It’s been an absolute soaker across Yellowstone Country this week. Thunderstorms, heavy rain, and wind have dominated our weather. Streamflows across the region have risen, but we’ve seen some great June fishing in these scuzzy conditions.
Snowpack readings at our Snotel sites for the Madison, Firehole, and Henry’s Fork watersheds have all dropped to, or are reading nearly zero. The high country in Yellowstone Park remains snowy, and we expect to see runoff conditions on rivers like the Yellowstone, Lamar, and Slough Creek for at least a couple more weeks.
Temps have been in the 50’s with heavy rain all week, but the upcoming forecast looks like Summer will make its second coming for the season early next week with sunny skies and daytime highs back up to the 70’s.
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 Railroad Ranch opened last weekend, and as anticipated, the gray skies and cool temps brought out great emergences of mayflies. PMD’s, Baetis, and Green Drakes have been hatching in good numbers. Hatching activity has been late in the afternoon on these cold days, but with warmer weather on the way, we should expect to see a more typical routine of PMD’s and Green Drakes from late morning to early afternoon, and Caddis in the evening.
Flows out of Island Park have jumped up to nearly 1400 cfs as a result of all this moisture. Island Park Reservoir is currently just over capacity, and discharge could possibly remain high into the upcoming weekend if we see more rain.
The lower river fished well this week. Green Drakes, Flavs, PMD’s, and Baetis have been thick on these rainy afternoons. As conditions improve we’re excited to see strong spinner falls of Flavs and Grey Drakes on warmer, sunny mornings and evenings.
Yellowstone National Park
Scuzzy weather brought out thick emergences of PMD’s and Baetis mayflies on the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon Rivers this week as well. The heavy rains bumped flows up to nearly 900 cfs on the Firehole, but fish continued to rise. Water levels are stabilizing now, and have almost fallen back to where they were before all this rain. The billion or so PMD’s that have hatched over the last few days are patiently waiting for an opportunity to form a mating flight. So, be on the lookout for dense spinner falls on the first calm, warm morning or evening in the coming days.
As things dry out and warm back up in the coming week look for two new rivers to start fishing well in the park, the Gallatin and the Gardner. Both of these fun rivers were beginning to look good before the wet weather, and both should provide some consistent nymph fishing, as well as isolated dry fly opportunities with Caddis and PMD’s.
Big flows are back on the Fifty Mile Riffle. Due to this week’s heavy rains, and the fact that the reservoir is at full capacity, Northwest Energy has raised the release from Hebgen, and plans to continue raising it to 2900cfs.
Interestingly, these big flows are relatively clear compared to what we are used to seeing with run off. The Carrot Basin Snotel site is currently reading zero, and most of the Madison tributaries like Cabin Creek, Beaver Creek, and the West Fork are clearing quickly.
Salmonfly nymphs are migrating to the banks in the lower valley near Ennis. As conditions warm up over the next week we could see the first of these big bugs on a big, relatively clear river…could be fun!
Flows are up here as well, though not drastically. After seeing almost 20k cfs a few short weeks ago, a 2,000 cfs bump to 14k doesn’t seem like much.
What is impressive however, is the biblical bump that the Dearborn had this week. On Saturday the river was at 300 cfs. On Tuesday it peaked just shy of 10,000 cfs! That’s an amazing amount of water thanks to what some are suggesting may have been as much as 8 inches of rain in the headwaters over a 72 hour period.
Things should start to dry out and get back to normal on the MO this week. Hopefully flows will continue their downward trend towards single digits and consistent dry fly fishing levels. In the meantime, nymphs are keeping rods bent and nets full.
The wild weather, storm, wind, and rapidly fluctuating barometer have been really toying with the emotions of our local stillwater focused anglers. The stillwater hunt can be as much mental as it is physical at times. Tiny windows of opportunity have been producing some action, but consistency has not been happening this past week. Look for that to improve is weather and water level stabilizes.
There are some early season Callibaetis showing here and there, along with chironomids. Damsel’s aren’t popping in big numbers yet either. Attractor flies fished subsurface in likely areas will probably be your best bet. With the lake at full pool and the weeds not fully developed yet, consider topographic features to be as or more important than weed edges right now, and don’t be afraid to move around and cover water until you find what you are looking for.