Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/13/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/13/2018

It’s mid-September in Yellowstone Country, and Fall continues to creep in with every passing day. The days are getting shorter, the mornings colder, and more and more aspens and willows are alive with autumn colors.

We saw warm temps and the return of smoke over the last week, but cooler weather and the chance for precip is in the upcoming forecast.

With colder nighttime temps, terrestrial season is coming to an abrupt end. Ants and hoppers are still around many of our area fisheries, but colder weather has made them less active, and fewer of them are finding their way into the water. It’s time to keep a keen eye out for fall hatches like Beatis, Mahogany Duns, and October Caddis. The streamer box is a must have from here on out as well.

High winds and dry cold fronts continue to fuel the Bacon Rind fire which is burning between 23 and 30 miles north of West Yellowstone. Smoke is visible from the blaze above the Gallatin River in Yellowstone Park. Access to the Gallatin River has been closed from Fawn Pass trailhead north to the boundary of the park. Highway 191 is open, but the speed limit remains 45 mph through that stretch.

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

Water conditions have been stable in the northeast corner of the park for several days and there is no appreciable precip in the forecast, but you should still keep an eye on flows before making the trip to fish the Lamar, Soda Butte, or Yellowstone in the canyon. You just never know what the weather will do up in the high country, and it doesn’t take much moisture to impact the Lamar when it’s only flowing at 160 cfs. Sometimes it seems like all you need to muddy the water is for two or three bison to relieve themselves streamside. With cold nights and cooling water temps there’s no need to be on the water before late morning. Terrestrial fishing is still holding strong in the Northeast Corner, but it may take until the afternoon for fish to really key on hopper and beetle patterns. Keep an eye out for fall hatches of Beatis and Drakes too.

As the season chugs along, there are fewer and fewer fish in the caldera section (between Chittenden Bridge and Fishing Bridge) of the Yellowstone River. Mature fish slowly move back to Yellowstone Lake where they spend the winter preparing for next year’s spawning run / summer full of feasting on hatches and terrestrials. There’s still time to catch one of these magnificent Cutthroat trout, though, and September can have some outstanding hatches of Baetis and Heptagenia mayflies.

Water temps on the upper Firehole River around Biscuit Basin and Mallard Creek are in great shape, and we’ve seen good numbers of fish rising to hoppers, caddis, and the first of the fall baetis hatches. Just like this Spring, we’re seeing consistently bigger fish on this iconic fishery.

The Gallatin River is now closed to fishing access from the Fawn Pass trailhead north to the park boundary due to fire activity associated with the nearby Bacon Rind Fire. We all have our fingers crossed for a good shot of moisture to put that fire down before we miss much more of the fall season on the Gallatin in the Park. Who knows when that will happen, but those fish are going to be well rested whenever it is.

Madison River

As cliches go, no cliche is more cliche than “all good things must come to an end”. Cliche or not, it’s true, and it’s frustrating. I wish Michael Jordan was still soaring from the free throw line with his tongue hanging out.  I wish they had never canceled the Fall Guy (Look it up, Millenials. It was awesome 80’s TV). I wish the cost of a new Ford pick up wasn’t double the average salary of a fishing guide. And, I wish the fantastic hopper fishing that we had all been enjoying for the past three weeks on the Madison hadn’t come to a screeching halt this week. It was bound to happen, and unlike the nostalgic 80’s references, we will get to fish hoppers on the Madison again next year. Though, this year was so good that you can’t help but wonder how long we will have to wait until we see it like that again.

There’s still plenty of fun fall fishing to look forward to on the Madison. October Caddis, Fall Baetis, and Rhyacophila caddis have fish feeding actively both above and below the surface. The Madison’s brown trout are getting more rambunctious with every passing day, and the streamer game is getting better and better.

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

Cloudy, September days are a special time in the Ranch, and the forecast is looking favorable for the next week. Mahoganies and Baetis, as well as the last of the Tricos and Callibaetis are at the top of the list. It’s probably a good idea to keep the terrestrial box handy too.

The Warm River to Ashton stretch has been a standout so far this fall. Hoppers, nymphs, and streamers have all produced some nice brown trout recently in addition to the standard supply of “fun sized” rainbows and gracious whitefish.

The lower river below Ashton is cooling down nicely and seeing some of the first good fall hatches of psuedos and baetis.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/06/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/06/2018

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.

Hatch Profile – Rhyacophila Caddis

Hatch Profile – Rhyacophila Caddis

Aquatic, stream-side entomology can be intimidating. There’s all that Latin to remember, and just when you start to feel like you know what you’re talking about, the taxonomy changes, and there’s more Latin to learn.

Luckily for fly anglers, trout don’t speak Latin and they could care less about taxonomy. A strong understanding of the behavioral characteristics, and the habitat requirements of different insects is far more valuable to the average fly fisher than the ability to differentiate between Baetis tricaudatis and Baetis bicaudatis or distinguish posterolateral spines from gills.

Few insects exemplify this more than Rhyacophila (Rhy-uh-co’-fil-uh) caddis. This unsung hero of the caddis family is vastly important on Yellowstone Country rivers like the Madison and Gallatin. Yet, how they live, and where they live in our waters is a mystery to many anglers.

The most unique characteristic of Rhyacophila caddis is also the most important for fly fishers to understand. These are free-living caddis.  The larvae don’t build a case, or spin a net. Rather, they roam freely on the bottom substrate of our rivers preying on other insects, detritus, and aquatic vegetation. This means that for the 30 or so weeks that it takes a larvae to mature and prepare to pupate, Rhyacophila is in the drift and available to trout making it one of the most abundant food sources in rivers where it is found.

Finding Rhyacophila caddis requires knowing a bit about their anatomy. Rhyacophila larvae have no gill structures, instead oxygen is absorbed directly through the skin. This demands water with high levels of dissolved oxygen. The cold, high gradient sections of the Madison, Gallatin, and many smaller headwater streams in Yellowstone Country have such water, and produce strong populations of Rhyacophila caddis.

The larval and egg-laying stages of Rhyacophila caddis are by far the most vulnerable to predation by trout, and the most important to imitate for fly anglers.

Larvae range in size from 14-16, and have a bright, almost neon-green and mottled-brown coloration. In absence of a shelter, Rhyacophila larvae will drop anchor lines of silk to secure themselves to rocks as they graze for food. This is a tenuous predicament in the rough and tumble waters of a river like the Madison, and a great number of larvae become dislodged, both accidentally and deliberately, into the drift.

Pupae are strong swimmers and quick emergers making them a tough target for feeding trout. Once they’ve left the water, the size 14-16 adults, with olive bodies and charcoal-speckled wings, spend little time on or near the water until females return to oviposit.

Female egg-layers dive to the bottom of the water column and lay their eggs with a string of silk on stream bed rocks. Once the eggs have been deposited, the females then drift haplessly in the current, slowly ascending back to the surface where they struggle to re-emerge from the water column and lay spent.

Two species of Rhyacophila caddis are found in Yellowstone country, R. bifila and R. coloradensis. Both species have virtually indistinguishable characteristics, and it is of no value to the fly angler to differentiate between the two.

While Rhyacophila larvae are present in the drift throughout the entire season, it is in the months of September and October, when all of our highly publicized summer hatches are gone and aquatic insects are at a premium, that these caddis are most important.

So, whether you memorize the Latin or not, be sure to remember these free-living, size 14-16, bright green caddis larvae the next time you are nymph fishing in fast water throughout Yellowstone Country, especially in September and October.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 08/30/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 08/30/2018

Fall has come early this year. It’s our final report for August, and conditions feel more like mid September across Yellowstone Country.  A strong fall storm rolled through the region this week bringing soaking rains, and high mountain snow. Last week’s smoky haze has been replaced by blue skies and crisp air. It’s a welcome change, albeit a few weeks early, but more seasonal conditions are in the forecast for the upcoming week.

This week’s scuzzy weather brought out strong hatches of Baetis mayflies, got the brown trout feeling a bit rambunctious, and temporarily put the hopper fishing on the back burner. Whether it arrives early or not, you need to be flexible when fishing in the fall. Conditions dictate the best strategies, and rolling with the punches is the key to success as an angler. If it’s warm and sunny, it’s hopper and ant time. If it’s cool and scuzzy, it’s streamer and Baetis time. Be sure to have the full arsenal available every day this time of year. That goes for your clothing gear as well. Tomorrow’s forecast for West Yellowstone is calling for morning temps in the 30’s and afternoon highs near 70. That’s puffy coat in the am, flip flops in the afternoon kind of weather. It’s also the time of year to have your waders, rain gear, and a puffy layer with you at all times. When storms roll in temperatures plummet. Warm and sunny can quickly turn into dangerously wet and cold.  These conditions can either end the day, or provide some fantastic fishing, depending on whether or not you are prepared with the right gear.

In addition to the changing seasons, this week also saw our first Euro Nymphing Masterclass with our very own resident expert, Robert Van Rensburg. It was a smashing success, so much so that we have added another class for 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.

We are counting the days until 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/

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

Water conditions have been on a roller coaster ride in the northeast corner of the park lately. This week’s stormy weather brought high muddy water conditions to the Lamar, Soda Butte, and Yellowstone Canyon. Flows are on their way back down, and should stabilize with the upcoming forecast, but it’s still a good idea to check the USGS site or give us a shout in the shop before making the trip. When conditions stabilize on the Lamar and Soda Butte expect to see some good fishing with terrestrials, and the first fall hatches Baetis and Drakes.

Cold mornings have us revisiting park favorites like the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon Rivers. After giving them a break during the last couple of warm months, it’s time to add these iconic fisheries back to the hit list. The best of the fall fishing is still a ways out, but you can find some exciting hopper fishing on these rivers as water temps start to drop.

The Gallatin remains closed to fishing from the Fawn Pass trailhead north to milepost 27 due to the Bacon Rind Fire. The speed limit in that section of the park has been reduced to 45 mph and travelers can expect intermittent delays. Access  to the Gallatin River from milepost 27 to the northern boundary of the park is open.

Madison River

Fishing the Madison river lately has been like reuniting with a long lost buddy for a night out on the town. All the old stories are still funny, that cheap beer that you used to drink tastes amazing, and it feels like you can pick right up where you left off after 10 or 12 years. It’ been a long time since the river has fished this well at this time of the year. If you haven’t floated the Madison yet this year, there’s still time. September is amping up to be another banner month on the 50 mile riffle. If you have already experienced some of this season’s great fishing, consider yourself lucky. Maybe this is the new normal. We all hope so! But, you never know when we will get another perfect combination of water conditions, hoppers, and fish numbers again.

Hebgen Lake

Just as gulper fishing was shifting into high gear, Mother Nature pressed the pause button. Stormy weather put the gulpering on hold for a few days, but the forecast looks promising for the upcoming week. Expect to see good numbers of Callibaetis and Trico spinners as conditions stabilize this weekend. Remember, the best action will be later and later in the day from here on with morning temps getting colder and colder. We can see some terrific afternoons of gulper fishing this time of year when the wind stays down!

Henry’s Fork

These crisp, cool mornings are an awesome time for a long walk into the Ranch. The smoky skies have cleared, and the Tetons have a fresh coating of snow. Bring some spinners, ants, hoppers, and a few mahoganies just to be safe. Stop by the Grubsteak before you go to pick up a lunch, and meet the new owners.

As we turn the page into September it’s time to start thinking about all of those trophy brown trout that live in the lower river. Shorter days, and colder nights get those fish feeling more and more predatory. Hunting that one, truly large brown with a streamer or hopper is a rewarding game to play in September on the lower river.

The Box Canyon remains a great option, and a true ambassador of our sport. Big fish have been a little harder to come by lately, and the weeds are definitely a factor, but the fishing has been consistently productive with small stonefly, midge, and mayfly bead heads.

Back By Popular Demand:  Euro Nymphing Masterclass with Robert Van Rensburg – October 6th, 2018

Back By Popular Demand: Euro Nymphing Masterclass with Robert Van Rensburg – October 6th, 2018

Back by popular demand, Big Sky Anglers’ Euro Nymphing Masterclass with Robert Van Rensburg.  The first class was held on August 25th, and there has been enough additional interest that we are going to run another class this October.


I took Big Sky Angler’s first Euro Nymphing Masterclass with Robert Van Rensburg and was pleasantly surprised by the knowledge I gained that day.  Although I have been experimenting with the process, I had been struggling to improve over the past year.After a day with Robert I was able to have a better grasp on the important “tuck cast” and how to implement your left hand during the drift.All this took place, one on one, while standing in the Madison River. As I looked around that day almost everyone in the class was catching fish.There are a lot of great fishermen in the Yellowstone area but not a lot of good teachers. Robert seems to have achieved both.   

– Bill Ruppel, Island Park, Idaho


If you’ve been by the fly shop this summer you may have met Robert Van Rensburg.  Quiet and humble, Robert’s demeanor betrays his level of experience and knowledge when it comes to fly fishing in general, and Euro Nymphing in particular.  A native South African, Robert has traveled the world, fished in 17 countries, and guided in 4 countries, including in Chile with BSA co-owner Jonathan Heames.  He has also traveled as an instructor of both fly casting and fly tying.  Robert’s deep knowledge of Euro Nymphing stems in part from his background in competition angling.  He has represented South Africa at 13 World and Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships, 11 times as the national team captain.  Robert held the seat of President of the National body of fly fishing in South Africa for 6 years, and has since been named as an Honorary life President.  Despite his background, experience, and accolades, Robert remains humble and true to the roots of fly fishing.  He loves being on the water, challenging himself to learn new things, and appreciates the beauty of an 8-inch cutthroat as much as the heft of an 8-pound brown. We are lucky to have him on the BSA staff and are thrilled to be able to share his knowledge through courses A valid Montana fishing license required.  It is recommended that you bring your own waders.  Feel free to also bring any tackle that you own that is specific to Euro Nymphing.like this one.

Please read on for more info, and don’t hesitate to call the shop for more info or to get signed up for the class.


Course Information  

Saturday, October 6th – 8am to 5pm  

8am-Noon Off the water instruction at Big Sky Anglers fly shop, 39 Madison Ave, West Yellowstone, MT

Noon to 1 pm – Lunch is provided

1-5 pm – On the water instruction

Cost – $150 per person, lunch is included

A valid Montana fishing license required.  It is recommended that you bring your own waders.  Feel free to also bring any tackle that you own that is specific to Euro Nymphing.

Euro-Nymphing specific rods/reels/lines will be provided.

Special thanks to Kurt Kruger of Farbank for providing a selection of awesome demo SAGE ESN Rod setups for these classes!

Class size is limited to 10 students.  Spots are expected to fill up fast.

Course Curriculum

The following topics will be covered in detail over the course of the day.

  1. Defined: The difference between Euro/Tight-line Nymphing and Indicator Nymphing.
  2. Essential gear for Euro Nymphing. Rods. Reels. Lines.
  3. Setting up tackle.  Balancing reel to rod.  Joining fly line to backing and leader.
  4. Leader formulas and lengths. When to use various leaders and leader formulas. Knots.
  5. Flies.  Importance of profile,  movement and trigger points. Size of fly, size of weighted beads.  Effects of colored beads on flies. Understanding UV and florescence in tying materials.  Understanding hook design and using the correct hooks for varying patterns and bead weights. Tying materials that give the best results . Weighting flies.
  6. Setting up tippets with multiple flies. Where to place and fish weighted flies on the leader.
  7. Tippet materials.  Diameter,  brand, fluorocarbon and nylon.
  8. Reading a river. Understanding water hydraulics.  Water temperature.  Fish species.  Time of year.
  9. Tuck cast. Tuck and reach.  Oval cast. Roll cast. Casting distance. Double haul . Use and importance of non-casting hand.  Casting for shallow and deep water.
  10. Presentation and Drifts.  Drag free drifts. Fishing 360′ degrees.  Line management.  Inducing takes.
  11. Fishing in the wind.
  12. Detecting takes and striking fish.
  13. Playing and landing fish. Landing nets.
  14. Practical session on the river with demonstrations plus one-on-one instruction.

 

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 08/23/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 08/23/2018

The end of our summer season is rapidly approaching here in Yellowstone Country. It’s colder and colder every morning, and the sun is setting earlier every night. The lush, green hillsides of July have dried to a golden amber, and terrestrials are the main fare on many area waters instead of PMD’s and Caddis. It’s still busy in town, and on the water, but it’s not the frenetic pace of a beehive that we saw a month ago. It’s always bittersweet to see the seasons change, but that means fall is just around the corner, and some of the most exciting fishing this area has to offer is yet to come.

We’ve seen some cooler, cloudier weather across Yellowstone Country this week, which is a welcome change for both the wildfires and the fishing.

Our local blazes continue to burn, but this week’s moisture has contributed to little or no growth in their total acreage. For. The most up to date information, and daily reports on wildfires, check out the Incident Information System website.

The Bacon Rind Fire continues to impact travel on hwy 191 north of West Yellowstone. The speed limit in that section of the park has been reduced to 45mph, and travelers can expect intermittent delays.

More unsettled weather is in the forecast this week.  The weekend looks warm and sunny with highs in the 70’s, but another system rolls in on Monday bringing cooler temps and the chance for showers and thunderstorms.

Preparations continue 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/

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

Thunderstorms have produced muddy water in Yellowstone favorites like the Lamar and the Black Canyon this week, but water conditions have cleared up just as quickly as they blew out. With more storms in the forecast be sure to check flows online or call the shop for an update before making the long drive to that part of the park.

The caldera section (from Chittenden Bridge to Fishing Bridge) of the Yellowstone River remains a great option for some technical sight fishing with dry flies to exceptional Cutthroat trout. Spinner falls have fish looking up in the mornings and evenings, and terrestrials like hoppers, beetles, and ants will produce in the afternoons.

It’s prime time in Yellowstone’s backcountry right now. Water conditions are good. Trail conditions are good. The biting flies are done for the season (for the most part). And, backcountry trout are feasting on terrestrials. If you have been dreaming of a backcountry sojourn this summer, but haven’t made any plans, this is a great time of year to do an impromptu DIY trip. Check with the backcountry office for any last minute cancellations. You just might get lucky and find an opening on some of the most sought after spots like Slough Creek.

This might sound nuts, but the end of August is the perfect time to break out the two-handed rods and start practicing. The Madison in the park is an excellent spot for these sessions as crowds are non-existent this time of year, and you just might run into one of the first big lake fish making their way up into the system.

Madison River

Hoppertunities abound in the Madison valley. (Please excuse the cheap malaprop. It’s low-hanging fruit, and I promise to only use it once a year. ) Terrestrial fishing with hoppers and flying ants has been strong on the Madison when the sun is shining, and cloud cover has brought out the very first of our late season baetis hatches. A few Caddis and Epeorus remain, especially in the walk wade stretch and near the slide. Cool water temps are keeping trout happy through the afternoon hours. This may be some of the best fishing we’ve seen on the Madison at this time of year in a long time.

Hebgen Lake

Calm, hazy mornings this week have produced the best Gulper fishing of the year so far. It’s been chilly in the mornings. So, the best spinner activity has been in the late mornings and early afternoons. Look for fish targeting midges in the early am hours. These early targets will be tough, but can provide some awesome fishing before the Callibaetis get rolling.

Henry’s Fork

Late-August is one of our favorite times on the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork, and this one has been particularly good. We are still seeing some PMD’s, mainly around the areas influenced by springs, as well as tricos, and flying ants. It’s a great time of year for a long, morning walk into the Ranch. Bring your patience, the best reach-cast you can muster, and a keen eye for the multitude of different insects in the drift. This isn’t a numbers game; it never is on the Ranch, but you will get up close and personal with some remarkable rainbows, and you will remember each and every one that you target.

Both the Box Canyon and Warm River to Ashton stretches have produced consistent nymph fishing, as well as a great refuge from the wind this week. With kids going back to school, the “splash and giggle” crowd has fallen off, and we’ve had some lovely afternoon floats in both of these canyons.