Happy Fourth of July from Big Sky Country!
The Summer season is in full swing here in West Yellowstone, though cool, wet weather still has it feeling like springtime. Daytime temps have been consistently below average, and you can count on one hand the number of days that we have seen in the past month that didn’t require Gore-Tex at some point.
Relatively chilly conditions preserved our snowpack through June, but our two closest Snotel stations, Black Bear and Carrot Basin have both finally reached zero. Snowpack remains strong in the high country in Yellowstone park and in the Tetons though, and snowmelt will influence streamflows here for several more weeks.
We celebrated the Third Anniversary of our Grand Opening last Saturday with a wonderful party, and fun filled day of events. It was great to see so many of our close friends and family, and welcome so many new customers. Thanks for helping us celebrate our third season at 39 Madison Ave. We couldn’t do it without you!
There is some truly exciting fishing happening throughout Big Sky Country this week. 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 Henry’s Fork is one of those places that will get under you skin. The hatches, the fish, the landscapes, the people; they are all addictive. The past two weeks have illustrated that more than any other in recent years, and next week looks to be more of the same.
The Lower River continues to turn out a seemingly endless supply of mayflies. Just when we think the Green Drakes have wrapped up for the season, another wave of giant green sailboats appears, and fish feed on them as if it were the first emergence of the year. Gray Drake Spinners continue to crank on the Lower River when conditions permit, as do Flavs, PMD’s, Caddis, and Golden Stones.
Up in the caldera, the flat water around Last Chance and the railroad Ranch has come alive with Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Caddis, and PMD’s. We’ve seen more than our fair share of stormy weather lately, but when nicer conditions prevail, it’s been a procession of bugs from morning through night. Morning spinner falls of PMD’s will give way to emerging PMD’s and Green Drakes followed by a brief break in the late afternoon to have a quick bite to eat and prepare for the evening spinner falls of PMD’s and Brown Drakes.
The Box Canyon stands resolute as a stalwart ambassador of our sport, churning out one great day of fishing after another for wild rainbow trout. The Box may be one of the best places in the world to hone your skills as a technical nymph fisherman. However, there are some gratifying dry fly games playing out here these days as well. Golden Stones continue to trickle off in sections of the canyon keeping fish of all size classes on the lookout for a well presented Golden imitation. The flat water reaches of the lower canyon also have some exciting dry fly opportunities right now with strong PMD and Caddis activity along with Green Drakes.
Yellowstone National Park
We’re getting closer and closer with each passing week to seeing more of the Park waters come into shape and begin fishing well. However, we’re still not there on many of the perennial favorites like The Lamar River, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte. Keep an eye on the flows, and give us a ring in the shop for the most recent reports about stream conditions and hatches in the park. We should start seeing a lot of new options opening up in the next week to ten days.
In the meantime, the benefits of a strong snowpack and cool, wet spring continue to play out on the Madison and Firehole. It’s a rare year that fishing carries on into July on the Firehole, but water temps in the upper river are still cool, and we are still seeing strong hatches of Caddis, and PMD’s.
Conditions on the Gallatin in the Park are shaping up quickly. Water temps are still icy, but the clarity is good and some caddis activity has begun. Watch for the big stoneflies to make their way up into these waters over the next week to ten days.
Fishing the Madison recently has been like taking a trip in a drift boat time machine back to the 90’s. It’s July 4th and the river is still a tiny bit green, it’s cold and wet, the salmonflies are barely up to Ruby Creek, multiple people have been seen in neoprene waders, and I swear I heard Even Flow blasting from a car stereo at McAtee today.
Flows are great, clarity is great, the big bugs are on the move, but cool, stormy weather has made for some inconsistent action. Fishing on the Fifty Mile Riffle excels at this time of year with warm, sunny, windy weather as the fishing generally revolves around an immense population of fair weather loving caddis and stoneflies. The stormy weather of late has not been optimum for stoneflies and caddis, but it has produced some vigorous emergences of mayflies like PMD’s and Epeorus.
Warmer, more conducive weather is in the forecast for next week. By the time you are reading our next report, the big bugs should be up in the walk wade waters around Three Dollar Bridge, and we should be seeing strong evening emergences of Hydropsyche Caddis.
Stormy weather always makes the lake difficult, but when conditions have permitted, the fishing has been excellent. It’s time to start fishing Callibaetis nymph imitations in addition to your standard Chironomid and leech games. Warm calm evenings will also yield the first caddis hatches of the season and some fun dry fly fishing right before dark.
The Missouri River in late June and early July is a dry fly paradise, no doubt about it. PMDs have been the name of the game and the hatch has been prolific to say the least. Duns, cripples and spinners will all play their part throughout the day. We find that a well placed rusty spinner fools just about any fish on the Missouri this time of the year. Caddis are starting to come into play more and more and tricos will be on the menu in the next few weeks, if not sooner. The past ten days or so have been some of the best dry fly fishing anywhere in the West; it even rivals the Henry’s Fork at times for the spot and stalk game which we all love to play.
Flows are sitting at 4800cfs and river temps are topping out at 60.5 degrees; things are just right on the Mighty Mo’ and should continue to be for quite some time. Joe will be up there all of next week and Jonathan will show up the following week.
It’s salmonfly season on the Gallatin as well, and stormy weather is a factor here too. Not only do storms delay the hatch on the Gallatin, but they can bump flows and muddy the water to boot.
As weather conditions stabilize (fingers crossed) over the next week, expect to see good Salmonfly and Golden Stone fishing throughout the canyon and around Big Sky.