Regional Reports-West

Hebgen Lake

With the usual heavy snow runoff during May, the trout fishing can get tough in Montana. This is the time to try the still waters. One of the best brown-trout locations is Hebgen Lake, a reservoir on the Madison River about six miles northwest of West Yellowstone. Depending on the winter conditions, ice-out usually occurs in late April or early May. Right after ice-out is prime time to fish for the browns, and some rainbows, that cruise the lakeshore looking for an easy meal. The fish average 16 to 18 inches, and at least one 10-pounder is landed each spring. You can catch good numbers of trout by trolling with Needlefish and Z-Rays, or by shore-casting with spinners and small spoons. Fly-casters stalk the shoreline or use float tubes to cover more area. Good patterns for fly-casting are Woolly Buggers and leech- and minnow-imitating streamers. A resident fishing license is $17; nonresidents pay $15 for two days or $50 for the season. Contact: Bud Lilly's Trout Shop (406-646-7801); Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (406-994-4042).