Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – October 3, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – October 3, 2019

Winter decided to make an early appearance this week by bringing snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures. It seems as if summer barely made an appearance this year and it is likely that 10 out of 12 months this year will have brought snowfall to West Yellowstone. Some are speculating the continued heavy moisture could bring a fourth consecutive winter with a high snowpack. As skiers rejoice over this notion, anglers have reason to as well. High snowpack equals high and cold water throughout the warmer months which can benefit our trout streams. Only time will tell, and we keep our fingers crossed for future conditions that allow trout to thrive. Stay tuned, winter is coming!

Before everyone gets a case of the “wintertime blues” we still have the bulk of the Fall fishing season ahead of us. Fish are migrating, their colors are changing, they will be packing on weight for the winter, and fall-spawning fish will be participating in the reproductive cycle. We are fortunate in this region to have so many fisheries built on the shoulders of wild fish. Please be respectful and leave spawning fish alone. Avoid casting to their redds and allow them to spawn without interruption.

Personally, fall is my favorite season of the year. Montana/Yellowstone Country comes alive in the fall as elk are bugling, mule deer are migrating, waterfowl fill the skies, and fish change their colors and habits in response to the change in weather. October is “cast and blast” season for sportsmen and sportswomen that face the challenge of splitting their time between hunting and fishing. Whatever it is that encourages you to venture into the woods and to the river, get out and enjoy it while you can!

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Madison River

And so the Grasshopper Feast of 2019 seems to be coming to a close. It was one for the books. With this most recent cold snap and snowfall the last of the hoppers were most likely laid to rest. Although, fish may still be willing to eat a grasshopper/terrestrial pattern used as an attractor in tandem with a dropper. Don’t put your foam-bug box away quite yet.

For those still itching for dry fly action the Madison is producing regular BWO hatches when conditions are right. Look for them to hatch during the mornings on sunny days and throughout the day when cloudy. Keep an eye out for sipping mouths in the riffles as sometimes their rises can be concealed in this water.

For sub-surface action, streamer fishing can be productive. Let the conditions (and the fish behavior) dictate size, color, and presentation. A leech or wooly bugger pitched in tight to pocket water and off the sides of rocks has potential to convince an aggressive trout to move from its lay.

For the nymphing game throw a small nymph such as a baetis nymph, shop vac, three-dollar dip, or zebra midge in tandem with a large nymph such as a rubber legs or wooly bugger. Small mayfly nymphs are active in the system right now with BWO’s emerging. At the same time fish are looking to pack on weight in preparation for when their metabolisms slow down during the upcoming winter months. Some stoneflies will exist in nymph form for two to four years (depending on the species) and are a regular food source for trout in the Madison looking for a big meal.

Henry’s Fork

The lower and upper Fork offer potential fishing opportunities, currently. Head to the lower section to toss streamers and look for BWO’s or make moves on the Ranch water to chase a chunky rainbow sipping mayflies. Whatever your fancy, the Henry’s Fork has potential to be an angler’s time well spent. Worst case scenario, the scenery never disappoints.

On the Railroad Ranch look for baetis, pseudo’s, and Mahogany Duns. Cloudy days will likely provide the most conducive conditions for these bugs to pop and bring risers to the surface. These hatches can bring an abundance of fish to the surface making it seemingly difficult to pick out a larger target but can provide action for those looking to learn these waters.

The lower river has had solid BWO hatches so far this fall. Look for heads along the banks to midriver as there is a number of locations fish may hold. Rabbit fur/squirrel tail-based streamers have been productive as well. There are heavily grown weed beds in certain sections of the river, keep that in mind when setting depths for sub-surface flies. On a clear day the snowcapped Teton Mountains are visible and just about make the trip worth the drive just for that sight.

Missouri River

This morning’s outside temp was bit chilly to say the least. Hovering between 16 and 20 degrees the river was cloaked in steam from the Dam to Cascade until noon. There is a blanket of snow throughout the valley and the views are nothing short of gorgeous when the sun pops out revealing the high country. Fishing has been good overall, with nymphing, streamer fishing and dry fly angling all producing over the course of the day. Flows are sitting a bit higher than normal and the extra water is super nice. We’ll be up here hanging out and guiding anglers for the next couple of weeks or so and fishing the entire river.

Henry’s & Hebgen Lake

The lake fishing is in prime shape if you are willing to skip out on the river action and time your fishing to coincide with key weather and feeding windows. Weeds continue to die back, revealing the tastiest of food items that have been hiding for the trout for a while – leeches and scuds. Fall is baitfish time as well, so don’t be afraid to fish those suggestive patterns like Seal Buggers along the margins when light is low. Look for fish in shallow, along receding weed margins, and near creek and river mouths as those are all seasonal hot spots, and move into deeper water as the day brightens. As water temps really start to cool down, be prepared to slow your presentations as well!

Yellowstone National Park

Firehole River

Look for cloudy days to hunt for baetis and bright sunny days to swing soft hackles and leeches. Attractor mayfly dries such as a Royal Wulff or Parachute Adams aren’t bad bets, either. With the way the weather has been in recent days the water temps may be higher than the air temps. The Firehole is always an experience, from the spunky fish that through generations have adapted to its high temperatures, to geysers and hotpots in the back ground, and to bison grunting and grazing along its banks a trip to the Firehole is generally worthwhile.

Madison River(in YNP)

Cold and wet weather from this past week seems to have pushed a few more fish into the river. Be patient, the best is yet to come for runners of Hebgen. To continue Steve’s baseball reference from last week: play the game from start to finish, even if a few “bad innings” are mixed in. Even the toughest day on the water can result in a comeback from behind win. Try to avoid being like the 2004 New York Yankees who blew a 3-0 lead against their rival Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Instead be like the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals who were on their final out twice in Game 6 of the World Series to come back and win the series (and their 11th all-time).

Reports of quality fish landed in the net increased this week, as well as reports of more hookups. It’s primarily a nymph and streamer game. Medium to large sized streamers are moving fish. For waters outside the park, articulated flies such as Gallop’s Dungeon and Dirty Dumpsters have potential, while inside the Park (single hooked/barbless flies only) the Bouface Leech, zonkers, larger sized wooly buggers can be successful patterns. Have a variety of colors and sizes as well as a variety of presentations based on conditions and fish behavior.

In the evenings pop into Wild West for a pizza and Postseason MLB action. Enjoy a pie while (hopefully) the St. Louis Cardinals easily handle the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.

The Northeast Corner

The more moisture the area receives the less consistently fishable the Lamar River will be. That’s been its story all season, as it has been a relatively wet year. Slough Creek remains a potential option, even if other waters around it are muddy. Stormy days could bring BWO’s and Hecuba Drake hatches to waters in this area. Remember, this time of the year isn’t an “early bird gets the worm” situation but rather a “the second mouse gets the cheese” scenario. Meaning, don’t venture to the water early in the morning. Too early means it is more than likely too cold. Wait until noon or later for temperatures to become more ideal for the fish to get up and move.

Yellowstone River 

For those looking for consistent action and a potentially high catch rate, the Upper Yellowstone River is Currently not the spot. For those looking for quality fish, technical dry fly fishing, and what will more than likely be a challenging venture, then these waters may be what the doctor ordered. A few fish remain far and wide but the bulk of the gorgeous Yellowstone Cutthroat this fishery offers have returned to Yellowstone Lake. For the fish that remain, look for baetis and heptagenia hatches in search of slow-sipping cutties. The risk of being skunked is high, but the potential reward of landing one of these brutes could be worth it.

Don’t overlook casting from the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Don’t forget, there is a kill on ALL Lake Trout caught from Yellowstone Lake. Brush up on the regulations and know how to identify a Laker if caught. This a crucial part of the Park’s management plan in restoring native Yellowstone Cutthroat populations within this fishery.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 12, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 12, 2019

After a two-week appearance the warm weather seems to be on its way out, replaced with scuzzy and rainy days. Hopper season was more than kind to us this past month and provided excellent opportunities for anglers that ventured to the water. The game is changing along with the weather as fly fishers kick the dust off their waders and cold weather gear to prepare for the impending fall.

September is a transition month which means anyone venturing into the water should be prepared for anything and everything. That goes for weather and fishing conditions. Keep clothing for all weather conditions and a variation of fly boxes in your vehicle. This is a time of year when it is better to be over prepared than underprepared. The Big Sky Anglers fly shop is fully loaded with cold weather and fishing gear for those who need to restock.

Fall is an amazing time to be around Yellowstone Country. The days grow shorter, the Aspen trees turn to orange, elk are bugling, and the trout turn colors. Rather than worrying about the impending winter, take in the fresh cool are and enjoy the low hanging clouds as the wrap around the mountain faces. It’s an amazing time to be out here and we hope everyone enjoys this Fall as much as the BSA crew does!

The timing of this year’s first fall storm couldn’t be better for our Third Annual Trout Spey Days, which are coming up next Friday and Saturday, September 13&14. Several days of inclement weather leading up to the event will prime local fisheries like the Madison in YNP with the first good push of migratory fish. 

If all this talk of scuzzy weather gets you down, don’t despair. There’s a good to great chance of Indian Summer making an appearance directly following this cycle, and those are traditionally some of the most beautiful days of the year. So hang in there, embrace the change in weather, and enjoy this first taste of fall. 

Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Henry’s Fork

The lower river is picking up traction again as cool temperatures and rain have made for more favorable conditions. Black and olive streamers such as zonkers or leeches have provided consistent action. Keep an eye out for baetis action during cloudy and cool mornings. Even though the peak of hopper season has come and gone, large terrestrial patterns can still work well as attractor patterns and in a dry-dropper rig. The Railroad Ranch fished well through August and with the change in temps late-season mayfly hatches will start to replace terrestrials as the go-to patterns. Box canyon remains a staple for floaters and wade fishers, as it does most of the year. 

Yellowstone National Park

The Northeast Corner

Those familiar with the Lamar River know all too well what heavy rainfall means for that river. Flows this past week have been high, muddy, and unfishable as a result from precipitation. Slough Creek remains an option for this region and is now seeing fall drakes along with baetis and potential for favorable streamer bite. Supposedly next week could bring warmer and drier weather, in which case the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek may have life again. For those wanting to view wildlife, there are few places better to do so than the Lamar Valley

The Yellowstone River

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The Firehole and Madison (in YNP)

It’s that time of year again. Anglers from near and far venter to the western waters of the Park in search of migratory trout in hopes of catching large fish. Damp and rainy days are a recipe to make such fly fishers chomp at the bit. It’s early in the Fall so the action hasn’t fully picked up steam yet. So far anglers report mixed results ranging from a solid day of fishing to others being lucky to hook into a whitefish. The best is yet to come.

The upper Firehole above the falls is back on! Water temperatures are low enough to fish and those spunky Firehole rainbows are energized for acrobatic fights. As usual, soft hackles, leeches, and baetis are the name of the game. Remember to keep an eye out for bison, geysers, and hotspots! On days the Madison doesn’t seem to have traction yet, the upper section of the Firehole can be a great backup option.

 

Madison River

Hopper fishing on the riffle reached near legendary status last month and we are sad to see it go. Fret not, one of the beautiful things about the Madison River is its consistency throughout the year. Streamer action has been consistent with the weather turning and providing cloudy and rainy days. At times subsurface flies may seem to be the primary avenue to success. Mayfly and stonefly nymphs as well as caddis pupa provide a year-round available food source to the trout of this river. Smaller nymphs dropped off of a large black or brown rubber legs is rarely a bad combination. Keep an eye out for risers taking baetis in the riffles. It’s easy to overlook how consistent fish are looking up this time of year.

 

Henry’s Lake

Words of wisdom from our resident Stillwater enthusiast, optimist, student, Matt Klara…
Watch the weather forecast like a hawk, and be prepared to pounce on windows of opportunity.  Post weather system, the big boys will be on the prowl.  Work the weed free zones and start with your favorite buggers and leeches, shifting to smaller offerings fished slower if the day becomes bright.
Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 22, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 22, 2019

Summertime flooded over West Yellowstone in all its glory this past week. Afternoons have been nice and warm, and the hopper action continues to amaze us all. Aside from the fishing, we’ve been rather entertained listening to all the local guides bicker over which hopper imitation or color they think is the best. These perfect summer conditions have made a late appearance this year, and may only last a few weeks before we transition into fall, so don’t hesitate to skip work (or quit work)  and take advantage of it. Sunny days are the name of the game, and don’t stay home just because a bit of wind might be in the forecast!

Lastly, keep in mind that warm and dry air are conditions set the stage for dehydration. Even for those who don’t venture far from the vehicle, take the time to pack water and drink enough throughout the day to stay hydrated. Maintaining fluids and nutrition can be the difference maker in comfort level, performance while on the water, and energy levels for tomorrow’s fishing.

Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Henry’s Fork

The terrestrial fishing switch is currently set to the ON position throughout the Ranch. Flying ants are increasing by the day and hoppers are abundant. Look to throw small hoppers, ants, and beetles especially during the breezy afternoons. Observe the wind’s direction, where it is blowing the bugs, and where they are landing on the water. If there are current seams where bugs are consistently landing, fish may be holding in those lanes and looking up. Caddis hatches have also been consistent. CDC Caddis and various emerger patterns in sizes 14-18 have been productive. Spinner falls are still happening here and there, so be on the lookout for PMD and callibaetis spinners on the water.

Don’t overlook other sections on the Upper Henry’s Fork, including the Box Canyon. Rubber legs, red zebra midges, caddis pupa, and mayfly nymphs are generally a solid combination at any point of the year in this section. Larger foam dry flies in the 8 to 12 size range and caddis dries can bring some surface excitement if you get tired of hooking fish underneath.

Yellowstone National Park

Expect vehicular traffic to die down this week with school starting back up in most places. The Northeast Corner remains the most consistent area for fishing in the Park, and for those looking to add a native Yellowstone Cutthroat to their lifetime “catch list”, now is the time. The big furry critters have really been on the move lately, so carry bear spray and maintain proper bear country practices as well as respecting any and all wildlife you might be fortunate enough to experience.

 The Northeast Corner

Dry weather this past week kept the flows and clarity on the Lamar River consistent. Thunderstorms in July and early August caused variation in fishing conditions, but every time the river came back into shape the fish were looking to eat on top!

Slough Creek and Soda Butte are fishing quite well, but the fish may be a little picky. PMD and Epeorious spinner fall could still occur in the morning on sunny days. Crippled PMDs and rusty spinners along with an assortment of hoppers and flying ants, will serve you well.  The biggest challenge will not be finding fish, or avoiding other anglers, but finding sections of creek where the bison herds aren’t setting up shop.  Only in Yellowstone!!

The Yellowstone River

The Upper Yellowstone is showing glimpses of its former glory this summer. There are plenty of fish still remaining in the river, it’s just a matter of finding them, and if technical dry fly antics are your thing, the Stone is the Zone. Looking for heads during morning spinner falls and evening caddis hatches. For those of you that haven’t already guessed, terrestrials such as hoppers and flying ants can be solid options as well.

The Gallatin River

With higher daytime temperatures the Gallatin may turn on earlier in the day than in previous weeks. This river runs colder than most others in the area, yet daytime heat may have been enough to keep it warm enough to fish dry flies before noon. Hopper-dropper rigs off of the banks, seams, and pockets will a solid bet for picking up a few of the Gallatin’s resident chunky, spunky, silver bullet rainbows. Look for PMDs and caddis to make appearance throughout the day, too, depending on weather conditions.

In previous weeks I mentioned there were regular sightings of two grizzlies near Bacon Rind Creek. There has also been a grizzly bear seen near Specimen Creek; so keep an eye out for it. We haven’t heard of recent encounters with these bears but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the area.

Blue Squiggly lines…

This has become one of the more popular parts of the weekly fishing report. Many of you have come in the shop expressing interest in venturing to one of the countless blue squiggly lines visible on a YNP map.  Exploring the backcountry is a true joy and we are glad to know that others share our passion for it.

This week’s challenge is the “Yellowstone Native Trout Slam.”      To complete the challenge, you must catch all four of the native game fish species listed in the Yellowstone National Park Fishing Regulations –  Yellowstone Cutthroat, Westslope Cutthroat, Mountain Whitefish, and Arctic Grayling. For anglers that catch all four and can provide photo evidence of capture will receive a 15% discount for one purchase in the shop. The fish must be clearly identifiable in the photos, handled properly (keep ‘em wet), and cutthroat rainbow hybrids (aka cuttbows) do not count. All fish must be caught within the Park’s boundary and native fish caught from any legal fishery within the Park count.

For those that take up this challenge, please take extra care of the Park’s native fish species when handling and releasing them.

Madison River

Hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, and… HOPPERS! It’s literally hopper mayhem on the 50 Mile Riffle.  Sizes vary from small to giant and patterns in all sizes and colors seem to be producing on any given day. There is potential for solid hopper fishing well into September (fingers crossed). Throw your bugs close to the bank or fish them midriver.  The fish are on the hunt.

Flying ant flights have also exploded on the Madison this past week. A small ant fished solo or trailed off of the back of a hopper could be the ticket to board the train. Keep an eye out for the ever-present caddis in the evenings as well.

An upside of a wet/cool summer with limited fires has keep the skies clear and smokeless offering an incredible view of the mountains surrounding the Madison Valley. Few drifts are as scenic as a float on the Madison River.

Hebgen Lake

Gulper enthusiasts rejoice, Callibaetis action has picked up this past week. Warmer temps gave this hatch a major boost and now they seem to be popping regularly. Stillwater anglers have been consistently reporting getting numerous good shots at fish. Stable weather patterns and nighttime lows in the 40s are in the forcast into early next week, so expect the dry fly action to remain consistent or improve.  Gulper fishing is never a slam dunk, though.  Bring your skills and long leaders.  Leaders in the 12’-18’ range are not uncommon amongst regular Hebgen anglers targeting late summer fish on top.

Missouri River

Consistently warm weather is in the forecast and should provide peak conditions for trico action in the mornings. PMDs and callibaetis are still present as well. In the evening, be on the lookout for PEDs (Pale Evening Duns, not the Barry Bonds variation) as trout will key in on those morsels. When rising to mayfly spinners, fish may become selective, and having patterns that imitate exactly the form they are eating is a must. When the dry bite is slow don’t hesitate to nymph small flies deep or strip small streamers in the mornings and evenings.

BSA Guide Greg Falls has openings here and there and few know the Missouri better than he does. Whether you are an experienced fly fisher who wants to learn the Missouri, a traveling angler, or a beginner Greg Falls and our Missouri River guide staff are here to help you fulfill your goals. Call the shop for details!

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 15, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 15, 2019

Time has been flying by and we find ourselves in mid-August—Already?! Mother nature has been kind to Yellowstone Country anglers the past few summers in regard to water conditions, and the trend continues. This summer has been marked by chilly mornings, wet afternoons, and lush green hillsides rather than a smoky horizon and statewide “Hoot-Owl” restrictions on many of our main stem rivers. Get out on the water, this isn’t your typical August!

The past few days has brought drier weather as it hasn’t rained… as much. The terrestrial action is rolling across the region, bringing “fair” to “excellent” results for those who venture to the stream bank. Caddis remains a constant and Epeorus Mayfly hatches have lingered due to cool and wet conditions. On heavily pressured streams don’t be afraid to downsize to smaller flies. Even with favorable conditions it’s still fly fishing in August. The “A” in August means bring you’re “A Game” because the fishing can be challenging at times.

Fall fishing is right around the corner, which for many fly fishers is primetime for Southwest Montana and YNP fisheries. The tourist crowd will die down post-Labor Day opening up the roads from the intense traffic seen in the summer. This Fall stop by the shop early in the morning for any gear and/or tackle needs. Fish hard during the day, come back by the shop in the evening to swap stories, and top it off with a pizza at Wild West while watching Post-Season Baseball—which will hopefullyinclude the St. Louis Cardinals making a run at their 12th World Series Title. It’s been a stellar season thus far and much more is still to come. Stay tuned!

Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Henry’s Fork

It’s time for hoppers and flying ants on the Railroad Ranch. Breezy days will help blow hoppers onto the water inspiring the fish to lookup. Take the time to watch how the wind is blowing them onto the water and where they are landing. The fish will move into these lanes if they are actively on the hopper bite. Keep an eye on them when they land on the water, an aggressive splash may follow.

Honey ants should be showing up at any time. Flying-ant patterns are a must-have when venturing to this section. Keep an assortment of caddis and PMDs on hand as there are still multiple windows throughout the day a hatch could go off. Anglers have been reporting consistent caddis hatches busting off regularly in the evenings.

Flows coming out of Island Park Reservoir have remained constant around 1,000 cfs. Box Canyon remains a staple andrumor has it that fish will still take goldenstone patterns. Rubber legs, zebra midges, caddis pupa, and heavy weighted mayfly nymphs remain as reliable options for subsurface flies.

Yellowstone National Park

For those who are making the trip into the Park, consider going through the gate prior to 7:30 am to avoid traffic. Once the daily crowd hits animal jams and slowing moving lines of cars will rule the roadways. After Labor Day passes the roadways will start to clear up, making a trip through the Park less of a hassle.

Northeast Corner

The Lamar was running “chocolate” for much of the past week as a result of rainfall. It doesn’t take much to muddy-up this river making it unfishable as a result. Check the weather forecast daily as conditions can and will change at any time. Hopper-dropper rigs can offer steady action throughout the day basically everywhere in YNP (and outside of the Park, for that matter). Slough Creek will generally run clear, even if the Lamar and Soda Butte are off color and high.

PMDs have been present in the morning and they’ve proven to be willing to rise to eat a well-presented terrestrial pattern throughout mid-day (shocker).

If the fish seemed to be tucked to the bottom and unwilling to move up to eat flashy and/or white streamers have proven to be effective. Remember to pack bear spray and respect the wildlife.

Yellowstone River

The flows continue to drop naturally as the river exits Yellowstone Lake and enters Hayden Valley. Generally, this is the month where fish start to exit the river and move back into the lake. With this being a highwater year more fish may linger in the stream longer than normal. Look for caddis, PMDs, and terrestrials. The fish are a little trickier than they were a month ago during the opener so don’t be surprised if enticing a larger cutthroat proves to be a challenge.

Gallatin River

The Gallatin has really come into stride this week. It has been running fairly clear this past week as there hasn’t been as much rain to turn it off color. Hoppers, flying ants, PMDs, and Caddis are all available food sources currently. The Gallatin generally fishes better later in the day after water temperatures have warmed up a bit. The chilly water in the morning generally makes the fish a little lethargic during the day. The standard warning of bears and moose chilling in the willows remains in place. Carry bear spray, make noise, and if possible, bring a fishing buddy to cover your bases. There have been regular sightings of two grizzlies near Bacon Rind Creek throughout the last couple of weeks.

Blue Squiggly Lines…

By August most of the mainstem rivers and well-known fisheries have seen countless fly anglers. We are fortunate to have these places to fish that can support mass numbers sport fishermen and women. But it isn’t the worst idea in the world to get off the beaten path and find new waters. I won’t provide specific names or locations in this report for such an endeavor. Check out last week’s report for my challenge in finding new park waters to fish. Half the fun of getting outside is the adventure and thrill of experiencing new place.

For anyone that takes up this challenge: please take extra care of these fisheries and treat them with respect. Let’s keep these wild and unique places wild and unique!

Madison River

Last week I compared Madison River to LeBron James. In continuing the sports analogy trend, this week the Madison River fished like Tim Tebow played for the Denver Broncos in 2011. Not good early but fantastic later in the day when the “game” is on the line, or more simply inconsistent. When the hopper fishing turns on the action is consistent for a handful of windows throughout the day. The fish have become finicky and it’s not uncommon for them to conduct a congressional-like investigation before a commitment to eat or refuse a fly.

Caddis hatches are still a regular occurrence. Stonefly patterns can still provide a solid option to tie on and are perfect to be paired with a heavy tungsten nymph in a dry-dropped system. Don’t be afraid to branch out to new spots on this river. The wade fishing access is excellent even throughout the seemingly flatter water of the float section. They call it the “50 Mile Riffle” for a reason!

Hebgen Lake

It’s mid-August and that means it’s prime Gulper time! The weather forecast is looking less unsettled in the coming week. That should improve what has already been good gulpering. Bear in mind that cool mornings will delay callibaetis mating flights and subsequent spinner falls. So, keep an eye on the thermometer, and don’t get too excited until the mercury hits 60 degrees.

Missouri River

The peak of the Trico hatch was the beginning of the month, but spinner fall can still be available in the morning. Action has slowed down a bit this week which isn’t uncommon. The next few weeks the game is terrestrials (surprise!) and attractor patterns. Old school dry fly anglers can breakout their Royal Wulffs, Stimulators, and Parachute Adams. Currently the upper river is providing more consistent fishing than the lower, however that should change in the upcoming weeks. Also, BSA guide Greg Falls has openings and help take a trip on the Mo to a whole new level.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 8, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 8, 2019

One week into August and the weather still feels as if it’s late June. Hot and muggy afternoons have been met with thunderstorms rolling in to cool the air. This has been a near daily event some weeks. The high snowpack combined with a mild spring is now paying dividends with high flows and cool water in what is normally the hottest month of the year.

August is primetime for terrestrial enthusiasts as grasshoppers are plentiful throughout the Northern Rockies. Fisheries at higher elevations are still producing mayfly hatches and caddis hatches. Don’t overlook tossing a black streamer post-thunderstorm when the air pressure and temperatures drop down in the evenings. This can be an opportunity to search for a larger trout in the “dog days” of summer.

The fish in heavily pressured main-stem streams (such as the Madison) have shown to be a little tricky at times. Don’t be surprised to have a couple of “follows and refusals” underneath a dry fly in these waters. Fret not, these fish are still catchable and can turn onto a feeding frenzy at any moment.

Pack a rain jacket and keep up with the weather forecast, because being caught in a severe thunderstorm in Southwest Montana in the wrong spot is somewhere no one wants to be. Stop by the shop for tackle, gear, and advice as needed. Also, NFL training camps are in full swing. There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks!

Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows


Henry’s Fork

Terrestrial mayhem is imminent on the Railroad Ranch. More hoppers are showing up every day and flying ants remain as a reliable option. The Flav and PMD action is pushing well into August, no doubt a result of cool June and July temps. Keep an eye on the Ranch water in the mornings and post-afternoon storms as a spinner fall may be in the cards.

Flows out of Island Park Reservoir have dropped to sub 900 cfs from last week’s peak of 1,200 cfs. Box canyon remains a reliable option to lock into some chunky rainbows with sneaky-good hopper fishing being available. The hillsides continue to be lush and green, perfect eye candy to go along with a day on the water!

Yellowstone National Park

Cold water and favorable flows continue to be the story of this year’s YNP fishing season. Anglers from all over the Park are passing on reports of successful fishing endeavors and memorable wildlife encounters. It’s always worth putting a pair of binos in the fishing pack for excursions to the Northeast corner. Remember to respect the wildlife and be “bear aware.” Enjoy these marvelous creatures from a proper distance and respect their space.

 

The Northeast Corner

The Lamar River, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte Creek have been producing bent rods and countless smiles this past week. Reports of fishing the Valley have been on the positive side—until the flows spiked as a result of rain. As of the last two days the Lamar has cleared up and is fishable, but it doesn’t take much to turn conditions south again. If the Lamar blows out Slough Creek remains a solid option for those who venture to this area.

Various mayflies (Drakes, PMD’s, etc.) and caddis are still occurring with terrestrial/hopper action rising as fast as the Patriots’ Super Bowl odds. Foam bugs are flying out of the shop’s fly bins over the past week. Don’t put away those Salmonfly and Goldenstone patterns quite yet. They can make for excellent hopper patterns, as well.

 

Yellowstone River

It’s business as usual on the Yellowstone River in YNP: a combination of “the best day ever” and pure frustration. Every year more cutthroat trout have returned to this fishery, and more importantly smaller fish (10”-16”) have been making an appearance. For those that haven’t kept up with the status of this population over the years, this is favorable news in the recovery there from what was viewed as rock bottom about ten years ago.

Drakes are still present but will be tailing off soon. An assortment of PMD’s, caddis, stoneflies, terrestrials, and smaller streamers/leeches could be exactly what the doctor ordered to hook into one of the hogs lurking in this watershed.

Water levels have dropped significantly since the opener on July 15. The later we get into the summer the more fish will return to the lake. But this has been a higher than average water year which could keep many of these fish around in the stream longer. The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. This means the water level drops naturally on a daily basis throughout the summer. The drop in water levels will cause this fish to move around and redistribute across the stream throughout the summer season. Just because the fish are in one location one day doesn’t mean they will be there the next.

Gallatin River

The Park section of this river offers incredible scenery and consistently hungry trout. Caddis, PMD’s, and terrestrials are the name of the game. Keep an eye on weather patterns as this is another body of water that can muddy-up from rainfall, but generally clears up after a day or two of dry conditions. Two grizzly bears have been seen on just off the west side of the highway near Bacon Rind Creek with some frequency. Move with caution when weaving through willow patches, stay vigilant, and make your presence known. With any luck you may see them (from a safe location) as grizzly bear sightings are one of the Park’s premier attractions.

Blue Squiggly Lines…

This week’s challenge: 1) place a map of YNP on a corkboard. 2) Grab a dart and a blindfold. 3) Stand roughly 10 feet away from the map, grab dart, and place blindfold over eyes. 4) Throw the dart at the map (ideally without missing). 5) Find the closest “blue squiggly line” on the map to the dart and check the YNP regulations to ensure it isn’t closed to fishing. 6) Go fishing to said location. 7) Claim that any pictures of fish caught at randomly selected location came out of Bozeman Pond.

Madison River

The Madison River is the LeBron James of trout streams. It may not be the greatest trout stream of all-time (although some circles may argue differently), there may be streams that do specific things better, and it isn’t necessarily the “flashiest river.” But it’s consistently one of the most reliable options throughout the year and more often than not produces favorable results.

Basketball analogies aside, the Madison River continues to be the staple of this region. Hopper fishing is in full swing offering productive dry fly action throughout the day. The Madison Caddis Factory continues to pump out bugs with consistency. A box with various hoppers, nocturnal stoneflies, caddis, and tungsten nymphs for droppers would make for a solid arsenal on this river.

The fish in the wade section have become timid at times after heavy pressure from the stoneflies hatching. Don’t be surprised to see fish elevate and refuse a well drifted dry fly. Downsizing in fly and tippet size can sometimes be the ticket if this occurs.

Hebgen Lake

Stillwater enthusiasts have been doing well on Hebgen Lake in recent weeks with the Callibaetis and Trico hatches in full swing. Shallow areas and weed beds have been providing exciting sight fishing opportunities in the mornings and evenings on dries as well as leeches, nymphs, and chironomids stripped below the surface. Flies fished in deeper water can provide action mid-day, as well.

Missouri River

Flows have dropped slightly in the last week down to 4,700 cfs. Our Missouri River guide staff continues to hold down the fort up in Craig. Give us a call if you’re interested in a trip on the legendary Mo. Tricos continue to make their presence known in smoke stack-like clouds over the water. A hopper or ant pattern with a dropper can offer results while moving between runs in search of tricos, and the nymphing remains consistent.