Hi everyone. Welcome to the Big Sky Anglers Newsletter and Fishing Report.
We’re one week into our official season, Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, and there’s already a lot of changes to talk about.
Cool conditions kept run off at bay through the holiday weekend producing some great fishing throughout Yellowstone Country, but we are seeing a warming trend this week that has water levels on the rise.
It’s no news that we had another banner winter this past year with above average snowpack in Yellowstone Country for the third season in a row. Every year we hope for a long, slow melt that gradually recharges the aquifer and delivers cold water to our fisheries well into the dry summer months. When this happens, it’s the result of a cool, wet spring, which, in Yellowstone Country, lasts through June.
A considerable amount of snow remains on the ground at high elevations. In fact, most sites have reported additional snow over the past week. The Black Bear Snotel above West Yellowstone is showing nearly 80 inches of remaining snowpack, and the Carrot Basin Snotel in the southern Madison range is reporting 60 inches.
So far this spring we’ve seen below average temps and above average precip. That has kept run off mild providing great early season fishing opportunities. Moving into this weekend the forecast is a bit warmer and drier. So, we are expecting to see water levels on the rise, and that will affect fishing conditions throughout the area.
Nighttime low temps look like they will remain below the freezing mark in the high country, and, hopefully, that should keep things from getting out of hand.
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 Forecast
Yellowstone National Park
With yards of snow still on the ground in the high country, the Firehole River remains our best option for fishing in the Park, but warmer weather is sure to bring flows up this weekend. Consistent hatches of PMD’s, Baetis, and caddis have brought fish to the surface in the afternoons and evenings. As flows bump up, and clarity deteriorates, you can expect to see fewer rising fish, but small white or black streamers can create some fun opportunities.
Similar story on the Fifty Mile Riffle this week. Flows from Hebgen dam have been steady around 1200 cfs, but warm weather is bumping up tributaries like Cabin Creek, Beaver Creek, and the West Fork resulting in a steady increase downstream in the valley at Kirby. We anticipate more water coming from these tributaries as temperatures rise, and clarity on the Madison will likely worsen. That’s not necessarily bad news for the fishing. Some of our best early season fishing every year is with rubberlegs and streamers fished close to bank when the Madison blows out. Keep an eye on the flows and weather. And, be sure to give us a shout at the shop if you need a current report.
Warmer weather, and a little sunshine is just what we’ve been waiting for to jumpstart the fishing on the Henry’s Fork. The stonefly hatch has finally started in earnest on the lower river, and forecasts look great to keep them rolling. Sunny skies, and high temps in the upper 60’s to low 70’s are perfect for stoneflies, but it will come with a price as water levels are sure to come up here. Flows on the Fall River have held steady around 2200 cfs, though, we expect to see them rise over the weekend with high temps predicted to be in the 70’s.
Up in the caldera, the Box Canyon continues to produce great nymph fishing. Stonefly nymphs are on the move here too, but we still have some time before the adults are around. Flows in the Box are at roughly 650 cfs, and predicted to remain there through the weekend to finish filling Island Park Reservoir.
In the flat water around Last Chance you can expect to find some Mother’s Day Caddis, Baetis Mayflies, and sparse March Browns. If you are patient and persistent, you may also find some world class rainbows subtly rising to spinners and cripples.
As the temps warm, and many local fisheries become inundated with runoff, Hebgen Lake will stand out as one of the best fishing options in the region. Midges (size 12-16) and early season Callibaetis (size 14) will generate the first gulping fish of the season on calm, warm evenings, and the chironomid game will improve as well. Many of our favorite spots along the north shore and in the arms are weed free at this point in the season. So, it’s a great time slowly strip leech patterns and Callibaetis nymphs on a sinking line.