Holter Lake, formed by Holter Dam on the Missouri River, is a very popular lake, both for fishing and for pleasure boating in Montana. The reservoir has very good fishing for rainbow trout, as well as walleye and perch.
Holter Lake is very popular among the locals, enhanced by the lakes close proximity to Great Falls and Helena. On a typical summer weekend, the lake is full of pleasure boats and water-skiers. Many summer homes and cabins ring this attractive lake. Virtually all services can be found along the lake and in the nearby towns of Craig and Wolf Creek, which cater to the Missouri River fly fishing crowd.
The Montana FWP stocks the reservoir annually with significant numbers of rainbow trout—some of which grow to become rather sizable. These fish won’t be caught from shore, though. A boat, with sinking lines fished down deep, is the prescription for catching the larger trout, although smaller trout can be taken near shore on top. Due to the lakes depth and size, spin fishing for trout is the most popular method, using large spoons or live bait.
Holter Lake is a moderate size reservoir at 3660 acres. While a motorboat is preferable, an inflatable kayak or other “paddle friendly” boat such as a canoe or inflatable canoe can also work—just watch out for the motorboat traffic and be aware of potential high winds. As tall hills and small mountains ring the lake, the wind tends to be less than is encountered further up the Missouri River on Canyon Ferry Lake.
Access to the reservoir is quite good, although lots of private property rings the lake. Several public boat ramps exist along with a number of designated fishing access sites managed by various government agencies. Note – the Montana FWP doesn’t have any fishing access sites on the lake.
In addition to rainbow trout, Holter Lake also has mountain whitefish, brook trout, brown trout, pike, walleye and yellow perch.
Generally, most fly fishing pressure occurs below Holter Dam, as the blue ribbon stretch of the Missouri River starts there. While Holter Lake does receive fly fishing pressure, most use of the reservoir is for pleasure boating, so any fisherman needs to be aware that they will be sharing the lake with water-skiers, high-speed boats and recreational pontoon boats.