Big Sky Anglers Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

by | May 21, 2020 | 0 comments

Hello there from West Yellowstone, MT – the Trout Capital of the World! We are starting to wrap our minds around what this season will look like, even though it seems to be changing by the day. The one thing we do know is that flexibility is key and at some point just going with the flow is getting us through our daily routine here at the fly shop. Read on for our take on this week’s fishing outlook!

West Yellowstone Forecast

MT Streamflows

ID Streamflows

Yellowstone National Park

Closed for now and the fishing season will open as normal on May 23rd, 2020. At this time the West Gate of YNP will be closed until June1st, 2020. The only way to fish the Firehole will be to drive in from Jackson Hole. 

Madison River

@West Yellowstone 988 cfs and rising

@Hebgen 1060 CFS and rising

@Kirby 1810 CFS and rising

@Varney 2870 CFS and…rising

The upper Madison River had been fishing pretty well so far this Spring. We are now seeing big pushes of snowmelt from top to bottom; expect the river to be brown throughout the entire system. Between the lakes will be clear on river left below Cabin Creek and Quake is nearly 100% brown. Could you catch a few fish right now? You bet! Is it going to be the best day you ever had, probably not. Fishing a rubber legs and a worm or twitching a sparkle minnow in the pockets and along the softer edges is your best bet.

There are still a ton of 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. 

Henry’s Fork

@Island Park (Box Canyon) 446 CFS

@Ashton Dam 1640 CFS

@St. Anthony 3130 CFS

Spring has sprung on the Henry’s Fork and in the lower reaches flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and there are a few salmonflies crawling around in the green grass. Happy New Year! These next 6 weeks are prime time in the lower elevation sections and we look forward to them every year, salmonflies mark the official kick off to our dry fly season. Fishing has been good down here lately with lots of great stuff to come in the coming weeks.

The upper river is still running cool but is clear and fishing well. Good conditions in the Box Canyon and the canyon sections below Harriman State Park (still closed until June 15th) give plenty of opportunity to those who don’t want to be part of the madness in the lower elevations. Nymph fishing is still the norm up here, but salmonflies aren’t far away now, likely to start when the weather warms back up after the weekend.

Overall, the river is running a little lower than usual for this time of year, system-wide, as a freshet was released from the Island Park Dam some weeks ago to encourage mobilization of sediment. This is ultimately a good thing, but now they are refilling the reservoir and it’s likely we won’t have high water during stoneflies. That said, the water clarity is great and fishing has been solid.

Idaho just lifted the ban on non-resident license sales last Saturday, May 16th and effectively opened the fishing up to visiting anglers by doing so. We still have some guides available during prime dates on the Fork, if you’re interested in experiencing this great river, please give us a call at the shop.

Missouri River

@Holter 4880 CFS

Prickly Pear 280 CFS and rising

Dearborn River 1530 CFS and rising

Greg Falls has been on the water quite a bit here in the last week guiding some of his long time Montana resident anglers. He has been all over the entire river from the Dam down to Cascade. The Missouri is pretty spawny is some places, but more and more rainbows are coming off the spawn each week. Leave them alone and let them be, the river gods will look kindly down on you later. The Prickly Pear and Dearborn are tossing in some color so SJWs and the wire worm are playing a big part in one’s day. Pink bead and fire bead anything are still fooling a few fish each day. Larger #12 Pheasant Tails as well as small BWO nymphs are also working with the emergence of March Browns and Beatis. Swung bug and trout Spey game is small streamers. Experiment with flash vs natural/subtle options as the fish seem to change moods day to day. Spring on the Mo’ can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow slow water looking for a big meal. 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!