Big question here is when will roads be passable, and when will ice leave such a Hebgen Res., Wade and Cliff lakes. Road to Lonesomehurst campground on the South Fork Arm of Hebgen is open, but snow-bound from there to Firehole Ranch. Same snow-bound conditions exist on county roads approaching Hebgen Res. Road over Red Rock Pass to Centennial Valley remains snow-bound. Clark Canyon reservoir is ice free. Fishing from shore with bead head nymphs is producing, but wind has made getting out on the water tough.
On all rivers, BWOs (adults, spinners) provide PM action, especially on overcast days. Use nymphs during AM hours. October caddis will also bring fish up, too. Streamers are the name of the game in the Beaverhead and Madison rivers. Browns are moving on both. Good locations to try for migrating browns is the Madison reach between Hebgen and Quake lakes and the river above Hebgen Lake. Big streamers trolled on Elk Lake should bring responses from lake trout (C&R fishing only) and cutts. Same thing on Wade Lake where biggest browns run deep.
Best all-around patterns for fishing streams in the Madison and Gallatin river drainages are spruce moth, hopper, and ant patterns. Good gulper fishing continues on Hebgen Lake where fish are taking tricos on the Madison Arm. Some speckled duns remain on other parts of the lake. Want to get into some fast action from small but active fish? Try the West Fork of the Madison River. There are several miles of stream to fish. Small hopper, traditional attractor, spruce moth, or caddis life cycle patterns will work just fine.
Terrestrial insects are making for good action all around. In particular, the spruce moth population is up and makes for great dry fly action on the Madison and Gallatin river drainages. The Beaverhead River features good PMD and caddis activity, which along with terrestrial insects are bringing big fish to the surface. Hebgen Lake gulpers seem to have active and inactive days according to report reaching us.
Reservoir Lake is a real hot spot off the beaten path about twenty five miles north and west of Clark Canyon Reservoir. Its surroundings are mostly a pine forest. Offering aggressive brookies ranging to fifteen inches taking damselfly, speckled dun, midge and leech patterns, it is an ideal place for float tubing and pontoon boating. A campground offers a great location for tenting or RV stays. So this lake is a still water get-away from more crowded places nearby.
Some of best fishing here is on the Beaverhead River where PMDs are coming off big time. Clark Canyon Res. is improving for fishing midge pupa under indicators, go to water 8-20 feet deep. The Madison River from Slide Inn to the West Fork is producing for those using rubberlegs. Midge pupa patterns under a strike indicator remain the best way to find action on Wade & Cliff lakes . Look for damselflies to begin soon on Smith Lake, the upper end of Elk Lake as well as shallows on Cliff & Wade Lakes.
Want a good still water experience? Try Reservoir Lake north and east of Clark Canyon Reservoir. Get out on the lake with your choice of boats or float boat and look for shallow water and weedy areas. Not a big body of water, it has a good population of brookies up to 14″ . They take damselfly nymph patterns, midge pupa and leech patterns with abandon. It’s a great place for action and to take an entry level person.