Big walleye

David Frank, of Park City, and Rick Paulsen, of Sidney, caught these walleyes that measured 27.25 inches and weighed 7 1/2 pounds and 26.25 inches and 6 pounds while fishing at Fort Peck's McGuire Creek on minnows and orange spinners.

Fishing generally was on the slow side last week with the stormy weather and drop in temperatures.

However, anglers still experienced success on rivers such as the Beaverhead, Bighorn and Missouri and those who did manage to sneak out on a boat at waters such as Fort Peck Reservoir managed to catch some fish.

With all the recent moisture anglers may want to be careful driving their outfit near shorelines, where permitted, so they do not sink their vehicle into the mud.

The fishing season at Yellowstone National Park opens on Saturday and the staff at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone expects the Madison, Firehole and Gibbon rivers to fish well.

Here’s the weekly fishing report:

Top picks

Beaverhead River — The upper river is fishing really well. Use San Juan Worms, Baetis, and sowbug scud patterns. Poindexter Slough is fishing well, too, on the same patterns. At Poindexter, make sure to have streamers on hand. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn River — The upper three miles of the river continues to see the best Baetis and midge hatches in the late afternoons. Evenings have been very good as well, and without the traffic. Nymphing remains good in spots and finding those spots is key. With the cooler temps the fish have not spread out like they will when water temps climb. Sowbugs are still the main menu item. Carpet Bugs, Jellybeans, Cotton Candy and Rays (tan 16-18) are solid choices. Baetis nymphs and midges still have their shining moments, especially in the afternoons. LBF, Wondernymphs, Cream Midge Larva and Zebra nymphs are good to have. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Bank anglers are doing very well for northerns, with the fish weighing between 10-17 pounds. Use smelt. Those who got out on the reservoir did well for walleye jigging with minnows. Try the Lost Creek and Fisherman’s Point areas. The lake is muddy. The roads were drying out as of Monday, but if there is additional rain exercise caution as they could be soft. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Missouri River, below Holter — Overall it is fishing well. The flow was 7,630 cfs on Monday and flows have been on a downward trend. Temperatures are running between 46 to 48 degrees. Fishing improves as water temps approach 50 degrees. With cold weather and cloud cover last week the fishing was good with Baetis coming off in the afternoons, along with a few March browns. For dry flies, an Extended Body Baetis (16-18), Smoke Jumper Baetis (18), Film Critic Quigley BWO (16) and a purple Para Wulff (18) will work. For nymphs try Tailwater Sowbugs (14-16), copper Lightning Bugs (14-16), Green Machines (16-18) and pink Scuds (12-14). For streamers try Nick’s Mojo Minnow in a yellow perch pattern (4), Hula Dancer (6) and an olive Thin Mint (4-8). — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Yellowstone National Park — The fishing season opens this Saturday and runs through the first Sunday in November. The Madison, Firehole and Gibbon are all running fairly high, but we expect them to fish well. Soft hackles, Woolly Buggers and Pale Morning Duns would be good flies to have. While Miller Caddis would work well on a sunny day. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.


Ackley Lake — Present worms from the shore for trout. Crayfish imitations will also work. Try trolling spinners for trout. Those targeting tiger muskies are trolling crankbaits. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Big Hole River — It was blown out as of Monday. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Fishing pressure has been light. An angler could try jerkbaits for smallmouth with the water still being kind of cold. Or try using tube jigs and drop shotting a live minnow or plastic minnow for smallmouth. For walleye try a jig and a minnow. — Scheels, Billings.

Boulder River — The lower Boulder (below the West Boulder) has been running muddy with the warmer weather and rain. Above the West Boulder has generally been clear, yet high and swift.  Nymph fishing with a fair amount of weight has been productive. We look for the flows to drop throughout the week and for the Blue Wing Olives to hatch. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow trout fishing has been best from shore at Shannon, Duck Creek Bay, and Goose Bay fly-fishing with a Leech or beadhead nymph or using a jig tipped with a worm. Boat anglers are catching a few rainbows mid-reservoir trolling cranks or lures. Walleye and perch are being caught mid-reservoir and at Confederate Bay in less than 15 feet of water on jigs or worm harnesses. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Canyon Reservoir — Some anglers are having success with chironomids and worm or leech patterns.— Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Cooney Reservoir — The cold temperatures have kept all but the bravest anglers off the water. Fishing is still slow but should get better. As of Monday the fish cleaning station is out of service due to a water line break. The goal is to have the station operating as soon as possible. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin — Between rainstorms anglers caught a few trout trolling gold spoons and spinners. Anglers also reeled in some trout while using worms at the Broadview Pond. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Northerns, bass and perch are all biting. The water is a little chilly after the recent storms, but should warm when the weather stabilizes. Some are using minnows and some are using crankbaits. Some northerns and smallmouth have been caught by shore anglers using minnows. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — With the weather conditions there weren’t a lot of anglers. Those who did get out caught some fat walleye. Pitch jigs with minnows or plastics in 10 to 25 feet of water. A few pike are being caught along with the walleye. To target northerns present spoons in the bays or sink sucker minnows from the shore. The lake trout are at depths of 15 to 60 feet and are still biting spoons and deep-diving crankbaits. Some are using downriggers and spoons in the deeper water. A few bass have been caught, but the action is not spectacular. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — The northerns and bass are still biting well. For bass, drop shot or pitch crankbaits shallow. For northerns try pulling a plug in 6 to 8 feet or pitch crankbaits as the fish are becoming more aggressive. Walleye action is good on sunny days in the Timber Creek area. Most action for walleye is with a jig in 12 to 14 feet. On sunnier days pitch right up to the bank. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — With all the wind, rain and snow, nobody was fishing. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — Runoff is here. The Taylor's Fork is pumping in mud and we likely won't be fishing this river for a while. If you do happen to find some softer water, fish big dark stoneflies, Woolly Buggers, and big worms. Be extremely careful wading this river as it can get nasty quickly. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows are being caught from shore at York Bridge on flies and at Riverside while drifting jigs. Rainbow fishing is fair while trolling cowbells or Rapalas around the Causeway and York Bridge. Small walleye are being caught in Lake Helena on bottom bouncers or Rapalas. An occasional perch is being caught there as well. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The ice is off all of the lake. The water level is being held down by the dam master to make room for the snowmelt and spring rains. There is plenty of water in the lake to fish, but the shorelines are low and the boat launches can only handle small boats with engines trimmed up a bit. Fly anglers are doing well, as are those trolling with gold/red Flicker Shads. — Kirkwood Marina.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbow fishing from shore at the ramps has slowed down. Boat anglers are finding rainbows while trolling cowbells or Rapalas around Cottonwood Creek and in the lower reservoir around Split Rock and the clay banks. Walleye and perch fishing is slow. — FWP, Helena.

Madison RiverLower — Early in the week flows jumped up to 3,730 cfs, but have been holding steady for the past few days. With colder nights and rain the caddis have been shut down for now. However, the nymph and streamer fishing has been good. The crayfish bite has picked up with fish holding over the weed beds. Look for fish in the shallow water where transitions between the buckets are. If you're not picking fish up in the shallows add a bit of weight and begin to dredge the buckets throughout the beds. Make sure to cast above the bucket and allow the crayfish to fall in with a natural dead drift. Fish are also hanging on the banks looking for baetis nymphs and crayfish. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — The upper river has been fishing great this last week with the consistent flows and warmer weather. The West Fork is pumping some mud and extra water into the system. The river is still fishable, but there will be a lot more color down low than there is up high. Down lower fish your big stones, big caddis pupa, and streamers. Keep an eye out for caddis popping throughout the day and into the evening. An olive Elk-Hair Caddis will get the job done for the rising fish. Up high clarity is still holding relatively strong. Nymphing has been the most consistent producer with worms, stones, and smaller mayfly nymphs being the best producers. There are also some caddis up this way so keep an eye on the soft water and you may be rewarded with some great dry fly fishing. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — With all the moisture not many people were out. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — The catfish bite has slowed down quite a bit with the water temps dropping. Walleye and sauger fishing is slow due to the recent drop in temperatures. With high and muddy water anglers are still snagging paddlefish. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Rock Creek — Rock Creek has begun it’s runoff season. Due to a combination of heat and then rain, Rock Creek has tripled in flows over the last week. The three forks of Rock Creek may be wadeable and fishable although an angler will have to go and explore these tributaries to find the water they seek. Recommended fly patterns include San Juan Worms, and big stonefly nymphs like Rubber Legs, Girdle Bugs and Bitch Creeks. Most of these patterns can be fished in a sizes 8-10. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — The water came up, but try pitching bigger streamers for brown trout. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Colder weather reduced the snowmelt and dropped the flows. It’s still high with some color. If there are heavy rains this week flows will spike again. Runoff is likely here to stay. In off-color water that’s not too high and dangerous try nymphing with black, brown and coffee rubber leg patterns like Girdle Bugs and Pat’s Rubber Legs, as well as similar colored stonefly patterns along with a beadhead trailer fly like a Prince Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Batman or Pheasant Tail. If flows climb and clarity worsens a San Juan Worm, Rubber Leg, or black Bugger fished on the edge is a good tactic. For streamers in off-color water use a color contrast of darker patterns like black Buggers or the Grinch, either dead drifted or stripped. The river is likely to soon run too high and dirty and it will be best to stay away from it and look for smaller tributaries, tailwaters and lakes. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tiber Reservoir — The walleye bite was tough at last weekend’s tourney. The Willow Creek arm is pretty muddy and the water was really cold due to the weather. The best technique seemed to be to drag jigs and a minnow slow. Some anglers tried crankbaits. When water temps warm, fishing should improve. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Tongue River Reservoir — Water temps are still cold. Some crappie, bass and northerns were caught. For crappie troll a purple tiger Flicker Shad at slow speeds. White jig tails would be a good choice for bass. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — The river was running extremely high and off-color, then subsided a bit with the cooler temperatures. If there are heavy localized rains this week flows will likely rapidly increase again. Runoff is likely here to stay and the cottonwood hatch will get going and the river will be extremely hazardous. There may be some spots here and there to fish like side channels, but unless one can find a safe spot it’s best just to stay away. Seek out smaller tributaries, tailwaters and lakes until after runoff.  — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Catfish action is good on cut bait and minnows. Fish just off the current in pools for catfish. Ling are biting at night on small minnows. Target the deep pools for ling. From Hysham east the action is quiet on bass and walleye as the river is high and muddy. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River: Intake — Nearly 100 paddlefish were harvested as of close of fishing hours on Saturday. Approximately half of the fish were snagged on Saturday. The largest fish harvested was 98 pounds and the smallest was 17 pounds. — Intake Paddlefishing/Yellowstone Caviar Facebook site.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — The Yellowstone has been on the rise for the last few days. The most recent spikes have pushed the river way over the fishable clarity level. See you in July Yellowstone. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — The river has come up quite a bit. One can try cut bait, worms or minnows for catfish. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.


Bighorn River, Thermopolis — The flow was 2,150 cfs and the river was clear on Monday. Anglers are catching fish on streamers and midges. Some anglers are dead drifting a crawler and doing well. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — Anglers are throwing lead jig heads and Mister Twisters below the spillway. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — A reminder to check fishing regulations on the reservoir, which state “that portion lying west of a straight line connecting the mouths of Rattlesnake Creek and Sheep Creek (commonly known as Spring Creek) up the drainage to Gibbs Bridge is closed to fishing from April 1 through July 14.” The closure is an effort to protect spawning trout. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Clarks Fork — It is blown out. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — Anglers are doing well. Water levels are low and the water is not up into the weeds on the edges. Fish are taking midges and leech variations. Freshwater shrimp are out. Try scuds. Chironomids and Ice Cream Cones underneath small indicators will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Fishing is slow. The Buffalo Lions Club Fishing Derby is May 25-27. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Lower Shoshone — The flow was 2,000 cfs and the visibility was at 2 feet on Monday. If there is a midge hatch, one can catch fish. Or try nymphs, like Pheasant Tails, North Fork Specials and Copper Johns. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — With the cooler weather it is fishing fairly well. The river is high but the water clarity is good. The flow coming into the reservoir was 1,930 cfs on Monday. Above Newton Creek the water clarity is decent for fishing. Go deep with nymphs. Stoneflies and dropper nymphs will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

South Fork of the Shoshone — Fishing pressure is light, but those fishing are catching brown trout and cutthroat trout. Use nymphs. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — The shorelines are pretty muddy due to the recent weather. Try worms or Jake’s Lures. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Henry’s Fork of the Snake River (Idaho) — The Henry's Fork below Mesa Falls produced notable dry fly-fishing opportunities this prior week with Caddis and March Browns. Nymphing has also been effective with Rubber Legs, and Serendipity patterns. Fly Box: March Brown Sparkle Dun, Olive X- Caddis (16), Razor Mayfly Baetis (18), Tommy's Caddis Pupae, Guide Serendipity (16), Olive Miro Mayfly (18), and Brown Rubber Legs (8-10). — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL



Load comments