Montana Fishing Reports

Here are fishing reports from many different lakes and streams in Montana:

Gallatin River:

Fishing reports from the Gallatin have been pretty consistent and the overriding theme has been that the fish are stacked up in the typical winter lies (deep runs, long slow tailouts, and buckets/pools). The ice jam is no longer an issue on the Gallatin hopefully temps will stay mild enough that it won’t be an issue. We’ve been hearing pretty solid reports coming from the Gallatin with that recent stint of warm weather we had plenty of fishing opportunities – these past few days it got a little colder and there was some slush but not enough to make it unfishable. Fishing wise, eggs, some small stoneflies, midges, san juan worms will be your standard fare. With temps dropping back off and winter showing up again plan on winter fishing conditions and time your trips during the mid day to take advantage of the best water conditions.

Fly pattern suggestions: Bugger Brown, Black, Olive: 6 Bellyache Minnow Tan & Olive: 2 Mega Prince: 4-6 Mega Hare’s Ear: 6-8 Mega Pheasant Tail: 8-10 Lightning Bug: 12-14 Copper Johnson Chartreuse, Black, Yellow: 16-18-20 Rootbeer Float Gray: 16-18 Ugly Bug: 6-8-10 The Turd: 6-8-10 Eggs Chartreuse, Peach, Orange, Clown: 10 San Juan Worms Pink, Orange, Brown, Tan, Red: 10 Cap’n Hook Midge: 16-18 Zebra Midge Black & Red: 18

Big Horn River:


Winter fishing is at it’s best right now. Midges and some baetis are coming off during the mid-day. Nymphing has been good all day with small sowbugs and midge patterns, sizes #20-#22 seem to be the ticket. I have been using a #20 gray sowbug and trailing a #20 brass zebra midge w/brown thread body. Around noon the midges start clustering and make the trout much easy to catch on the surface. Before noon the trout are keyed on the single midges and the bugs are extremely small. I have been using a #22 dun cluster and doing very well on 6x. Around 1:30 some baetis have been coming off and on the cloudy days the trout have really key in to them. The Mayfly hatch has been lasting for about an hour or so then back to midges. Don’t let the cloudy cool days scare you off, it can be some of the best fishing of the year. Try to plan on shorter floats, A-3 or 3-B. Give yourself some time to fish the slower deep water. The water is cold and the browns have really come on the feed.

Big Hole River:

Water flow: 589 cfs
Visibility: 32 inches
Water temperature at mid-day: 43 Degrees F
Water condition: Clear
Best time of day to fish: Fishing is closed- see below.
Best stretch: Dewey Canyon
Best access point: George Grant Fishing Access
Fly fishing hatches in order of importance:
Midges, size #24, are coming off in the afternoon in the slower pools if the wind stays down and the air temperatures stay above 40 degrees.

Kootenai River:

Water flow: Discharge from Libby Dam is currently 4,000cfs

Visibility: 50 inches

Water temperature at mid-day: 42 Degrees F

Water condition: Clear

Best time of day to fish: 10am-3pm

Best stretch: The entire river is in good shape. It’s winter fishing but water conditions are great.

Best access point: From the Libby Dam to the border of Idaho the entire Kootenai is fishing well. With dishcarge from Libby Dam at 4000cfs the entire river is wade-able. Good access and fishing can be had up near Libby Dam, through the Canoe Gulch area and downstream from Libby between the 25-27 mile marks on the south side of the river (highway 2) specifically in the China Rapids area.

Fly fishing hatches in order of importance:

It’s definitely winter! Gray and cool is always baetis weather. The bugs are small, size 20, and it’s a 6x game to that end. Streamers are becoming effective again and deep water nymphing is moving fish as well. With a warming trend it’s actually kind of pleasant on the water lately. Don’t expect big numbers of trout. If you’re looking for quality and not quantitiy just stick with the big stuff and get the streamers down.

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