Fall is one of our favorite times in Patagonia. When the Andes get their first coating of snow, and the Beech trees begin to turn yellow, orange and fire-red I get excited about Brook Trout on the Corcovado, Brown Trout on the Rio Grande, and Pointing Dogs locked on a Coveys of wild Quail. There is enough fishing and wing shooting in Patagonia to last more than a lifetime. It’s impossible to see it all in two short months.
Just like it is here in North America, the only problem with fall is that it is way too short. There’s never enough of those glorious amber-lit days. Wouldn’t it be great to have two fall seasons? If you’re like me, and you can’t get enough fall fishing and wingshooting, consider a trip to Patagonia this March and April and get another autumn.
Our good friends at El Encuentro have put together a fantastic Fly Fishing / Wingshooting combination package, and are offering a special rate for the few remaining dates available in March/April 2019. I have been on the ground in Patagonia working with the El Encuentro team to develop these programs for the past two seasons, and will be there there again this year to host visiting anglers and wingshooters.
Book your March/April 2019 trip now and receive 20% off the standard package price. Call or email Big Sky anglers at email@example.com to learn more about the Ultimate Patagonia Sporting Adventure and available dates.
West Yellowstone is home for Big Sky Anglers. Not because we all happened to end up here on a whim, but because West Yellowstone is located in the heart of what is arguably the greatest fly fishing region on earth. We have chased trout with a fly rod all across this planet, and West Yellowstone is where we choose to live and work. We enjoy easy access to famous and lesser known waters in three states (Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming) as well as throughout Yellowstone National Park. The diversity of waters around here is truly astounding, and finding good or great fishing any day between April and November is usually just a matter of knowing where to look. One lifetime is not enough to explore and learn all of the rivers, streams, spring creeks, lakes, and ponds within a two hour drive. Expand that driving range to three hours, and 10 lifetimes would probably not be enough!
Within this vast area of remarkable fishing there is no more strategic a location to serve as your home base for a fly fishing trip than the town of West Yellowstone. It is truly in the center of all the prime fishing waters giving you maximum options and flexibility. No matter what conditions you have during your trip, or what fishing situations you’re hoping to find, West Yellowstone has options throughout the entire fishing season.
We love nothing more than sharing all that West Yellowstone and the surrounding area has to offer to visiting anglers, but for years we have struggled to find a lodging solution for our guests that allows us to provide the personalized, unique experience that we want. The Golden Stone Inn was born from this desire to provide a customized, unforgettable experience that goes above and beyond our guests’ expectations.
The Golden Stone Inn will come to life in May. It is being built with you, our extended family, in mind. As you walk up to the main lodge, you will notice the outdoor fire pit is inviting you to sit down and relax with a beer and cigar after an invigorating day on the river. Upon entering you are welcomed; we have been expecting you! You notice the incredible selection of our favorite local brews and a variety of wines for any taste. This place is different. You have a warm, comfortable feeling. As you settle in, you notice the patios and chairs outside each of the rooms. Another perfect place for that beer and cigar! Upon entering the cabin, the wader hangers and the rod rack are perfectly situated. You hop on your computer to check out the latest fishing report from Big Sky Anglers as wi-fi internet is available throughout the property.
Peering out of your cabin to the outdoor fire pit and you see them! A few of the Big Sky Anglers fishing guides have dropped by. They are there merely enjoying some time with avid fisherman, swapping stories with their friends. There is no place they would rather be than with their own kind, their extended family.
West Yellowstone is a special place to us, and we know it is to you too. More than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day, we hope the Golden Stone Inn will be a place where we can cater to you, our extended family, and share with you all of the amazing things that make West Yellowstone so special.
Head on over to the new website and take a look at the Golden Stone Inn. It’s a work in progress. So, check back often for updates, and be sure to follow and like the new social media pages to stay current on this exciting project.
The Golden Stone Inn will be open in late May, and we are currently taking reservations for the 2019 season. CLICK HERE for more information or to make a reservation.
We look forward to welcoming you to your new home away from home in West Yellowstone!
Welcome to the fourth edition of Dispatches, a series which reports on the Big Sky Anglers crew as they travel the globe in search of angling adventures. Each edition of Dispatches features an interview with one of our angling pros while they are on assignment or traveling for fun. Our crew might be hosting anglers in a remote destination, guiding clients on our home waters, or exploring new fishing territory at home and abroad.
This edition features BSA media manager and head strike indicator, Matt Klara who is reporting on a recent trip to fish the Mississippi delta out of New Orleans, Louisiana. Matt has made many trips to fish the marsh with his good buddy Capt. Greg Moon. This time he took his family along for some fun in New Orleans. Give a listen to what Matt has been up to, and stay tuned for more reports from the BSA crew.
“Where are you right now?”
“What is your target species? Why did you pick this location and time for that species?”
“How are you targeting these fish?”
“What’s one thing that’s happened on your trip so far that you didn’t expect?”
“What are the conditions like?”
“What’s been your favorite piece of gear on this trip so far, and why?”
“What’s the best thing you’ve had to eat?”
“Have you learned any new words or phrases?”
“What’s your playlist been on this trip…what tunes are you listening to?”
Yellowstone National Park will close to fishing this coming Sunday, November 4th marking the unofficial end to the 2018 season for us in Yellowstone Country. That also means that this will be the last of our weekly fishing report emails for 2018. Thank you so much to all of you out there who have read our reports. Remember, you can get these reports, along with other content emailed to you before it goes live on the blog. All you need to do is sign up for the email HERE. We’ve had some really good feedback from many folks about what they like/don’t like and about ways we might improve content for next year. Please keep that coming! Of course, we will be sending out a few newsletters over the winter with updates from South America an other travels as well as the goings on here in West Yellowstone.
It’s late fall now, and we’ve both seen and heard reports of active spawning activity among brown trout, brook trout, bull trout, and mountain whitefish occurring on waters across western Montana. Please leave these spawning fish alone! They are the future of fish and fishing. We hope that there will come a day where we no longer feel compelled to make these posts, but sadly there are anglers (and even some guides) out there who continue to target actively spawning fish. If you aren’t familiar with spawning activity among salmonids, please take some time to educate yourself. If you find big trout in shallow water that seem to not spook from your presence, that is a sure sign of spawning activity. But a lack of fish in the shallows doesn’t mean it’s all clear. If you see redds (fish nests) it is critical to avoid the area while wading or dropping anchor. Redds appear as patches of clean, shining gravel among otherwise algae covered areas of stream bed. Fish and fish eggs may or may not be present. It’s best to avoid these areas as damage to redds can kill eggs or cause spawning trout to abandon an area. If possible, we try to even avoid fishing the pools adjacent to active redds, as many brown trout will spend the day resting and hiding there and then reoccupy the redds in the low light or dark hours. Thanks, everyone!
Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.
The Final Four, 4 days, 96 hours, 5,760 minutes, no matter how you look at it the 2018 fishing season in Yellowstone Park has wound down to less time than an adult October Caddis has to mate, lay eggs and die. There are hot dogs turning under heat lamps at the Econo-mart in West Yellowstone that will last longer than we have to fish in the Park this year.
If you have been waiting for the right fall conditions, now is the time. As we have said all season, scuzzy weather is the best for late-season fishing, and this final weekend looks to be ideal. Pack your puffy layers, warm hats, gloves, and gore-tex. It’s going to be a cold, wet one, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!
With these dark, gloomy conditions expect to see good migratory fish activity throughout the day, chiefly on the Madison system. It’s time to throw some bright colors like chartreuse and yellow into your streamer and soft hackle rotation as these fish will be at their peak of aggression for the season. Please remember, to pay extra close attention to avoid spawning habitat while you are wading and fishing.
The Firehole should be prime for the Final Four as well. It looks like daytime high temps will struggle to get out of the 30’s, especially up in the caldera. So, don’t expect to see much before early afternoon, and don’t be surprised if it takes until as late as 4:00pm for Baetis mayflies to emerge. The Firehole River has dozens of small micro-environments along it’s 14 plus miles of water between Old Faithful and Madison Junction. A myriad of thermal discharges influence water temps drastically from spot to spot, and correspondingly affects the timing of hatches. More so than ever, it pays off to be flexible when it’s cold. Don’t get stuck waiting out the hatch in an area that doesn’t have bugs. If conditions are right, and it looks like they will be, Baetis will be hatching somewhere and fish will be rising to them. If it’s not happening where you are, think about a change of venue.
If you’re looking for an option during the Final Four with a lower risk-reward ratio that just might produce huge dividends of the cutthroat variety, then consider a trip up to the Yellowstone River in the caldera between Chittenden Bridge and the fishing boundary downstream of Fishing Bridge. Big, beautiful Yellowstone Cutts occupy this stretch all summer after migrating out of Yellowstone Lake to spawn in the spring. Many years the majority of fish have made their way back to the lake by this point in the season. However, this has been a great water year. Huge runoff and healthy summer rains have kept flows higher than average for most of the season keeping many of the largest fish in the river longer. This is in no way a slam dunk option! But, if you are looking for a little adventure during these final days of the 2018 season, and you’re comfortable with some risk, consider hunting for one of those trophy Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. If you can find some, they will likely be rising to afternoon hatches of Baetis mayflies. Although, a well-presented foam hopper with rubber-legs just might do the trick, even in the snow…they are cutthroat after all!
If the crowds in YNP have you down, you might find some solace on the Madison River outside of Yellowstone Park. For the majority of the season the walk-wade section downstream from Earthquake Lake is the last place you would want to go to avoid crowds. By November, though, it’s a different story. You will still see a few die hard anglers at usual spots like Raynolds Pass and Three Dollar Bridge, but if you are up for a little walk and enjoy head hunting for subtle risers then this could be the spot for you.
Cold, gray conditions will make this an afternoon event as well. All the usual fall suspects will be present like Baetis mayflies and midges. Work slowly, examine each piece of slow, glassy water carefully, and be prepared with a good slackline reach cast. These won’t be easy fish to fool, but they may be some of the most memorable rises of the entire season.
As we slide ever closer towards the dark, frozen abyss that is winter in Yellowstone Country our team of resident Missouri River guides are enjoying far more comfortable conditions. It’s not exactly flip-flop weather in Cascade and Craig, but it’s 10-15 degrees warmer than West Yellowstone, and the boys are making the most out of late season on the MO.
There’s still some great dry fly fishing to be had in spots with Baetis, Pseudo’s, and caddis. Streamer fishing continues to produce good results. And, the nymph game…well, you know.
If you’re in the area, and you’re looking for some quality late-season fishing, don’t forget about the MO.
Another great option for late season angling after the season ends in Yellowstone is the Henry’s Fork. Up in the caldera around Last Chance you can expect to see similar conditions to those on the Firehole and Madison. Afternoon highs look to be in the cold 30’s and 40’s. Baetis mayfly activity should continue here, but as with the other fisheries, most of the activity will be concentrated to a few hours during the warmest part of the afternoon.
The lower river around Ashton will see slightly warmer temps, and a slightly larger bite window during the day. Baetis mayflies will continue to drive the dry fly fishing here, and browns will respond aggressively to streamers. Tread lightly on these browns as we move on through the remainder of the late season on the lower Henry’s Fork. Spawning season is in full swing here, and we need every last one of those big browns to be healthy for next season.
If you are a fan of stillwater angling, the final countdown has definitely begun. We see ice beginning to form later in November on many lakes, and by then the weather is often nasty enough to keep even the most dedicated lake anglers home. But, late autumn is an often overlooked time of year to target stillwaters. 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 mayflies 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. Water temps are dropping down below the range where trout are most aggressive, so don’t be afraid to SLOW DOWN your presentation even more than usual. Look to the shallows first and fish during the warmest part of the day. Trout should be most active when things warm a bit.
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.
Iswaeonanoka is the current genus and species of the mayfly formerly known as Pseudocloeonedmunsi,Pseudocloeonanoka, Heterocloeonanoka, Baetispunctiventris and Plaudituspunctiventris. 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 Pseudocloeonedmunsi, now known as Iswaeonanoka 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.