September is a gorgeous time to be in Yellowstone Country. There’s a shift in the light which gives the landscape a warm glow as if you were looking through a faint sepia filter. The mornings are crisp, the afternoons warm, often calm, and there is a sense of ease and simplicity that you don’t have at other times of year.

Fishing in September is a transitional time of firsts and lasts. We are seeing the last of our great hopper and ant days, and the first of our great fall hatches and migratory brown trout. Some years the transition is abrupt as if someone flipped a switch. This year it seems to be taking it’s time.

Conditions have settled down after last week’s storms. The long range forecast shows seasonal conditions with no real chance of wet weather in sight. Lots of bluebird days with highs in the 60’s and 70’s are in store.

If you haven’t done so already, mark your calendar for our second annual West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days event on September 21 & 22.  We will have presentations on Spey casting and fishing, gear demos from a great group of vendors, and of course, a party back at the shop.  Check out the Event Website for all the details and more as we add info about individual presentations. http://bigskyanglers.com/speydays2018/

We’re also looking forward to our second installment of Robert Van Rensburg’s Euro Nymphing Masterclass on October 6. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO on this exciting opportunity to learn from one of the world’s foremost experts on this fascinating technique.

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 Weather Forecast


Yellowstone National Park

Cold nights and shorter days have us looking at the West side of the park for the first time since June. The upper reaches of the Firehole have great water temps, and the next week will be a good time to explore some of the meadows with hoppers and ants. The same thing goes for the Gibbon River right now. Hoppers and ants can produce a nice fish or two in the meadows, and attractor dries are fun below the falls.

It’s not quite time to start talking about fishing the Madison in the park yet. But. Keep in mind, when we start talking about it, we’ve already been fishing it for a week or two.

Fall hatches of Baetis and Mahogany dun mayflies along with flights of flying ants and hoppers can produce some challenging fishing for legendary cutthroat trout on the Yellowstone River in the caldera during September. This is a sight fishing game. So, be sure to hunt for a target and have a well thought out plan before making a cast. These are old, savvy fish that require a skillful presentation.

The northeast corner of the park is experiencing dry, stable conditions right now which is ideal for fall fishing. Bring a full arsenal of terrestrials along with Baetis and fall drake imitations. Don’t expect much activity in the mornings as temps are getting done below freezing many nights.

The Gallatin River remains closed to fishing access from Fawn Pass trailhead to mile marker 27. Fire activity is minimal in this stretch, but continues to smolder in close proximity to the road and river.

Madison River

Step 1.) Tie on your favorite flying ant or grasshopper pattern.

Step 2.) Present your fly with a well-executed dry fly cast, preferably a reach cast, taking care to implement sufficient slack as to account for the multitude of currents between you and your fly.

Step 3.) After a fish has risen to the surface and taken you fly, connect to the fish with a swift hook set raising the rod tip in a quick back cast motion.

Step 4.) Play your fish with a deft game of tug-of-war, never allowing your worthy adversary to get the better of your rod tip.

Step 5.) Once landed, take great care to keep your fish wet and minimize it’s time out of the water as you admire it and snap a quick photo.

Step 6.) Post photo to preferred social media platform and revel in your accomplishment as thousands of friends and strangers click “like”……….

Hebgen Lake

The forecast is favorable for the end of the gulper season on Hebgen. Don’t expect much before late-morning, or even early afternoon, when it’s below freezing in the am. If it’s calm in the afternoon you might see the best gulper action of the season. Be sure to have the regular assortment of Callibaetis and Tricos, but don’t forget flying ants and hoppers.

If you don’t see fish up on top, don’t despair!  As winter begins creeping up on a lake, the trout enter a phase of aggressive feeding to pack on the pounds either prior to the long winter or prior to upcoming spawning runs.  Feeding binges don’t always last all day, but an hour long bite can make 4 hours on the water well worth while.  Fishing subsurface with larger offerings like buggers, leeches, baitfish imitations, and even large streamers can produce the biggest and fattest trout of the season for those willing to put in some time.

Henry’s Lake

With the onset of Autumn here in the mountains, Henry’s Lake has turned on.  The fall feeding binge has begun as the weeds begin to die back, and anglers are seeing some truly large hybrids this year.  During low light conditions, larger leeches and buggers are a smart place to start, matching the weight of the fly and sink rate of your line to water depth.  In brighter conditions, go smaller with scuds or Hank’s Pond classics like the Mighty Mouse.  No fish finder?  Simply clip your hemos onto your fly and lower them down to the bottom to measure, or use the anchor rope.  Find the depth where the fish are feeding through experimentation.  You will know for sure when you get it right.

Henry’s Fork

Next to Green Drakes, there might not be another bug more talked about on the Ranch than the Honey Ant. When they are around fish seem to lose all sense of decency and regard for self preservation. It’s hard to pin them down, and impossible to predict when and where they will be on a given day, but they are mandatory equipment when fishing the Henry’s Fork right now.

As much as we love all the trophy rainbow trout in the upper Henry’s Fork system, September is the beginning of our fall season, and that means it’s time start thinking about those big browns in the lower river again. Cold mornings and evenings can be a good time for a streamer run, and warm afternoons are great for hoppers.

Box Canyon flows have been down around 500 cfs this week. That’s a low, weedy flow right now. There’s still some good nymph fishing to be had in the Box, but you need to concentrate on all of the deepest mid-stream runs and slots.