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Brown trout

Brown trout are biting as fall prompts the fish to eat up before their annual spawn. Fly shop owner Rich Romersa hooked this male on Rock Creek recently.

As we approach the start of fall, anglers are awaiting the brown trout spawn in the near future.

On the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River in Wyoming, North Fork Anglers reports that brown trout are starting to stage.

Overall, brown trout seem to be more active as they were reported to be chasing big Caddis flies and Yuk Bugs on the Big Hole River. And, it isn’t just river anglers having all the fun as large brown trout were caught at Bighorn Lake and Clark Canyon Reservoir last week.

Here’s The Gazette’s weekly fishing report:

Top picks

Big Hole River — Tricos are still going strong in the morning hours, but not in every run. Look for flat water below riffles to find the best action. Hoppers and large Caddis are getting the job done. A great technique to use now is putting a Partridge & Peacock (8) on for a point fly with a PMX (8-10) or Elk-Hair Caddis on for your first fly and use a drag-free drift and let them swing at the end of your drift. The big browns are moody and like to chase things, especially big Caddis flies. If on the water early, try using a Yuk Bug (4-6) and fish the riffles. We've also have had great results using little Red Spots, which is a little black soft hackle (16) with a red spot on the thorax. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Missouri River, below Holter — It is fishing awesome. There are some tricos, pseudo and caddis out. A CDC Caddis (14) is working well. Streamers are producing. There definitely is some moss in the river. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Rock Creek — It’s in great shape to fish with a fly as we close out the summer and turn the corner into fall. Enjoy yourself with less folks on the water. Warmer temperatures have kept the dry fly fishing going.  Recommended dry fly patterns include Tricos (18-20) in the morning, Caddis (14) in tan or olive, PMDs (16) for the late afternoon, as well as Hoppers and other big bugs. These include Pink Pookies, Parachute or Dave's Hoppers, Chubby Chernobyl in gold or purple as well as a Parachute Madam X in yellow or orange. Most of these patterns can be fished in an 8-12. Smaller Stimulators (12-16) in yellow or orange are also continuing to fish. Attractor dries like a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams, Adams Irresistible, Royal Wulff, Trude, or Humpy can all bring a trout to the surface. These patterns can all be fished in sizes 12-16. The best way to fish is with streamers. Look at a streamer like an extremely large nymph, so put your bobber down and try this technique. Tie your streamer on to a shorter and much heavier leader (0X-1X), cast into a pool and hold on for the fireworks to begin. This is actually very easy fishing this time of year, especially as brown trout begin their fall spawn here in the next couple of months. Recommended streamers include Sparkle Minnows, Krystal Flash Buggers in black or olive, Grinch, Fruit Roll Up's and Galloup's Mini Sex Dungeons in olive, black or yellow. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Tongue River Reservoir — Fishing has been on fire. The crappie bite has been terrific with lots of fat fish being caught. Try pulling cranks or bottom bouncers tipped with worms. Some big walleye have been caught in 15 feet of water bottom bouncing with a worm harness tipped with worms. Some really big northerns and catfish have been caught. The bass bite, as usual, has been great in the shallower water. Target structure. — Tongue River Marina.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Early in the day try a nymph on a long dropper off of a large dry fly, straight nymph or streamer fish. By later in the morning as things warm up, fish will start to look for the dry fly or Hopper. Rubber leg nymphs like a Hare’s Ear, Prince, Batman or Fox Squirrel (12-14) are making good droppers. For hopper patterns, tan, peach, purple, pink and olive body colors are good choices in a Yellowstoner Chubby or Fat Frank. Small parachute Hoppers in a double dry setup with a larger lead hopper pattern is a good afternoon option. Fish are also eating the small dry like a Purple Haze when fishing likely holding water. The Micro Chubbys in purple, tan and gold are good choices, as well. Tricos are out by midmorning on some days, so go down a size or two on a Purple Haze or Parachute Adams as a trailer 12 inches or so off of a larger spotter fly as a double dry setup. Look for risers in the slick flats and foam lines. There can be some big heads coming up. If float fishing, note that the road at the Indian Fort FAS at Reed Point remains closed. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.


Ackley Lake — Action is slow during the day for trout. Try the early morning for best results. That's when some tiger muskie are still being caught with big crankbaits. The best fishing is from a boat. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The season is changing and so is the fishing on the Beaverhead. Here is a list of flies to use: Girdle Bugs, in both olive and black (4-6), Yuk Bugs (4-6) in the same colors, rubber leg Prince Nymphs (6-8), Dave's Hoppers (8-10), Elk-Hair Caddis (10-12), Bread Crust (10-12), Partridge & Peacock (8-14). The October Caddis are here, so the Primrose & Pearl Midge (8) is a good bug to either swing or lift especially when using a 10-foot rod. Speaking of rods, if you have a 10-foot 3 or 4 weight that's the rod to use as you'll be able to make much better presentations, which are key right now. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn River — Flows have remained stable again this week and were at 3,042 cfs as of Monday. Flows should remain at this level for awhile. Water clarity has not improved and is still at 2-3 feet as there is quite a lot of algae growth in the reservoir. The water temperature has remained in the mid-60s even though the reservoir is cooling off. Fishing was slow last week with the fluctuations of weather patterns and this week looks much the same. The trico hatch has ebbed and flowed this last week, mainly due to the fluctuations of the air temperatures and weather. The hatch begins before 7 a.m. and the spinner fall happens from roughly 8 a.m. till 10 a.m. on most mornings. Morning winds have been making it nearly impossible to predict good days or bad days. Best patterns have been the Trico RS2 CDC, the Trico Perfect Spinner and the Drowned Trico (all in 20). The black caddis hatch is pretty much over with little action reported. Nymph fishing continues to be slow. The only productive nymph fishing has been on fairly large Bighorn Orange Scuds (12-14) trailed by a Psuedo nymph (22). — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith. 

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Fishing is good for bass. A few sauger were caught near the state line. Some healthy brown trout were reeled in, along with crappie and a few small perch, which were caught near the creeks. — FWP, Billings.

Boulder River — Grasshoppers and terrestrials are working with small beadhead nymph droppers. Blue wing (beatis) nymphs are getting larger in preparation for the fall hatch. Fish a small beadhead Copper John or Pheasant Tail Nymph pattern below a Chubby or Foam Hopper. Try a small streamer in the tailouts, as well. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow fishing has been slow, but boat anglers are catching a few using cowbells or spoons, tipped with worms, near the dam and shore anglers are having some success using worms near White Earth and Hellgate Bay. Walleye action has been fair around the Silos, Goose Bay, and Hellgate Bay trolling worm harnesses tipped with worms. A few perch are being caught by anglers while searching for walleye. Shore anglers are catching a few walleye on the south end of the reservoir using worms and/or jigs (standard and floating) tipped with worms. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Canyon Reservoir — Fishing continues to be productive. Try the west arm (Horse Prairie) for big browns. Midges, Leeches and Zonkers are good choices. Using streamers during the early morning hours can be very effective at this time of year. The Red Rock end is also producing good catches. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Cooney Reservoir — Some walleye and perch are being caught from shore. Boat anglers are catching fat trout every once in a while. Troll worms on worm harnesses or fish worms from shore. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.

Cliff and Wade lakes — There was solid hopper fishing with the warmer temperatures this past week. Try drifting along the steeper banks with a Morrish Hopper on a breezy afternoon, and be prepared for some violent takes.  Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing south by the Boys Camp, walleye are in 25 to 30 feet of water in the weeds. Pull crankbaits or bottom bouncers and bang the weeds for best results. Crawlers are the best live bait. Smallmouth bass are hitting well, with some bigger ones being caught. Lake trout are biting like crazy. At Haxby Point, lake trout fishing is productive and a few salmon have been caught. The marina is open through September. After that, check for availability. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Fishing is good for an assortment of fish. Anglers are bottom bouncing with night crawlers in 9 to 24 feet for 19-24 inch walleye. Some smaller walleye are being caught and released. The crappie are suspended. Some big and fat bass are being reeled in while bottom bouncing. One could try pulling plugs or trolling worm harnesses. There was a 36-inch catfish boated. Some large northerns have been caught while boat fishing. Fish smelt with a bobber or troll crankbaits. Anglers are having to sort through the goldeye, which are fun to catch. The perch being caught are little. Shore fishing has really slowed down, and most fish — with the exception of catfish — being caught from shore are too little to keep. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Anglers are pitching lures to the shore in 30 feet of water for walleye and doing really well. For chinook salmon, action is a little slow but the ones being caught are in 80 feet of water. Blue and green are good colors. For lake trout, the fish are in 80 to 125 feet of water, and anglers are doing well for them. Spoons are the best option to target lake trout. The surface water temp is 67 degrees. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — Anglers are catching fish in 14 to 22 feet of water. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — The northern pike bite is decent and the smallmouth bite is really good west of Snow Creek in 18 to 25 feet of water. For walleye, target 18 to 25 feet. Use the electronics to locate the fish. Most walleye are from Hell Creek east toward the dam. Some are doing OK with crankbaits, while most are running crawler harnesses for walleye. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — Anglers did well over the weekend. Those who had the best luck on walleye were trolling with leeches. The store is out of leeches and won’t have any more this season. Some anglers reeled in perch. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — As of Monday, due to the Bacon Rind fire, access to the river is closed from the north boundary of Yellowstone Park to Fawn Pass. As usual, the Gallatin has been a great option lately, we are seeing temperatures dropping significantly into prime trout fishing temps. The nocturnal stones and tricos are great in the morning, shifting to hoppers as soon as the weather heats up a little bit. A Chubby-dropper is still a great option, but downsizing the Chubby and the dropper is key. A tan/black Chubby (10-14) with a smaller Flashback PT or Hare’s Ear is a great option. Lightning Bugs, Spankers, and prince nymphs will work. There is an abundance of algae this year, so be extra careful wading. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — Rainbow fishing has slowed up some with a few trout being caught from shore at the Causeway Bridge and Riverside while using worms or Woolly Buggers. Boat anglers are finding better success for rainbows while trolling cowbells around the White Sandy/Black Sandy area. A few walleye are being caught in the Causeway and below Canyon Ferry Dam. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The fish seem to still be moving around. Move around the lake and try out your tackle box on them as we’ve heard of catches on a wide variety of tackle and flies. Night crawlers are working well, especially in shallow water and near the shore. The surface water temp is holding at around 60 degrees or just below. We’re experiencing gorgeous fall days, with crisp mornings and cool evenings being the best fishing times. — Kirkwood Marina.

Holter Reservoir — Rainbow fishing is fair while trolling crankbaits or cowbells throughout the lower reservoir from Split Rock to Holter Dam. A few rainbows are being caught from shore at Departure Point while using worms. Perch fishing is good around Cottonwood Creek, Mann Gulch at the Sleeping Giant while using jigs and worms in 12 to 20 feet of water.  A few walleye are being caught mixed in with the schools of perch. — FWP, Helena.

Madison RiverLower — The water has cooled off and the flows have been a little more consistent lately, but the weeds and grass are still really bad. Keep an eye on water temperatures, as we have started to see them climb again in the afternoons. The cooler weather predicted over the next few days should help this out. Midday terrestrials are the name of the game, with some midmorning trico action. In the evenings you may spot some small caddis and PMDs. As usual, don't forget a crayfish pattern. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — It was flowing at 1,030 cfs on Sunday. There is still enough water to get through most sections without too much scraping on the bottom. The water looks fantastic. Hoppers, Ants, and Beetles have been the most consistent surface producers. Don't be afraid of small flies if the big stuff is not working. Some fat fish are being caught on streamers and the bite will only get better as we continue into September. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — Some sauger and walleye are being caught jigging plastics or live minnows from a boat. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Nelson Reservoir — Anglers are doing really well in 14 to 22 feet of water. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Ruby River — The water below the dam is still off-color, but as we've mentioned before, use a Cranefly larva with a Super Pupa in pink (12-14), and Girdle Bugs and Yuk Bugs. The water above is clear and very fishable. Use PMX (12-14) in yellow, orange and peacock with Prince Nymphs (14). — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Spring Creek — It is fishing well. There have been caddis hatches every day, which will slow when the weather cools down. Hoppers are still working. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Flows have dropped below 500 cfs, making things pretty skinny in spots. Dry fly fishing has continued to be good as the day warms up by midday/early afternoon. Smaller size hopper patterns, Jack Cabe, Chubbys and PMXs are good choices. Royal, yellow, orange, purple and olive are good body colors. Also try the Micro Chubbys in purple, tan and gold. They’re also hitting smaller dries like the Purple Haze with a good presentation, even with no actively rising fish. Try trailing a smaller Purple Haze or Parachute Adams off of a spotter fly. Fish have been on a dropper nymph, like a Prince Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Batman, red Copper John or Pheasant Tail. If fish are hitting the big dry, particularly tight to the banks, leave it off as it allows for better accuracy. Straight nymphing or streamer fishing is probably the way to go early before things warm up. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — Anglers are catching bass and catfish. Walleye and sauger fishing is tough. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — It was running at 2,210 cfs on Sunday and has been fishing great for the most part. The upper reaches of the river are the places to be if you are looking to throw bigger dry flies and get surface eats. The fish have been keyed in on smaller PMD imitations and Caddis fished behind larger Chubby Chernobyls or Water Walkers. As you move downriver the bite changes. The valley is seeing better Trico and Hopper fishing each day, but a dry-dropper rig is still the best option for consistent action. Things are starting to warm up from the valley down so try to get out early in the morning. Fishing has been cyclical below about Mallard’s Rest. Swinging small sculpin imitations has also been picking up fish, especially with the cooler weather. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.


Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Action is really slow. Those fishing are trying a hopper-dropper. River levels are low and the water is warm. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — Fishing has been poor. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — A few walleye, trout and perch have been caught. Use crankbaits or worms on a worm harness for all species. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.

Clarks Fork — Temps are back down in the safe range. Anglers are having fun catching wild rainbow and brown trout. Some brown trout are starting to stage already. We are catching bigger browns than a week ago. Fish orange, red or yellow Hoppers and droppers. Gray drakes and pale evening duns are out in the evening, and some caddis. A few large stoneflies are coming out below the canyon. BWOs are out on cloudy days around noon. Tricos are out very early in the morning. On side streams, smaller Hoppers and Gray Drakes could work, as will attractors. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — Water temps are good at East Newton, West Newton, Hogan and Luce, which are all fishing well. Hoppers will work. Morning and evenings are best because the September sun is high and bright and can be a little warm. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lower Shoshone — It is fishing very well from boats and good from shore at the 12th Street access or the 19th Street access or below the dam. A dry-dropper, two-fly nymph rigs or streamers are working. Fish the nymphs deep. BWOs are hatching, and some pale evening and pale morning duns. Hopper action is sporadic. Black, brown or olive streamers will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — It is fishing well. A Hopper-dropper will work well, although the trout are getting sensitive to Hoppers. A North Fork Special will work, small Princes and Bloody Mary. We are seeing green drakes. Anglers are having fun right until dark. In the evening there are caddis, rusty spinners and gray drake spinners. Royal Trudes and rubber-legged Parachute Humpies are working in the middle of the day. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

South Fork of the ShoshoneIt is fishing really, really well, although it is getting a lot of pressure. Gray drakes are dominating. At 4-5 p.m., the water warms up when the baetis come. On a calm day, you’ll see BWOs for about an hour to an hour and 20 minutes if the clouds stay out. On windy days, fish an emerger. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Yellowstone National Park — The Madison in the park, Firehole, and Gibbon are all beginning to fish again now that cool nights have started to bring the water temperature back to fishable levels. Temperatures in the morning hours have been perfect, though the water in each river has still been getting a smidge warm in the late afternoons and evenings on hotter days. For the Firehole, try White Miller Razor Caddis and soft hackles, as well as a Cinnamon Flying Ant. On the Madison and Gibbon, make sure to have Morrish and Thunder Thighs Hoppers, Cinnamon Flying Ants, and Summer Stones. The Lamar, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte Creek have all been fishing very well. The annual drake mackerel emergence has begun, so be sure to have a few Drake Mackerel Cripples and Sparkle Duns. Heptagenia Cripples and tiny Slough Creek Baetis Sparkle Duns will also produce fish, as will Longhorn Beetles, Morrish Hoppers, and Para-Ants. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.


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