Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 20, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 20, 2019

According to the calendar tomorrow is the first day of summer. The longest day of the year. According to the forecast tomorrow is looking more like early spring. After two days of scorching winds a cold front is passing over the area bringing with it significantly cooler weather and a chance of snow above 6500 feet for the weekend. High temps will be in the 50’s and low 60’s, and there is a chance for precip every day for the next week.

This was a big week for snow melt. The snowpack around West Yellowstone lost about 2 feet of depth since our last report. Carrot Basin Snotel, in the southern Madison Range, is reading around 1 foot of snow remaining on the ground at 9000 ft, and Black Bear Snotel, south of West Yellowstone, is showing 3 feet remaining at 8170 ft. With colder weather on the way, we should see the melt slow down, and possibly see some additional accumulation to the snowpack in places.

This Friday 6/21 and Saturday 6/22 is the annual Henry’ Fork Days celebration presented by our good friends at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. This is a great way to celebrate our beloved fishery and support this fantastic organization. If you’re around Big Sky Country this weekend, be sure to stop by.

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

Year after year, June is the month that truly showcases why the Henry’s Fork ranks among the world’s greatest trout fisheries. And, this June has been no differen

The Lower River has fished very well with solid hatches of Green Drakes. PMD’s, Flavs, Gray Drakes, caddis, and Golden Stones are all contributing to the trout gluttony as well.

Up in the Caldera, PMD’s, Caddis, and a stray March Brown are around. Look for Green Drakes to get rolling here in the coming days.

The Box Canyon remains a great option for nymphing as well as some dry fly fishing with golden stones. Flows from Island Park Dam were reduced yesterday to 760 cfs after holding stready around 900cfs for the past week. Flows will be adjusted to match inflow which should stay relatively low with cooler weather in the forecast.

This is a great time to hunt with a dry fly for some of the larger resident brown trout from Warm River to Ashton. Golden Stones, Green Drakes, PMD’s, and Caddis all have fish looking up right now. And, with all of that bug activity, big browns have moved out of their deep dark holding water and into prime feeding lies.

Yellowstone National Park

This coming week will be a great time to look for PMD hatches on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers in YNP. With cooler, wetter weather predicted expect to see good emergences anytime from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Keep in mind that the thermal influences play a major role in the timing of hatches on these rivers. Often times we will see hatches at different times on all three of these rivers, as well as at different times along the course of the same river depending on the proximity to thermal tributaries. Generally speaking, the lower reaches of the Firehole, like Fountain Flat Dr and the Firehole Picnic Area, will have warmer water and earlier hatches than the upper areas like Biscuit Basin. So, if you find yourself knee-deep in any of these fisheries in the coming week with ideal conditions (scuzzy) and no bugs or rising fish, pull up stakes and check another spot, it’s likely happening somewhere else.

Another area in YNP to explore for good hatches of PMD’s this week is the Lewis River. The glassy, spring creek waters from the outlet at Lewis Lake to the top of the rugged canyon can be a great option on scuzzy afternoons. Keep an eye out for Green Drakes here in the coming week(s) here too.

Madison River

Runoff has been a factor on the Fifty Mile Riffle this week with cold water temps and varying visibility leading to inconsistent fishing. This weekend’s cooler weather should improve conditions here. Dry fly fishing is still some time away, but nymph fishing, especially with rubberlegs and other stonefly imitations, will become more and more productive. With only 1 foot of snow remaining in Carrot Basin the vast majority of runoff is behind us for the Madison. As the weather warms back up next week we should see the last of that snow melt, and conditions beginning to improve rapidly.

Hebgen Lake

Chironomids continue to dominate the trout menu recently.  And by dominate, we mean there are times when it can be downright impossible to move a fish on anything but a proper imitation, fished at the proper depth.  Even our favorite buggers and nymphs were ignored one morning last week.  Look for fish feeding on our very near the surface on the calmer, warmer mornings and evenings.  This pupa gulping action can be absolutely maddening, and it will test your presentation skills.  Super fun.  As fish go deeper, look to match your fly to the sizes of shucks on the water, and spend time experimenting to dial in the depth.  If you are new to the chironomid game, check out this blog post from Matt with Canadian stillwater specialist Phil Rowley.  It will help with pattern presentation and selection.

http://bigskyanglers.com/phils-favorites-for-yellowstone-country/

If you are concerned that chironomid fishing means “watching the bobber”, fear not.  Try the same patterns fished “naked” on floating line and flourocarbon leader with a super slow hand twist retrieve, or unweighted or lightly weighted patterns on a slow intermediate or midge tip line.  Zone out, look at the mountains, but be ready for a jolting grab.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 13, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 13, 2019

It’s mid-June, and we are rolling right along into our summer season here in Big Sky Country.

We saw scuzzy weather this past week as a strong “spring” storm rolled through the region bringing cold temps, and even a bit of snow. That put the breaks on runoff, and produced great dry fly fishing in places. Forecasts look to be returning to normal in the coming days with high temps in the upper 60’s and low 70’s.

This year’s relatively cool spring weather has maintained a robust snow pack well into June. The Carrot Basin Snotel, in the southern Madison range, is reporting just under 3 feet of snow still on the ground at 9,000 feet – this past storm added 6” of additional snow. Black Bear Snotel, high up on the Madison Plateau at 8,170 ft and south of West Yellowstone, has more than 4 feet on the ground.

With warmer weather, especially nighttime lows above freezing, in the forecast; we expect to see another surge in runoff in the coming week. Though, temps look moderate enough that we don’t anticipate a full on blow out.

It’s looking more and more like summer around here every day. Many of our long time customers and friends are making their way back to Big Sky Country for the summer, or just for a short visit. If you’re in the area, be sure to swing by and say Hi!

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


Yellowstone National Park

Last weekend’s scuzzy weather produced a few fun days of fishing on the Firehole and Madison Rivers in the Park. Hatches of PMD’s and Baetis Mayflies were thick, and fish rose well during the worst of the weather.

Now that warmer, sunnier conditions are back, it’s time to look for spinner falls in the am, salmonflies in the afternoon, and caddis in the PM.

We continue to see, and hear of, better than “average fish” coming out of the Firehole River this season. Last year’s trend of slightly larger fish seems to live on with a number of good fish in the 16-18” range being caught so far this year.

If you haven’t ventured up into the park to fish yet, this could be a great week. Flows on the Firehole are currently just below 500cfs and the clarity is great (tea-stained). Warmer weather will bump flows here, but not to unfishable levels.

This is also a great time to explore the Gibbon River. Good fishing can be found from Madison Junction up to Gibbon Falls with PMD’s, Caddis, and stoneflies.

Madison River

Cool temps slowed snow melt and water conditions improved dramatically in the Madison Valley this week. The clarity throughout the Fifty Mile Riffle transitioned from chocolate brown to super-fishy, green. We are still a week or two away from seeing consistent hatches here, but nymphs and streamers will continue to produce good fishing in the meantime. Keep an eye on flows, and check in with us here in the shop as conditions warm in the coming days.

Missouri River

Joe just got back from the Missouri with this quick report.

The Missouri is on the verge of exploding with goodness. The canyon is in great shape and getting more consistent each day. The rainbows in the upper river are getting fat and feisty. Big browns are on the hunt below the Dearborn. We are days away from a PMD hatch in the lower reaches of the MO. The fish are eating streamers, nymphs, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find some heads. There are still BWO’s hatching and we have seen a few caddis as well. Hold on tight folks…the Missouri is about to pop!”

Henry’s Fork

This weekend is one of the most anticipated of the entire season. It’s the Railroad Ranch opener on the Henry’s Fork. Few places have more history, and have contributed more to angling lore than the Railroad Ranch. On this Saturday, June 15 you can stroll out through the kelly green meadows packed with blooming arrowleaf balsamroot, and be a part of one of the best traditions in Fly Fishing.

Conditions look good for the Ranch opener. Weather forecasts are calling for a chance of passing showers and thunderstorms with highs around 70. Flows have been dropping slightly and will be held around 900cfs to match inflow at Island Park Reservoir through the weekend. We’re still waiting on prime time hatches like Green Drakes and Brown Drakes, but Baetis and PMD mayflies, along with caddis, should bring some persnickety rainbows to the surface.

Stoneflies are active throughout the Box Canyon, and fish are looking for both the nymph and dry. As always, nymphing is a good bet with small beadheads as well as the larger stonefly imitations.

Things are about to get really fun on the lower River over the next couple of weeks. The parade of hatches is set to begin any day now. PMD’s, Flav’s, Green Drakes, and Grey Drakes are all on deck, and, with a chance of clouds predicted most days this week, we should see some of the best fishing of the season here.

Hebgen Lake

Hebgen has produced some good fishing on nicer weather days this week. The usual bays on the south side of the lake have had good fishing with leech patterns stripped slowly on intermediate lines. There’s been some dry fly fishing too with midges and a few early season Callibaetis along the north shore, and in the arms.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 6, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – June 6, 2019

Welcome the to the Big Sky Anglers’ Weekly Fishing Report. It’s been a gorgeous, early-summer week here in Yellowstone Country. Bright green hillsides filled with wildflowers are backed by snow capped peaks. The skies have been blue, and the sun has been warm. Fishing has been pretty fun too, but it’s a dynamic time of year, and we have some changes coming this weekend.

You couldn’t ask for more pleasant weather than we’ve seen here over the last week, but June in the high country can, and should, throw anything your way. Our bluebird days are about to be replaced with some good old fashioned scuzz. By the time you read this report. A strong cold front will be dropping over the region bringing significantly colder temps and the chance for rain and snow through Sunday.

Warm temps have been whittling away at our snowpack this week. Across the region we saw a dramatic drop in snow levels, and a corresponding increase in runoff. However, there is still a significant amount of snow in the high country, and this weekend’s forecasted temps will put the brakes on snowmelt, and in some places even add to it. The Black Bear Snotel station, south of West Yellowstone, lost roughly 20” of snow this week, but there are over 60” remaining. Carrot Basin Snotel, in the southern Madison Range, lost a similar amount and now sits with approximately 40” on the ground.  

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


Yellowstone National Park

Fisheries on the west side of the park, namely the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon, continue to be the best bet for consistent fishing and water conditions. Despite warm weather, flows have not risen radically, and water clarity has remained very fishable. Sunny skies and toasty temps have salmonflies moving in all of their regular haunts. PMD’s and Caddis have been active too, with mornings and evenings seeing more rising fish on bright days.

That will all change as scuzzy weather settles in this weekend. With high temps in the 40’s and the chance of snow predicted for Saturday, you can expect to see the little salmonfly activity that is going on now grind to a halt. But, don’t let the scuzz get you down, as these are perfect conditions for thick emergences of PMD and Baetis Mayflies. Look for these hatches to begin in the early afternoon (1:00-2:00ish), and be sure to have cripple and dun imitations for both the PMD and the Baetis (BWO). Remember, both of these early mayflies are larger than their late season counterparts. So, not only will you want to have PMD’s in the standard size 16, but in size 14 as well. You can see size 18 Baetis at this time too, which is a welcome change from the size 22’s that we finished the season with last fall.

Madison River

Flows from Hebgen dam have been steady this week around 1200 cfs. However, tributaries like Beaver Cr, Cabin Cr, and the West Fork have all been on the rise. As such, the lower river below Quake lake has seen a steady increase, with flows over 2k cfs at Kirby, and more than 3500 cfs at Varney. Interestingly though, clarity has remained very fishable, especially above the West Fork. It’s not gin clear, mind you, but it’s very gamey. This is a great time of year to walk the banks of the Madison and fish nymphs or streamers right along the stream side rocks and willows. There’s generally no need to wade as fish are as close as possible to the bank right now.

Missouri River

Joe has been up on the Mo this week, and sent the following report…

I’ve been up here for a week now and the flows have dropped significantly. We are sitting at 6360 cfs out of Holter Dam, 331 cfs our of the Pear and nearly 1800 and falling slowly at the Dearborn confluence.  The river coming into Toston is 13,000 cfs and Canyon Ferry is 85% full.  A year ago today the Missouri was huffing along nearly 19,000 cfs, what a difference!  Historical flows for right this very minute are 8120 cfs.  My guess is that the Missouri River below Hotler will see a bump in flows that matches Toston soon enough. Flows…yes we pay a lot of attention to them as they push fish and food in different directions. River temps are important as well; different stretches of river fish differently depending on the time of day. River temps dictate hatches and cloudy days have helped our cause.  We are still seeing some BWOs, the last of the March Browns and a few caddis here and there.

The river below the Dearborn is a chalky mess and most of us have been leery of floating below Mid Canon. Some folks are venturing down there for a slightly different view and are catching a few fish here and there; its nothing to write home about at this time as the river is more brown than green. The lower River, while blown out, has some caddis bouncing around the bushes late in the day. IMHO, the Missouri River thinks that it’s May 10th or so and not June 4th. Winter has held on everywhere and we are seeing this in Craig as well. Sunshine, bright green hill sides and floats somewhere from Hotler Dam to Mid Canon have been the norm. The fishing is decent and there truly might not be a more beautiful time to be angling on the Missouri River. It’s light at 5am and not dark untill 10pm, summer is here.”

Henry’s Fork

What a week we’ve had on the Henry’s Fork! Warm, sunny skies were just what the Salmonflies needed to get into full pandemonium, with no shortage of fun for both fish and fishermen alike. The big bugs are winding down on the lower river, but they are moving their way up through canyon country with good numbers of adults active all the way up to the Box.

But, don’t get too excited! Before you go running off half-cocked with a Yeti bucket full of your favorite size 4 foam salmonfly pattern, bear in mind that the forecasted scuzz for this weekend will put the brakes on the salmonfly hatch like a red MAGA hat at a Nature Conservancy retreat.

Conditions over the next few days will call for nymph fishing on the lower river, or head hunting around Last Chance with the last of the March Browns and Baetis.

When warm, sunny weather returns early next week it will be time to run into battle fully cocked with golden stones and salmonflies. By next week we should also be talking about Green Drakes, and the beginnings of the annual Henry’s Fork Parade of Hatches…stay tuned!

Hebgen Lake

Afternoon thunderstorms and their accompanying wind have made for some challenging conditions on Hebgen in recent days, but local Stillwater  fanatics report good action using chironomids and leeches in the mornings when conditions are still calm.

The impending scuzzy weather will make for more rugged fishing on the lake. However, once the storm system passes, it will be time to start looking for the first of the early season Callibaetis hatches.

Salmonfly Graduation

Salmonfly Graduation

It’s graduation season! All across the country high school seniors are preparing for that long awaited moment when they can walk across the stage, grab their diploma, and head out into the world. For four long years they have worked and grown on their way to becoming adults, and now it’s their time to shine.

In trout streams throughout Yellowstone Country a similar right of passage is taking place. Though, there are no caps or gowns, and the graduating seniors are being eaten alive by trophy trout.

Like students progressing through high school, Salmonflies – Pteronarcys californica (Tare-uh-nar’-sis cal-uh-for’-nuh-kuh) – spend four tedious years as nymphs in our rivers, and at the end of the fourth year they hatch out into the world to reproduce and start the cycle anew creating the next freshman class. Freshmen, naturally, are smaller when they start school, and slowly grow as they become sophomores and juniors until they finally reach maturity as seniors.

Salmonfly nymphs are a profound food source for trout in all of our iconic waters like the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Henry’s Fork. Simple imitations like the Rubberlegs arguably catch more fish throughout the season than any other fly. But, this progression of size is important for fly fishers to recognize, and understanding when to throw a freshman and when to throw a senior can make or break your day.

During the spring and early summer our rivers are flush with graduating seniors, and fish are on the hunt for hefty, size 4-6 imitations. While the season progresses, though, the only nymphs remaining in the river are the juniors (size 6-8), sophomores (size 8-10), and freshmen (size 10-12). As anxious as large trout are to take a size 4 or 6 rubberlegs before and during the salmonfly hatch, they can be equally reluctant to eat the big nymph afterwards, because all of the big bugs have graduated. This is where the underclassmen prove their worth. Smaller stonefly imitations like size 8-10, or even 12, rubberlegs can be extremely effective seasonlong nymphs all through Yellowstone Country.

It’s also important to remember that, in addition to Salmonflies, our rivers have a multitude of other stoneflies. Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Nocturnals, and many others all have their own progression of sizes and unique colorations. So, be sure to remember these underclassmen after graduation season has passed, and have a robust selection of smaller stonefly nymph imitations ready for this upcoming season in Yellowstone Country.

 

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – May 30, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – May 30, 2019

Hi everyone. Welcome to the Big Sky Anglers Newsletter and Fishing Report.
We’re one week into our official season, Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, and there’s already a lot of changes to talk about.
Cool conditions kept run off at bay through the holiday weekend producing some great fishing throughout Yellowstone Country, but we are seeing a warming trend this week that has water levels on the rise.
It’s no news that we had another banner winter this past year with above average snowpack in Yellowstone Country for the third season in a row. Every year we hope for a long, slow melt that gradually recharges the aquifer and delivers cold water to our fisheries well into the dry summer months. When this happens, it’s the result of a cool, wet spring, which, in Yellowstone Country, lasts through June.
A considerable amount of snow remains on the ground at high elevations. In fact, most sites have reported additional snow over the past week. The Black Bear Snotel above West Yellowstone is showing nearly 80 inches of remaining snowpack, and the Carrot Basin Snotel in the southern Madison range is reporting 60 inches.
So far this spring we’ve seen below average temps and above average precip. That has kept run off mild providing great early season fishing opportunities. Moving into this weekend the forecast is a bit warmer and drier. So, we are expecting to see water levels on the rise, and that will affect fishing conditions throughout the area.
Nighttime low temps look like they will remain below the freezing mark in the high country, and, hopefully, that should keep things from getting out of hand.

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


Yellowstone National Park

With yards of snow still on the ground in the high country, the Firehole River remains our best option for fishing in the Park, but warmer weather is sure to bring flows up this weekend. Consistent hatches of PMD’s, Baetis, and caddis have brought fish to the surface in the afternoons and evenings. As flows bump up, and clarity deteriorates, you can expect to see fewer rising fish, but small white or black streamers can create some fun opportunities.

Madison River

Similar story on the Fifty Mile Riffle this week. Flows from Hebgen dam have been steady around 1200 cfs, but warm weather is bumping up tributaries like Cabin Creek, Beaver Creek, and the West Fork resulting in a steady increase downstream in the valley at Kirby. We anticipate more water coming from these tributaries as temperatures rise, and clarity on the Madison will likely worsen. That’s not necessarily bad news for the fishing. Some of our best early season fishing every year is with rubberlegs and streamers fished close to bank when the Madison blows out. Keep an eye on the flows and weather. And, be sure to give us a shout at the shop if you need a current report.

Henry’s Fork

Warmer weather, and a little sunshine is just what we’ve been waiting for to jumpstart the fishing on the Henry’s Fork. The stonefly hatch has finally started in earnest on the lower river, and forecasts look great to keep them rolling. Sunny skies, and high temps in the upper 60’s to low 70’s are perfect for stoneflies, but it will come with a price as water levels are sure to come up here. Flows on the Fall River have held steady around 2200 cfs, though, we expect to see them rise over the weekend with high temps predicted to be in the 70’s.
Up in the caldera, the Box Canyon continues to produce great nymph fishing. Stonefly nymphs are on the move here too, but we still have some time before the adults are around. Flows in the Box are at roughly 650 cfs, and predicted to remain there through the weekend to finish filling Island Park Reservoir.
In the flat water around Last Chance you can expect to find some Mother’s Day Caddis, Baetis Mayflies, and sparse March Browns. If you are patient and persistent, you may also find some world class rainbows subtly rising to spinners and cripples.

Hebgen Lake

As the temps warm, and many local fisheries become inundated with runoff, Hebgen Lake will stand out as one of the best fishing options in the region. Midges (size 12-16) and early season Callibaetis (size 14) will generate the first gulping fish of the season on calm, warm evenings, and the chironomid game will improve as well. Many of our favorite spots along the north shore and in the arms are weed free at this point in the season. So, it’s a great time slowly strip leech patterns and Callibaetis nymphs on a sinking line.