The Yellowstone River is now in runoff and will probably remain so until about June 25. We’ll be doing some fishing on area warmwater lakes until Yellowstone Park opens to fishing (probably early-mid June this year due to the virus). This fishing will be “food gathering” of bluegill and crappie, but also fun fishing for bass and pike.
Here’s Walter’s favorite bass and pike fly. Check out his blog for a written recipe.
Good area warmwater options include the following, based on distance from Gardiner:
Dailey Lake: Dailey is really a “cool” water option. It holds rainbow trout, perch, and walleye. The walleye usually require going deep with conventional tackle, but the perch will eat nymphs and small streamers. The perch fishing gets better late in May and in June, while the trout fishing, for fish that can often be big, declines as the water warms.
Bozeman-Area Ponds: Numerous small ponds around Bozeman hold good populations of bass and bluegill. There’s even a pond right behind the mall! These are wade-fishing options. Walk the banks, casting dry-dropper combos or stripping small wet flies for the bluegill, or suspend bigger Buggers and the like over weedbeds for bass.
Three Forks Ponds: Three much larger ponds within the city of Three Forks provide the best warmwater fishing within a couple hours of Gardiner. The middle pond is commonly regarded as the best. These are good ponds for a belly boat or similar craft, but they’re small enough to fish from shore too. Large bluegill and some surprising bass up to five pounds are the draws here.
Castle Rock Lake: Numerous large reservoirs in central and eastern Montana provide good fishing for the whole gamut of warmwater fish, but most are too large to fish from shore. Castle Rock near Colstrip is the exception. This lake holds pike, walleye, catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. The lake is encircled by a walking trail offering good access, but also allows boats with electric motors. Walter has a motor mount on his drift boat for just this reason. The only bummer is that this lake is a solid 5-hour drive from Gardiner.