Martinsdale Reservoir sits on the county line between Meagher and Wheatland Counties. It is located just outside the town of Martinsdale off Montana Highway 294, 2 miles from the U.S. Highway 12 junction. The reservoir was created by the building of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) dam in the 1930s for the multiple uses of fishing, waterfowl hunting, and irrigation storage. Unlike many irrigation storage reservoirs, Martinsdale is not hampered by severe draw-down and water fluctuations; consequently, fishing is good almost year-round.
Martinsdale is holding its own as a rainbow and brown trout fishery, though it receives heavy fishing pressure all year. FWP has also begun planting Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Trolling and shore-fishing are both popular here, but most anglers use boats, as Martinsdale is a fairly large body of water-1,000 acres. Trollers report good success between 10 and 15 feet deep using standard spoons and artificial lures, although cowbells and worms yield fish too. Local anglers suggest that you should easily catch your limit of 12- to 16-inch rainbows and browns. If you shore-fish and let your bait sit on the bottom too long, you are liable to hook a sucker or two, but currently such rough fish pose no threat to the overall health of the reservoir.
Winter-ice fishing at the reservoir attracts many visitors from Billings, Roundup, and Bozeman. Standard ice-fishing bait such as corn, salmon eggs, mealworms, and marshmallows should do nicely. Most anglers fish fairly close to the surface, no deeper than 10 feet. In general, more larger trout are taken from Martinsdale during the winter months than at other times of the year.
Martinsdale offers better fishing for rainbow and browns year-round than most irrigation reservoirs. FWP plans to continue planting approximately 80,000 rainbow fingerlings per year, so this reservoir should continue to produce exciting trout fishing for the foreseeable future.
There are good public camping facilities around the shore, and boats are easily launched from the rocky shoreline. If you are in a boat, watch the weather, because sudden, furious winds can make it dangerous to be out on the water.
Besides recreational fishing, waterfowl hunting on the reservoir and the nearby canal enjoy a good deal of popularity. Duck hunters can easily bag their limit in the fall by jump-shooting along the canal or by setting out some decoys on the reservoir.