Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – October 10, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – October 10, 2019

shoul-der sea-son

noun

  • a travel period between peak and off-peak seasons
  • a time to explore Big Sky Country without quite so many crowds
  • the point of the season in which the biggest brown trout of the year are caught
  • an opportunity to fish in the sun one day and in snow the next
  • the best time of year to find killer deals on all of your favorite gear at Big Sky Anglers

October is here. It’s officially the Shoulder Season. Gone are the days of bustling sidewalks, long lines at the park gate, and 2-hour waits for a cheeseburger.

The last few weeks of the season are a special time in Big Sky Country. It’s a time when everyone can catch their breathe a bit after a hectic summer, and enjoy the bounty of another great water year. From the elk and aspens to the browns and rainbows, everything is in great shape this fall.

Yet another potent fall storm roared across the region this week bringing one more dose of winter to all of Big Sky Country. Substantial snow fell throughout the region, from the Missouri River in northern MT all the way down to the Henry’s Fork in Idaho.

A healthy dose of Indian Summer is on the horizon for the upcoming week. Though you will want to keep your warm puffy layers handy as morning lows look to be frosty for the next few days.

Fall weather brings fall fishing, and we’ve had plenty of both. 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

Yellowstone Park remains open to fishing until November 3rd this year. That means you have three more weeks to hunt for migratory fish and fall hatches before everything shuts down for the winter. So, pitter patter, let’s get at er!

Firehole River

Fly fishing is hard on purpose. If we just wanted to catch fish, we would do things far differently. We value the difficulty and the skill required to fool a fish with a fly. It’s the How and Why that are important. Sometimes we value the virtue of the challenge more than the end result (the fish).

Nowhere is this more evident than right now on the Firehole River. This legendary fishery comes alive each fall with tremendous hatches of baetis mayflies, and resident fish feed on the surface with consistent regularity. On a gray, scuzzy October afternoon, which we have seen several of recently, it’s not uncommon to find fish rising from bank to bank in places like Fountain Flat Dr, or below Midway Geyser Basin.

As abundant as these opportunities may be, they are equally challenging. By this point in the season fish have become wary, and the bugs have become small. It’s a serious test of one’s dry fly prowess to fool a Firehole trout in the fall. It requires a perfect presentation with 10-12’, 5x-6x leaders, and a minute, size 22 baetis imitation.

Oh, and did I mention, the fish in the Firehole River are not large. Unlike many fabled fisheries in Big Sky Country, the average size of browns and rainbows found in the Firehole is 10-12”. Occasionally, you will find a 16-18” fish, and the last two seasons have produced more of those outliers than any in recent history, but this is not a big fish fishery.

Fishing on the Firehole in the fall is all about the How and Why. We chase these little trout, not just to catch them, but to catch them with a fly, because it’s hard. And, that’s bad ass.

Madison River(in YNP)

Back in mid-September I used a baseball analogy to describe fishing the Madison River in YNP during the fall. I likened the early season fishing with the beginnings of baseball season when you’re excited, but there’s not much going on yet. And then, before you know it, it’s playoff season and every game counts. “Every game has an opportunity for that defining moment. The one that makes the whole season worthwhile, that makes you a fan.”

Well, it’s here. It’s playoff season for both baseball and migratory fish in the Madison. It’s time to pay attention. It’s time when every session counts, because there is a real opportunity every time you hit the water for the next three weeks to catch that one fish that makes the whole season worthwhile, that makes you a fan.

With bright weather in the forecast for the next few days, look to the early morning and late evening hours for your best chance at finding aggressive fish while the light levels are low.

The Gallatin River

Indian summer afternoons are a great time to fish the Gallatin stretch in YNP. Sparse hatches of baetis mayflies may bring some fish to the surface in slower runs and pools. In abscense of rising fish, tight line nymphing through deep undercuts and pockets can produce some great fish.

The Gardner RIver

As we approach the end of the season, more and more brown trout from the Yellowstone River will be sniffing their way up into the Gardner. Exploring the pocket water from Mammoth down towards the town of Gardiner with small, heavy streamers can yield big rewards.

Madison River

The park stretch of the Madison isn’t the only reach of the river to host a population of migratory fish. In fact, from Hebgen to Quake, and throughout the Madison Valley brown trout migrate and stage in runs as they prepare to spawn. Opportunities to swing up a gnarled-face, buttery brown trout exist all the way to Three Forks.

When your not focused on the streamer game be prepared to hunt for rising fish with baetis imitations in each and every soft, glassy piece of water on the Fifty Mile Riffle.

Henry’s Fork

Fishing has settled into a sublime autumn rhythm on the Hank. As with most fisheries in Big Sky Country, the action on both the upper and lower river revolves around streamers and baetis.

With a stretch of bright days coming up, it’s important to consider the rhythm of fall fishing on both a macro and micro level.

On the macro level, bright conditions will limit the effective windows of opportunity with streamers to the early morning and late evening hours when light levels are at their lowest. Bright skies will also produce shorter, and sometimes sparser hatches of psuedo’s and baetis. Your daily rhythm should include streamer fishing in the morning, head uniting in the afternoon, and streamer fishing again in the evening.

On the micro level, it’s important to take into account rhythm when fishing to rising fish during baetis hatches. Generally, trout rise to baetis not because of their size, but their abundance. The shear volume of bugs is what brings large fish to the surface. When large numbers of bugs are present, trout establish a definite feeding rhythm. It’s critical to understand that rhythm, and be prepared to fish in that same rhythm.

Missouri River

Joe, Jonathan, Hoovie, and assorted members of the BSA crew are firmly entrenched in BSA’s fall program on the Missouri River. It’s been a roller coaster of conditions on the MO. From sun and 60 degrees to snow and ice, we’ve seen it all.

Through the varied conditions we’ve seen some great fall fishing with streamers, nymphs and dries.

One of the many reasons we love the MO at this time of year is the opportunity to find some truly large fish. We don’t always get them, and the respectable resident fish are more than enough to keep us occupied while we search. But, somewhere out there is a real creature. A fish that has lived out in the plains all season not being bothered by anyone. A brute that only wanders upstream into our reach once a year when he sniffs his way up towards spawning tributaries.

We haven’t found that creature yet this year. We’ve seen some terrific fish, but the creature still eludes us. There’s a couple weeks left in this year’s tour. Stay tuned!

Henry’s & Hebgen Lake

From our resident still water aficionado, Matt Klara:

“I don’t know why we even publish lake reports in October. Everyone is out strippin’ junk and chasing river fish. That said, 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. 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, and maybe convert over to the balanced leech program!”

 

Convert the Bump – Three Quick Tips to Up Your Streamer Game

Convert the Bump – Three Quick Tips to Up Your Streamer Game

Are you a streamer junkie? Is the Tug your drug? Do you spend all year dreaming about gray autumn days and vicious takes from belligerent brown trout?

If the answer is yes, then you are undoubtedly familiar with the “Bump”.

We’ve all been there. You made a great cast. Your fly sets up at the right depth. The current takes hold of your line, and you feel the pressure build all the way into the cork of your rod. You begin to retrieve your line with deft strips, bringing life into your fly, and there it is. That moment when you connect with all your hopes and dreams at the end of the line.

But, what follows isn’t what you had hoped and dreamed for. It’s not a storied battle with a gnarled-faced brown trout. A heroic net job. A steely-eyed grip and grin shot that.

Nope. All you got was a Bump. And then there was nothing.

Many anglers count the Bump as a loss. But, it doesn’t have to be.

If all you get are Bumps some days, and you want to convert more of those Bumps into hopes and dreams, here are 3 Tips to Up Your Streamer Game.

Keep that Tip near the Water

Streamer fishing is unique among fly techniques because we impart life into our flies, enticing the take of a predatory trout through a tight line.

Sure, you can “Dead Drift” a streamer like a nymph or a dry fly. But, most of the time we are making them swim by swinging or stripping.

Whether you fish streamers on a static swing, or with a stripped retrieve, the position of your rod tip is very important to maintaining contact with your fly. A rod tip that is held too high while stripping or swinging will result in a length of slack line extending from your rod to the water. This slack line is a killer of hopes and dreams, and can be the difference between a Bump and a hooked fish.

By keeping the rod tip pointed at or near the water it’s easier to stay in touch with your fly and eliminate excess slack in your line. Every time you strip your line that movement will translate directly to your fly, and when you do elicit a strike you will be more likely to convert it into a hooked fish.

Slow it Down

Streamer fishing is one of the most active games that we can play with a fly rod. With all of that casting and stripping there’s a lot going on.

Many times the stakes are high as our targets are often the biggest fish we will chase all year.

It’s easy to get a little carried away. All it takes is one ferocious grab, and you’ll be stripping that fly like it owes you money.

We all want the savage eat from a furious brown trout that nearly rips the rod from your hands. But, let’s face it. That’s a low probability situation, even on the best of days.

Far more fish will eat a fly that is presented slowly and enticingly than one which is ripped past the trout’s face.

A slower retrieve will also maintain better contact with your fly making you more likely to convert those takes into hookups and not Bumps.

Don’t Trout Set

In fact, the best set is no set at all.

Not every streamer eat from a trout is an aggressive take where the fish turns on the fly making it easy to hook them in the corner of the mouth.

Frequently, a trout will see your fly and follow it as it moves through your retrieve. When the fish eats, it will often overtake your fly moving in the same direction of travel. Then, you strip, and take the fly right back from the fish.

Bump

 If the next thing you do is trout set, then you completely remove your fly from the game, and the fish is left wondering what happened to it’s meal.

If you do nothing, and continue to swing or strip. Then, your fly is still in the game, and you have an opportunity to convert that Bump into a hook up.

The Argentines call their streamers “Gatos” for cats, because of the similarity to teasing a cat with a cat toy.

When you feel a Bump try to keep your cool, and tease that fish into another Bump. Sometimes it takes two or three (or more) Bumps before the fish is keyed up enough to turn on the fly and catch the hook.

Conclusion

Bumps aren’t all bad.

It means that you put the fly in the right place, and made it look good enough for a trout to eat it.

Some times, no matter how hard you try to tease them, trout just won’t fully commit to your streamer.

But, if you keep these 3 tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared to convert those Bumps in hook ups.

Now grab your Gatos, get out there, and find some trout to tease.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 19, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 19, 2019

Autumn has arrived in Big Sky Country in all its splendor. Aspens are turning yellow, Elk are bugling, and our first widespread snow has coated the mountains. It’s a spectacular time to be exploring our area with a fly rod. Cooler weather has activated our perennial fall fisheries, many of which have been dormant during the warmer summer months. Some of the most beautiful days, and exciting fishing of the season are yet to come. So, get out and get your fix while the gettin’ is still good. 

A multitude of good fishing options exist right now, and depending on the weather conditions, there are a variety of games to be played. 

Bright sunny, Indian Summer conditions will produce some of the most jaw-dropping, inspirational, reconsider your priorities and adjust our life plan panoramas you will ever see. They will also prompt the last terrestrial afternoons of the season with hoppers and flying ants making one last go at it before the hard frosts do them in for the season. 

Stormy days will trigger thick afternoon emergences of fall hatches like Baetis, Mahogany Dun, and Drake mayflies, as well as arouse brown trout into their fall routine of migration and aggression. 

Regardless of conditions, there is some good fishing going on somewhere these days, though it’s critical to consider the weather and conditions when planning your day. 

Several stunning Indian Summer days were punctuated with a day of proper autumn scuzz this week. Conditions transitioned from sunny and 80 to mixed precipitation and 40 in the matter of a day. As quickly as the last storm rolled in it evacuated, leaving glorious blue skies and snow capped peaks in its wake. 

More of the same back and forth weather is in store for this weekend with another system coming through the area on Friday and Saturday. 

Fall weather brings fall fishing, and we’ve had plenty of both. 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


Madison River

It’s a fight to the death. Like gladiators thrown to the lions the Madison Valley’s grasshoppers are clinging to their last bits of existence. Frosty mornings threaten to put an end to them once and for all, but the fighting spirit runs strong in these combatants. Surprising numbers of hoppers remain in the valley, and fish continue to look for them on warm sunny afternoons. The action pales in comparison to what we saw earlier this summer, but it remains nonetheless, and can best be described as spotty and short-lived, but still really cool. 

Nymphs and streamers have been the go-to for more consistent action. Baetis mayflies, midges, and Rhyacophila caddis are the main ingredients in the bug soup these days.

Henry’s Fork

Cool, scuzzy weather has shifted the Henry’s fork firmly into fall gear. From the Lower River up onto the flat water stretches in the caldera, fall hatches are providing some great fishing. 

Baetis, Pseudo’s, and Mahogany Dun mayflies are all active throughout the Ranch waters now. Cloudy days will provide the best concentrations of emerging mayflies and rising fish. Fall Baetis and Pseudo hatches can bring seemingly every fish in the river to the surface big and small, making it more difficult to isolate a “good” target. Conversely, these can be great opportunities for anglers who are looking to get their feet wet on the Ranch, and get a taste for how the game is played with an abundance of targets. 

Yellowstone National Park

The Firehole River

There’s lots of options on this strangest of all trout streams on earth right now. Scuzzy days are your best opportunities to see thick hatches of Fall Baetis in the afternoons. Bright days are perfect for swinging soft hackles or possibly prospecting with a small grasshopper imitation. 

The Madison River(in YNP)

The fall migration of fish into the Madison River in the Park is a lot like baseball season. It’s exciting at the beginning of the season. You’ve been anxiously awaiting the first game. You’re eagerly optimistic about the season’s prospects, but there’s really not much going on yet. Nobody is really in the groove. Slowly, game after game, the season ticks on. Before you know it, it’s the playoffs. Every game is important. Every game has an opportunity for that defining moment. That one instant that makes the whole season worthwhile, that makes you a fan. 

It’s still early in the fall migration season on the Madison in the Park. There are some fun games to watch right now, but those defining moments that make you a fan are yet to come.  

The Northeast Corner

Stormy days will bring great hatches of fall Baetis and Hecuba Drakes to this part of the park, but they will also bring muddy water and higher flows to the Lamar River and Yellowstone Canyon. Keep a close eye on flows here, and consider Slough Creek as an alternative if you’re hoping to fish the Lamar and clarity is prohibitive. 

Keep in mind, now more than ever, there is no need to get out on the water early in this part of the park. The early bird does not get the worm here. Rather he and/or she freezes their ass off until late morning waiting for both their toes and the Cutthroat Trout to warm up.

The Yellowstone River 

Day by day there are fewer and fewer fish remaining in the Caldera section of the Yellowstone River (between Chittenden Bridge and Fishing Bridge). Naturally, each fall the Cutthroat migrate back to Yellowstone Lake where they over-winter and rest before making a return trip back into the river to spawn again next spring. While numbers of fish are dwindling, some remarkable Cutthroat remain in the river, and fall hatches of Baetis and Heptagenia mayflies create an opportunity for technical dry fly fishing. These fish are spread out far and wide. You have to be prepared to cover some ground hunting for your targets, but when you find them, they will be some of the best dry fly targets of the entire season.

The Lewis River

If you’re in search of another technical dry fly opportunity, and you value quality over quantity, consider checking out the Lewis River in its meadow stretch between Lewis Falls and the Lewis River Canyon. This is flat, technical spring creek water resembling the challenging nature of the Railroad Ranch on the Henry’s Fork. Except, instead of targeting trophy rainbows on the Ranch, you’ll be hunting for large browns on the Lewis. There are not many of these big fish, and some days you will swear there are none, but scuzzy weather gets them in the mood and fall hatches of Baetis mayflies can bring them to the surface. 

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 5, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – September 5, 2019

The 2019 fishing season in Big Sky Country has been a wild ride, weather-wise. Dry, stable conditions the past two weeks have been a welcome respite from the daily doses of thunderstorms and accompanying downpours that plagued June, July, and the first half of August. 

But, just when we were all starting to get pretty proud of our Chaco tans, the forecast is predicting the wild ride will continue. Cold, wet weather is set to move into the area this evening with temps dropping 20-25 degrees from what we have been seeing. Rain is in the forecast nearly every day for the next week. 

This weather adjustment is common in Big Sky Country. On most years we see the first fall storm roll through in early September. Many years it brings with it the much anticipated end of fire season, but 2019 has, luckily, not been one of those years as we have enjoyed a smoke-free summer all the way through Labor Day Weekend. 

The first fall storm brings with it a change in the seasonal hatch cycle, and fishing. It’s time to shove those terrestrial boxes aside and start thinking about fall hatches. Bugs aren’t the only critters to activate with a change in the weather. Brown trout all across the area will click into fall gear with cooler temps and scuzzy skies. 

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

This season’s first fall storm will produce good dry fly fishing situations on the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork as well. Beatis, Pseudos, Mahoganies, and, in places, PMD’s should all be active. Don’t forget to keep a honey ant or small hopper in the line up for those extra-snotty targets. 

Cooler weather will be good for the lower river too. Look for Baetis hatches in the afternoons, and consider pulling a streamer around in the mornings and evenings, though stick to the bigger, less weedy runs. 

If you’re trying to scratch that autumn streamer itch, and the weeds in the lower river have you down, check out Warm River to Ashton. You’ll find fewer weeds, and maybe a few respectable browns. 

Yellowstone National Park

The Northeast Corner

Fall weather will bring some exciting changes to the fishing on waters like the Lamar River and  Slough Creek. Unfortunately, rain will wreak havoc on the water conditions on the Lamar and downstream to the Yellowstone River. Slough will remain clear, and fishing there should benefit from the addition of fall hatches like Baetis, and Drakes. Keep a close eye on flows if you’re planning a trip to this part of the park, or better yet, give us a call or swing by the shop for the latest info.

The Yellowstone River

This week’s rain event will likely bring color to the flows on the Yellowstone in the canyon below its confluence with the Lamar River. However, the upper stretches in the caldera will remain clear, and scuzzy weather can have a tremendous impact on this bug factory. Expect to see numerous, different mayflies on the water in the late mornings and afternoons here. Baetis, PMD’s, Heptagenia and several more obscure bugs could all be present. Overcast skies will prove difficult for sight fishing. So, be sure to watch for rises, and limit blind fishing. Although there are still a good number of fish in the river, they are very migratory within the river, and more fish are dropping back to the lake every day. 

The Gallatin River  

The Park stretch of the Gallatin can see great Baetis hatches on foul weather days in September. As always here, expect to see the best hatches and fishing in the afternoon. 

The Firehole and Madison (in YNP)

These two perennial fall favorites have been quietly coming into shape as the days continue to get shorter and the nights cooler. A shift in the weather is all that we were missing for the fishing to truly turn on here. Look for some of the first consistent hatches of fall Baetis to get rolling on the coldest, wettest days. And, don’t forget to downsize your Baetis imitations from the relatively giant size #18’s and #20’s that you were using in the Spring to a diminutive size #22. Like all members of the Beatidae family, the fall Baetis (Blue Winged Olives) are multi brooded with the Spring’s hatches rearing the individuals that hatch in the fall, and each generation is smaller in size. 

 

Madison River

Terrestrial fishing on the Fifty Mile Riffle has been nothing short of outstanding this summer. Sadly though, all good things must come to an end, and this week’s cool wet weather will put the kibosh on hopper and ant fishing for the foreseeable future. Who knows if this will be full knockout punch, or if we will get more rounds to slug it out when Indian Summer arrives. Time will tell. 

In the meantime, we get to enjoy some fun fishing with fall hatches of Baetis mayflies and Rhyacophila caddis. Look to the walk-wade stretch from Quake Lake to Lyons bridge for some dry fly fishing in the afternoons. These will be technical, challenging sessions with selective trout feeding on small, size 22, Baetis and Pseudos. Hunt for your targets, and watch for ultra-sneaky rises, many times in water only inches from the bank. 

This is also a good time to dust off the streamer rod, or just clip the hopper off the end of your six weight and tie on a Copper Zonker or sculpin imitation. 

Hebgen Lake

Just like the terrestrial fishing across the area, the gulper fishing on Hebgen will take it in the shorts this week with the return of unsettled weather, but don’t give up on the season just yet. If good conditions return after this period of scuzzy weather, we could see some more great gulpering as Indian Summer days are often the calmest of the entire year. 

Henry’s Lake

Autumn fishing on stillwaters can be incredible… if conditions allow the angler to get onto the water for meaningful periods of time.  The first winds and cold nights of September bring about major change in the stillwater environment, and especially on the shallower, weedier lakes like Henry’s.  Water temps drop back into favorable ranges for the trout.  The winds reoxegenate the shallows.  And the seasonal change begins the dieoff of the shallow water weeds, exposing vast quantities of food that were hidden from the trout in August.  Find the weed edges, and follow them in towards shore as the month progresses.  Fall is big fish time on Hank’s, so up sizing the tippet isn’t the worst of ideas.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 29, 2019

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – August 29, 2019

As August comes to a close, it’s a time of change here in Big Sky Country. After one of the wettest, most lush summers we have seen in years, the hillsides are finally shifting from green to gold. The days are getting shorter, the mornings frostier. And, the sun’s light is switching from the vibrant blue brilliance of summer to the golden glow of Autumn.

The persistent pattern of unsettled weather, which dominated much of the summer, seems to have finally broken down, giving way to some of the most radiant days of the season so far. Forecasts are calling for more of the same dry conditions through Labor Day weekend and into the first week of September. Daytime high temps should range from the upper 70’s to low 80’s and nighttime lows will be in the 30’s.

Terrestrial Time is still in full swing across Big Sky Country, and with consistent conditions in the forecast there’s bound to be more great days in the upcoming weeks.

We’re busy preparing for this year’s Trout Spey Days, which are only two weeks away. If you haven’t already, mark your calendar for Sept 13 &14. Once again, it sounds like there’s going to be a great turnout of folks coming to West Yellowstone this year to revel in all things Trout Spey. We can’t wait!

We’re also engrossed in plans for our upcoming season in Patagonia. We are thrilled to have a number of groups traveling with us and our partner operations this year, and we have some exciting adventures planned. It’s not too late if you’re still considering a trip for the 2019-2020 winter (November-April). Give us a shout if you’re interested in learning more.

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

It’s a quiet, lazy, beautiful time of year on the Ranch. With the exception of a few lingering PMD’s around the springs, the summer hatches have gone, and so too have the crowds. Tricos, hoppers, and flying ants are the main fare, and a patient, zen-like approach is requisite now more than ever. Fall hatches of Mahogany duns and Baetis are on the horizon, but for the meantime, relax and enjoy the pace of late summer on the Ranch.

Good water flows, and moderate temps have set the stage for fun hopper fishing on the lower river. This isn’t a ramp to ramp slugfest, but there is a chance to catch some beautiful brown trout on hoppers this time of year.

Warm River to Ashton is also a fun stretch right now. As the days get shorter, and nights cooler, brown trout here begin to activate, and there is a chance to find a few good ones with a hopper or streamer. In addition to the big brown game, this is always a solid bet for good numbers of fun-sized rainbows and white fish on nymphs.

The Box Canyon outflow is currently just below 1000 cfs, and nymphing remains solid as always here. Don’t forget to add a hopper to the line up in the Box too.

Yellowstone National Park

With a long stretch of consistent weather in our midst, we may see some of the best fishing conditions of the season in Yellowstone Park over the next couple of weeks. It’s been a roller coaster ride so far this year with the state of weather and water in YNP. Between a prolonged runoff and stormy summer, the fishing has been on start and go status all season. Those days finally seem to be behind us, though, and the fishing will likely settle into a good groove.

Be sure to keep in mind this fun fact about Yellowstone if you’re venturing out to fish in the pending weeks. Most of the legendary fisheries that we visit in the Park at this time of year are at high elevations. As the days get longer, morning temps will consistently drop into the 30’s. Cutthroat trout act like snakes when it’s too cold, lying dormant until water temps rise in the late morning and afternoon hours. There’s no hurry to get to your favorite piece of Cutthroat water if temps are still in the 30’s and 40’s. You might choose instead to check out your favorite greasy spoon for breakfast, or spend some time milling around your favorite fly shop, conveniently located at 39 Madison Ave in West Yellowstone, MT, mere blocks from the entrance to YNP. Another good option this time of year is to spend the cool morning hours hiking into the myriad of backcountry options in the Park, and focus your fishing time to the warm afternoon.

 The Northeast Corner

Cutthroat Trout thrive on consistency. Stable weather and water produce happy trout on the Lamar, Slough, and the Yellowstone Canyon. Terrestrials like hoppers, crickets, and flying ants will continue to drive the fishing here until hard frosts set in sometime in September, but hatches and spinner falls of Epeorus, Baetis, and Heptagenia mayflies can bring good fish to the surface these days too. The first hatches of fall drakes, Timpanoga, are also imminent, adding another exciting bug to an already full lineup.

The Yellowstone River

As we enter into September we usually expect to see fewer and fewer fish in the caldera section of the Yellowstone River in YNP. This year, however, with great water flows and an abundance of hatches continuing through the summer, good numbers of fish remain in popular spots like Nez Perce Ford, and Cascade Creek. It’s a mixed bag of bugs these days on the Yellowstone with several different mayflies on the water most mornings. Emergences and spinner falls of Baetis, PMD’s, Gray Drakes, Flavs, Epeorus, Attenella, and Heptagenia can all be seen in varying levels from spot to spot along the river. Rusty and olive spinner imitations in 12-18 are a must during the morning hours, and a good foam hopper imitation with long rubber legs, or a flying ant pattern will do the trick in the afternoons.

The Gallatin River  

Consistently warmer weather is benefiting the Gallatin as well. As with all of Big Sky Country, hoppers and ants have the top marquee billing.  Remember to let the water temps warm up a bit before you head out, and keep an eye out for the Grizzlies that have been seen between Divide Lake and Bacon Rind Creek.

The Gardner

This is a fun time to explore the pocket water stretches of the Gardner around Mammoth Hot Springs with a big, foam hopper pattern. Come prepared to cover a lot of water, and be on the lookout for the odd rattlesnake.

The Firehole and Madison (in YNP)

Hmmmm…It’s been considerably cooler than normal all summer, nighttime lows have been in the low 30’s in West Yellowstone, and we’re having an epic hopper year…just sayin’.

Blue Squiggly lines…

For the latest installment of “Blue Squiggly lines that, if you can figure out how to get to, fish it, and get back with out having half your ass chewed off by a bear, you deserve to know about” we are highlighting Mountain Creek. This spawning tributary to the upper-Yellowstone River in Thorofare country is staging a comeback, as is the main stem of Yellowstone, and any trip through this area should include a stop to fish both.

 

Madison River

Ok, here’s the deal. This has been, without question, the finest hopper fishing any of us has ever seen, period.

Is it bonkers all day every day? No. Are drift boats doubled up from ramp to ramp all day long? No. Is there a section of river somewhere in the valley that will blow your mind for a few hours every afternoon? Absolutely. Do we find that mind blowing section every day? Nope. How long will it last? Probably for a little while longer, certainly not past the first hard freezes in September.

Hebgen Lake

We seemed to have skipped past summer and straight into early fall on Hebgen this year. It’s felt like September out there most mornings for the last couple of weeks, and soon enough it will actually be September. Cool to downright cold mornings have delayed most of the Callibaetis activity on the lake to the late morning hours. Luckily, fish have been cruising through the shallows and weed beds in the morning hours, before the Callibaetis spinners get rolling, on the hunt for flying ants, damsels, and nymphs. Keep a close eye on the wind forecast in the next week or two. This is the time of year when we get those glorious bluebird days with calm conditions that last through the entire afternoon.