Summertime flooded over West Yellowstone in all its glory this past week. Afternoons have been nice and warm, and the hopper action continues to amaze us all. Aside from the fishing, we’ve been rather entertained listening to all the local guides bicker over which hopper imitation or color they think is the best. These perfect summer conditions have made a late appearance this year, and may only last a few weeks before we transition into fall, so don’t hesitate to skip work (or quit work) and take advantage of it. Sunny days are the name of the game, and don’t stay home just because a bit of wind might be in the forecast!
Lastly, keep in mind that warm and dry air are conditions set the stage for dehydration. Even for those who don’t venture far from the vehicle, take the time to pack water and drink enough throughout the day to stay hydrated. Maintaining fluids and nutrition can be the difference maker in comfort level, performance while on the water, and energy levels for tomorrow’s fishing.
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.
The terrestrial fishing switch is currently set to the ON position throughout the Ranch. Flying ants are increasing by the day and hoppers are abundant. Look to throw small hoppers, ants, and beetles especially during the breezy afternoons. Observe the wind’s direction, where it is blowing the bugs, and where they are landing on the water. If there are current seams where bugs are consistently landing, fish may be holding in those lanes and looking up. Caddis hatches have also been consistent. CDC Caddis and various emerger patterns in sizes 14-18 have been productive. Spinner falls are still happening here and there, so be on the lookout for PMD and callibaetis spinners on the water.
Don’t overlook other sections on the Upper Henry’s Fork, including the Box Canyon. Rubber legs, red zebra midges, caddis pupa, and mayfly nymphs are generally a solid combination at any point of the year in this section. Larger foam dry flies in the 8 to 12 size range and caddis dries can bring some surface excitement if you get tired of hooking fish underneath.
Yellowstone National Park
Expect vehicular traffic to die down this week with school starting back up in most places. The Northeast Corner remains the most consistent area for fishing in the Park, and for those looking to add a native Yellowstone Cutthroat to their lifetime “catch list”, now is the time. The big furry critters have really been on the move lately, so carry bear spray and maintain proper bear country practices as well as respecting any and all wildlife you might be fortunate enough to experience.
The Northeast Corner
Dry weather this past week kept the flows and clarity on the Lamar River consistent. Thunderstorms in July and early August caused variation in fishing conditions, but every time the river came back into shape the fish were looking to eat on top!
Slough Creek and Soda Butte are fishing quite well, but the fish may be a little picky. PMD and Epeorious spinner fall could still occur in the morning on sunny days. Crippled PMDs and rusty spinners along with an assortment of hoppers and flying ants, will serve you well. The biggest challenge will not be finding fish, or avoiding other anglers, but finding sections of creek where the bison herds aren’t setting up shop. Only in Yellowstone!!
The Yellowstone River
The Upper Yellowstone is showing glimpses of its former glory this summer. There are plenty of fish still remaining in the river, it’s just a matter of finding them, and if technical dry fly antics are your thing, the Stone is the Zone. Looking for heads during morning spinner falls and evening caddis hatches. For those of you that haven’t already guessed, terrestrials such as hoppers and flying ants can be solid options as well.
The Gallatin River
With higher daytime temperatures the Gallatin may turn on earlier in the day than in previous weeks. This river runs colder than most others in the area, yet daytime heat may have been enough to keep it warm enough to fish dry flies before noon. Hopper-dropper rigs off of the banks, seams, and pockets will a solid bet for picking up a few of the Gallatin’s resident chunky, spunky, silver bullet rainbows. Look for PMDs and caddis to make appearance throughout the day, too, depending on weather conditions.
In previous weeks I mentioned there were regular sightings of two grizzlies near Bacon Rind Creek. There has also been a grizzly bear seen near Specimen Creek; so keep an eye out for it. We haven’t heard of recent encounters with these bears but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the area.
Blue Squiggly lines…
This has become one of the more popular parts of the weekly fishing report. Many of you have come in the shop expressing interest in venturing to one of the countless blue squiggly lines visible on a YNP map. Exploring the backcountry is a true joy and we are glad to know that others share our passion for it.
This week’s challenge is the “Yellowstone Native Trout Slam.” To complete the challenge, you must catch all four of the native game fish species listed in the Yellowstone National Park Fishing Regulations – Yellowstone Cutthroat, Westslope Cutthroat, Mountain Whitefish, and Arctic Grayling. For anglers that catch all four and can provide photo evidence of capture will receive a 15% discount for one purchase in the shop. The fish must be clearly identifiable in the photos, handled properly (keep ‘em wet), and cutthroat rainbow hybrids (aka cuttbows) do not count. All fish must be caught within the Park’s boundary and native fish caught from any legal fishery within the Park count.
For those that take up this challenge, please take extra care of the Park’s native fish species when handling and releasing them.
Hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, hoppers, and… HOPPERS! It’s literally hopper mayhem on the 50 Mile Riffle. Sizes vary from small to giant and patterns in all sizes and colors seem to be producing on any given day. There is potential for solid hopper fishing well into September (fingers crossed). Throw your bugs close to the bank or fish them midriver. The fish are on the hunt.
Flying ant flights have also exploded on the Madison this past week. A small ant fished solo or trailed off of the back of a hopper could be the ticket to board the train. Keep an eye out for the ever-present caddis in the evenings as well.
An upside of a wet/cool summer with limited fires has keep the skies clear and smokeless offering an incredible view of the mountains surrounding the Madison Valley. Few drifts are as scenic as a float on the Madison River.
Gulper enthusiasts rejoice, Callibaetis action has picked up this past week. Warmer temps gave this hatch a major boost and now they seem to be popping regularly. Stillwater anglers have been consistently reporting getting numerous good shots at fish. Stable weather patterns and nighttime lows in the 40s are in the forcast into early next week, so expect the dry fly action to remain consistent or improve. Gulper fishing is never a slam dunk, though. Bring your skills and long leaders. Leaders in the 12’-18’ range are not uncommon amongst regular Hebgen anglers targeting late summer fish on top.
Consistently warm weather is in the forecast and should provide peak conditions for trico action in the mornings. PMDs and callibaetis are still present as well. In the evening, be on the lookout for PEDs (Pale Evening Duns, not the Barry Bonds variation) as trout will key in on those morsels. When rising to mayfly spinners, fish may become selective, and having patterns that imitate exactly the form they are eating is a must. When the dry bite is slow don’t hesitate to nymph small flies deep or strip small streamers in the mornings and evenings.
BSA Guide Greg Falls has openings here and there and few know the Missouri better than he does. Whether you are an experienced fly fisher who wants to learn the Missouri, a traveling angler, or a beginner Greg Falls and our Missouri River guide staff are here to help you fulfill your goals. Call the shop for details!