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Fat walleye

Brad Klepperich caught this 30-inch, 12-plus pound walleye while fishing Lake DeSmet in Wyoming. 

For many, school is back in session or will be soon.

But, that doesn't mean it's time to quit fishing — far from it, actually. A hopper-dropper bite is still occurring on many waters and there are chances for terrestrial fishing. Plus, as the calendar advances the days become shorter and eventually will become cooler, all of which will lead to better fishing.

With students back in the classrooms and vacation season winding down, that could also lead to less people at your favorite fishing hole.

Here's the weekly fishing report: 

Top picks

Bighorn River — As expected, August has been nothing short of great. Water levels are prime and the fish are in fantastic shape. Black Caddis are very strong in the afternoons and Tricos are getting thicker each day. The hopper fishing has been awesome on windier days. Nymphing with orange Scuds, Sunk Trico Spinners, Caddis Pupa and Pheasant Tails has been very good in the early afternoons. — Bighorn Angler, Fort Smith. 

Boulder River — The Boulder is fishing well, with an upper river Spruce Moth “hatch” as the highlight. Grey and Green Drakes, Tricos and Rusty Spinners are also good choices. Hopper-dropper combinations are also working well. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — Action is as hot as a fire while pulling worm harnesses for walleye. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Nelson Reservoir — Anglers are doing well for perch, smallmouth, northerns, walleye and the occasional crappie in 20 feet of water pulling worm harnesses. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — Hopper fishing is the best it's been in several years. From mid to late morning on, fish are on the hopper. All types of hoppers are taking fish in all types of water. Don't be content to merely pound the bank. Fish have seen a zillion artificial flies as well as the real ones by now, so don't hesitate to vary it up. Try the Yellowstoner Chubby, Yeti Hopper, Fat Frank and Pink Pookie in pink, peach, olive or grape body colors (10-14).  Nymphing is usually 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. For streamer fishing, 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. Also, keep a Purple Haze, Parachute Adams and Caddis handy for any rising fish. Tricos have also started making their appearance in the early 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. Cooler mornings have helped the water temperature, but it's still best to use as heavy of tackle as possible, play and land fish promptly and minimize their handling. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Montana

Ackley Lake — Fishing is slow. There are a lot of recreational boaters out. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — The Beaverhead continues to fish very well. Some of the best fish being caught are sipping dry flies. A few crane flies are making an appearance in the early morning and a few fish are taking the big dries. Hoppers are working on parts of the river. PMD and Yellow Sallies continue to hatch in strong numbers on the uppermost portion of the river above Henneberry. The best way to catch fish depends upon where you are on the river and the time of day. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Big Hole River — Last week we saw a beautiful run of cool weather, and also an impressive amount of rain for August. After almost a 300 cfs increase in flow, the water temps went down big time and led to great fishing. The slight murk in the water had the fish keeping an eye out for worms, along with streamers. Anglers minding the details have also had shots at big trout eating dries, however it hasn't been easy. Flows have dropped and the river is in great shape. Nocturnal and golden stoneflies have continued to hatch, hoppers are lining the banks, and ants are fooling trout. The Trico hatch/Spinner Fall had been hatching later in the morning, but with the weather pattern warming up we are anticipating them to go back to the early-morning program. Unfortunately, the Spruce Moths have been relatively quiet, with reports of heavy activity up in the high country lakes. It is possible that they come down with this next warm spell. Small, sparse nymphs have been effective, along with the Girdle Bug. Streamer fishing is a great way to tag a big brown in the faster water. Hard boats will definitely be doing some grinding/sliding, and we recommend staying below Melrose. There are a few tight corners with tree limbs coming into play between Melrose and Brownes, and also Glen to Notch Bottom. Flows have receded to the point that floaters can once again drive down to the convergence below the ramp at Glen, avoiding the drag back to the ramp. — Sunrise Fly Shop, Melrose.

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Try a white Mister Twister for smallmouth bass baited with a minnow, or soak a minnow. Tube baits would be another option for smallmouth. For fun, one could try fly fishing for carp. Fishing should improve for walleye and sauger as the calendar turns to September. — Scheels, Billings.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Shore fishing for all species continues to be slow. Trolling bottom bouncers with a Slow Death rig or with chartreuse, purple or pink spinners tipped with a worm or leech in 10-20 feet of water continues to work well for walleye or the occasional perch. The best action is occurring around White Earth, Duck Creek and the ponds. A few rainbows are showing up while trolling Rapalas in 40 feet of water. A few smallmouth bass are being caught close to shore on crayfish pattern jigs from Yacht Basin to the dam. — FWP, Helena.

Cooney Reservoir — Fishing with leeches is good for walleye. Trout action is quiet. There is not any toxic algae. — Cooney State Park.

Deadman’s Basin — Fishing pressure has been light. One could try soaking worms. Another option would be to try a bobber and a grasshopper. Some are fishing on the lower Musselshell in hopes of catching smallmouth bass and catfish. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Fishing is picking up with some really nice walleye being boated. Pike are also biting. Anglers are still getting into smallmouth. Chinook salmon are biting in the dam area. Bill Hill Jr. of Colstrip caught an 18 1/2–pound chinook salmon over the weekend while fishing west of York Island off of Haxby Point. Hill was fishing over 175 feet of water and using a Brad’s Bait Cup. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Anglers are reeling in crappie. Walleye and northerns are also biting. Most are using crawlers and a jig. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Fishing is picking up with more and more chinook salmon being caught every day. Target depths of 130 to 175 feet of water and go down with a downrigger at 60 to 90 feet. Green, blue or white are the colors to use. Trolling speeds are best at 2.2 to 2.7 mph. The walleye are at depths of 20 to 30 feet below the boat pulling bottom bouncers with crawlers or crankbaits. Walleye anglers are reeling in northern and smallmouth as well. Blue, chartreuse, pink and white are good colors for walleye anglers. For lake trout, target 100 feet of water and pull on the bottom with spoons. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Overall, the bite is decent. Walleye fishing has slowed down. On a sunny day, the walleye are at 25 to 30 feet and on a cloudy or windy day the fish move to 14 feet or less. Smallmouth and northern anglers are doing really well. Pull crankbaits for northerns in 14 to 16 feet for smaller fish. The bigger northerns are in 20 feet of water. When feeding, bass are as shallow as two feet of water. If the bass are not feeding, fish in 15 to 16 feet of water. Crawlers and leeches are the best baits. Pink or pink and white are hot colors for most species. For northerns, use blue and silver or black and silver color patterns. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — Anglers are doing well while fishing for walleye at depths of 15 to 20 feet of water. Pike are also biting. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — The river is clearing and we'll be seeing some great dry fly fishing. In the evenings, you'll see dry fly action with hoppers, chubbies, ants, beetles, caddis, Tricos and PMD. We are also seeing Spruce Moths in the canyon. If dries aren't your style, a rubber legs or San Juan Worm with a smaller Lightning Bug, mayfly or caddis dropper is a great rig. Be aware that there is road construction in the canyon, so plan accordingly. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — Shore fishing for rainbows has been slow. A few rainbows are being picked up trolling cowbells tipped with crawlers about 4-5 colors down. Walleyes are being caught in the Causeway arm and around York Bridge using jigs tipped with leeches. Some nice perch are also being caught from shore at the Causeway Bridge with worms. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — The catch rate has diminished. But, fish are rising on the surface morning, noon and evening to get the flies and bugs on top, which gives anglers and observers “trout fever”. Nights are getting into the low 40’s/high 30’s and days are lovely, getting into the mid-high 70’s and low 80’s.  The lake level is coming down, being about two feet below full pool. The inflow is about 75% of the outflow from the dam into the Madison River. — Kirkwood Resort & Marina.

Holter Reservoir — A few rainbows are starting to show up night fishing along the cliffs from Black Beach to Split Rock. Walleye are being caught near Mann Gulch and Cottonwood Creek using bottom bouncers or jigs and leeches. Jigging around weed beds and clay banks in 15 to 22 feet of water is also producing a few walleye and perch. — FWP, Helena.

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Madison RiverLower —The flows are down and the water temperatures are simply too hot for the trout. Along with the hot temps, this river has the tube hatch in full force and there are better options around to fish. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — Hoppers are here and the bite is just going to get better and better. The dry fly fishing has been awesome. A Hopper-dropper or a Chubby-dropper is a hard rig to beat. Nymphing is consistent with worms, stones, and smaller mayflies being the best options. With terrestrial season underway, ants are another pattern you shouldn't leave home without. Keep an eye out for Nocturnal Stones. Your typical light-colored Pat’s Rubber Legs and dark Chubbies are a great option for this hatch in the early mornings and evenings. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Martinsdale Reservoir — From shore, anglers have caught a few. The trout that have been caught are nice. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Missouri River, below Holter — Caddis, hoppers and tricos are the ticket. A Two-Bit Hooker (14-16) will work, as will a gray Little Green Machine (16-18). A Frenchy (16) is another good fly. Corn Fed Caddis, or a Double Duck will work. A Purple Para Wulff is another good option. Trico Clusters are another fly to have in the box. Hopper-dropper combos will work. There is a lot of moss, so streamer fishing would be difficult. The flows were 5,270 cfs and the water temp was 63.7 degrees as of Monday. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — The river is mossy, but is still fishable. Catfish are biting, along with the occasional sauger. For sauger, try jigging or sinking a night crawler. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Rock Creek — The creek is finally crossable and is in fine fishing form. The streamer bite is over the top. Fish Sparkle Minnows in either sculpin or brown trout patterns for best results. Grinch’s, Slump Busters and basic Woolly Buggers are really all you need. The Dog Days of Summer mean dry fly fishing. Dry fly recommendations include naturals like tan caddis (14), yellow Stimulators (12-14) or PMD (16). The creek is truly an attractor dry fly fishery. That means a Purple Haze, Royal Wulff,  Humpey, or Trude (12-16) can produce. Hoppers will produce. Try Pink Pookies, gold or purple Chubby, Parachute or Dave’s Hopper (8-12). Nymph anglers can fish Beadhead Prince, Hare’s Ears or Pheasant Tails. A Batman, Copper John, or Montana Prince in blue are all quality recommendations. Stonefly nymphs like Pat’s Rubber Legs, Girdle Bugs or North Fork Specials in black will work. A hopper-dropper set up is especially effective right now. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — The creek is fishing well using spinners or flies. Hoppers are starting to show up, as well as caddis. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Flows have dropped on the upper river and are declining gradually on the lower river below the Rosebud confluence. The upper river above Absarokee is bony and should only be tackled by experienced oarsmen. Fishing has been good in the mornings. Nymphing is a good way to go, 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. Typically by late morning, fish are looking to eat the small dry fly on top. Smaller dries like a PMD, Caddis or purple are working well in the afternoon. Look to fish smaller hopper patterns, too, like a Fat Frank, Yeti, or Yellowstoner in peach, pink, grape or olive body colors. For streamers, never leave home without the Grinch in the box. Try the Electric Goldfish or a basic black Woolly Bugger.   — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Tongue River Reservoir — Anglers are doing alright. The water temps are at 74 degrees and the water clarity is fairly good. Reservoir levels are dropping and the boat ramps are still usable. Most action is on bass and walleye. Target the coves for bass. Shore anglers are also catching bass. For bass, try jigs with worms. Walleye are 10 feet down. Jigs and leeches will work for walleye. An occasional perch or pike has been caught. Below the dam, catfish are active. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The Yellowstone was pretty muddy on Friday but it passed through and the river is in excellent condition now. Catfish are still biting very well. Catfish aren't being very picky and an angler can use just about anything they want to catch them. The smallmouth bite is still strong. Crankbaits and minnows are working best. Sauger and walleye fishing is pretty good if you get east of Pompeys Pillar. — Huntley Bait and Tackle.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — Be ready for full terrestrial season. Don't head to this river without your favorite hoppers. Some shop favorites are Morrish Hoppers, Triple Deckers, Fat Albert and and Thunder Thighs. A hopper-dropper rig is pretty tough to beat and will pick up fish throughout the day. Look for nocturnal stones in the morning, a good rig for this hatch is a (8-10) black and tan Chubby with a rubber legs as a dropper. When the high sun comes out midday, focus on the faster water and inside buckets and ignore the slower, deep slack water. Fish will be holding in the more oxygenated riffles. In the evenings, keep an eye out for caddis hatches. Tricos have also made an appearance. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — Fishing is fair. The rain has made the water a bit muddy, which has slowed the fishing down. Anglers are still catching some fish on live bait and hard baits. Hopefully the water will clear soon. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.

Wyoming

Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — Fishing has been down a bit from the previous week. The area around the fishing dock at Horseshoe has been producing catfish and some perch. Catfish are active in the south narrows. Action at Crooked Creek Bay is turning on for sauger and bass. Some walleye have been caught just south of the Montana line. We look forward to our fishing tournament on Sept. 7. For information, call 307-548-7230 and leave a message.— Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — The flows are at 1,400 cfs and the water is clear and the river is fishing well. Trout are hitting on hoppers, black and tan or black and red Chubby Chernobyls, olive Elk-Hair Caddis (12-16), Club Sandwiches (6-8), and Muddler Minnows. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — From the shore, anglers are doing well sinking worms with split shot for trout or walleye. Flicker Shads or Panther Martin and Blue Fox spinners are also working well from the bank. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Fishing has been excellent with trout being caught all over the lake. With the rise in water temps, the walleye and perch bite has picked up. Trolling worm harnesses on the mud lines and windy shorelines has been the best method. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Clarks Fork — It is in good shape with flows at 457 cfs as of Monday. Trudes in chartreuse are a good dry fly. Hare’s Ears and beaded Pheasant Tails will work as droppers. Fish are coming up to purple and gold Chubby Chucks. Drop a tan North Fork Special (10).  — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — There is a short window in the morning to fish. When water temps rise above 68 degrees, it can be fatal to a trout that is caught. The small streams in the Beartooths are an option to fish. Caddis, Adams, Hare’s Ears and Pheasant Tails will work. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Fishing has slowed down a little bit. Trout action is about the same from boat or shore, but walleye enthusiasts are catching more fish from the boat. From shore, present bright orange PowerBait or marshmallows. For walleye, try leeches. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Lower Shoshone — The lower Shoshone is fishing well. Throw some beaded stonefly nymphs. Fish are coming up to purple and gold Chubby Chucks. Drop a tan North Fork Special (10). The flows are at 1,403 cfs as of Monday. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

North Fork of the Shoshone — The flows are at 351 cfs on Monday. Fish are coming up to purple and gold Chubby Chucks. Drop a tan North Fork Special (10). — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

South Fork of the Shoshone — The flows are 302 cfs as of Monday. The fish are keying in on hoppers. An assortment of jig style nymphs will work.— North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs — On the lower reservoir, fishing is tough. On the upper reservoir, some anglers are limiting out presenting bait from the shore using a bobber and suspending the bait five feet below the surface in fairly deep water. Troll Rapalas or spoons from the boat. — Wea Market, Meeteetse.

Yellowstone National Park — The Yellowstone above the falls has had incredible ups and downs as far as hatches are concerned. One day, the river will be blanketed with green drake spinners, the next, the river will be quiet. On a sunny day, a fish can usually be spotted and taken with a beetle or hopper. Try Thunder Thigh hoppers, purple Chubbies, Jake's Gulp Beetle, Green Drake Spinners and tan Super Buggers. Action at Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte is OK; but anglers should remember to check the stream flows before venturing out, especially if there has been thunderstorms. The brookie streams will be prime with hoppers, and the fish will be getting some fall color. Lava Creek, upper Gardner, Blacktail Deer Creek, and the upper Gibbon will be great spots to fish. Use small hoppers in (14 or smaller). — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

 

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

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