Martinsdale Reservoir is located at the edge of the mountains in Central
Montana, near the headwaters of the Musselshell
River. Although the reservoir itself lies in a grassy, open area,
the Crazy Mountains and Belt
Mountains tower above the landscape, making for a pretty setting.
Similar to other nearby reservoirs, such as Deadmans
Reservoir, it has been hit hard by five years of drought in this
region as well as extensive drawdowns for irrigation use. By August,
it is not uncommon for this reservoir to be very low - well below the
level of the boat ramp (see picture below).
Fishing pressure on the reservoir is low. Its isolated location far
from any major population or tourist area keeps it virtually unknown
by all but the local anglers. Since few people live in this section of
Montana, the use by locals is also not very heavy. The busiest times
on the reservoir will be on summer weekends when water levels are high
(high enough to launch motorboats at the boat ramp). Martinsdale Reservoir
also plays home to a large variety of waterfowl, providing an excellent
opportunity for wildlife viewing in a scenic setting.
Martinsdale Reservoir has a very nice recreation site built up around
it. The fishing access site encircles about half of the lake, allowing
for excellent camping opportunities. For some strange reason, Montana
Fish, Wildlife and Parks charges for camping at this site (which is generally
only done at "high visibility and high usage" sites such as
is found along the Madison
River and Yellowstone
River), which undoubtedly keeps some of the campers away.
Martinsdale Reservoir, at full pool, is over 100 feet deep (significantly
shallower by late summer or during dry years), and covers a sizeable
acreage. Due to the reservoirs large size, fly fishing from a boat (inflatable
when water levels are low) or float tube is the best way to cover the
water. Just be aware that high winds can make floating a challenge, especially
in a float tube. Shore fishing can be productive, however, near the inlet
to the dam.
Despite the drought and drawdowns for irrigation, Martinsdale Reservoir
is stocked yearly with rainbow trout. In the warm and somewhat fertile
waters of this reservoir the trout can get quite large. Catching rainbow
trout exceeding three pounds is not uncommon, with average sizes running
between 12-14 inches. Brown trout are also found in decent numbers and
size in the reservoir. Streamers, particularly on sinking or sink tip
lines, are the flies of choice.
The best time to fish Martinsdale Reservoir will be in May or June as
the water begins to warm up and before irrigation starts to dramatically
lower the level of the lake. Fall also opens up fishing opportunities
as the cooler temperatures cool the water, spurring feeding activity.
Fall also presents the best time to catch the large brown trout that
are found in this reservoir.
Services near Martinsdale Reservoir are next to non-existent. The very
small town of Martinsdale has
a few services, but beyond gas and a few other items, anyone visiting
this reservoir who needs something will either have to drive into While
Sulphur Springs or Harlowtown, each of which is a considerable distance
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