Cooler temperatures tend to perk up a fisherman.
The temperature change from the hot, dry days of summer usually triggers better fishing and can also make a day trip more enjoyable, as anglers aren’t battling the heat themselves.
Remember to bring a jacket this time of the year, so if it does get a little chilly or you end up staying a little later you’ll be comfortable.
Here’s this week’s Gazette fishing report:
Beaverhead River — It is fishing really well on dry flies. Elk-Hair Caddis, PMD and spruce moths will all work. There are tricos, too. Steady dry-fly fishing begins at 11 a.m. and lasts most of the day. Hoppers and terrestrials are also working. A hopper-dropper is effective. A Two-Bit Hooker is a good dropper, as is a smaller Pheasant Tail. A small Prince Nymph will also work as a dropper. In the morning, use a Sunken Trico at Poindexter Slough and in the afternoon switch to hoppers and ants, before using caddis in the evening. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Boulder River — It’s fishing well; up high in the forest look for small PMD mayflies and nymphs, caddis flies and lime-colored stoneflies. Spruce moths and small hoppers are also a good bet. In the lower reaches, try a hopper-dropper rig with small beadhead nymphs. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.
Big Hole River — It is fishing well on tricos and spruce moths early in the morning. In the afternoon, switch to hoppers and purple Para Ants. A hopper-dropper is effective. A Redneck is a good dropper, as is a French Nymph. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow trout are being caught by boat anglers using cowbells or spoons near the dam and Hellgate Bay. Walleye and yellow perch continue to be caught at Hellgate, Goose Bay, and the Silos trolling worm harnesses, tipped with worms or leeches, in 15 to 50 feet of water. In addition, walleye and perch are being caught from shore throughout the reservoir in 5 to 25 feet of water using worms and/or jigs (standard and floating) tipped with worms. — FWP, Helena.
Yellowstone River, Livingston — The river is in great shape as it is clear and flows are near normal. A Hopper-dropper is being used the most. The upper valley has been fishing the best. There is a lot of smoke in the air, but it does not seem to be effecting the fishing. As of Monday with the rain forecast for the next several days, temperatures are much lower. Lower water temperatures will improve the fishing. — Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop, Livingston.
Ackley Lake — It is so-so for trout. A few tiger muskie were boated. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Bighorn River — Flows have remained stable this week and were at 3,006 cubic feet per second Monday. Flows should remain at this level for a while. Water clarity has not improved and is still at 3-4 feet as there is quite a lot of algae growth in the reservoir. The water temperature has remained in the lower 60s. 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 6 a.m. and the spinner fall happens from roughly 8 a.m. till 10 a.m. on most mornings. Best patterns have been the Trico RS2 CDC, the Trico Perfect Spinner and the Drowned Trico, all in size 20. If you are going to try for hatches late in the evening it has been best using Black Rip Cord Caddis or Black Henryville Caddis (16-18), even though this hatch is sputtering. Nymph fishing continues to be slow as the trout are keying in on the tricos and black caddis. 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 — There wasn’t much activity at Ok-A-Beh due to the recovery. At Barry’s Landing, smallmouth bass, trout, sauger and catfish were biting on worms and minnows. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Clark Canyon Reservoir — Red leech patterns are productive. A red Snowcone is a popular choice. In general, chironomid patterns are luring trout. Natural-colored Zonkers are worth trying. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.
Cliff and Wade lakes — There is still some good moth activity and some did very well on ants and Longhorn Beetles.— Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.
Cooney Reservoir — Walleye and perch fishing has been excellent using leeches still fishing. People are catching fish from shore as well. Trolling is slow. Trout are being caught from boats using hammered gold cowbells. — Boyd Store and Trading Post.
Deadman’s Basin — Fishing remains slow with anglers catching a trout here and there. Worms seem to be the best bet. Cooler days could trigger better fishing. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Walleye fishing has been slow. Cody Strohm of Richey and Todd Klepplid of Circle won the Fishing For the Cure tourney with four walleye for 22 pounds on Saturday. Northern and lake trout fishing is also slow. Smallmouth bass fishing is good bottom bouncing worms or leeches. Jigging will also work. — Rock Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — From Wednesday on, it was fishing well last week for nice walleye. There were also some 16-19 inch walleye mixed in. A lot of crappie and perch were caught, along with nice pike. Bottom bouncing worms in 15 to 35 feet is key. Some were using deep-diving crankbaits in the weeds. Fishermen are having to sort through plenty of goldeye. From bank, catfish and pike are still biting. A 7-pound catfish, 5-pound catfish and 10-pound pike were caught by a single shore angler who was using smelt. A good spot for crappie is in the bay. Overall, most anglers aren’t boating too far to get into fish. — Crooked Creek Marina.
Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Lake trout fishermen are doing well. Chinook salmon fishing is not fast and furious, but picking up. For lake trout, fish spoons in 105-116 feet of water. For salmon, flies, squids and Brad’s Bait Cups are working. Blue and green are hot colors. Target 130 to 180 feet of water 60-94 feet down. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — Fishing is hit-and-miss for all species. Most fish are being caught between Fourchette and Crooked Creek. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Walleye fishing is hit-or-miss, but some nice ones have been caught at 25 to 35 feet in the afternoon, and in the early morning or late evening at 18 to 20 feet. Smallmouth are biting in 14 to 30 feet of water as the fish are scattered on the slopes. Those targeting smallmouth are doing well jigging. For northern, a few are being caught in 18 to 20 feet of water with crankbaits. Between the Pines and the dam anglers are catching nice lake trout and salmon. The salmon are at 60 to 70 feet and the lake trout are in 90 to 120 feet. — Hell Creek Marina.
Fresno Reservoir — Action is slow. A lot of water is being drawn for irrigation and reservoir levels are dropping. Boats can still be launched. Leeches and worms are the best baits. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.
Gallatin River — There are nocturnal stones out, but people have been talking about spruce moths. The moths are out and fish are looking for them. 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 Flash back PT or Hare’s Ear is a great option. Lightning Bugs, Spankers and Prince Nymphs won't do you wrong. The fish are moving back into the midriver runs and pools, so targeting these areas is certainly a good option. In the evenings there are so many caddis out you will most likely eat some yourself. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Hauser Reservoir — Some rainbows are being caught below Canyon Ferry dam from shore while using worms. Rainbow fishing from a boat is slow with a few being caught while trolling cowbells around the Black Sandy/White Sandy area. Walleye fishing has been really productive around York Bridge, Devil’s Elbow and in the Causeway on jigs and worms or leeches; however most fish are small. — FWP, Helena.
Hebgen Lake — Although fall fishing is just around the corner now, trolling fishermen are still catching them in the same areas as the last few weeks. Fish are biting at about 15-25 feet below the surface, about 30-50 feet from the shore on the northwest end of the lake. It has been especially productive from around Mile Marker 15 southeast along Highway 287 toward the Grayling Arm. The red on gold and orange on gold Kamlooper spoons continue to work well; the rainbow pattern on the spoon is working but more inconsistent than earlier in summer. Black perch patterns have been catching. And, the big streamers on the end of leaded line, down 3-5 colors, are catching fish, even by anglers who are new to “pulling the feather” from the boat. — Kirkwood Marina.
Holter Reservoir — Rainbow fishing is good at night while using jigs and worms around Log Gulch. A few are being caught around Gates of the Mountains on flies, or while trolling cowbells in the lower reservoir. Shore fishing for rainbows is slow. Perch and walleye are being caught from Log Gulch to Juniper Bay and around the docks on jigs and a worm in 10 to 15 feet of water. — FWP, Helena.
Madison River, Lower — The window on this has more or less closed. The water is hot, the flows are all over the place, and the weeds and grass are really bad. Water temps have dropped over the past few days, but with warm weather in the forecast they should jump back up. It is probably best to leave this river alone for a couple more weeks. If you do head this way, head out really, really early. The water is coldest in the mornings; do not fish here in the evenings as the temperatures are lethal to trout. Hoppers and droppers should find a few fish. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Madison River, Upper — It’s flowing at 1,160 cfs. There is still enough water to get through most sections without too much scraping on the bottom. 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. The red Lil' Spankers have been picking up fish all summer. PMD and Yellow Sallies are coming off during the day and some fabulous fishing is to be had on one of the many braids close to Ennis. Nymphing is always a good option. Running smaller nymphs like a Serendipity or Green Machines or Prince Nymphs can be a great tactic this time of year. Plenty of hoppers out this way as well. If the banks aren't producing, don't be afraid to fish the middle of the river, or in the shallow riffles. Don't be afraid to throw streamers around with the cooler weather we are experiencing. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.
Martinsdale Reservoir — Try cowbells, spinners, cut bait or worms. The Musselshell River is low and starting to get some moss. Use crawlers. Flies are good in general, whether it be wet or dry. It is fishing best in the morning or evenings. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.
Missouri River, below Holter — The cfs is 4,530 and the water temps are at 63.5. Tricos will produce in the morning until 3 p.m. Hopper action is alright, but not crazy. Try a hopper-dropper. — Montana Fly Goods, Helena.
Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — Fishermen are still picking up catfish, with a few sauger and walleye mixed in from shore. Minnows are a good bet. A few guys are trying plastics for walleye and sauger. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Nelson Reservoir — Walleye are being caught in the submerged humps or by Pelican Island with a jig and a minnow or pulling a worm harness in 14 to 25 feet of water. Lots of nice perch are being reeled in. — Westside Sports, Malta.
Rock Creek — Rock Creek is in as good of shape to fish as it has been since late April. Rock Creek's stream flows are finally low enough as an angler can now cross in most places, finally giving them access to the best trout holding water. Even though we had a downturn with cooler temperatures and rain earlier this week, Rock Creek is still an excellent dry-fly fishery until late September. Recommended Dry Fly patterns include varied hoppers patterns. Those patterns include pink pookies, chubby Chernobyls in gold or purple, parachute hoppers, or an old-school Dave's hopper. Hopper patterns can be fished in sizes 8-12. Stone fly patterns such as a parachute Madam X in yellow or orange in sizes 10-12, as well as stimulators in similar colors in sizes #12-#16 can all fish well in the later summer. Additional dry-fly patterns to fish include tan caddis in a 14, a purple haze, parachute Adams, royal Wulff, or royal humpys in sizes #12-#16. These are all excellent top water choices right now. Recommended Nymph patterns to fish Rock Creek would include caddis pupas and emergers like a sparkle pupa or Shop Vac Caddis. These patterns can be fished in a 14. Your standard Hare's Ear or flashback pheasant tail in size 12-18 can both be as productive as anything fished. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.
Spring Creek — It is fishing OK on flies, primarily hoppers with a caddis dropper. Panther Martin and Blue Fox will also work. — Sport Center, Lewistown.
Stillwater River — As flows drop, the lower river is the best option for float fishing. The river above Absarokee is pretty bony and is tough rowing. Dry fly fishing is good as fish are taking the big dry with regularity by early afternoon. Stimulators, Jack Cabe, Chubby and PMX are good choices. Royal, yellow, orange and olive are good body colors. Also try the Micro Chubby 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. So, 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. Nymphing has also been producing, particularly early in the day. Stillwater River Road remains closed at Midnight Canyon. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Tongue River Reservoir — More bass are being caught than any other species. However, crappie fishing did improve with anglers targeting 20 feet of water. A handful of walleye and northern were caught. Most fishermen are using hardware or jigs and tails. The water level is dropping and has come down six inches in the last week, but overall it is still high for this time of the year. Boat fishermen are doing better than shore fishermen, but bank anglers are catching a few fish. — Tongue River Reservoir State Park.
Yellowstone River, Columbus — Flows have continued to drop and the water warm up. Cooler weather and rain showers have helped the water conditions after the heat wave. Start looking to get out early on the bright and sunny days as fish will be skittish about coming up to the dry fly. Fish a big dry or smaller hopper pattern with a long dropper nymph. For hopper patterns, tan, peach and olive body colors are good choices in a Yellowstoner Chubby or Fat Frank. Fish are also eating the small dry, like a Purple Haze, when fishing likely holding water. The Micro Chubby in purple, tan and gold are good choices. Tricos are out on some days, so go down a size or two on a Purple Haze or Parachute Adams as a trailer off of a larger spotter fly. Look for risers in the slick flats and foam lines. If float fishing, note that the road at the Indian Fort FAS at Reed Point is closed. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.
Yellowstone River, Huntley — Toward Custer, Hysham and Forsyth, anglers are catching catfish, bass and walleye. Float minnows for all three species from boat. Or find a hole from the bank. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.
Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — The Saturday catfish tournament at Horseshoe Bend was a success. Plans for more tournaments next season are in the works. The narrows south of the causeway are producing channel cats around 4 pounds. Fishing was slow until Thursday. Bass are biting in Crooked Creek and north to the state line.— Horseshoe Bend Marina.
Bighorn River, Thermopolis — Fishing is poor as the water is warm. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir — Lake trout are active at Gibb’s Bridge and walleye are biting on the south side of the reservoir. Sucker meat on the bottom will work for lake trout. For walleye, jig with bait. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
North Fork of the Shoshone — On the North and South Fork, trout are hitting on mayflies, mosquitoes, ants, stoneflies and caddis. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.
Yellowstone National Park — Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte still have a few mayflies around but terrestrials is what will produce the best results. Thunder Thighs Hoppers in pink (14), Parachute Hoppers, Amy's Ants, Longhorn Beetles and SLS Sparkle Duns should have you covered for this area. It's also a great time of year to check out a few of the smaller streams inside the park. Straight Creek, Obsidian Creek, Lava Creek, Blacktail Deer Creek and Tower Creek are all great littler streams that are full of trout and most often forgotten about. Choose your favorite dry fly (16) and have at it. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.