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!

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/20/2018

Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 09/20/2018

The transition is over. It’s officially Fall in Yellowstone Country. Temps have been consistently below freezing in the mornings, autumn colors are in full effect, and the light has that unmistakable golden hue and low angle.

Fall fishing is here as well. Fall hatches of Baetis mayflies can be found throughout the area, and migratory brown trout are on the move. The countdown is on. There’s six weeks left until the end of the season. Some of the most exciting fishing of the year will happen in the next month or so. Don’t miss out!

We enjoyed some picture perfect weather this week with sunny skies and highs in the low 70’s, but consistently cooler weather is on the horizon. The long range forecast is showing a chance for moisture this weekend with highs in the 50’s and 60’s for the following week.

The Bacon Rind fire continues to burn slowly north of West Yellowstone. Smoke and fire activity can be seen from hwy 191 along the Gallatin River in the Park stretch. Fishing access to the Gallatin River remains closed from Fawn Pass Trailhead north to the Yellowstone Park boundary. Speed is limited in this stretch to 45 mph.

The second annual West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days event is THIS WEEKEND – 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

For the first time since last June the Firehole river and its neighboring waters, the Madison and Gibbon, top our list of Park waters to hit for the upcoming week. Water temps are in great shape on this side of the park, and fall hatches have started in earnest. With cooler, and possibly cloudier weather in the forecast, you can expect to see great afternoon hatches of Baetis mayflies on the Firehole. Keep in mind that the fall Baetis on the Firehole are a different species than those in the spring. They are significantly smaller, ranging in size from #22 to as small as #26. Long leaders of 10-12 feet and fine tippets down to 5x or 6x are required for these tiny dry flies. Stealth and a carefully presented fly are also mandatory for these late season dry fly sessions. While fall hatches can bring tremendous numbers of fish to the surface on the Firehole, they can be some of the most difficult and selective targets of the year.

Migratory browns and rainbows from Hebgen lake are beginning to make their annual journey out of the lake and into the Madison River in YNP. Fish numbers seem fair for the end of September, but they are not what they will be in a few weeks. All of the usual haunts, from the Beaver Meadows up to the junction, have populated with some fish. For the angler looking to find a big migratory trout on the swing or with a stripped fly, mornings and evenings, when the light levels are low, have been and will continue to be your best bets at triggering a strike from an aggressive fish.

As we begin this fall season on the Madison in the park I would like to offer some  thoughts on angling courtesy and etiquette. This is a fabulous fishery, but it is finite in that there are a limited number of holes that hold fish, and those holes are often separated by great distances. Over the years more and more anglers are fishing the fall run on the Madison, but the limited number of holes has stayed the same. This means you will many times have to share your water with your fellow angler. That doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing as long as you remember a couple of things.

First off, there are a multitude of different angling techniques which can be used to target these fish, and no one has any more or less right to fish a hole because they are or are not fishing a certain way. It’s important to understand the limitations and expectations of different techniques and give appropriate space where required. For example, a spey caster will most likely be traveling in a downstream direction making very long casts while a nymph fisherman will generally be fishing upstream with relatively shorter casts.

Secondly, fall fishing on the Madison in the park was traditionally a very social endeavor. Anglers would gather every year at the same time to fish runs like the Barns Pools. Everyone would take their turn stepping down the run swinging their soft hackles and streamers. In between laps they would wait on the bank for their next turn, and chat about fishing and life. The same people would gather at the same holes during the same weeks year after year. They knew the names of each other’s kids and when someone lost a job or got a promotion. If you arrived at the river and weren’t sure what to do, someone would gladly give you some direction, or invite you to join in on the rotation. Glimpses of this still exist at times on the Madison in the park, especially at the Barns Pools. So, when you arrive at your favorite spot only to find that someone else has beaten you there, I would offer that the best way to figure out how your fellow angler is fishing and what he or she is planning on doing next is to simply have a little conversation. A few quick questions, and an easy “Hey, how’s it going?” Are usually all it takes to decide if you should jump in or head to another spot.

                               Madison River

We may have seen the last of our warm, sunny terrestrial afternoons this past week on the Madison. It’s time to start focusing on hatches of fall Baetis, nymphing, and streamer fishing. Keep a keen eye on the forecast the next few weeks. Whenever you ever see a scuzzy day there will be baetis hatching in the afternoons and fish rising to them. The walk wade stretch of the Madison from Quake Lake to Lyons bridge is especially fun on these gray, wet afternoons.

                                  Quake Lake

It’s no secret that Quake Lake is home to some phenomenal brown trout, and the next month is a great time to target these fish with a streamer.

Hebgen Lake

With the end of the warm weather has come the end of our gulper season on Hebgen Lake. You may still find some rising fish from now until the ice covers the lake, but our days of consistently tracking fish are over until next season. Subsurface fishing remains a good option with leeches, Callibaetis nymphs, and chironomids. Remember, the youth weekend duck hunting season is this Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23.

Henry’s Lake

Hank’s pond continues to produce some impressive fish. Numbers aren’t high, but if you’re willing to grind it out, the rewards are.

Henry’s Fork

Whether you want to gage your skill against a Ranch rainbow, or chase a trophy brown trout in the lower river, the Henry’s Fork has a lot of options right now. Hatches of Tricos, Callibaetis, Baetis, Mahoganies, and the last of the ants can be found in the upper river. Baetis, hoppers, and streamers are the game on the lower river.

The Box Canyon is flowing at around 340 cfs currently, and fishing well with the usual assortment of small beadhead nymphs. Mid stream troughs, slots, and buckets are the places to concentrate your efforts now, and be prepared to deal with some weeds.

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.

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days – September 21 & 22, 2018

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days – September 21 & 22, 2018

Welcome to the information page of the

Second Annual

West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days!

Mark your Calendars:  September 21-22, 2018.  We are thrilled to be partnering again with the Custer Gallatin National Forest and hosting our second annual Trout Spey Days event right here in West Yellowstone.  Check back in the coming months for details on event schedule, presenters, and party times!

Are you already into Spey casting and fishing for trout?  Maybe you have heard of it, but have never picked up a Spey rod, and are interested in getting involved in this super fun way to fish for trout?  This event is open to everyone, regardless of skill/experience level, age, fly shop or industry affiliation, etc.  We had a great turnout last year and have expanded the format this year to add even more opportunities for you to hang out and talk Spey with experienced pros and spend time on the water perfecting your technique.

We had a blast in 2017!

2018 Event Calendar

Friday, September 21, 5pm – 9pm – At the Shop

Big Sky Anglers Fly Shop,  39 Madison Avenue in West Yellowstone
.
Meet a host of experienced Spey casters,Trout Spey anglers, and instructors, and get dialed in to enjoy a whole new approach to trout fishing.  Everyone is welcome! Whether you are just beginning your journey with 2-handed rods and Spey casting, or you are a veteran with the long rod, please stop in and say hi, hang out, and talk rods, lines, casting technique, rigging, presentation, and flies used in Trout Spey and beyond.
.

Saturday, September 22, 10am – 5pm On the Water & 6pm – 9pm At the Shop

On Water Instruction and Demonstrations from 10am – 5pm

Madison River Bridge at Hwy 191, 3.7 miles north of the shop.  Attendees are encouraged to bring waders, snacks, water, and camp chairs, as well as their own Trout Spey gear.  No gear?  No worries, the reps will have all the goodies from the world of Trout Spey for you to try out.

Feedback from last year’s event suggested that folks had a blast and learned a lot but they also wanted more time and space on the water where they could try out gear, practice, and receive instruction outside of the formal presentations.  We listened, and this year there will be 3 main areas of the Saturday Outdoor Event.

  • Area 1 will be vendor tents. All the tents and gear from vendors will  be set up in the parking lot adjacent to the river for the duration of the event.  Attendees can meet reps, talk gear, and borrow kits for a test cast.
  • Area 2 will be an area of river set aside for folks to demo gear from vendors, get casting lessons from experienced staff and attendees, and generally free form it.
  • Area 3 is the “main stage” – a presentation area on the water. This will be the gravel bar area where the main event was held in 2017.  We will be set up for a series of formal presentations, Q&A, and lots of hands on time with Trout Spey gear.

From 10am – 11am things will build momentum, with folks arriving, meet and greets with BSA staff and reps, welcome messages, and time to hang out and drink coffee.

Following that, there will be a series of presentations on the “Main stage”.  We’ve left lots of time for interaction with the presenters and any potential overrun, questions, and extra hands on casting and chaos from each presentation.

Presentations

  • Matt Klara (Big Sky Anglers, Thomas & Thomas, Echo, and Airflo) – Introduction to Spey and Trout Spey Fundamentals.
  • Kurt Kruger (Far Bank – Sage, RIO, and Redington) – Rod and Line Setups for Different Trout Spey Applications
  • Alice Owsley (Riverside Anglers, Winston, and Scientific Anglers) – Presentation and Fishing Tactics for Trout Spey
  • Jake Zirkle (G. Loomis) – Spey Casting In Tight Quarters and Around Obstructions
  • Open mic?

Scroll down for Presenter Bios and learn more about these interesting folks!

Party at the flyshop from 6pm – 9pm 
Following conclusion of the On Water portion of the event, there will be an hour break and then we will kick off the party back at the flyshop from 6pm – 9pm.  BBQ, beverages, gear giveaways, swag, and more.

Click the Map for Directions

.


Vendors

We are excited to have a great group of industry reps and presenters on hand this year from these great vendors.  There is no better place to try out Spey kits before you buy, or to dial in your existing Spey rod with a new line.

RODS from:

LINES from:

REELS from:

WADERS & APPAREL from:


Presenter Bios

Matt Klara – Big Sky Anglers and Prince Outdoors (T&T, Echo, Airflo) – Matt’s journey into Spey casting and fishing began with trout back in 2000, thrashing around with a borrowed 14 ft 9wt rod and an old Rio Windcutter line on the Madison River just outside of West Yellowstone.  His technique and understanding of two-handed casting and fishing have come a long way since then, to say the least, and so has the equipment available for trout Spey.  At one point he left Montana for Oregon, where for 7 years, nearly all of his fishing was done with two-handed rods.  Matt moved back “home” to Montana in 2015 but still enjoys swinging the two-hander.  He has also become keenly interested in incorporating Spey principles into everyday trout angling situations with single-hand flyrods, dry flies, nymphs, wets, and streamers. Currently residing in Helena with his wife and young son, Matt’s the guy that folks at Big Sky Anglers look to for help with their Spey casting, gear selection, and more.  Whether its Spey for trout, steelhead, or salmon on the two-hander or single-hander, he is happy to teach and share what he’s learned on his own journey.

Kurt Kruger – Far Bank (Sage, RIO, Redington) Rep – Kurt’s Spey angling foundations lie on the legendary winter steelhead rivers of Washington State, and the wilderness salmon flows of Alaska.  His life changed forever when he moved to Montana and discovered Trout Spey.  His enthusiasm for the pursuit is unmatched, and swinging light two-handed rods for fish that are holding and feeding rather than migrating is now a central focus of his angling.   As the regional sales rep for Sage, RIO, and Redington, Kurt’s rig is always filled with the newest and best goodies in the Trout Spey world.  From his home base in Bozeman, he continues to carry out his mission of making the world a better place for anglers.  We are excited to have him presenting at this year’s event.

Alice Owsley – Riverside Anglers Inc., R.L.Winston Rod Co., Scientific Anglers, Simms – Alice’s first casts with a Spey rod were on the Madison River back in 2001 one night hanging out with fellow fishing guides. Her more serious casts with a two handed rod weren’t until the fall of 2009 while preparing for her first steelhead trip on the west coast. Her boyfriend at the time (now husband) started teaching her how to cast a two handed 7 weight rod that fall but always had a soft hackle fly tied on to fish. Fishing for trout with a two handed rod was always secondary to practicing for steelheading for the first few Autumns, but now Alice targets trout with a Spey rod throughout the fishing season around West Yellowstone.  When not fishing for herself, Alice is an outfitter and guide on the Madison River and in Yellowstone National Park. She owns and operates Riverside Anglers in West Yellowstone.   https://riversideanglers.com/

Jake Zirkle – G. Loomis Fly Rep – Jacob Zirkle was born in Washington, and at the age of 6 his family moved to Alaska where his love for the great outdoors started. At the age of 7 his grandfather gave him the best present ever, an Orvis Clearwater 7wt fly rod. He would rent 3m videos at the local library so he could teach himself the art of fly casting. He spent all his free time casting on local lakes and a neighborhood creek catching trout, steelhead, salmon, and dollies. Traveling to see family and competing in Soccer tournaments he was able to explore many fisheries in WA, OR, ID, and MT.

In 2000 he started his guiding career working in Cooper Landing, where he learned that the fishing industry is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Within two years he started Alaska Fly Water Guides and spent the first year flying out to remote rivers and doing 5-7 day float trips. He found his way back to his home water, the Kenai where he worked till 2015.

Throughout his career guiding he always looked for the next thing to bring his customers and push them to become better anglers. Spey casting was one of the crafts he took on, in 2006 he began the journey with a class from friend and Sage Rep George Cook. Over his time with two handed rods, Jacob focused most of his attention casting to monster trout with short speys.

In 2016 he took a job as the NW GLoomis Fly Rep and spends his time traveling his territory showing off new sticks to others who love fly fishing with 2 handed rods. Jake’s favorite GLoomis two handed rod is the new IMX Pro Short Spey Series, paired with today’s short head systems make chasing trout in the West a blast.


The on water portion of this event is being hosted on the public lands of Custer Gallatin National Forest.  Thanks to them, of course, for supporting this event!

Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter for updates on this event and more.

Email Newsletter Signup
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.