Options are plentiful for anglers this week.
It’s also beginning to be the time of year to start thinking about Hopper-droppers.
For the most part bank fishing has slowed down at reservoirs, but with the help of patience and luck some are still catching fish from shore. Boat anglers continue to do well at many reservoirs in the region.
Here’s this week’s fishing report:
Bighorn River — Flows are back up to 9,500 cfs but the fish don’t seem to mind. We’re seeing good numbers of PMDs and sallies in the midday and black caddis are starting to make an appearance in the evenings. There are finally a decent amount of fish up in side channels and softer edges. We just need the flow to drop a bit and it’s going to go off. Nymphing is still really solid on the entire river. Use big Sowbugs and Worms down lower. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — It is fishing great. The anglers are not having to travel far. Some are going to Fourchette and the narrows for bass. However, most are only going as far as Lost Creek and then fish their way back. For walleye, troll bottom bouncers and worm harnesses between .5-.8 mph. Purple, blue and silver and white are good colors. Smile Blades with beads are good. Or use a jig with a Mister Twister tail and a chunk of crawler. Along with walleye, crappie, northerns, perch and drum are all being reeled in. Leeches will work, too, but crawlers seem to work better for walleye. — Crooked Creek Marina.
Nelson Reservoir — It is still fishing well. Pull worm harnesses with leeches or worms in about 17 to 28 feet of water for walleye or pull crankbaits in 18 feet of water in the early morning or late evenings. Some perch are being caught in the deeper water while using worms. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Spring Creek — It is fishing well. Caddis and mayflies are coming off. In addition, Panther Martin, Mepps and Blue Fox will all work. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Stillwater River — Crazy weather and frequent heavy afternoon and evening thunderstorms have kept the lower river in a state of flux. The upper river has remained generally clear with dropping flows. Look for golden stones and PMDs to be coming off. The upper river continues to see a few salmonflies. Dry fly fishing has picked up with Stimulators, Jack Cabes, PMX and Chubbies getting the job done for surface action. A dropper nymph like a beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, red Copper John, Prince Nymph or Batman have been taking fish. Straight nymphing of runs and inside corners with a big rubber leg pattern like a Girdle Bug, Bitch Creek or Pat’s Rubberleg is always a good option. For streamers, never leave home without a Grinch in the box. Try the Electric Goldfish or a basic black Woolly Bugger. As flows stabilize and the water temperature continues to warm just a little, fishing should take off. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Ackley Lake — Action is slow. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Beaverhead River — The Beaverhead is fishing very well with PMD nymphs and dries until noon. Switch to Yellow Sally nymphs and dries from lunchtime through late afternoon. Also, don’t be afraid to tie on a big streamer before and during afternoon thundershowers. Increased flows from Clark Canyon Reservoir will make the dry fly fishing better in the weeks to come. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Big Hole River — The flows were at 837 cfs on Monday. It is offering excellent dry fly fishing with low traffic. Trout are keying on the Caddis on a daily basis, with some big fish looking for Golden Stones. PMDs are still hatching, however the fish seem to prefer the caddis. That could be related to the high amount of yellow, dark, and lime sallies that are crawling around. Streamers have continued to produce on a daily basis, with olive tones seeming to be the most productive. The flows have been kind for those using hard boats, provided you stay below Divide or Maiden Rock. Anyone looking to float above Divide will want to get a raft going, otherwise it is going to be a long day on the old fiberglass drift boat. We have been experiencing excellent whitefish activity when nymphing, so get a Lightning Bug in the water and hold on. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.
Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Smallmouth bass anglers are doing well. Some guys are using top-water gear as the water has warmed. Most action is on tube baits. — Scheels, Billings.
Boulder River — There is still high water. Anglers are doing well nymph fishing with Rubber Legs. Anglers do have to work for their fish. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Shore fishing for rainbows is slow with a few being caught in Confederate Bay while using jigs tipped with worms early in the morning. Rainbows are being caught while trolling cowbells or lures along the east shore from White Earth to Hellgate. Walleye fishing is very good from the river to north of the Silos in 15 to 20 feet of water while using bottom bouncers with leeches or worms. Chartreuse or yellow jigs tipped with a worm is working, as well. The area from Duck Creek to Hellgate is starting to pick up and produce walleye. A few walleye and perch are being caught from shore throughout the reservoir using jigs, standard and floating, tipped with worms or leeches in 10 to 25 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.
Cooney Reservoir — Water temps are 68 degrees at Willow Creek. Walleye are biting on Rapala jigs. Fishing is really good right now. — Cooney State Park.
Deadman’s Basin — For the most part fishing is slow. Try worms and PowerBait. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing was slow over the weekend. A few bass and some small pike were caught by anglers fishing in the bay. Try spinners and bottom bouncers. Crawlers are the best bait. Some were using jigs and plastic worms. — Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Lake trout fishing slowed down a little bit last week. Locate the lake trout and then jig with live tackle. For walleye, use Moonshine Lures or Flicker Shads. Crawler harnesses and Smile Blades will also work for walleye. Some are using bottom bouncers. Some big northerns were caught on spoons. The chinook salmon have not started biting yet. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — It is fishing well. Bottom bounce a worm harness for walleye. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — It is fishing decent for walleye and bass. For walleye and pike, blue and silver, purple and silver, or perch crankbaits are working. Fish in 10 to 15 feet of water in the afternoon and 2 to 5 feet of water in the morning. The Snow Creek area is good in the morning and the Sutherlin area is good in the afternoon. — Hell Creek Marina.
Gallatin River — When the river is clear you'll see the big bugs around but not in huge numbers. The bulk of the bugs are making their way up from Portal Creek to the park. The flows are still pumping, so take precaution wading. A good rig to try is a big foamy Salmonfly on top with a Stonefly dropper. If the fish aren't taking the Salmonflies, switch to a smaller Chubby. Nymphing has also been productive running a rubber legs up top with a smaller Mayfly or Caddis dropper. If you're not picking up fish nymphing, play with your split shot until you find the sweet spot. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir — A few rainbows are being caught from shore below Canyon Ferry Dam while using worms or PowerBait. Rainbow fishing is fair while trolling cowbells below Canyon Ferry Dam. Numerous small walleye and a few perch are being caught in Lake Helena and the Causeway on bottom bouncers or jigs tipped with a leech. Walleye are also being caught from shore at the Causeway Bridge and Riverside. — FWP, Helena.
Hebgen Lake — Dry fly fishing has been inconsistent lately, with decent Callibaetis hatches on some days and very few bugs to speak of on others. We are still a few weeks out from seeing consistent gulpers, but we have seen enough Callibaetis on top that you'll want to have some Callibaetis Cripples and Deer Hair Spinners in your box. Sub-surface fishing has been solid with Zebra Midges, red Copper Johns, Split-Case PMDs and Callibaetis nymphs working well as either a dropper under a dry or under a bobber. If you are heading here we'd focus our attention on the Madison and Grayling arms at this time. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.
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Holter Reservoir — A few rainbows are being caught around Split Rock in the early morning trolling cowbells while using a downrigger. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Walleye are being caught while using bottom bouncers or jigs and leeches in 8 to 15 feet of water in the canyon around Mann Gulch, Cottonwood Creek and the clay bluffs across from the Boat Loft. Perch fishing is fair with some being caught around the docks and weed beds in the lower reservoir in 8 to 18 feet of water on jigs and worms. — FWP, Helena.
Madison River, Lower —Water temperatures rose to 67 degrees and are even warmer below the canyon. The lower river is simply too hot for trout. Along with the hot temps, this river has the inner tube hatch in full force, and there are better options to fish. It looks like the window on this river is closed. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Madison River, Upper — The salmonflies have been spotty this year. If you're trying to catch the hatch you will want to either fish above or below the hatch. The majority of the hatch has already passed through, but there will most likely still be a residual hatch up high. Do not head this way without a few big orange dries in your box. We can expect this river to rise again with warm weather approaching. There are bugs up top toward the wade section, so if you want to catch the hatch, head high. Down lower fish your big stones, Yellow Sallies, big Caddis Pupas, PMD Nymphs, and emergers. PMDs have made an appearance and the fish have taken notice. Also keep an eye out for Sedge Caddis popping throughout the day and into the evening. If you see fish rising, an olive Elk-Hair Caddis or an Extended Body PMD will get the job done for the rising fish. Clarity has improved throughout the whole river. It has a nice green tint. Nymphing has been the most consistent producer with Worms, Stones, and smaller Mayfly nymphs being the best options. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Martinsdale Reservoir — Those trolling with silver lures or cowbells did well. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Missouri River, below Holter — It is fishing well. The flows are 6,070 cfs and the water temp was 62 degrees on Monday. For nymphs use a Green Machine or Jigged Frenchie (14-16). A purple Para Wulff (16-18), Corn Fed Caddis (16) and Outrigger Caddis will work. The pale morning duns seem to be waning. For streamers, try a Thin Mint (6) or a perch pattern. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — It is off-color. Catfish continue to bite. Crawlers and cut bait will work. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Rock Creek — The creek continues to run high and fast. Last week's warm temperatures, coupled with our daily dose of rain, has elevated flows. Anglers are successfully fishing, although be very careful if you decide to go out and explore and wade. Should you go out and fish while flows are still high, try fishing streamers. If you are able to approach and fish decent trout holding water, a streamer can be the trick as trout have got to be getting eager to eat a fly as we now approach almost 10 full weeks of runoff. Recommended streamers include Sparkle Minnows in brown trout or sculpin patterns, as well as the ever popular Grinch and Galloup’s Sex Dungeon patterns. — East Rosebud Fly Shop.
Tiber Reservoir — Water levels are receding. It is fishing well for walleye, perch and pike. Try bottom bouncing or jigging with crawlers for walleye and perch. Fish the shallow, grassy areas for both species. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.
Tongue River Reservoir — Fishing has picked up. For walleyes drag a jig tipped with a live minnow or crawler and target 5-15 feet of water. For crappie pull a worm harness in 15-20 feet of water. The bass bite is still great using top-water gear or cranks in the coves or structure. — Tongue River Marina.
Yellowstone River, Columbus — It’s rounded into shape. Clarity is good and flows have dropped to a doable level. Try fishing a big rubber leg nymph like a Girdle Bug, Pat’s Rubber Leg or Bitch Ceek on a long dropper off of a Chubby in the softer water between the main current and the bank. Streamer fish using the Grinch, Kreelex patterns, Sculpins and Black Buggers. For dry fly anglers fish a Jack Cabe, Stimulator, PMX or Chubby. If they’re not hitting the big dry, drop a beadhead nymph off of it. Keep a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams and Caddis handy for any rising fish. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Huntley — Catfish are still biting very well. Smallmouth bass fishing has picked up. For smallmouth, fish just off the current using crankbaits or jigs with either minnows or night crawlers. The river is still high, but has been slowly going down. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.
Yellowstone River, Livingston — The river is big but fishing. Salmonflies have made their way up to the Gardiner border but are starting to fade. However, bigger dries such as Chubbies or Golden Stones with a larger Stonefly underneath are still picking up fish. The valley has still been fishing well. Stick to easy floats until flows come down. Use extreme caution if you head this way. Work the banks and soft water with large nymphs or streamers. There have started to be a few PMDs or drakes around, so watch for those in the midmorning. The window for fishing has been from about 8-2 p.m., so get out early and you will be happy. The afternoons have been tough, but working a caddis tight to the banks is still picking up fish. Watch the wind out here. Big water and big wind can spell disaster for even a skilled rower. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Yellowstone River, Miles City — Catfish continue to bite. The river is still high and dirty. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.
Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — The south narrows are producing 3- to 4-pound cats regularly. The Horseshoe Bend fishing dock has produced sauger and bass on minnows with a slower catfish turnout than usual. The north narrows are producing crappie and bass and Crooked Creek anglers reported walleye, sauger and bass on a diving Rapala and minnows. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.
Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Fishing is great for those using flies, bait or spinning gear. The water flow was at 3,500 cfs on Monday. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.
Boysen Reservoir — It is fishing well for walleye and trout. Troll slowly with leeches, crawlers or crankbaits. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Fishing has opened up for the whole reservoir. The reservoir is full with some debris fields depending on the day and the wind. The inflow has been on the way down and will be clearing up barring more thunderstorms. Trout fishing has been slower than normal but will only get better with clearing water. Lots of fish remain in the river and will be returning. Trolling spoons and crankbaits have been the best for rainbow and cutthroat trout. With the warm weather, Beck Lake has lots of vegetation and is harder to fish. Most fishing has been at the upper New Cody Reservoir and lots of smaller perch are being caught, with a couple 10-plus inch perch coming in. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Clarks Fork — On the upper end it is fishing well. The water is still high, but it is clear. Parachute Adams, small Hopper-droppers and Chubby Chernobyl will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Cody-area lakes — With the warmer weather lake fishing has slowed down. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Lake DeSmet — Anglers are doing well and are catching walleye, lake trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. A half crawler tipped with PowerBait is a good option from the shore. Panther Martin and Rapalas are working. Shiny patterns are a good choice. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.
Lower Shoshone — It is high and off-color. One could fish the edges, but there are better places to fish. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
North Fork of the Shoshone — Overall it is fishing well. It is high, but good numbers of fish are being caught by float anglers. A dry-dropper or Hopper-dropper will work. Early in the morning use a tandem nymph rig. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
South Fork of the Shoshone — It is really high and fishing pressure is light. It should be fishable by next week. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.
Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — The upper reservoir is fishing better, but overall both reservoirs are fishing well. Gold Thomas lures are working on the upper reservoir, as are worms. Pink is a good color to use on the lower reservoir. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.
Yellowstone National Park — As we get into the middle of July, the Firehole and Madison in the park have slowed dramatically. Temperatures have risen to as high as 77 degrees in the lower end of the Firehole in recent days, and so we recommend leaving these fish be until things cool back down in the fall. The northeast corner is probably about a week out from fishing really well. We did get a report from one of our guides recently that there were a few bugs on Slough, but most of the fish were caught with nymphs. Soda Butte and the Lamar are still fishing slow. Rivers could muddy up in the event of big rainstorms. Make sure to have Gray Drakes and PMDs, as well as plenty of attractor patterns when you head over to the northeast corner. A Split Case PMD is a great nymph pattern, especially on Soda Butte. The Yellowstone above the falls opened on July 15. Green drakes, salmonflies, PMDs and caddis should be plentiful. Due to the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake the number of cutthroats on this portion of the Yellowstone have been down for a quite a while; however, the fish we do catch in there are generally big. Below the falls, salmonflies are out in the canyon, so if you like backcountry fishing load up a pack and grab your box of big bugs. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.