Fat lake trout

Shad Barney caught this 38-inch 29.9-pound lake trout at Lake DeSmet in Wyoming.

While rivers are generally running high, with some at or near flood stage, anglers were still able to get out to reservoirs and select streams over the Memorial Day weekend.

At Fort Peck Reservoir, action from the bank has slowed down a little but anglers are still able to reel in a variety of fish. Boat anglers have been doing best toward Timber Creek or Fourchette Bay. If planning a trip to Crooked Creek, be sure to pack bug spray as the mosquitoes are bothersome.

In the Big Dry Arm at Fort Peck, successful walleye anglers were fishing in 20 feet of water using a bottom bouncer and a worm. Those searching for smallmouth were able to find fish in the Sand Arroyo Bay area.

Remember to exercise caution during runoff if near rivers and streams running high and fast. If a river is in full-blown runoff, it would be wise to pick another body of water to fish.

Top picks

Fort Peck Reservoir, Big Dry Arm — Anglers are doing well catching all species. The color of the week is pink. Fish in 20 feet of water and bottom bounce a worm for walleye. The pike are hitting most presentations. Smallmouth anglers are doing well fishing in 8 feet of water in the Sand Arroyo Bay area. A chinook salmon was caught in 20 feet of water. A few lake trout have also been caught in 20 feet of water. — Rock Creek Marina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Crooked Creek — Bank anglers are still doing well. It has slowed a little, but from shore one can still catch northern pike, catfish, perch, crappie and walleye. Smelt and worms are attracting all species, or use the smelt as cut bait. Boat anglers are catching some walleye, with a lot of 15- to 17-inch fish. The 25- to 30-inch walleye are few and far between. Try bottom bouncers with worm harnesses or jigs with small minnows or leeches. A lot of boaters are traveling to Timber Creek, Fourchette Bay or Herman’s Point. Surface water temperatures are in the high 60s. The water is stained all the way to Seven Blackfoot. Lake levels are still rising a foot a day. Bring bug spray as the mosquitoes are terrible. — Crooked Creek Marina.

Martinsdale Reservoir — Fishing from shore is productive. Newlan Reservoir fished well for trollers. The creeks are too high to fish. — Ray’s Sport and Western Wear, Harlowton.

Tiber Reservoir — Fishing has been pretty good with several limiting out. Most anglers are using a jig and a crawler or a jig and a leech for walleye in the shallower water. A few are using crankbaits. The northerns are quiet. The marina is open for the season. Water levels are high and rising. — Ru’s Tiber Marina.

Tongue River Reservoir — Fishing has been good the last few days with crappie, some walleye and bass caught. Northern were quiet. Use a jig head and jig tube for crappie along the shoreline. Another option for crappie is to troll in 25 feet of water as the fish are suspended during the day. The walleye are in 3 to 15 feet of water, with more being caught on the shallow side. Drag a jig with a worm, leech or minnow. The walleye are biting soft. — Tongue River Marina.


Ackley Lake — A 43-inch tiger muskie was caught. Try a shallow-running Rapala (11-13) from shore or boat, but if fishing from boat let plenty of line out as the boat can spook the muskies. At East Fork Reservoir, a 22-pound northern pike was caught on a spoon. Try throwing spoons or using smelt. Anglers can also catch perch there, although they are running small. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Beaverhead River — It is fishing well. The flows have been lowered to 303 cfs out of the dam as of Monday. Splitbacks, San Juan Worms and PT Cruisers are good choices. Have some midges and BWOs in your fly box. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Big Hole River — Anglers can do well on the upper section. Midges would be a good bet. The flow at Melrose is at 9,840 cfs and the water was off-color as of Monday. When the river levels, it should begin fishing well. On the lower river, try bright-colored nymphs. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Bighorn River — Fishing is just a mirror of last week even though river conditions have changed. Due to the flooding along the Yellowstone River, flows on the Bighorn were decreased to 6,000 cfs last week. Water temps remain at 43 degrees. Water clarity is at least 6-8 feet down to Bighorn Access. Streamer fishing has been exceptionally good as small emerald shiners are being washed over the spillway. Best streamer patterns have been White/Pearl Zonkers, Sherick's Hatchery Smolt, and Foxy Fry (all in size 6). We are still seeing good Baetis hatches on cloudy days with some midges present. For the best opportunities look for areas of slower water. For the midge hatch, use a Hi-Vis Griffith's Gnat (14-16) trailed with a gray, black or red Smokejumper (16-18). For Baetis, use a BWO Parachute trailed by a Black Baetis Emerger (16-18). Subsurface, use an orange or red Wire Worm (4-6) trailed by a beadhead black or red Midge Larvae (both in 16-18). — Bighorn Fly and Tackle Shop, Fort Smith. 

Bighorn Lake, Ok-A-Beh — Anglers are catching smallmouth bass casting minnows against the bank. No news on walleye or sauger. — Pryor Creek Bait Co., Laurel.

Boulder River — The lower river below the Natural Bridge is running high with runoff. Flows are near or at flood stage, making for extremely tough fishing conditions. Nymph fishing with large Stonefly Nymphs and worms may work, but it is probably best to wait for the flows to decrease. The upper river above the Natural Bridge has finally made it over the Natural Bridge Falls, but again, high flows and turbidity are making fishing very difficult. The entire river is off color and very high. Take care while wading if you do try to fish. Fish Stonefly nymphs with a San Juan Worm if you have to fish. — Sweetcast Angler, Big Timber.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir — Rainbow trout are being caught from shore on the north end of the reservoir using worms or PowerBait. Boat anglers are catching rainbows trolling spoons or worm harnesses near the Silos, Goose Bay, and the dam. Walleye and yellow perch are being caught throughout the south end of the reservoir trolling worm harnesses tipped with worms or leeches, or crankbaits. — FWP, Helena.

Clark Canyon Reservoir It is full. Anglers are doing well in 10 to 20 feet of water. Some trout are being caught when they come to the surface to feed. Bigg’s Sheep Creeks are a good choice. Rubber-legged streamers are working well, as are leech patterns. PT Cruisers and Splitbacks are also good choices. — Frontier Anglers, Dillon.

Cliff and Wade lakes  There has been some good dry fly fishing.  Keep an eye out for Callibaetis.  Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

Cooney Reservoir — Walleyes are hitting at the inlets in pretty shallow water (4-6 feet) on small jigs tipped with a pinched crawler. Leeches have worked OK. The trout bite is slow; try a crawler on a harness. — Boyd Store and Trading Post.

Deadman’s Basin — Fishing is slow as the water remains muddy along the shorelines. Different groups of anglers caught one or two trout from the bank using bait. A few non-game carp and sucker were caught from the shore and that kept things exciting. The reservoir is full. — Cozy Corner Bar, Lavina.

Fort Peck Reservoir, dam area — Fishing has been picking up a little bit for walleye and pike in the shallows. Vertical jigging with a minnow is the best method for walleye. Northerns are aggressive. No new reports on lake trout. — Lakeridge Lodging & Bait Shop.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Fourchette Bay — It continues to produce walleye, northerns and smallmouth bass. Worms or minnows have been the go-to bait. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Fort Peck Reservoir, Hell Creek — Close to Hell Creek, the northerns are biting. Pull crankbaits in 10 to 15 feet of water. For walleye and bass, run west toward Timber Creek and jig with a minnow in 10 to 20 feet of water. — Hell Creek Marina.

Fresno Reservoir — Anglers are catching walleye. Use bottom bouncers and a worm or leech. Green, in dark or chartreuse, is a good color for the spinner off the bottom bouncers. Dark green or chartreuse is a good color for the jigs as well. Anglers are catching 12- to 14-inch trout at Beaver Creek Reservoir and Bear Paw Lake. — Stromberg Sinclair, Havre.

Gallatin River — The water is really high and really muddy with the flow at 5,800 cfs and showing no signs of slowing down. Best to leave the river to the whitewater enthusiasts for a few more weeks. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Hauser Reservoir — Rainbows are being caught from shore below Canyon Ferry Dam on worms, PowerBait, marshmallows or drifting jigs with a worm. Rainbows are also being caught in the White Sandy area while trolling cowbells. Lake Helena is producing a lot of small walleye while trolling perch crankbaits or bottom bouncers. Some walleye are being caught in the eddies below Canyon Ferry Dam. — FWP, Helena.

Hebgen Lake — A 5.5-pound, 25-inch brown trout was caught on Sunday in one of the coves on a rainbow Rapala. Also heard a few fly anglers using red worms, black midges and brown streamers. The reservoir is 91 percent full, and lots of water is still coming in. — Kirkwood Marina.

Holter Reservoir — A few rainbows are being caught from shore while using worms at Holter Lake Ramp, Log Gulch and Departure Point. Good rainbow catches are being reported around the Gates of the Mountains, Split Rock and Boat Loft while trolling nymphs, light-colored crankbaits or cowbells. The perch bite is picking up around Cottonwood Creek, Split Rock, the boat ramps and in the canyon around Sleeping Giant. A few walleye are being caught along with the perch. — FWP, Helena.

Madison RiverLower — It was cranking on Monday at over 5,700 cfs, which is the historical high for this time of year. Fishing should still be OK. Try streamers and big nymphs under the indicator. Woolly Buggers, Sculpins, and Zurdles will get you into fish. The caddis are out in the evenings, but the bite has been sporadic. A size 16 olive Caddis works. There are also substantial amounts of Yellow Sallies and Golden Stones. A Chubby dropper rig will get into a few fish worked tight to the bank during the day. On these cooler, cloudy days, look to the soft water for rising fish. On the sunny days, pupa and emerger caddis patterns are going to fish better until the egg laying begins. Fish are being caught in a variety of places. A number of them have moved closer to the bank or behind a rock but you can also find fish hiding in the weedbeds. The weedbed areas usually have slower current, this is a spot to try swinging a streamer. There is some color coming out of Cherry Creek but not bad enough to make the right bank unfishable. Keep an eye out for big mayflies. There have also been a few drakes out. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Madison River, Upper — As of Monday, the upper river was going to be flushed. The flow is creeping up towards 3,700 cfs and there is low visibility. Nymphing big stuff like rubber legs or streamers with smaller nymphs behind will find a few fish. Seek the soft water. The West Fork is pumping an extra 2,000 cfs into the river, which is not helping the clarity. Be really careful. At this flow, the low bridges are impassable and there are wave trains throughout the river. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Missouri River, below Holter — On Monday, the river was over 18,000 cfs and continuing to rise. When the river is at this flow, you can cover 10 miles in three hours if you don't stop. The fish are changing where they are holding. In turns they are on the inside bank, and in the straight sections they are on both banks. If standing on the bank make your cast about 15 feet out. Even with incredible amounts of midges and the first BWOs in the air, there are very few fish eating on the surface. Fish these in the nymph and emerger patterns until there is more surface action. The streamer bite is very minimal. The Dearborn is cranking mud, so be aware the water will be dirty below this confluence. The water is crystal clear up near the damThe fish are holding deep and feeding heavily in the mornings. As the afternoon sun gets high and bright, the fishing slows down substantially. Get on the water early or in the evenings for the most effective fishing. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Missouri River, Fred Robinson Bridge — Paddlefish action picked up and some were caught right at the bridge from shore. A few catfish are being caught on setlines on the river north of Winifred. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

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Nelson Reservoir — Fishing has been fair. Walleye and northerns are being caught in 14 to 20 feet pulling worm harnesses. Bass and northerns have been reeled in pitching toward the shoreline with swimbaits. — Westside Sports, Malta.

Rock Creek — Warm temperatures and rain have brought it up to unfishable stream flows. Even if you go just to get a look, please make sure all pets are on a leash while exercising extreme caution. — East Rosebud Fly Shop, Billings.

Spring Creek — It is starting to clear up and anglers are fly fishing during the mayfly or caddis hatch. There is a nymph bite, too. Spinners are always good. — Sport Center, Lewistown.

Stillwater River — Flows should decline a bit but will likely be high and off color. The upper river may clear enough later this week to fish, but it’s an iffy proposition. If so, nymphing is likely the best option, with black, brown and coffee rubber leg patterns like Girdle Bugs and Pat’s Rubber Legs, or a San Juan Worm, as well as similar colored stonefly patterns along with a beadhead trailer fly like a Prince Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Batman or Pheasant Tail. Fish the very edge seams. In off-color water use a color contrast of darker color patterns like black Buggers or the Grinch either dead drifted or stripped. There is still a great deal of runoff ahead, and the river is likely to continue to fluctuate in response to temperatures and rain events. Look for smaller tributaries, tail waters and lakes to fish in the meantime. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Columbus — It is running extremely high and off color through Columbus. It’s dangerous and best to stay away from completely. Search out lakes, smaller tributaries and tail waters until runoff subsides. — Stillwater Anglers, Columbus.

Yellowstone River, Huntley — The river is blown out, however, anglers are still catching catfish presenting shrimp or cut bait in backwaters, flooded creeks, or current breaks. — TeamMinnowBucket.com.

Yellowstone River, Intake — As of May 26, there were 382 paddlefish harvested for the season with 63 caught on Saturday. The largest so far is 99 pounds. — Intake Paddlefishing/Yellowstone Caviar Facebook page.

Yellowstone River, Livingston — Going, going, going.... gone! The flow was 35,000 cfs and is showing no signs of slowing down. Avoid this river for a few weeks. — Montana Troutfitters, Bozeman.

Yellowstone River, Miles City — The river is pretty high and rising. Nobody is out on the river due to the high water. — Red Rock Sporting Goods, Miles City.


Bighorn Lake, Horseshoe Bend — The marina is scheduled to open for the season on Saturday. Water levels now allow boats to be launched at the marina. There is no longer a fee to enter the park. — Horseshoe Bend Marina.

Bighorn River, Thermopolis — The flow was dropped 500 feet and is hovering around 2,000 cfs. A Ray Charles is working well. The BWO hatch is tapering off. Anglers are also using worms and having luck. — White Horse Country Store & Canyon Sporting Goods, Thermopolis.

Boysen Reservoir — Fishing is slow as the water levels are rising. Try bottom bouncers in shallower water for walleye. Crawlers are the best bait. Morning is the best time to fish. — Boysen Lake Marina.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir — The walleye and trout bite is fair. Try jigs or spinners. — Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Cody.

Cody-area lakes — Freestone rivers are out of their banks. Fish the lakes or reservoirs. East and West Newton lakes, Luce and Hogan reservoirs, and Upper and Lower Sunshine Reservoirs have active speckled duns and damselflies. Trout are taking adult and nymph imitations of these insects. Lake caddis are also beginning to become active. So, anglers can fish flies or lures with good success in lakes and reservoirs while high water is occurring on rivers and streams. Buffalo Bill Reservoir is dirty and not fishing well. Boysen has a good bite for crappie and trout in the shallow bays. Mother’s Day caddis are on the lower Shoshone and Bighorn rivers. The Bighorn is fishing best because the dam release has been pinched back to 1,800 cfs now. Beadhead sowbugs, San Juan Worms, scuds and streamers are working best. Dry fly action is spotty but should increase on the Bighorn as caddis, cicadas and grasshoppers become more available in June. — North Fork Anglers, Cody.

Lake DeSmet — Lots of fish were caught at the derby. Shad Barney caught a 38-inch 29.9-pound lake trout and there was a 6-pound walleye caught. Lots of 18- to 24-inch rainbow trout were reeled in. — The Lake Stop, Buffalo.  

Yellowstone National Park — A lot of the rivers in the park are high. On the Firehole, most action is on nymphs or streamers. For streamers, try a black or white Prospector. A black or olive Bouface, which is a leech pattern, is another good streamer. A black or olive Woolly Bugger is another good choice. For nymphs, try a Prince Nymph (14-16), Pheasant Tail (14-18), a black Zebra Midge (18-20), or brown Three Dollar Serendipity (16). A Tungsten Pheasant Tail soft-hackle (14-16) can be effective. March Brown Spider (12-14), a Partridge in green (14), or a White Miller soft-hackle (14-16) will also work. Some success on the Firehole with a White Miller Caddis or an X Caddis, or PMD dry flies. Try a PMD Sparkle Dun or a Baetis Sparkle Dun. The Firehole will pick up as water conditions improve. The Madison is another option, but has high flows. Black or coffee rubber legs (18), Prince Nymphs (12-16) or a gold or silver Lightning Bug (16-18), or pink or red San Juan Worms will work. A black or white Prospector is a good streamer, or a white or copper Zonker or a black or olive Sculpzilla. — Blue Ribbon Flies, West Yellowstone.

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