, Rock Creek will continue to be a Hopper fishery until we get our first frost. Recommended Hoppers include Pink Pookie’s, gold or purple Chubby’s as well as your classics which include Parachute, Dave’s or Joe’s Hoppers. There are a ton of Foam Hopper Patterns on the market and they will all work to an extent. Hoppers patterns can be fished in sizes #8-#12. Additional Dry Fly patterns on Rock Creek include yellow Stimulators in a #14, Caddis in a #14. Parachute Adams, Purple Haze as well as your classic Royal Wulff, Trude or Humpey’s. These all can be fished in a #12-#16. The Nymph fishing will get better and better as we transition into Fall. Stone Fly casing are all over exposed rocks on Rock Creek and that’s why patterns like Rubber Legs, Girdle Bugs, or Bitch Creeks will always work on Rock Creek. Caddis Pupa in a #14, Zebra Midges in black in a #16, a Hares’s Ear or Pheasant Tail as well as all your standard “bright” patterns like Copper Johns, Batman, Psycho Princes or Lightning Bugs. Most Beadhead Nymphs are fished in a #10-#16. The way you should be fishing Rock Creek from now through November is with Streamers any way. Take all the Dry Fly and Nymph patterns and throw them out the window and hitch a ride on the Streamer train. If you want to move nice fish, throw a Streamer. Whether by stripping a Streamer, dead drifting a Streamer or swinging a Streamer all of these techniques work great. Just run short and heavy Leader and fish Sparkle Minnows, Grinch’s and any standard Woolly Bugger. — East Rosebud Fly Shop
Spring Creek — With the cooler, wet weather the hatches have slowed down. However, anglers had moderate success with flies. One could try terrestrials. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Tongue River Reservoir — The water temperatures are 70 degrees and water levels are receding. A fair amount of bass were caught and a few northerns. Walleye fishing is slow. Crappie are being located 18 feet or deeper in the center channels, however, the bite is slow. A few catfish were caught using chicken liver from the bank. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park.
Yellowstone River, Huntley — With the start of hunting season there's been fewer anglers but the river is still fishing very well for catfish and smallmouth bass. For walleye the Hysham area has been offering very good fishing. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.
Yellowstone River, Livingston — Streamer fishing has been picking up with the darker skies and rain. With the extended forecast the streamer bite should just get better and better. This is a great way to avoid the whitefish bite. On the sunnier, warmer afternoons Ants, Beetles and Hoppers are still catching fish. 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. 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 started picking up around 10 a.m. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Yellowstone River, Miles City — The weather was poor on Saturday and Sunday. However, the water clarity was still fine as of Monday. Try jigs and crankbaits for walleye, sauger and bass. Catfish are still biting. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.
Bighorn River, Thermopolis — The water temps have cooled down, which usually triggers an improvement. Hoppers have been working. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.
Boysen Reservoir — Walleye fishing is on the uptick fishing from the bank. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Fishing has been holding its own. With the weather change anglers should start prepping for the fall lake trout bite. Fishing pressure has slowed down with some hunting seasons beginning. But the anglers who have been out have been doing great with the water clearing and dropping. It will take a while for the water temp to start dropping. So trolling to cover water for trout and casting to shore for walleye and perch has been the best producers. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Clarks Fork — Flows are dropping. On the upper river anglers are doing well presenting Parachute Adams, Caddisflies, and a smaller Hopper with a beadhead Pheasant Tail or Copper John dropper. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Cody-area lakes — Luce and Hogan are fishing well on smaller terrestrials. Not a lot of anglers are fishing at East and West Newton lakes because the water is still pretty warm. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Lake DeSmet — Fishing is alright. A 17-inch rainbow was caught by a shore angler presenting worms. One could also try cowbells from the boat. Most people catching walleye are fishing from a boat. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.
Lower Shoshone — Fishing is average. Hopper-dropper or tandem nymph rigs are working. In off-color water use a San Juan Worm, North Fork Special, Bloody Mary or Copper John as droppers. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
North Fork of the Shoshone — The water was muddy on Monday due to recent rains. Hopper-droppers continue to be the setup of choice. From Clearwater Creek to Eagle Creek anglers can only fish on the north side of the river due to fire restrictions. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
South Fork of the Shoshone — The water is off-color, but was fishing well using Chubby Chucks and a black or tan North Fork Special. A Bloody Mary is another option for a dropper. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — Upper is fishing well. The lower reservoir is hit-and-miss and fishing better from a boat. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.
Yellowstone National Park — Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte will really come into play now. We have seen a few Drake Mackerels in the northeast corner of the park. Drake Mackerel Sparkle Duns (14), Longhorn Beetles, Thunder Thighs in pink, CDC Pheasant Tail Jigs (14), black Zebra Midges (18-20) and Slough Creek Baetis (22) are flies to have. If weather reports are correct and it clouds up in this area, we should see the drakes pour off. The Yellowstone River above and below the falls is still a viable option, and as we continue the transition period between summer and fall hatches, be prepared with a few streamers and soft hackles. It's also very likely to see Baetis within the next few days on the Yellowstone. The Firehole and Madison have still been seeing some high water temperatures so you may want to hold off fishing these two bodies of water for a little while. Keep a close eye on the Firehole and Madison as the weather is changing and it could only be a matter of a few days for conditions to change. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.