It’s hard to believe that this is our final report for July. We thought June flew by, but July has just evaporated! We’re half way through our summer season, and Yellowstone Country continues to produce some great fishing. Flows in much of the area are still a bit above average, and the high country remains green; a sure sign of the great moisture year we’re having.
Despite all the moisture, the start of the wildfire season is upon us. Our first local wild fire, the Bacon Rind Fire, is burning in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness 2 miles West of HWY 191 and the Gallatin River. The fire started as the result of a lightning strike on July 16. Smoke can be seen rising from the ridge lines above the Gallatin in the park stretch around mile marker 24. The fire is just over 200 acres, and is fulfilling its natural role cleaning up old, beetle-killed timber.
Afternoon thunderstorms have been frequent this past week, and there looks to be more in the forecast. Seasonal temps with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 40’s are predicted for the foreseeable future.
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.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone River – There is a whole generation of Yellowstone anglers that never new the Yellowstone River in the Park back when it was in its prime. Since the mid-2000’s populations of Cutthroat Trout have been virtually non-existent in this legendary fishery. For years we told stories about the wonderful fishing that “used to be” in classic spots like Buffalo Ford (now named Nez Perce Ford), Cascade Picnic area, or below Le Hardy Rapids. Well, we’re finally starting to see some of the fantastic fishing from those stories of the “good old days” again. Numbers of fish in all size classes have been seen feeding on good hatches like Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMD’s, Cadddis, and Drakes.
The canyon stretches of the Yellowstone River, which have continued to fish well through the years, are fishing well again this year. Flows are still dropping, and more of the river is becoming accessible every day. Golden Stones, and the rare Salmonfly are still flying here, and good fishing can be found if you’re willing to put in some effort to hike into this steep, rugged terrain.
Lamar River – Afternoon thunderstorms have been all around the area this week, but amazingly, they have missed the Northeast corner of the park. Keep an eye on the forecast if you’re planning on heading over to the Northeast corner of the park as these storms are common this time of year, and can quickly blow out the river. A quick glance at the flows can tell you if the river is blown. Any quick spike in flows on the graph is usually accompanied by some dirty water. As soon as the spike comes down, the clarity should be improved.
Fishing has been good on this gem from late morning through the evening with attractor dry flies, as well as imitations of PMD’s, Caddis, and Drakes.
Gallatin – The park stretch of the Gallatin is a great place to escape the heat of the day on these hot afternoons. PMD’s, Caddis, and Little Yellow Stones are keeping fish interested in the surface. The biting flies are still around but not quite as obnoxious as they have been in recent weeks. Smokey conditions may exist in the stretch between the highway bridge around mile marker 24 and Specimen Creek.
Flows on the “Fifty Mile Riffle” have been flatlined at 1330cfs below Hebgen for the past week. That’s nearly 400 cfs higher than the average flow for this time of year. Higher flows have helped to mitigate the effects of afternoon air temps in the upper 80’s in the Madison Valley, but the best dry fly fishing continues to be in the early morning and late evenings with Epeorus spinners and Caddis. Nocturnal Stones have been active in float stretch, and the first few flights of Ants have been seen throughout the valley.
Lake levels are still close to full pond on Hebgen. That means those fish have a lot of space to occupy, and the weeds are still a long way from the surface in many spots. The Callibaetis and Trico mayflies that drive our coveted Gulper Fishing are starting in earnest, and we’re beginning to see some consistently tracking fish. The next six weeks will be the best of the season on Hebgen for Gulpering.
Fishing the famed waters of the Railroad Ranch at Last Chance lately has been a bit like watching your favorite baseball team, the one you’ve routed for since you were a kid, during a season when they’re in last place with a .284 average (Sorry Baltimore Fans!). There’s been some moments to stand up and cheer, and some moments to throw your bag of peanuts and boo. It’s not all bad when your team stinks, though. It’s usually pretty easy to get a seat at the game, and when the rare home run ball sails over the fence it’s memorable and rewarding. Like loyal fans we continue to go to the games with un-ending optimism that today will be the day that the team comes together and pulls off a “W”. It’s halfway through the season. The All Star break is behind us and it’s time for the club to make a run for the postseason. Some of our most exciting games are just around the corner. Tricos, Callibaetis, Ants, Hoppers, Mahoganies are still to come on the schedule. So, keep the faith, loyal fans, and keep going to those games. You never know when stars will align and give you that perfect game, or that walk-off homer.
The Box Canyon has fished well all season, and it continues to be one of the highlights of this fishery. You can still find a few Golden Stones around, and the nymph fishing with small bead head midge and mayfly imitations has been great.
The stretch from Warm River to Ashton is another consistent option for some dry fly fishing with PMD’s and Caddis, as well as consistent nymph fishing.