Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report 06/04/2020

Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report 06/04/2020

June is a month that we all look forward to and it’s finally here. It’s a month of anticipation, of hatches, of long days on the river, of beers at the boat ramp and sunsets that make everyone stop and watch because they don’t last long enough. It’s the true beginning of the trout season in the northern Rockies. Read on for an update on the shop, guided fishing trips, Yellowstone National Park’s opening date, the Golden Stone Inn, and of course a fishing report.

The fly shop is OPEN daily from 8am to 7pm. As always, we are selling flies, offering advice and answering phone calls. We are also booking trips for this season and running a few guides down on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana as well as on the Missouri River in Craig, Montana. When you walk in our doors, we will be wearing masks of some kind, and, while you won’t see our smiling faces, rest assured we are stoked to see you and offer our advice on all things fly fishing. We have set up the shop to be a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves and masks if you choose to wear one. Fishing reports are always up online here, and via our newsletter, so read on for our take on the upcoming week on the water here in Yellowstone Country.

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows

Henry’s Fork of the Snake
@Island Park (Box Canyon) 680 CFS @Ashton Dam 1890 CFS @St. Anthony 3630 CFS.

It’s June on the Henry’s Fork this is prime time, and the river is fishing well from top to bottom. This is the first year in many that we have some openings this month, usually a period booked well in advance. It’s a great year to experience guided fishing on the Fork in June if you haven’t yet. In the upper reaches, mule’s ears flowers are just starting to bloom, turning acres of wildllands into spectacular displays of white, yellow, and green. Everywhere it is green and the high mountains remain laden with snow. These are some of the most beautiful days of the year when the weather is fair, and the parade of hatches that is on the horizon is something to experience.
Stoneflies can be found river-wide, salmonflies in the high country, some remnants below, and Goldens starting down low, soon to be throughout the system. While much of the heavy stonefly hatches will begin to fade this week, we will see the coming of the already present pmds and caddis hatches. As trout begin to turn their attention to the smaller food source, they will begin to spread out and occupy water outside of the winter water they’ve been digging into lately. The river is still unseasonably low above the confluence of Falls River so be observant during hatches and look for surface feeders during periods of heavy bug activity.
Usually, the week following the salmonfly hatch shifts things generally back into nymph fishing and no doubt this week will have some of that. However these low flows should have the discerning dry fly angler looking for noses at appropriate times. Other anglers will do well to note the shift in food source. PMDs and caddis are the bugs that usher in the great hatches we are close to experiencing.


Madison River
@West Yellowstone 908 CFS @Hebgen 2120CFS @Kirby 2910 CFS @Varney 4440 CFS


The flows out of Hebgen Dam are at flushing flows right now, which basically means the river system is getting cleaned out of all the fine sediment allowing for insects and spawning fish to thrive. Below the West Fork the Madison river is blown out with mud. Above the West Fork the river is more green than brown and still fishing. The river is really big right now, be careful wade fishing; there is hardly a reason to wade right now as fish are right on the bank! Fishing has been pretty darn good with big stone flies, dead drifted black bouface streamers, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns. For 2020, we have stocked several new perdigon and other Euro-style patterns, so please stop by and check them out. Bring your sunscreen and expect the Madison to get even higher if we receive some rains over the coming weekend. There is even more snow in the forecast early next week and we would have to say that the Madison is going to be blown out below the West Fork for another few weeks.

Note: There are still trout spawning Between the lakes and around the channels in the rest of the river; as always, leave those spawning trout alone and give them a break. 

Missouri River
@Toston 17500 CFS @ Holter 5110 CFS Little Prickly Pear 165 CFS Dearborn River 661 CFS @Cascade 6090CFS

Joe had a short run of guide trips in Craig last week and found solid fishing from top to bottom. There were even a few PMDs starting to show up but nothing really to write home about yet. There are dead zones during the day, but overall, fishing was great. Thanks to those who joined us up north this spring on the Mighty Mo’. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next few months and we’ll receive reports from him each week. Flows in the tributaries have dropped and barring any huge rain storms on The Front, the Dearborn should continue to drop. The Canyon has cleared up quite a bit and the river down there is green and clearing daily. Pink bead and fire bead anything are still fooling a few fish each day as is a SJW or the ever sinking Wire Worm. Larger #12 Pheasant Tails as well as smaller nymphs are also working with the emergence of PMDs. Sowbugs? Yes…they seem to always work. When in doubt, fish a sow bug. On the streamer side of things, experiment with flash vs natural/subtle options as the fish seem to change moods day to day; white is never a bad choice and neither is a Thin Mint. Early summer on the Mo can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow slow water looking for a big meal. There have been some big brown caught over the past few weeks, Joe had one of his anglers loose a two footer at the net a few days ago. We always keep a single dry rod rigged at all times, why not right? While those slow inside bends are still fishy, you will find trout in all the sexy spots from here on out. Later in the day a big dry with a tunghead jig dropped off about two to three feet will produce; it makes for a nice change of pace from chasing the bobber, that’s for sure!


Yellowstone National Park
Firehole River 564 CFS
The West Gate to YNP is open! We have been running trips on the Madison and Firehole. There are caddis and PMDs hatching and fish are eating dry flies on the Firehole. The Firehole is still tea colored and the mosquitoes are bad. A few days ago Grizzly Bear killed a bison just upstream of Mule Shoe Bend…google it. But don’t let that stop you, there are fish eating flies both on top and below the surface. Stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report for the Firehole.


Hebgen Lake
Chironomids remain the name of the game on Hebgen, but you might also start seeing a few first generation Callibaetis popping in limited numbers. Deciphering whether the fish want one or the other should be conducted as a joyful experiment. You should know in short order which one they want based on a strange, tugging sensation at the end of your flyline. Shucks! Pay attention to those and any actual insects you may see as that will be your clue as to what size pupal imitation(s) to fish. If chironomids aren’t hatching or working for you, stripping/trolling a bugger or leech pattern on a sinking line chosen to match the water depth and retrieve speed is the way to go. Hard to beat the Denny Rickard’s patterns for this sort of prospecting, especially early and late in the day.

Henry’s Lake
Early season patterns still persist on Henry’s. Aquatic vegetation is far from established, and prospecting the usual early season zones with leech/bugger patterns, either stripped at a good pace on faster sinking lines, or fished balanced style, slow and low, under an indicator is going to be a great place to start. Of course, if chironomids begin showing in many numbers, match the size and color and then dial in the depth.

BSA’s Top Producing Green Drake Fly Pattern – JoJo’s Green Drake

BSA’s Top Producing Green Drake Fly Pattern – JoJo’s Green Drake

This fly first started out as a #14 rusty spinner and I tied it for the Madison River.  At Lyon Bridge, the mornings can be filled with spinning mayflies dancing in the air above the boat ramp.  It is always a wonderful sight to see, that’s for sure.  For me, fishing dry flies with anglers in my boat is something I try to do every single day.  For years, I knotted on a #12 Rusty Parachute and that fly has caught more than it’s fair share of trout.  I always liked the comparadun style of flies, but they don’t float all that well on rivers like the Madison. Adding a palmered hackle to the comparadun wing just seemed like a good idea. I am sure that I did not come up with this idea, but I can’t remember ever seeing the combination of it before.  If you look at traditional Catskill patterns, like the Adams, a hackle wing has been used for an eternity. Most comparadun wings use CDC, deer hair or elk hair; I like to use window’s web and eliminate the stacking of hair. Thorax winged flies have also been around for years, but I never really liked the partridge clump or turkey flat; the widow’s web is much easier to see and tie with. Fast forward to 2017 and I tied this fly in a #10 for the Green Drakes on the Henry’s Fork.  JoJo’s Green Drake works really well as a mayfly dun and a spinner.  Green Drake mayflies sit high on the water, and my pattern simulates this quite well. We now have the following versions of this fly in the shop:  Green Drake, Drake Mackerel (for the NE Corner of YNP), PMD, Rusty Spinner, Blue Winged Olive, Callibaetis (for Hebgen lake), and a Grey Drake Spinner for the massive spinner falls on the Henry’s Fork in late June and early July.

  • Originator:  Joe Moore, BSA Co-owner
  • Hook: TMC 100 or equivalent, #10
  • Thread:
  • Tail: Moose body hair
  • Butt Dubbing: Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing, Olive
  • Abdomen: Goose or Turkey Biot, Olive
  • Wing: Widows Web, Light Tan
  • Hackle: Grizzly dyed olive

BSA’s Best Flying Ant Pattern from Yellowstone Country to Argentina – JoJo’s Royal Ant

BSA’s Best Flying Ant Pattern from Yellowstone Country to Argentina – JoJo’s Royal Ant

Back in 2004 I came up with this flying ant pattern while sitting at the vice in my house outside West Yellowstone. Back then, I lived on Denny Creek and my tying bench overlooked a meadow filled of three foot tall sage and high priced breeder bulls, and the southern end Gallatin Range in Yellowstone was the backdrop.  The vista alone was inspiring, and at times I found myself not tying flies at all, but staring out the picture window loosing myself to ideas I can’t remember.  Back then, I tied most of the flies in my boxes; tying in the morning before guide trips or in the evening to alter a fly from the day’s testing. This fly came out of those days living on Denny Creek.

  • Originator:  Joe Moore, BSA Co-owner
  • Hook: TMC 100 or equivalent, #12, 14, or 16
  • Thread: 8/0 Uni, Rusty dun
  • Tail: Widows Web, Black
  • Abdomen: Ice Dub, Red
  • Thorax: Ice Dub, Black
  • Wing: Widows Web, Light Tan
  • Legs: MFC Barred Sexi Floss, Golden Yellow
  • Foam: Razor Foam, Tan

 

BSA’s Top Producing Attractor Dry Fly for Midges, Caddis, and Mayflies – JoJo’s Comparabuzz

BSA’s Top Producing Attractor Dry Fly for Midges, Caddis, and Mayflies – JoJo’s Comparabuzz

Years ago, Gary La Fontaine tied the original buzzball on the Missouri River.  Some say this fly looks like dead and decaying matter often seen floating in back eddies and that Gary tied the fly for midges shucks while hanging out at the Trout Shop in Craig.  The hackle points touch the water in numerous places, making this fly buggy as all get out. I can’t really remember exactly when I came up with my version of the buzzball, but it was on the Missouri river in July during a caddis, probably around 2006 or so.  My boat was on anchor in between the Trestles and we had fish eating caddis about 20 feet away.  They wanted the buzzball but it was hard to see, the night before I had tied in a compara dun wing along with a trailing shuck so we tested the variation.  It drifted through the pod and fish moved out of their lane to eat our buggy bug.  A few springs later, our buddy Jake Chutz at Montana Fly Company coined the name “Comparabuzz” after the two of us spent a few days fishing midges on the Missouri.  I tie this fly in several color combinations and have fished it all over North and South America with the great success.  Our friend and fellow guide in Esquel, Martin Weaver, called me before my trip to Argentina cancelled (I am supposed to be down south right this very minute) to make sure I had tossed in a few dozen of these for him; this is one of his go to flies on Rio Tecka.

  • Originator:  Joe Moore, BSA Co-owner
  • Hook: MFC Model 7000, TMC 100 or equivalent, #14, 16, or 18
  • Thread: Unit Thread 8/0 Black
  • Tail: Sparkle Emerger Yarn, Brown
  • Wing: Deer Hair or Widows Web, Light Tan
  • Hackle: Brown and Grizzly

Color combos – these all work well for midges, caddis and mayflies. Smaller stone flies as well.

  1. Grizzly and medium dun hackle
  2. Grizzly and brown hackle
  3. Olive dyed grizzly and brown hackle

 

Fly box deal of the Century!

Fly box deal of the Century!

We are doing a late winter, pre season sale on fly boxes here in the shop.  If you’re looking for a smoking deal on a fantastic fly box, look no further. This is a buy one, get one free deal on select fly boxes only available online! Click here to view the boxes. There are some other great deals on fly boxes as well, so click around and check it.  The Predator box from Tacky is available with free shipping, only available online!