Get Involved

Get Involved

This post includes no fishing tips, fantastic stories, or casting secrets, but the topic, should you choose to participate, may greatly influence your angling and the angling of many others for the better.  This post is a call to encourage everyone out there to get involved and participate in the regulatory or political element of your local fisheries management.  Consider making “GET INVOLVED” one of your new angling mantras.

In Montana, and other states in the US, our fish and wildlife management agencies are continually adjusting regulations in order to, ideally, best protect fish and wildlife populations while also providing opportunities for the public to fish and hunt.  We have access to so much public land and water here in the western US.  It’s fantastic, and hopefully we can keep it that way.  We all care about our fisheries, but are we all doing enough to consider ourselves stewards of the resource?  As members of the public, we are all co-owners of our public lands and waters.  We have the right, and perhaps the duty, to be involved in the process and decisions which influence management of public land and water and the creatures which call those places home.  Our level of involvement, and our choices we make in both election and non-election years, can have a huge impact on fishing, hunting, and other outdoor recreation in the future.

Voting for representatives who reflect your own values is, of course, the first step, and should be relatively easy to accomplish for everyone here in the US.  Getting involved in other management processes occurring in non-election times here in Montana is relatively easy as well, and I assume it is similar in other places.  Our agencies all have protocols and processes in place which allow for public input and commentary on issues both simple and complex.  As such, it is surprising to me how few sportsman are informed and actually get involved.  Being involved starts with being aware.  Keep an eye out for news of proposed regulation changes and public hearings.  Watch the newspaper, social media, or other information sources.  Get on agency email lists.  Pay attention.

The next part requires more effort.  Do your homework.  Research the issues.  Formulate questions and opinions.   Discuss the issues with your friends and angling companions.  Then, you need to SHOW UP and participate.  That may mean writing emails or letters to fish and game agencies or your government representatives at the local, state, or federal level.  It may mean missing that big football game (round or oblong ball version) on TV so you can attend a public hearing.  It may mean missing out on a day afield or on the water.  It may mean making your friends and fishing buddies aware of the issues and encouraging them to get involved as well.  Setting an example takes time and energy, but ultimately I believe it is worthwhile.

Through involvement, you will meet plenty of good and interesting people with both similar and differing opinions to your own.  It’s important to listen and try to understand all the views involved and all the user groups concerned with the issues.  I think that through this involvement you will learn a lot about people as well as the process of local rule making.  You might also make some great friends and contacts who invite you to enjoy some great angling that you never knew about.  Most importantly, by getting involved, you will have your voice and opinions heard and included in the overall decision making process – something that is important, relevant, and ultimately very satisfying.

Take Care and Fish On,


Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/11/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/11/2018

I would say with confidence that fall is here and here to stay. We had both snow and rain with more on the way, and temps are ranging from the high 30’s to 40s’ for the rest of the week. As Steve mentioned in the last report, the battle of the seasons has begun and I’m pretty sure fall is about to knock out summer very shorty. Actually based on the weather, the knockout should be taking place on Thursday with scheduled snow throughout the day. Despite the persay colder, uglier weather the fishing here has been quite good. From the Henry’s Fork to sections of the Park and the Madison in Montana, we have fishing to satisfy any type of fall angler.

As far as surface bug activity is concerned we continue to see Baetis, Caddis, Tricos and Pseudo’s. For subsurface activity, emerging stages of these insects can be mimicked with size 12-16 soft hackles both swung on a tight line or dead drifted. Streamer fishing the Madison on these blues feeling days, both in Montana and the Park along with the Henry’s Fork around Ashton can find you very pleasing fish that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The Fork around Last Chance can give you some great opportunities at some good fish on drys as well.

As far as preparing to fish within our little 60 mile radius here in West Yellowstone, I would say have a 4wt for smaller water in the park like the firehole, a 5wt for your bigger water Baetis fishing on the Madison/Henry’s Fork and a 6wt for all your streamer’s. Oh, I almost forgot, dont forget your euro nymphing rod if you’ve got one. Come in and pick Roberts brain here at the shop if you are less familiar with euro nymph fishing or want to up your game.

So if opportunities of colored up browns and hot rainbows or delicate presentations with dry fly imitations interest you, I’d say you’re in luck. 

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

A large percentage of our fishing being done in the park is locally here on the west side. Both the Madison and Firehole Rivers are great places to fish but two very different waters.

Right now, as many of you know, the healthy, mature, Browns and a unique fall-run species of Rainbow are venturing their way up the Madison towards their spawning grounds further up river. As far as targeting these fish its a kind of pick your poison type of deal. Swinging soft hackles, nymping and streamers are all an option. These migratory fish don’t rise very readily do to the nature of their physical state but some areas of the madison do have the type of waters and conditions so be on the lookout.

Then you have the Firehole, which has the most bug activity given the geological features which make this water unique. Hatches of Baetis can been seen through the afternoon and can be fished with drys and, swinging smaller soft hackles or nymphing. Swinging smaller leeches and streamers is a fun choice as well.

Madison River

Nothing drastic has changed as far as our last report, but I would say with dropping temperatures and flow changes the Browns in these waters will be feeling a little more frisky. On brisk, wet days Baetis can be seen later in the afternoon. Focus on slicks and softer water where little nypmhs have a chance to swim up and hatch. Imitating the emerging stage of insects with soft hackles or something with a little CDC within the first foot of the water column could also be a unique way to catch these fish if it’s not really happening up top.

On cloudy days break out the streamer rod for more aggressive fish. Swing it in the runs, strip it in the buckets and high stick it in the pockets. The most effective streamer fishing is going to be with a sinking tip line but you could use a floating line for shallow pocket waters.  

Missouri River

It’s October and that means some of the BSA crew is up on the MO stripping streamers and headhunting for those grand Missouri River trout. Joe, Jon, Hoovie, and Earl are all guiding up there now, and many of the other BSA crew members are swinging through for some fun fall fishing. Gray, scuzzy days have generated some of those monstrous hatches of fall Pseudos that the Missouri is famous for. A few larger Baetis have been seen in addition to a mysterious, cream-colored mayfly that we are trying to identify. In between pods of rising fish, small streamers fished on floating lines or light sink tips have kept the crew busy. Stay tuned for more reports from the Mighty Mo through the end month.

Henry’s Fork

Over on the Henry’s Fork you’ve got a little bit different climate given the slightly lower elevation compared to West Yellowstone and YNP, but somewhat similar fishing game in general. Beatis and Pseudos around #20 are the ticket when it comes to dry fly fishing both around Ashton and Last Chance.  If you’re fishing the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork at this time of year you’ll likely see very few people and find some good fishing. The bugs aren’t very big bug but cool, cloudy days can produce strong hatches. As always, long Leaders and and small flies are a must here. The drag on those small drys is much more noticeable because of their size so be sure to bring your best game.

Fishing streamers on the lower river below Ashton will be good with streamers, nymphs, and dries as well. Those Browns will be in a similar mood as the fish in the Madison system near West Yellowstone.

Hebgen and Henry’s Lake

Late autumn is an often overlooked time of year to target stillwaters, probably because there are so many other outdoor activities to do, and because getting stuck float tubing when a snow squawl blows in is about at Type 2 fun as things get. Between fall streamer fishing, dry fly head hunting during baetis and Pseudo hatches, and big game and bird hunting, the lakes are often ignored. Stillwaters can be moody at this time of year, with passing storm fronts changing conditions from day to day. But the trout know that a long winter is coming, and they are feeding HARD when conditions are suitable. Think bigger in terms of fly selection, as leeches and baitfish have replaced the small mayflys of summer as a main food source. As vegetation dies back, scuds are also left homeless and wandering, making for an easy snack for the fish.

Hatch Profile – The Mayfly Formerly Known as Pseudocloeon

Hatch Profile – The Mayfly Formerly Known as Pseudocloeon

Every fall in Yellowstone Country there is a tiny mayfly in the Baetis family that is responsible for some outstanding dry fly fishing. These miniature mayflies range from size 20-26, but what they lack in stature they more than make up for in abundance, and mystique.

Massive emergences of these bugs are commonplace in the fall on legendary rivers like the Henry’s Fork, Madison, Big Horn and Missouri. For generations fly anglers have called this bug Pseudocloeon (Sue-doe-clee-on) or Pseudo for short. However, in recent years the entomology community has re-classified the taxonomy so many times that it is hard for the average angler to keep up; consequently, many anglers have no idea what these little olive mayflies are actually called.

Iswaeon anoka is the current genus and species of the mayfly formerly known as Pseudocloeon edmunsi, Pseudocloeon anoka, Heterocloeon anoka, Baetis punctiventris and Plauditus punctiventris. As is always the case, fish could care less about taxonomy, and old habits die hard. The name Pseudocloeon is so ingrained in fly fishing culture that it is hard to imagine a day when fly bins have the name “Anoka” on them instead of “Pseudo” or even “BWO”. There’s also no telling how many more times this little bug will be renamed.  So, in deference to fly fishing history, and practicality, the mayfly formerly known as Pseudocloeon edmunsi, now known as Iswaeon anoka will be referred to as “Pseudo” for the purposes of this article.

The genus Pseudocloeon was first described by Frantisek Klapalek in 1905 from samplings of mayflies he obtained in mountain streams that drain volcanoes in Java. Similar specimens were found in Argentina, and of course, the American West. The main differentiating feature of these mayflies is the absence of secondary wings. Most mayflies in their dun (subimago) and spinner (imago) stages have large primary wings and small secondary wings. Pseudos are missing these secondary wings all together. Aside from their diminutive size, this is one way to tell them apart from their larger Baetis cousins who are sometimes hatching at the same time in the spring and fall.

Pseudos, like others in the Baetidae family, are multi-brooded. There is a hatch in the spring and one in the fall. Eggs laid in the spring have a shorter gestation period as water temperatures are warmer during the summer, and spawn the fall hatches. Eggs laid in the fall have a longer gestation time as water temps are cold in the winter, and spawn the spring hatches.

Pseudo nymphs are strong swimmers and inhabit a wide range of habitat types from pea gravel to large cobble, and long strands of weeds. These tiny (size 22–26) nymphs have two elongated tails and a body coloration that ranges from light olive to tan with dark brown wing pads. Their aptitude for swimming makes them difficult targets for feeding trout; therefore, nymph imitations fished deep are often unproductive.

As good as Pseudo nymphs are at swimming, they are equally lousy when it comes to emerging. Nymphs ascend quickly from the bottom of the water column then pause just under the surface riding the current for some time before they struggle to break through the water’s surface tension. Small nymph imitations fished in, or just below the surface, although challenging, can be very effective.

The emergence process is a clumsy affair for Pseudo duns too. Many duns have difficulty freeing themselves from their nymphal shuck. Half-emerged duns ride the surface for great distances with their trailing shucks trapped in the water’s surface tension. These vulnerable emergers are an easy meal for feeding trout, and patterns dressed with cdc or deer hair to imitate a partially emerged wing, and synthetic materials for a trailing shuck are a must have for selective fish.

Once emerged, Pseudo duns will display a variety of body coloration depending on location and sex which can range from light olive to a vibrant, chartreuse green. Duns have dusky gray wings with no secondary wing, and two long tails that are a striking, chalky white.

Emergences occur during the afternoon, and unlike other Baetis mayflies, strong hatches do not rely on scuzzy weather. Pseudos are perfectly content emerging in vast quantities on sunny days as well as cool, cloudy ones. Though, on especially warm, sunny fall days emergences might not happen until an hour or two before dark.

Pseudo spinners generally return to the water at dusk, and are often present in the drift with duns and emergers during evening emergences. They too lack a secondary wing, but their primary wings are glassy clear. Body coloration can span the full spectrum of greens, but is many times bright apple-green. Adult female Pseudos lay their eggs under water. After mating the females will routinely land on stream side objects and crawl into the water to deposit eggs.

The mayfly formerly known as Pseudocloeon has undergone massive changes in it’ s taxonomy. Yet, despite several new names and an altogether different genus, it remains the same tiny mayfly that hatches in incredible numbers producing memorable dry fly sessions with trophy trout on many of our favorite rivers in Yellowstone Country.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/04/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/04/2018

Fall in Yellowstone Country is like a heavyweight title fight between two legendary contenders, Summer and Winter. You never know how the fight will unfold, but you always know who will win. Some years it’s a long, punishing slugfest. On other years, it’s a quick KO. Either way, Winter always emerges victorious in the end.

This year the battle began with Winter taking a surprise cheap shot at Summer before they even bumped gloves at the center of the ring. A strong storm brought rain and snow to Yellowstone Country in the end of August, and the fight was on. September was a blow for blow bout between cold, wet storms and brilliant blue, sunny skies.

As we begin October, Winter has Summer up against the ropes, and looks to be dealing a round of punishing body blows. The upcoming forecast is showing a prolonged period of storms beginning this weekend and lasting through next week. High temps are predicted to be in the 30-40’s and lows are going to drop into the teens in West Yellowstone. Accumulating snow is also a possibility.

It’s been a spirited brawl so far this year. Will this be it for Summer? Is the fight over, or will Summer climb back into the ring like Jack Dempsey for another round? No one knows for sure.

What we can say for sure is that the upcoming forecast, inhospitable as it is, will produce some excellent fall fishing conditions. Fall fishing revolves around hatches of Baetis mayflies and streamer eating brown trout, both of which flourish during periods of scuzzy weather. This year’s heavyweight slugfest has developed into a scuzzfest, and you can’t ask for a better situation on area rivers like the Madison, Firehole, Henry’s Fork, and Missouri.

So, pack your puffy layers and Gore-Tex. Load your thermos and streamer box. Dig out your warmest socks and gloves. The next round of this year’s match is about to start. It’s sure to be a cold and wet one, but it might also be the most exciting round of the fight!

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

If the forecast holds true, this will be an ideal week to fish the Madison and Firehole rivers in YNP. Scuzzy weather conditions will have migratory fish on the move,  and active for most of the day in the Madison. On the Firehole you can expect to see good hatches of Baetis mayflies, though emergence times may be delayed until later afternoon hours if the temps are as cold as predicted. So, don’t be afraid to spend more time on the Madison swinging those flies, and head up to the Firehole in the afternoon. Then, as the hatch wanes on the Firehole, make your way back to the Madison for an evening session before dark. Keep an eye out for late hatches of Baetis and the fly formerly known as Pseudocloeon on the Madison in the evenings as well. It’s not widespread, but during heavy emergences those big, migratory fish will rise in certain places on the Madison in the park and provide some of the most exciting dry fly fishing of the season.

Whether you are lucky enough to run into rising fish on the Madison in the park or up on the Firehole, remember these late season hatches are small (size 20-26), and these fish have been fished to for the entire season (some more than others). The dry fly game this time of year is as technical, and rewarding, as it gets. Long leaders, stealthy approaches, and perfect presentations are a must.

Madison River

Scuzzy, october afternoons afford experienced anglers an excellent opportunity to test their dry fly skills in the walk-wade section of the Madison River below Earthquake Lake. Large browns and rainbows are in the sneakiest of spots at this time of year, oftentimes right along the bank, and they want nothing more than to eat a well-presented dry fly. The trick, of course, is presenting a size 22 dry fly without drag in these tight quarters. Long, fine tippets and precise casts that implement just the right amount of slack while positioning the line and leader in the perfect spot so as to avoid drag, are as crucial as they are challenging.

Cold, wet October conditions bring out impressive emergences of Baetis mayflies on the Madison. This is always an afternoon activity, and the colder the weather the later the hatch. In absence of a hatch, prospecting with a single, small Baetis imitation can produce a subtle rise from an impressive fish. Focus your efforts on the calm water and slicks in pockets near the bank. If you’re wading up to your knees, you have most likely spooked a good fish to get there.

October is also a perfect time to hone your Euro-nymphing skills on the walk-wade stretch of the Madison. Flows are low and clear, and those prized fish have seen every type of strike indicator known to man by this point in the season. If you are clumsily pounding a strike indicator into the calm, clear pockets of the Madison around $3 Bridge or Raynolds Pass right now, you might as well be using a Common Merganser duck as a bobber, because those trophy fish that you are after respond in the same way; they leave. When done well, presenting nymphs on a tight line allows for a stealthy presentation without the risk of lining fish or spooking them with the plop of an indicator. It’s also ultimately effective for detecting subtle strikes on small nymphs from wary fish.

Henry’s Fork

In all of angling literature there may not be a more heralded river than the Henry’s Fork, and a more eloquent correspondent than Ernie Schwiebert. The following is an excerpt from Schweibert’s Nymphs Vol I depicting an October day on the Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork with another fine ambassador to the river, Rene Harrop.

“…Harrop and I walked downstream to the top of The Braids.  Few fish were working yet, and we sat happily in the grass before wading across. There were whiteface cattle beyond the river, and the sun was still bright on the half-domed summit of Grand Teton. We were talking about explorer John Colter and what this country must have been like in 1807. As the light finally began to drop, Harrop stood up to observe the lines of drift under the opposite bank.

“They’re starting,”he said, his amazing eyesight scanning the distance.

He was right. Several good fish were working quietly in the shadow of the opposite bank. Harrop led the way, and we negotiated the river slowly, watching for bank-feeders as we crossed. The fish were on the hatching Pseudocloeon duns when we started casting, but soon switched to the tiny chartreuse-bodied spinners. I found the fish opposite me more receptive to floating nymph imitations dressed in the Harrop style, with fat balls of pale synthetic dubbing to suggest the unfurling wings, until the hatching subimagoes ebbed and they switched to spinners.

These pale green-bodied Pseudocloeon edmundsi (Heterocloeon anoka) flies had been hatching since early fall, sometimes mixed with Baetis parvus (Diphetor hageni) in the late afternoons. They were literally all over the current. We both took fish steadily that evening, and fish were still sipping spinners when I saw Harrop working slowly down stream. I was still playing a good fish when he finally arrived, careful to mute the pressure waves of his wading. He held back to avoid frightening the big fish until it finally surrendered to the net.

“Good fish,” he said. “We’d better start back.”

He led the way in the gathering darkness, expertly negotiating the diagonal passage between two brushy islands where the current had shaped a shallow crossing before it shelved off again into a deeply scoured hole. The river itself was shallow, with a pea-gravel bottom, and we quartered downstream toward the opposite bank to avoid fighting it’s flow. Grand Teton and it’s sisters still glowed in the distance. Big flocks of geese were passing in the darkness, barking and yelping as they circled overhead. We had nearly reached the opposite bank when hundreds and hundreds of geese began dropping in the darkness, Circling and settling all around us, and filling the night with their magic.

Schweibert penned this decades ago, and evenings like this are still commonplace today. The same bugs are still hatching, although we have renamed them, and you can find fish rising in many of the same spots.  In addition to the Pseudos and Baetis that Schweibert describes you can expect to see Mahagony Duns, and the last of the Tricos in the coming week.

Schweibert’s account is a great description of fishing back in the “Good ol’ Days”. It’s also a perfect reminder that not much has really changed over the years in the Ranch, and these will be the “Good ol’ Days” for future generations. At a time when so many of our Western fisheries are at odds with development, and increased use. It’s significant to have a place like the Railroad Ranch stretch of the Henry’s Fork where time seems to stand still.

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/27/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/27/2018

We’ve seen a little bit of everything this week in Yellowstone Country. From rain and snow to sun and blue skies; from hoppers and ants to Baetis and streamers this autumn has gone deep into the batting order, and it’s only the end of September. We have six weeks left until the close of fishing in Yellowstone park, and the un-official end to our 2018 fishing season. It’s ramping up to be a great fall, make sure you don’t miss out!

Another strong autumn storm rolled through the region this week bringing valley rains and mountain snows, as well as thick hatches of Baetis mayflies. The storm clouds broke on Tues to reveal the most brilliant blue skies we’ve seen since last June, and a fresh coating of snow in the high country. Fall hatches of Baetis mayflies brought fish to the surface this week on rivers like the Madison, Gallatin, and Firehole. Mahogany duns joined the Baetis flotilla on both the upper and lower Henry’s Fork adding a much-welcomed, larger bug to the mix of small dry fly options.

The upcoming forecast shows a chance of scuzzy weather again on Sunday, but otherwise, it looks like more sun and blue skies with temps in the 60’s.

Our local wildfire, the Bacon Rind Fire, continues to smolder persistently above the Gallatin River roughly 23 miles north of West Yellowstone. This week’s storm tempered the blaze, but dry windy conditions afterward fueled more fire and smoke. Fishing access to the Gallatin River within Yellowstone Park from the Fawn Pass trailhead to the northern YNP boundary remains closed. The speed limit is 45 mph through that area as well.

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days II is a wrap. Huge thanks to everyone who came out with an open mind ready to learn or try something new. Also, thanks to all the vendors and presenters for sharing their knowledge and expertise with everyone. Last, but not least, thanks to Custer Gallatin National Forest for helping us share our awesome public lands and waters with you all. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!

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

Fall storms are just what we hope for when fishing the Firehole and Madison Rivers in YNP. Scuzzy weather brings out the best in these late season fisheries, and this latest storm was no exception. Robust hatches of fall Baetis emerged during the scuzziest days and fish responded with surface feeding activity the likes of which we haven’t seen since last spring. Migratory fish from Hebgen lake were noticeably more active as well. Lower light levels had these lake fish on the move and feeling more aggressive. With sunny skies in the upcoming forecast you can still expect to see some rising fish on the Firehole, but not in the same numbers or in as many locations as the scuzzy days. Bring some small soft hackles to swing on the Firehole during periods without surface activity. On the Madison, concentrate your efforts to the morning and evening hours on bright days, and consider a slower, deeper presentation.

The Madison River in Yellowstone Park is far from the only river with migratory brown trout in the greater Yellowstone area. This is the perfect time of year to get out and explore some of the smaller, less-popular brown trout fisheries. Large brown trout in dozens of other area waters are moving and staging in preparation for spawning season. Their fall colors are getting richer, and their levels of aggression are getting higher.

This is also a great time of year to hunt for fall hatches of Baetis and Hecuba Drakes on Slough Creek and the Lamar River. Remember, cutthroat activity levels are directly proportional to water temps. When it’s 26 degrees at 8:00 am in the Lamar Valley your time would be much better spent with a thermos of coffee and a spotting scope looking for wildlife. Give those fish until the late morning or even early afternoon hours to warm up and get into the feeding routine.

Madison River

Baetis and streamers, hoppers and ants, scuzzy and rainy, sunny and clear; September’s multiple personality disorder continues on the Madison River. One day it’s gray and raw, the next it’s sunny and glorious. Just when we think the terrestrial bite on the Madison is surely over, the sun comes out and fish start looking for them again. It’s not the fast and furious action of last month mind you, but there are still some quality fish looking for hoppers and ants. Baetis hatches were intense during scuzzy weather days this week, and fish rose to them in select places, especially in the walk wade water from the Slide down past $3 Bridge. Large Browns are staging in some of the biggest and deepest runs on the Madison in the valley as they prepare to move towards spawning habitat. A streamer fished low and slow in these waters could be the ticket to social media stardom or a heightened sense of self worth.

Henry’s Fork

The Warm River to Ashton stretch on the lower Henry’s Fork is a terrific fall fishery. Every game that we like to play with a fly rod is available and fishing well these days. Deep nymphing under an indicator? Slam dunk! Whitefish are feeding voraciously in preparation for fall spawning season, and it’s nothing to put 50 of these strong fighting native fish in the net on a given day. Technical dry fly fishing with small flies? You bet! Daily hatches of Baetis and Mahogany dun mayflies have fish looking up throughout the stretch including some large browns sipping in sneaky spots along the bank. Dry/Dropper in shallow riffles and runs? Deadly! Everything from fun-sized to kilo-class trout occupy these shallow areas, and a dry/dropper rig is a great way to target these fish with a nymph, and still get the occasional eat on the dry fly. Early morning streamer run? Of course! Some of the biggest browns in the lower system come out of this stretch every year during salmonflies in the spring, and with streamers in the fall. Euro-Nymphing with the long rod? Assassin level, probably shouldn’t be allowed it’s so effective! With the proper technique and flies you can confidently approach any given run and expect to catch every fish in there…ok, unless your name is Robert Van Rensburg, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s damn effective.

Elsewhere on the lower river fall hatches of Baetis and Mahogany duns have some large fish looking up and feeding consistently. Otherwise, hoppers continue to dominate the dry fly game while streamers have produced early and late, and nymphs like a zebra midge have been good in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch anglers have been busy fishing a variety of bugs to increasing snooty, trophy-sized rainbow trout. Tricos, Callibaetis, Baetis, Mahoganies, ants, and hoppers have all been in the fly rotation and produced fish at one time or another. It’s a beautiful time of year to be in the Ranch hunting for that one true fish of a lifetime.

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Miller’s Dirty Dumpster

Big Sky Anglers Featured Fly – Miller’s Dirty Dumpster

  • Originator:  Ivan Miller
  • Hook(s): TMC 5262 or equivalent, #4 (2 of them)
  • Thread: Danville Flymaster Plus Size A, black
  • Eyes: Medium Dumbell Eyes, Red, Lead or Non-lead
  • Articulation: 25 pound monofilament, and 2 to 3 plastic beads
  • Tail 1: Marabou, black barred olive; Saddle hackle tips, black; Flashabou, rainbow
  • Body 1: Lite-Brite, rainbow
  • Wing 1: Marabou, black barred olive
  • Tail, Body, and Wing 2:  Same as 1
  • Hackle Collar: Schlappen or webby saddle hackle, black

If you have spent time in West Yellowstone over the past 20 years, there is a chance you have either run into or at least heard of Ivan Miller.  Among other things, Miller is one of the fishiest streamer anglers that any of us have known.  He puts in the time, and also has a knack for fly design and presentation that just triggers the big grab from over sized brown trout.  This pattern is one of Ivan’s (and our entire shop staff’s) go-to streamers in both spring and fall.  It fishes best with an aggressive presentation that includes manipulation of the fly using both the rod and stripping the line.  Incorporating abrupt, but pronounced pauses brings out the extra wiggle from this articulated beast, and seems to also trigger the hardest strikes.  We are lucky to have these in our bins for visiting anglers, and we also stock all the tying materials for those interested in spinning up their own Dirty Dumpsters in this and other color combos!