The name is one of the more intriguing things about this reservoir.
Lying out in the middle of nowhere in the vast prairie of central Montana,
near the Musselshell
River and the small town of Ryegate, MT, Deadmans Basin Reservoir
is not slated to become a Montana fly fishing destination anytime soon.
The reservoir itself is more than 2000 acres and up to 100 feet deep
at normal water levels. As Deadmans Reservoir lies in a drought stricken
area of Montana, and heavy irrigation use severely draws down the water
by late summer, water levels can become quite low - often leaving the
boat ramp well out of the water. Few trees are found in this part of
the state once away from a river and the lake reflects this - predominantly
grassy hillsides surround the reservoir. While the surrounding countryside
is basically devoid of trees and consists of rolling prairie, the Crazy
Mountains and the Belt
Mountains loom in the distance, providing for some nice scenic vistas.
The bulk of the use on Deadmans Basin Reservoir comes from recreational
boating, swimming and camping. A nice fishing access site has been developed
around the southwest part of the lake, making for a nice place for nearby
fisherman and pleasure seekers to come on pleasant summer days. The busiest
times on this reservoir will be on summer weekend days, especially when
the reservoir is full. While some out-state people manage to find their
way to this isolated reservoir, the bulk of the use on the reservoir
comes from locals. Seeing an out-state license plate in the parking lot
is a rare thing.
That all said, Deadmans Basin Reservoir has some decent fishing for
both rainbow trout and brown trout. The reservoir is heavily stocked
with rainbows each year. The low fishing pressure, coupled with the lakes
isolation, give the fish an opportunity to obtain some decent sizes -
often exceeding 2 pounds, with the average rainbow trout averaging 12-14
As this is lake fishing, and Dead Mans Reservoir is fairly
large, a boat or float tube comes in handy to cover the most water. Just
beware on the float tube - it can get awfully windy in this region of
the state, making for interesting conditions for tubers. Streamers are
an excellent fly choice, fishing them down deep, and offer the best chance
of catching a large trout. A sinking or sink tip line can be handy to
take these flies down to depth. Wet flies are also effective. When the
trout are actively feeding on top, standard dry flies such as the Elk
Hair Caddis and the Parachute Adams can also be effective. Finally, spin
fisherman can make effective use of spoons and spinners as well as using
standard live baits.
Anyone venturing out to Deadmans Basin Reservoir will be along way from
any major town and should thus bring everything they will need. The largest
town in the area is Harlowton (about
20 miles away), which does offer some services, as this town serves as
the hub of the surrounding area.
Beyond Harlowton, though, little will be found. Most of the towns found
off Highway 12 (which parallels the Musselshell
River) are exceedingly small, often with little more than a small
gas station/general store.
Big Sky Fishing.Com