If you are visiting Yellowstone Country right now you are seeing some of the best fishing this area has to offer. “Prime Time” conditions continue across the region, and the upcoming week looks like more of the same.
We’ve seen some scattered thunderstorms this week, but otherwise, it’s been hot and dry. The long range forecast is showing seasonal temps with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 40’s. No significant moisture is predicted.
We were honored to “take over” the RL Winston Instagram account for the past week. Our very own founder and co-owner Joe Moore has been featured on the site, and he shared photos, tips, and other ideas with Winston’s loyal fan base. If you haven’t already, go over and give the folks in Twin Bridges, Montana a follow at @winstonrods. And, of course, be sure to follow us on Instagram at @bigskyanglers.
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.
Virtue comes in all forms when you’re fly fishing, and many times it’s not in the form of a fish. Often, it’s a perfect cast, a peaceful morning, a beautiful sunset. Nowhere has this been realized more than the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork in recent days. PMD’s and Flavs have been a bit of a bust lately. Are they done? Are they still going to happen? It’s hard to say. The virtue may be in the unknown.
Reports from the lower Ranch and Wood Road area have been better, though still not enthusiastic. Armed with persistence and a flawless presentation, you may be lucky enough to feed one of the resident Rainbows with a PMD, Flav, or Caddis imitation on calm mornings and evenings.
The Box Canyon remains a sure bet for technical nymph fishing. Our resident world-renowned, competitive nymph angler, Robert Vanrensburg has been sharing his knowledge gained from a career in the competitive fishing world with us this summer. His flies and techniques are deadly in environments like the Box Canyon. If you are in West Yellowstone and interested in learning more about “Euro-Nymphing”, stop by the shop and visit with Robert. He has a wealth of knowledge, and is more than generous with both his time and information.
Warm River to Ashton is an ideal spot for a float these days whether you have an inflatable Unicorn or a drift boat. This gorgeous section of river gets more than its fair share of “splash and giggle floaters” this time of year, but it always seems to fish well regardless. Caddis and PMD dry flies can bring some of the river’s many small Rainbows to the surface, and nymphs will be your best bet to target the larger, sneakier Brown Trout.
Yellowstone National Park
Gallatin River – Water temps are finally warming up here. PMD’s, Caddis, Green Drakes, and Golden Stones are all present and accounted for. The flows are still strong, though afternoon and evening sessions have been productive with both dry flies and nymphs.
Slough Creek – Gray Drakes are wrapping up here, but PMD’s and strong Caddis emergences are giving the big Cutts in Slough Creek plenty of motivation to rise slowly to the surface and yawn on your fly.
Lamar River – Water conditions continue to improve here. Flows are still slightly above average at around 1,000cfs and the color is somewhere between clear and fishy green. PMD’s, Caddis, and Drakes are around from late-morning to evening. Keep an eye on water temps here, and be sure to let things warm up before getting started.
Yellowstone River – The upper section of the Yellowstone River (from Chittenden Bridge to one mile downstream of Fishing Bridge) opened to fishing for the 2018 season this week, and we’ve already seen and heard of some beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat being caught. Flows are still above average here and wading deep is dangerous, but Green Drakes, Gray Drakes, Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMD’s, and Caddis can all bring fish to the surface within casting range of the bank. Be prepared to cover some water in search of targets, and slow down once you’ve located some fish. Many times you’ll find these trophy Cutts in groups of several fish or more.
At 1300 cfs flows out of Hebgen are still a little higher than usual for this time of July…and we love that! Temps are good, clarity is good, and the fish are happy. Salmonflies have come and gone. A few Golden Stones can still be found in the wade stretch. Nocturnal Stones are starting to show mid-valley, and in the lower river closer to Ennis. (Nocturnal Stone? No, we didn’t just make that up. It’s a thing. Stay tuned to our blog and newsletter for a Hatch profile on these interesting stoneflies in the coming weeks.) PMD’s, Epeorus, Caddis, Flavs, and the odd Flying Ant have all brought fish to the surface on the Madison.
With hot, bright conditions the best dry fly fishing has been early in the mornings and late in the evenings. Size 18-14 rusty and olive spinners, as well as size 18-16 tan Caddis are your best bets. The sun rises at 6:00 am and doesn’t set until 9:00pm. If you were to just fish a morning session and an evening session, you could see more hours of rising fish than in a full day at other times of the year, and you would still have the rest of the day left to fish!
It’s the very beginning of Gulper Season, and gulpers can be found gulpering when gulpable bugs (Callibaetis) are present in the usual gulper fishing locations. When gulpers aren’t gulping, go deeper with chironomids or buggers, either in the gulper fishing locations, or just off of them in the deeper water. Small and olive is a good place to start this year with subsurface fly choice, as the warm weather will be bringing out the damsels. If this is all sounds like nonsense, then swing by the shop at 39 Madison Ave the next time you are in West Yellowstone and we can try to sort things out for you. Our staff spends a ton of time on the Lake, and we love chasing Gulpers!