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 1, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 1, 2019

It’s hard to believe, but June and July are history. You wouldn’t know it if you were poking around in Big Sky Country right now. Hillsides around the region remain green. There’s still a few specks of snow in the high country. And, area fisheries are flush with water. If you didn’t know better, you might think it was still the end of June.

The weather has certainly made it feel like June. An unsettled weather pattern has been persistent since the beginning of the season. Week after week we have reported on stormy weather with cooler and wetter than average conditions.

Well, this week is no different. On Tuesday night, an evening thunderstorm ripped through our area the likes of which many of us haven’t seen in years. Jet black thunder heads loomed over the western horizon in the Madison Valley, and by 8:00pm the malicious clouds dominated the sky with streaks of lightning illuminating every twist and fold of the towering cumulonimbus. By 8:30pm the heavens unleashed a powerful deluge and 20 solid minutes of deafening hail. Heavy rain followed before the storm passed on it’s way across the north shore of Hebgen Lake and on into Yellowstone Park. By 9:30pm it was all over, the stars were out, and you could see the tail end of the storm flashing in the night sky to the East.

Tuesday’s storm may have been an anomaly in its size and strength, but it’s been the norm to consistently see storm clouds brewing in the afternoon on most days in Big Sky Country. As we enter the first week of August, the typical “Dog Days” of summer are looming. It’s anyone’s guess if they will appear, or if this stormy cycle will remain.

What we do know is that fishing has been great, and all of this moisture will certainly bode well for the remainder of the season, as well as help to charge the aquifer for seasons to come.

We’ve enjoyed hosting some of our extended family from Argentina at the shop this week. Benjamin Beale who owns and operates El Encuentro Fly Fishing was here for a few days, and El Encuentro’s power couple, Cecilia Harrington and Marcelo Widmann will be here next week. Their authentic, family owned operation, and the phenomenal fishing that they provide draws us to travel across the globe during the winter months to our home away from home in Patagonia. If you’re in the area, and interested in learning more about fly fishing in Patagonia, swing by the shop and chat with our dear friends about their special part of the world.

We’re also looking forward to a visit in September from our dear friend and Argentine guiding sensation, Diego Oliver of Patagonia Nomads.

Big Sky Anglers has a long history of not only working with both of these top shelf operations in Argentina, but helping to develop their programs and grow their businesses. Patagonia Nomads is located in Northern Patagonia in the area of San Martin de Los Andes, and El Encuentro Fly Fishing’s home is in central and southern Patagonia near Esquel. Stay tuned for more information on an intriguing trip that we are developing which showcases the best fishing and authentic Argentine experiences found in all of Patagonia by traveling with BSA from North to South.


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

As we transition into August arguably the best technical fishing on the Fork is yet to come. Terrestrials like hoppers and flying ants can be responsible for some of the most memorable days of the season, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it still feels like early July out there on many stretches of the Fork. The Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork is still green, and July hatches like PMD’s and Flavs continue to drive the fishing. Spinner Falls of these two bugs are responsible for most of the action we’re seeing now with good sessions in the mornings and evenings.

Flows out of Island Park Reservoir have been running strong at around 1200 cfs this week,  but are now down under 1000cfs. Fishing in the Box Canyon was impacted slightly by high flows and turbidity. However, the decrease last Tuesday cleared up conditions. Expect to see consistent fishing with small tungsten bead heads as usual.

Yellowstone National Park

Cold water, and lots of it, has set the stage for a terrific fishing season in Yellowstone Park. The last couple of weeks have been great, and we’re just getting started.

The Northeast Corner

This will be a solid option in the upcoming week. As always, check the forecast or stop in to the shop for a report before making the long drive through the park. Thunderstorms can and will impact water conditions here.

Slough Creek and the Lamar River are still seeing some Gray Drake Spinners in the mornings and evenings. PMD’s, Caddis, and the first terrestrials of the season should also be in your lineup.

Soda Butte Creek has been fun, but crowded most days. Consider a long walk out into the meadows of the Lamar or one of the many short back country day hike options in this part of the park if you’re looking for some solitude.

Remember to carry your bear spray when you’re wandering around in the park’s backcountry, and always be heads up for wildlife of all sorts.

Yellowstone River

Technical dry fly opportunities with world class trout. That’s what happening on the Yellowstone River in YNP right now. Gray Drakes, PMD’s, Flavs, Caddis, Stoneflies, and terrestrials are all part of the game. Expect to find good spinner falls in the mornings and evenings, and emergences from late morning through early afternoon.

As usual, you will want to hunt for your targets on the Yellowstone in the park. Blind fishing can be an exercise in futility for all but the luckiest of anglers.

Yellowstone Cutthroats drop down into the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone Lake in the Spring to spawn. On good water years, like the one we are having, the fish will remain in the system for much of the summer. Bear in mind, the Yellowstone river is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48, and that flow is naturally dropping every day over the course of the season. As the flows slowly drop, fish naturally redistribute and concentrate throughout the river. Just because you found good targets to fish in an area on one day doesn’t mean that they will be there a few days later.

Gallatin River

The park waters of the Gallatin have provided the best conditions on this fishery as evening thunderstorms plagued the river below Taylor’s Fork with muddy water this week. PMD’s and Caddis are the predominant hatches here, and we are starting to see a few fish eat terrestrials like ants and hoppers.

Blue Squiggly Lines…

For our latest installment of “Blue Squiggly lines that, if you can figure out how to get there, fish it, and get back with out having half your ass chewed off by a bear, you deserve to know about” we are highlighting Mist Creek. This small, rough and tumble stream, chalk full of stunning Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, is shining gem in the backcountry of Yellowstone Park.

Madison River

The Fifty Mile Riffle has been treating us pretty darn well this season. In the upper valley, we are still seeing good hatches of PMD’s, Epeorus, Flavs, and caddis from Quake Lake to Pallisades. Morning spinner falls have been strong, and, if we can get an evening that doesn’t storm, we’ll see good spinners and caddis then as well.

Last season was, by far, the best hopper year that any of us had seen in a long time. We are all waiting with bated breath to see what comes of the terrestrial season this year on the Madison. Hopper fishing was well underway by this time last year, but it’s considerably cooler and wetter now. We saw some of the first good hopper days this past week in the float stretch, but it hasn’t quite popped yet.

Nocturnal stoneflies can be found throughout the river now. You’ll never find an abundance of Nocturnals around, but it’s good to remember they are there. You will see random shucks concentrated in specific areas of the river, and on the odd occasion, you may see these size #8 flightless stones racing across the water’s surface close to the bank.

Hebgen Lake

We’ve seen some thick fog on Hebgen during the morning hours as the result of strong evening storms this week. Once the fog lifts and the air temps warm, good mating flights of Tricos and Callibaetis have been seen on all of the arms of the lake, as well as the usual bays on the south side. If the wind stays down, you will see some of the first strong gulpering sessions of the season this week.

Missouri River

The flows on the Missouri are holding strong this summer and currently she’s pumping along at 5460 cubic feet per second. Greg Falls, our resident Missouri River guide, has been sending us reports as Joe and Jonathan are now done guiding the Missouri until late September.  Greg has some openings in August so if you’re interested in fishing the Missouri, give us a shout!  As for the fishing…tricos showed up in a huge way and the iconic smoke stacks of tricos are what’s for dinner.  Blind casting a hopper or ant with a tung bead dropper through the mid-river riffles is always a great idea as you roll down the river looking for trico eaters.

Kenektok River, AK

Joe got back from the Kanektok a few days ago and had a wonderful backcountry float trip with Beyond Boundaries Expeditions and David Stelling and his crew of Skye and Capt. Chris. David has been running the Kanetok for the past 14 years and splits his time between Bethel, Alaska and Boone, North Carolina where he owns and operates High Country Guide Service.  Keep checking BSA Instagram for a sneak peek of the 100 Mile float trip and look for a blog post soon once Joe gets his feet back under him here at the shop.

Hatch Profile – Callibaetis – Three Geeky Bug Facts That Will Help You Catch More Fish

Hatch Profile – Callibaetis – Three Geeky Bug Facts That Will Help You Catch More Fish

In many ways the hopes and dreams of fly fishers rest on the existence of bugs. Sure, you can venture out onto your favorite piece of water on any given day and catch some fish, many times lots of fish, when there is seemingly no bug activity. But, those aren’t the days that get etched into your memory. Those aren’t necessarily the days that inspire you to make life decisions. Like, say, picking a college that is surrounded by the most prolific dry fly fishing on the East Coast, or, perhaps picking a wedding date in late September which, conveniently, doesn’t overlap with any major trout stream hatches…hypothetically speaking, of course.

Streamer fishing has its virtues; “the tug is the drug”. And, nymph fishing most certainly produces more than it’s fair share of memorable days and 3-dimensional challenges. But, nothing in our sport tops the visceral experience that is watching a body of water come to life with an exuberance of bug activity, and the ensuing trout feeding frenzy. In my opinion, nothing illustrates that better than a Callibaetis spinner fall on western stillwaters.

Callibaetis mayflies have a massive distribution across most of North America. It is the western subspecies (Callibaetis ferrugineus hageni), though, that produces inspirational fishing on countless lakes, and several notable rivers, in the Rocky Mountain West.

Callibaetis mayflies live in stillwater environments. They thrive in water that has rich weed growth. And, while the emergences are often inconspicuous, the spinner falls are the stuff of legends.

Callibaetis mayflies, along with their diminutive brethren Tricos and Midges, are responsible for the legendary “Gulper” fishing that happens on Hebgen Lake each summer from late-July to mid-September. The shallow, weedy arms of Hebgen Lake are such ideal habitat for Callibaetis mayflies that they produce an awe inspiring amount of insects. Dense spinner falls occur here, and trout rise to the spent adults with such rhythm and regularity that you can hear the fish rising with an audible gulp that resonates across the glass flat waters.

Warm, calm mornings are ideal conditions for these size #14-16 speckle winged mayflies to form mating flights. It is impossible to miss them when they are around as seemingly billions of adults will dance above the water in a rhythmic undulation. When it is good, and it often is in Big Sky Country, spinners will blanket the water, and everything on the water, including fishermen.

Callibaetis spinners are unmistakable due to the unique speckled blotches present on only the leading edge of their fore wings, and their two long, widely separated tails. Their bodies range in color from brownish-olive to tan to light grey with a majority of spinners displaying a lighter tanish-grey coloration on the bottom of their abdomen and a darker, blotchy charcoal color on the top.

Here are Three Geeky Bug Facts about Callibaetis that will help you catch more fish.

 

1. Callibaetis are Multi-brooded

When we think about the life cycle and seasonality of mayfly hatches, we generally reference a particular bug with its spot in the seasonal lineup of hatches. Certain bugs, like March Browns, hatch in the early season, and they are followed by summertime hatches of PMDs, and autumn hatches of Mahogany Duns, etc. These hatches occur at roughly the same time every year with the progeny of those hatches growing and developing in the river until the following season when it is their turn to complete the cycle.

There are certain bugs, however, that breed multiple times during the course of the fishing season. Like their cousins the Baetis (Blue Winged Olives), Callibaetis will begin hatching early in the season (June in Big Sky Country), and those early bugs produce the ones that we fish later in the season. Also, like their Baetidae cousins, the size of individuals decreases with each brood of the season. Spring hatches of Callibaetis can have duns as large as size #12, whereas September emergences will produce size #16.

Early hatches of Callibaetis are often available in fishable numbers far earlier than when we begin paying attention to them. Unfortunately, the unsettled early season conditions of June in the Rockies don’t often produce dense mating flights of spinners, or the glass flat lake surfaces required for dry fly fishing.

Most years, those early season emergences go largely unnoticed, and it is their offspring that draw our attention later in the summer when weather conditions are more conducive. The warm, calm mornings of mid-summer in Big Sky Country provide both the perfect environment for massive flights of spinners and the glass flat waters needed to bring hordes of trout to the surface.

While average June conditions are generally not optimal for Callibaetis spinner falls, it’s important to remember that the bugs are still active. Duns will continue to emerge, sometimes trickling off one at a time, randomly throughout the day. On the rare day in June, when conditions are cloudy and calm, emergences can be concentrated, and provide outstanding dry fly fishing with duns. The occasional warm, calm morning in June can also generate a fantastic dry fly session with Callibaetis spinners. More often than not, these early season spinner falls are sparse, providing just enough food on the surface to get fish hunting on top, but not so much that your fly is competing with hundreds of naturals for the attention of gulping trout.

2. Callibaetis Nymphs are Strong Swimmers and Fast Emergers

Callibaetis nymphs are a perfectly evolved product of their weedy, stillwater environment. Their bodies are slim in profile with feathery gills, and pronounced variegation on their tails. Coloration ranges from light olive to tan, or gray.

Callibaetis nymphs are agile swimmers, dashing from one weed tendril to the next with short, powerful bursts of speed. Frequently, nymphs will pause for a brief second between sprints, hanging motionless in the water column with their abdomen hanging down. This choreography is important to imitate when fishing Callibaetis nymph imitations. Short, swift strips of 4-6” with a definite pause between movements is the best retrieve as fish will commonly pounce on the fly at the pause.

Just as they move through the water with speed and momentum, Callibaetis nymphs emerge into duns quickly at the water’s surface. It’s common for the nymphs to make several trips back and forth to the surface in preparation to emerge, but once they commit to the meniscus and break through the surface tension, they make quick work of the act. During these “practice runs” the nymphs are prepared to make their quick escape at the surface with fully formed wings bulging beneath their dark brown thoracic carapace (wing pad).

For more great info about Callibaetis nymphs check out this great Callibaetis Nymph Article from our Blog archive written by our very own fanatic of all things stillwater, Matt Klara.  

3. Callibaetis aren’t just found in Lakes

Callibaetis mayflies may be the most infamous stillwater hatch, and Big Sky Country is home to some of the most legendary spinner falls of these speckle winged mayflies.

Hebgen Lake, outside of West Yellowstone, MT, is ground zero for the notorious activity known as Gulper Fishing. Named for the nail biting sound that echoes across the glass flat waters of Hebgen’s weed-laden arms and bays as large trout gulp Callibaetis spinners from the surface, Gulper Fishing is an annual pursuit that rivals the most celebrated spectacles in Fly Fishing.

As epic and addictive as Gulper Fishing is, it’s not the only Callibaetis game in Big Sky Country. The same slow water environments that harbor fantastic populations of Callibaetis on lakes also exists on several of our most legendary rivers. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, the Yellowstone River in YNP, and the Missouri River all boast substantial populations of these speckle winged mayflies.

When Callibaetis are found in riverine environments, they aren’t present in the same abundance as stillwaters. Emergences and subsequent spinner falls are generally sparse in comparison to the activity seen on legendary waters like Hebgen or Yellowstone Lakes. What Callibaetis lack in numbers on rivers they more than make up for in the influence they have on feeding fish. When Callibaetis are present on rivers like the Henry’s Fork and Missouri, they are usually the largest bug around at that time, and trout go way out of their way to feed on them.

Now Get Out There and Find Some Callibaetis Mayflies

If you haven’t experienced the thrill and suspense of fishing to cruising gulpers on a warm calm morning in Big Sky Country, do yourself a favor and explore one of the many still waters in our region during Callibaetis time. Remember, Callibaetis will be active as early as June when conditions permit. The bugs will be larger (size #14) in the early season, and later broods will be smaller (size #16). If you fish the nymph imitation, do so with short, brisk strips of 4-6”, and be sure to pause between strips. And, don’t forget to have some Callibaetis dun and spinner imitations when fishing the Henry’s Fork, Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers (in YNP).

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – July 25, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – July 25, 2019

Like a Green Drake dun awkwardly breaking free from the constraints of it’s nymphal shuck and the cold, wet submarine environment that it has called home for the entirety of its adolescence, summer in Big Sky Country has finally emerged in all of its warmth and splendor.

We haven’t completely escaped the trend of daily thunderstorm activity that has bedeviled Big Sky Country so far this season, but we are seeing conditions that more closely resemble summertime these days.

Daytime high temps routinely reached the 80’s this past week with a few afternoons pushing up into the 90’s before evening thunderstorms rolled through and cooled things off. The upcoming forecast looks to be a return to more seasonal conditions with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid 40’s at West Yellowstone.

For the first time this season we can say with full certainty that runoff is a thing of the past. Several fisheries, especially those in the Northeast corner of Yellowstone, will continue to be influenced by snowmelt, but this is the slow and steady thaw of the highest alpine snow in the region, and won’t impact water clarity. We cross our fingers every year to have this situation where high elevation snow feeds our watershed with a supply of cold water deep into the summer months.

We are excited to host several members of our extended Argentine family from El Encuentro Fly Fishing in Big Sky Country. Benjamin Beale, Cecilia Harrington, and Marcello Widmann will be visiting and hanging around Big Sky Anglers and the Golden Stone Inn over the next few weeks. Swing by with any questions about fishing in Patagonia, or to say Hi to our Argentine friends. Stay tuned for an announcement about a Patagonia Evening at Big Sky Anglers with a slide show and talk about our Argentina program soon.

We’re looking forward to the Third Annual West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days this upcoming September 13 and 14. Check out a recent BLOG POST with details about the event. If you plan on checking out this awesome event, and you should, come stay with us at the Golden Stone Inn, the unofficial headquarters for Trout Spey Days. This is your chance to stay with the industry reps and pros that are in town for the event, and soak up as much information and experience as possible. If you’re not staying with us, don’t feel left out. We will be hosting a Spey Days Social on the evening of September 13th at the GSI. So, there’s still a chance to check out the GSI, and get the most out of the event.

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

We’ve settled into our summertime routine on the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork. Morning and evening spinner falls of PMD’s, and Flavs will generate targets in places, at times. This is definitely an occasion to settle into the rhythm and flow of the river. It’s essential to take what the river offers, and don’t show up with an agenda. Some sessions will have you engaged in an epic game of chess, strategically positioning and methodically presenting flies to adversarial Rainbows. Others will leave you sitting on the bank to ponder life’s great mysteries. Either outcome is a win, and you have to take the good days with the bad.
Whether you’re going round for round with a trophy rainbow, or sitting on your ass admiring the Tetons, keep an eye out for the beginnings of the next round of bugs in the seasonal hatch cycle of the Ranch. Tricos, Callibaetis, and flying ants are all on the horizon, and it’s time to add their imitations to the batting order.
Elsewhere in the system, the Box Canyon is enjoying a great Golden Stone hatch that has lasted for well over a month at this point. Standard Box Canyon nymph rigs with small tungsten bead heads are always a fruitful program.
Flows from Island Park Reservoir are currently running just over 1100cfs and should remain within 100-200 cfs of that mark.

Yellowstone National Park

This is a wonderful time to be wandering around Yellowstone Park with a fly rod. Fishing the Park waters are not without challenges these days. It’s hands down the busiest time of year for overall tourist traffic, and biting flies are omnipresent in many of the best fishing spots. But, the sheer number of fishing options, and the quality of fishing situations available far outweigh the inconvenience of tourists and mosquitoes.

The Northeast Corner
This region of Yellowstone is ripe with opportunity for the dry fly angler right now. Slough Creek, the Lamar River, and Soda Butte Creek offer daily hatches of PMD mayflies and caddis, along with the beginning of what we hope will be a terrific terrestrial season. Be sure to keep an eye on the forecast and flows as this area is always prone to muddy waters after thunderstorms. Give us a call or stop by the shop for the best updates on conditions and reports.

Yellowstone Lake
Stillwater enthusiasts can once again add Yellowstone Lake to their circuit of lakes to fish in Big Sky Country. Daily spinner falls of Callibaetis mayflies have had Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout rising in all of their traditional spots on warm, calm mornings. When the dry fly opportunities aren’t present, think about fishing a leech or Callibaetis nymph imitation on an intermediate sinking line as a great way to find some sporty Cutts.

Yellowstone River
Stoneflies are still active throughout this system from the canyon waters up to the flat waters in the caldera. The big bugs, especially Golden Stones, will produce those slow, yawning rises so typical of Yellowstone Cutts well into August this year as water conditions remain robust after last winter’s solid snowpack.

In addition to the big bugs, expect to see a myriad of other insects producing solid dry fly action on the Yellowstone River. PMD’s, Flavs, Grey Drakes, and Caddis are all responsible for questionable decision making by Cutthroat Trout in places like Otter Creek, or below Le Hardy Rapids (the rapids themselves are closed to fishing). Be sure to have plenty of spinner imitations in size #14-16, and remember to hunt for your targets.

Carnelian Creek
This is one of those blue squiggly lines on the Park map that go unnoticed and unvisited by virtually every Yellowstone Park angler. So, why on earth would we mention it here for all the world to discover? Because, if you can find Carnelian Cr, or better yet, if you can figure out how to get into Carnelian Creek, fish it, and return without having half your ass chewed off by a bear, you deserve to know about it, and we’d love to hear about it.
It’s approaching the time of year to start exploring all of those little blue squiggly lines on the map. Yellowstone is full of overlooked and underfished waters, and the opportunity to go out and actually explore these fisheries is an all too rare occurrence in this day and age.
So, whether it’s Carnelian Creek, or one of the many more discrete waters in the park, get out there and see what you can find.

Gallatin River
The Gallatin River in YNP may be the best example of a fishery in our area that benefits from warm weather. This is the coldest fishery around, and, even on the warmest of days, it fishes best in the late-mornings and afternoons.
The Gallatin in the Park is also one of the most diverse rivers in the area with a plethora of aquatic insects residing in its cold, clean waters. PMD’s, Caddis, Flavs, Green Drakes, Yellow Sallies, and Golden Stones are all available in abundance right now, along with a multitude of less conspicuous Mayflies, Caddisflies, and Stoneflies.
This is also one of the best examples of a river that looks pleasant and inviting from the road, but can punish you with biting flies once you reach the water. Top notch bug spray, sungloves, buffs, and full cover are mandatory right now on the Gallatin River in the Park.

Madison River

It’s year two of post dam construction, and consistently cold water from Hebgen has set the stage for some of the best conditions that we have seen on the Madison River in quite a few years. Hatches have been strong, and the quality and condition of fish in all size classes has been impressive.
Mornings and evenings have seen good spinner falls of PMD, Epeorus, and Flav mayflies, as well as egg-laying and emerging caddis activity. Remember these spinner falls as weather conditions stabilize and warm. Those brawny Madison River Browns and Rainbows love to be sneaky and rise subtly to understated spinners providing a technical dry fly situation that is tough to beat. Remarkably, there are still some Golden Stones flying in isolated spots along the river. It’s approaching time to start thinking about flying ants and hoppers. More to come on this exciting fishing in the following weeks.

Hebgen Lake

There’s no time like gulper time, and conditions become more and more prime for gulpering activity with each passing day. Stay tuned to this exciting fishery from now through the middle of September for some of the most spectacular Stillwater fishing found anywhere. Be on the lookout too for a blog post in the coming week about Callibaetis mayflies, the high test fuel that powers the gulper fishing machine on Hebgen Lake.

Kenektok River

Our very own Joe Moore is currently halfway through a wilderness float trip on Alaska’s Kenektok River in search of ferocious, mouse-eating rainbow trout. Check back next week for news about Joe’s adventure.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – July 18, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – July 18, 2019

Welcome to the Big Sky Angler’s Weekly Fishing Report.

On this week’s edition of Drift Boat Time Machine we’re taking a trip back to 1996. The remnants of a huge winter snowpack have left area fisheries flush with water. Salmonflies and Golden Stones are still active on the Madison River in mid-July. And, we’re seeing great fishing on the Yellowstone River in YNP.

The late 90’s were a terrific time to be fishing in Big Sky Country, but to many, living through that decade the first time was enough. So, if you’re looking to revisit the 90’s without experiencing grunge music, Doc Martens, and Friends all over again, all you need to do is head to Big Sky Country and check out the terrific fishing we’re seeing right now.

We’re more than half way through July, and the wet cool weather trend that has been persistent since February remains firmly entrenched over Big Sky Country. The first truly warm days of the summer occurred this week with temps reaching the mid-80’s. Just as we thought Summer had finally shifted into gear, though, dark and stormy clouds grew on the horizon, and reminded us that the weather can be anything but predictable here. We’ve seen daily thunderstorms in much of the area this week with some storms dropping impressive amounts of rain and hail.

We’ve enjoyed showing off our new lodging project to everyone this summer. The Golden Stone Inn is open, and it’s great to finally have a lodging option for our guests that allows us to provide the personalized, unique experience that we want. The Golden Stone Inn was born from this desire to provide a customized, unforgettable experience that goes above and beyond our guests’ expectations.

West Yellowstone is a special place to us, and we know it is to you too. More than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day, we hope the Golden Stone Inn will be a place where we can cater to you, our extended family, and share with you all of the amazing things that make West Yellowstone so special.

So, if you’re planning an upcoming trip, consider staying with us at the Golden Stone Inn, and let us show you the best that Big Sky Country has to offer. Already got your lodging booked somewhere else for your next visit? No sweat. Swing by anyway and get a tour of the Golden Stone Inn. Hang out for a while by the fire with a cold beer, and chat about the fishing. We’ll look forward to seeing you!

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

If you fancy yourself a proficient, technical dry fly angler with a deft knowledge of trout stream entomology, there may be no better time than right now to see how you measure up against the ultimate challenge that is the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork and it’s resident population of trophy Rainbow Trout.

Bring your patience, perseverance, and an impeccable line up of Flav and PMD imitations in dun, emerger, and spinner forms. Be sure to have your terrestrial box too, as ants and crickets are always a good pattern to put into the lineup for the more persnickety trout. Mornings and evenings will provide the best opportunities for your test, but on some days, the exam will last right on through the afternoon.

If you find success, count yourself among an elite few who have measured up to one of the most storied challenges in the sport of fly fishing. If you fall short, don’t despair. You’re not alone. The Ranch has a ruthless reputation for illustrating, in painstaking detail, the shortcomings of even the most experienced anglers. Failing is never fun, though many times we learn the most from our defeats, and nowhere is this more evident than on the Ranch.

Flows are predicted to rise slightly by the weekend, but shouldn’t drastically impact the fishing.

Elsewhere in the system, the Box Canyon and Warm River to Ashton sections of the Henry’s Fork are a fun choice for productive fishing with nymphs and dry-dropper rigs. Golden Stones are still around in the Box providing yet another good dry fly option.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River

Half of our shop staff hasn’t been alive long enough to remember what the “Good Ol’ Days” of fishing the Yellowstone River in YNP were like prior to the collapse of that fishery in the early 2000’s. Luckily, they don’t have to be subjected to us “Old Timers” (over 40) regaling them with stories of how it “used to be”. They can go and see for themselves, and they have, and it’s been good.

The legendary waters of the Yellowstone River in the caldera, between Yellowstone Lake and the canyon, opened to fishing on July 15. We have all been anxiously awaiting this opener as the river has been slowly recovering from a population crash of cutthroat trout that has endured for nearly two decades. Last year showed promising signs of recovery with decent numbers of fish in a variety of size classes, and, with another strong water year under our belt, we have been optimistically anticipating this season’s opener to find out if the population has continued to develop, or if last year was a fluke.

The river is still running strong this year from an over abundance of snowpack last winter, but early reports from the first week of fishing have been terrific. Green Drakes, Gray Drakes, PMD’s, Caddis, Salmonflies, and Golden Stones are all present in different stretches of the river, and reasonable numbers of fish have been rising. Most importantly, we’re seeing more 12-16” fish so far this season than we have in a very long time.

This is a cutthroat trout fishery, arguably the best on the planet. But, don’t let the cutthroat’s reputation as a gullible glutton for dry flies fool you. These are wary fish, and the gentle glides of the Yellowstone River in classic spots like Cascade Picnic Area or Nez Perce Ford offer technical dry fly opportunities on par with the challenge and sophistication of the Railroad Ranch or Silver Creek. Bring your A-Game and come prepared to hunt for individual targets.

Gallatin River

The park waters of the Gallatin are a great choice these days for consistent fishing with both dry flies and nymphs. PMD’s, caddis, green drakes, flavs, golden stones, salmonflies are all active. So to are a myriad of biting flies like mosquitoes and snipe flies. If you head to the Gallatin in the Park, and you should, expect the afternoon hours to provide the best fishing after water temps have had a chance to warm up, and don’t forget to bring a healthy supply of bug dope.

Lamar River

Afternoon thunderstorms and the accompanying downpours have brought color back to the waters of the Lamar this week. Keep an eye on the gauge, give us a call, or stop by the shop for the latest info on conditions in the Northeast corner. When conditions improve the fishing will get back to being fantastic on the Lamar with a variety of bugs present like PMD’s, caddis, drakes, and stones.

Slough Creek

Fishing on Slough Creek, especially in the backcountry meadows, has not been affected by the recent storms, and both the fishing and water conditions are great. Slough is a perfect option for a morning session before you head on to the Lamar (once it clears) or the Yellowstone canyon. Expect to see PMD and Grey Drake Spinners along with egg laying caddis on warm, calm mornings.

Yellowstone Lake

In case you needed just one more great fishing option in Yellowstone to thoroughly complicate your decision making process, Yellowstone Lake is seeing some good flights of Callibaetis Spinners on calm, warm mornings. This is another example of the rebounding Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout population, and we couldn’t be happier to see numbers of fish rising to these spinners again in places like Gull Point.

Madison River

While the entire region has experienced a prolonged period of unsettled weather, it seems that the Madison Valley has been ground zero for thunderstorm activity each and every day. It’s been a relentless cycle of storms, the likes of which we haven’t seen in July for decades.

Stormy weather has repeatedly suppressed the Salmonfly and Golden Stone hatches since they began to move upstream through the valley last month. That means we are still seeing the big bugs, especially Goldens, randomly throughout the system from the stretch between Hebgen and Earthquake Lakes all the way down to Varney Bridge.

The big bugs may only remain randomly, but caddis, PMD’s, and Epeorus Mayflies are abundant along the entire river. Strong emergences of mayflies have occurred during the worst or the weather, but breaks of sunshine in between storms have been especially active with clouds of caddis and spinners forming over the water and streamside willows.

Missouri River

Jonathan is up on the MO this week with great clients as he is every year at this time. He reports having beautiful summertime weather, strong caddis hatches and spinner falls, and great dry fly targets throughout the day.

Flows on the Missouri are still a bit robust at just over 6,000cfs which provides plenty of room for bank sippers, and opens up lots of acreage on prime dry fly flats.

High, cool flows in July should produce some great fishing in August. We’ve got our fingers crossed for another August like last year with strong caddis hatches and tons of rising fish.

Hebgen Lake

Gulper season is getting closer with every passing day. On a scale of Tom Hanks movies, conditions on Hebgen Lake have ranged anywhere from Castaway to Forrest Gump. On some days we’re playing with Wilson on the sunny beach in the morning, and by the afternoon we’re hanging from the mast of the shrimp boat with Lieutenant Dan screaming into the storm.

When the weather finally settles down, expect to see the first of this season’s gulper activity in the Madison and Grayling Arms. Any calm, warm mornings from here on out should see some good gulpering opportunities.

Not sure what gulpers are or why gulpering is one of the coolest things you can do with a fly rod in your hand? Swing by the shop when you’re in town, and let us open your eyes to your next addiction.