Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 06/18/2020

by | Jun 17, 2020 | 0 comments

Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World!

Summertime showed up in true fashion this week with sunshine, wind, chilly mornings, a bit of snow in the high country, sunsets that start at 9:15 PM and most importantly – consistent dry fly angling on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake. It truly was one of those weeks to be present and accounted for as the angling was nothing short of stellar. When Jonathan, Justin, Steve and myself sit around and BS about trout fishing in Greater Yellowstone Country the conversation always circles back to hatches, bugs and flies. I look forward to fishing dry flies so much, that I sit around all Winter and tie flies that mightnot work. I experiment with many different ideas throughout January, February, March and April. The next four months consist of testing and refining these ideas, with the hope that my concepts become the next bug in our bins. The Henry’s Fork allows me to observe fish feeding in many different situations and the bugs on the Hank do not disappoint. Soon enough the Madison will play into a similar role and we are just a week away from seeing it’s insects come to life. I am not alone in the experimentation process of tying flies; all of our guides and shop staff are tiers as well and tie for their trips and days on the water. Jonathan has spent a great deal of his time here lately organizing the bins at the shop so stop by and check out our selection. We take great pride in our flies and feel that this season’s offering is the best yet!
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. New product is arriving daily, so be sure to stop by and check things out the next time you’re in town. Yellowstone National Park continues to impress with all the glory that June brings; weekends are definitely busier thus far. While the roads are not empty, the Park feels less crowded and traffic is down overall according to the records. It really has been quite nice touring YNP this year. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana and the Missouri River in Craig are all fishing quite well. The fly shop is 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; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of.

Take care and read on,
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Jonathan Heames

Great fishing continues on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake, with some of the best scenery and dry fly fishing of the year upon us. The river continues to fish well from top to bottom, and it is now open in all sections, with the opening of the Railroad Ranch this past Monday.
Opening day on the Ranch was a beautiful day, with some decent fishing to be found on pmds and caddis. Caddis have made a strong presence on the upper river, but the weather quickly turned to cold and nasty, leaving us all thinking of flavs, pmds, and green drakes. With the weather on the improve, look for a return of caddis this week, with emergences and spinner falls of both pmds and flavs in the mornings and evenings. Green drakes are now on the horizon on the upper river.
The Box Canyon continues to fish well with lots of actions on small mayfly and caddis nymphs. This is a good time of year to begin nymphing the Box Canyon in earnest and put away the dry/dropper rigs unless you are seeing some golden stone activity, something one should always be on the look out for through the end of July!
The lower river continues to show its better side with fewer strike indicators needed. Trout have been willing to rise and provide us with some outstanding fishing. An angler must arrive to the lower river with a well-prepared fly box, this time of year has my fly tray full of changes at the end of the guide day and lots of pieces of trimmed tippet on the floor of my boat! Have a selection of pmd and flav adults, emergers, and spinners. Morning spinner falls will be somewhat regular and a size 14 rusty spinner is always a good choice with a persistent presentation over some of the more rhythmic and picky feeders down there. Caddis, olive stones, yellow sallies, and golden stones are all present at the moment and will move around in the heat of the afternoon. And of course, don’t be without some of Jojo’s green drakes, there’s no telling how much longer we’ll get to fish them down there.!
The Henry’s Fork has something for anglers of all levels in its many diverse sections, if you haven’t fished the Fork before or are thinking of revisiting it, now is an excellent time to consider a trip to the caldera.


Madison River – by Joe Moore

Glancing at the flow charts for the Madison River and one can quickly determine that we are close to seeing it all come together, but the glory days of summer are yet to come. All the tributaries are still running high but are clearing each day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday brought solid amounts of rain on the level and some snow up high. Here at some point, the creeks will blow out again, that’s for sure. We can only hope that this wet trend continues; more moisture this time of the year is always a good thing. The Wade Stretch is green for the time being and nymphing really well. I would have to bet a few fish ate Blue Winged Olives early to mid week during the scuzzy weather. Even as flows drop, the Madison below the West Fork is humming right along and floating under the bridges (Sun West..aka Shelton’s Bridge and Wolf Creek Bridge) is now possible. The river below Lyons is in the grass, but visibility is pretty good. In fact, it would be nice if it was a little dirtier right now. Floating the Madison requires not only skill on the oars, but one can not stop rowing for second if you expect to get your flies in the right spot long enough for a fish to see them. Fishing subsurface with big stone flies, dead drifted black bouface streamers, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns is the best route. 
Salmonflies? Traditionally they show up around Ennis between the 20th and 25th of June. Stay tuned as things are about to pop and when it does, the summer time circus will begin.

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

PMDs and Caddis are whats for dinner on the river below Holter Dam. The flows have dropped below 7000 CFS and with all the rain we have seen here in SW Montana, one shuold expect slight increases in the Missouri River. The nymph bite has been quite good up north and fish are poking their out of the river as well. Now is a great time to fish the Missouri River, that’s for sure. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next few months and we’ll receive reports from him each week. Worm variations, split back PMDs, Green Machine, Tom’s nymph, Pyscho Princes, Silvey’s Pupa and weight flies are working with the emergence of PMDs and caddis. Dead drifting a Thin Mint or Zirdle is a great way to start out the mornings right now and if the clouds stick around, the trout might key on the larger meal. Summer on the Mo’ can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow fast water. Adjust the indicator according and hang on. There have been some big brown caught over the past week, Greg keeps sending us pics from the Canyon Reach of big brown trout and happy anglers.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Many waters across the high country of Yellowstone are about to pop with great fishing over the next couple of weeks. This week’s cold weather slowed things down a bit, but with warmer conditions on the way, we should start to see a lot of our favorite YNP fisheries coming into shape soon.   

Firehole River

This weeks’ cooler conditions brought back some great PMD hatches, and bought us a little more time on the Firehole before water temps rise too high. Look for the cooler water to hang in there for a few more days at least. Mornings and evenings will be the prime times to find rising fish on bluebird days. PMD spinner imitations in size 16-18, rusty and olive, as well as White Miller Caddis patterns in size 14-16 will be the name of the game. Remember, as water temps begin to rise, the further upstream (closer to Old Faithful), the cooler the water as fewer geyser basins have had a chance to add their warm outflows to the river. By this time next week, we will likely be watching the temps again, and thinking about giving the Firehole a rest for the summer.

Madison River – in YNP

This is a good time to look for PMD spinner falls on warm, calm mornings on the Madison in the park. Explore all of the flat water stretches between the Beaver Meadows and Madison Junction, and keep an eye out for some of the last shots at good sized browns here before they disappear for the summer.

Gibbon River

The Gibbon enjoys cooler flows than the Firehole, and will fish well longer into the summer most years. The pocket water stretches below Gibbon Falls are a good place to explore with attractor dry flies, or fish dry-dropper rigs right now. There is a resident population of feisty brown and rainbow trout, as well as the odd grayling.

Gardner River

Warm, dry conditions are exactly what this exciting, pocket-water-filled tributary to the Yellowstone River needs to spring into action this week. As water clarity improves you can expect to see good nymph fishing with stonefly patterns in advance of the Salmonfly hatch, You might even see the first big bugs flying here before the week is out.

Yellowstone River – in YNP

Opening day on the fabled waters of the Yellowstone River from Chittenden Bridge upstream toward Yellowstone Lake is July 15.

The canyon stretches further downstream are open to angling, but flows and clarity are still not quite cooperating. Buy the time our next report rolls out, we will likely be talking about salmonflies in these waters. Hang tight.

The Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar R, Soda Butte, Cr

These perennial favorites are generally the last cutthroat fisheries in the Park to clear from Spring runoff, usually by the first week of July. Keep an eye on flows, and check in with the shop for more up to date info on water clarity in the Northeast Corner.

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

With calmer, warmer conditions on the horizon, fishing will pick up on Hebgen Lake. Early season is a fun time to explore the shorelines of the lake, either from a boat or on foot. The lake is at its highest level of the season right now. In many places that means the water is up into the willows, and flush against the banks. Early hatches of Callibaetis mayflies and midges will often tempt large fish to patrol the shallow shore lines, and targeting them with a dry fly or sight-fished nymph or leech is a seriously challenging and rewarding game to play. Look for calm mornings. Do your best to position yourself with the sun at an advantageous angle so you have the best chances of seeing these spooky fish. Patience and stealth are crucial. Be prepared to spook far more than you get to cast to. Anyone with any saltwater experience will feel right at home.

River Flows and Weather Forecast

Below are links to the flows in Montana and Idaho as well as. This time of the year flows and the weather are changing daily, if not by the hour. Click the links below for the most up to date information. 
Montana River Flows
Idaho River Flows
West Yellowstone Weather Forecast