Montana Fishing Report

Montana Fishing Report Overview

Fall is coming fast and water temperatures on our rivers are coming into shape and offering a lot more options.  Most of the rivers around the area are really starting to produce and things should only improve as we advance farther into the fall.  Don’t be fooled when the days are still hot – the longer nights and colder temps after dark help drop even the most stubborn water temps into the prime zone.  This is a fun time of year with a mixed bag of techniques producing.  It is still a bit early for fall streamers and blue winged olive action but the terrestrial fishing and attractor nymph fishing has really been good the last few days. 

The Upper Madison continues to fish like a champ with opportunistic trout looking for the occasional terrestrial or flying ant but also chomping streamers on a tight line or the smaller nymph behind it.  Don’t be afraid to pull some big streamers nymphing even if the trout are only eating the smaller dropper – the big bug helps move the fish and sometimes you hit a home run.  The trout are still in the deeper heavy runs but some fish are sliding into the shallow riffles as temps drop and traffic on the river begins to wane. 

The Yellowstone has really improved as of late. The town stretch has been very consistent with its faster water but the water in Paradise Valley and the lower reaches near Big Timber will come back to life with the crisp autumn nights.  Often the best hopper fishing of the year is in September and this has been the case so far. 

The Gallatin has good temps and has been consistent but the trout are spookier with the clear waters and lower flows.  This is still a nice after work option and a beautiful river to spend the day wading.  The Boulder is in a similar boat – lots of fun but expect clear and technical waters.  Spring creeks have really been good with lots less pressure now that the PMD hatch is over.  There are ALWAYS fish eating on the creeks even thought they aren’t the easiest fish to fool.  As we move into the fall the blue winged olive will start bringing trout up on a regular basis.

The lower rivers that were too warm all summer are just starting to turn on now and will get better by the day.  The lower Madison has already been producing and the Jefferson is starting to show signs of life along with the upper Missouri.  The Jeff is low now but look for that to improve as irrigation ends and head gates are closed.

Fly selection
Trout in most of our waters are much more opportunistic now that many of the aquatic hatch cycles have finished. The exceptions are if there is a strong hatch like the trico or callibaetis (lakes) on the water or perhaps a very windy day blowing lots of hoppers in. If you see a lot of stonefly husks on the banks try a girdle bug sub surface or a big chubby just after dawn when the nocturnal stones are still skittering around the water. The reduction of aquatic hatches can be a good thing for the angler because trout are not as willing to move long distances when there is a strong hatch. For surface patterns, nothing beats a hopper if you are on lightly fished waters. If you are on more waters that see a lot of summer anglers then try more subtle patterns like ants and beetles. On the lower Yellowstone and Madison try some stonefly patterns that imitate the nocturnal stones.  For nymphing trout will start moving for a lot of sculpins but if nocturnal stones are around a size 6 rubber legs will still produce. There are usually still some caddis popping early in the morning so trailing a bigger fly with a caddis pupa is a good way to start the day and then transition to more of an attractor nymph as the day progresses like a lighting bug, prince or copper john. Smaller droppers and finer flourcarbon tippet sometimes makes a difference but no need to drop to anything below 5x unless you are on a spring creek.

Reading water
Where the trout are holding will depend greatly on water temps. On the bigger rivers trout are moving into heavy water with more oxygen so skip all of the slower slicks and start focusing on fast water. On cold rivers in the mountains the trout will still be in the slicks and tail outs. Shade will often hold trout in the heat of the summer. Look for overhanging trees, large boulders and even foam eddies can create an umbrella of shade to help hide trout from the sun and predators. 

Yellowstone River Fishing Report

- Very Good
Yellowstone River Report Current Conditions: The Yellowstone has still been producing solid results due to a great snow year. Plenty of cool oxygenated water running down from the mountains. The hopper bite is just starting and should improve in the coming weeks. The best fishing is still early in...Read more

Upper Madison River Fishing Report

- Very Good
Upper Madison River Report Current Conditions: The Upper is fishing great right now. Water temps are starting to drop with the longer early Fall nights. Lately fishing has been best a couple hours after sunrise, closer to mid morning and on, rather than right at day break. With the typical late...Read more

Lower Madison River Fishing Report

- Fair
Lower Madison River Report Current Conditions: Cooler nights have water temperatures dropping on the Lower Madison. Expect consistent fishing in the morning on a variety of terrestrial patterns and smaller dropper nymphs. Crayfish and small bait fish flies are also year round staples here. The...Read more

Gallatin River Fishing Report

- Very Good
Gallatin River Report Current Conditions: The Gallatin is a solid producer right now. The best fishing is up in the canyon. In the valley, a very early start is advised. Focus on small to medium sized terrestrials such as ants, beetles and small hoppers. When fishing slows up top, experiment with...Read more

Montana Spring Creeks Fishing Report

- Very Good
Spring Creeks Report Current Conditions: The spring creeks are still productive. PMD’s are still coming off although a bit sporadic now. The strongest hatches are on the O’hair Ranch on Armstrong. On Depuy the hatch is spottier and on some runs you only see a few and on others it is still strong...Read more

Stillwater River Fishing Report

- Good
Stillwater River Report Current Conditions: The Stillwater River is a nice option right now and is producing good dry fly opportunities. The smaller attractor dry fly fishing has been good and hoppers are just starting to entice some trout. The upper water is getting too low to float but the lower...Read more

Boulder River Fishing Report

- Very Good
Boulder River Report Current Conditions: The Boulder is at a great level right now. Water temps are still good since it drains the highest mountains in the state but expect spooky trout. There are a lot of trout in skinny water in tail outs but when the go on the feed they also move into the...Read more

Jefferson River Fishing Report

- Fair
Jefferson River Report Current Conditions: The Jefferson is just starting to fish well again as longer Fall nights are allowing water temperatures to cool. The Month Ahead: September on the Jefferson can mean quality over quantity. Stalking larger single rising brown trout, or dredging deeper runs...Read more

East Gallatin River Fishing Report

- Good
East Gallatin River Report Current Conditions: Water temperatures are finally cooling off nicely on the East Gallatin. It is still best fished in the morning, as trout will be most active with the cooler water temps. Still some tricos around, but start shifting gears towards late season...Read more

Missouri River Fishing Report

- Good
Missouri River Report Current Conditions: The Missouri near Craig and Wolf creek is producing some daily morning trico action and rising trout. Terrestrials are more important after lunch and nymphing the seams and riffles also can produce with small technical patterns. The Month Ahead: The Mo won’...Read more

Ruby River Fishing Report

- Good
Ruby River Report Current Conditions: The Ruby is a nice option in the late summer and early fall months. The water is at a great level right now keeping the fish in a variety of water types. Below the dam the nymph fishing is best with smaller technical spring creek style patterns on lighter...Read more

Montana Lakes Fishing Report

- Good
Lakes Report Current Conditions: The smaller private ranch lakes that we target like Burns and Sitz are still producing some great fishing. Sight casting small nymphs or dries in the morning has been productive along with slow stripping damsel flies. In the afternoons beating the banks with hoppers...Read more

Other Waters Fishing Report

- Red Hot
Other Waters Current Conditions: The smaller streams around Montana are a great option to get away from it all and find some off the beaten path fishing. The hopper fishing has been epic on some of our smaller stream ranch leases. These fish see few flies and motor boat several feet to inhale foam...Read more