The first half of August is in the books, and we’re seeing some typical conditions for this time of year in Yellowstone Country. It’s been warm and smoky. The sun is setting earlier and earlier. Aspens and willows are showing the first hints of yellow. Crowds are beginning to wane a bit as kids go back to school. Oh, and lots of trout are eating terrestrials.
Fire season is in full swing across Yellowstone Country. Several new blazes started in the area, and previous fires have grown substantially this week. Fires from across the region have contributed to a persistent haze in sky, which has produced some remarkable sunsets.
The Bacon Rind Fire located approx 23 miles north of West Yellowstone has grown to 1388 acres, and has impacted both travel on hwy 191 and fishing access on the park stretch of the Gallatin River. The fire remains on the west side of highway 191 and the river. However, fishing access to the river is closed from Fawn Pass trailhead to milepost 27. Furthermore, travelers driving on Highway 191 can expect delays while passing through that same section. Please note that all other Gallatin River access is open.
There are three new fires in the Madison Valley this week, the Monument Fire, The Wigwam Fire, and the Virginia Creek Fire. These fires were each caused by lightning strikes, and are burning in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest west of the Madison River.
Weather forecasts are showing a good chance for moisture in the form of thunderstorms and showers through the weekend with seasonal conditions next week.
Although summer conditions persist, the mornings have had a nip in the air, alluding to exciting things to come this fall. Among those fishy things we most look forward to is swinging flies on two-handed rods for trout. AKA – Trout Spey. If you’ve been bitten by the Trout Spey bug already, or have a notion that you might like to add something new and fun to your own angling, be sure to come to 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.
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.
Yellowstone National Park
Lamar River – Flows have been stable, water clarity is great, and water temps are perfect. Fishing has been very good with these consistent conditions on the Lamar. It’s terrestrial time in the northeast corner. Spruce moths are in the canyon waters, while hoppers, beetles, crickets, and ants are in the meadows.
Keep an eye on flows here this weekend if we get the thunderstorms that are forecasted. Any bump in the flows will mean the water is off color. As soon as flows are back to where they were before the bump, you’re good to go.
As we get later into the season on the Lamar, and flows continue to drop, it’s important to be prepared to cover a lot of ground when you’re fishing. There’s an over abundance of marginal water on the Lamar that looks like it should hold a few fish but doesn’t. Many times you’ll find yourself fishing to water that looks “alright” without any success only to find a “honey hole” around the next bend that is loaded with fish. The flows drop in this river over the course of the summer, and fish begin to concentrate in only the most prime lies. So, if you’re heading up to fish the Lamar be ready to cover a lot of water. Pass by all of that “so so” water until you reach a “honey hole” that you just can’t ignore and focus your efforts there.
Yellowstone River- Whether you’re in the canyon country or up in the caldera, flows continue to drop steadily and more of the river is becoming accessible to wading every day. It’s time to be thinking about hoppers, beetles, ants, and Morman Crickets when targeting these trophy Cutthroat trout.
Gallatin River – Access to the river is closed from Fawn Pass trailhead to mile marker 27 due to the Bacon Rind Fire.
Bechler River – While there’s no guarantee that the biting flies are completely done for the season, you can now plan on fishing this gem of a backcountry stream in relative comfort. The meadows have dried out which means biting flies should be at a minimum and terrestrials like hoppers, beetles, and ants will be at their peak.
We’re currently seeing the best hopper fishing on the 50 mile riffle in years, especially in the float stretch. There’s plenty of speculation in the fishing community about why. Was it the “flushing flows” this spring, or the consistently cooler water coming out of the damn? Either way, we’re thrilled to see quality fish feeding on foam and rubber legs like it’s their job.
Callibaetis and Trico mayfly activity is strong on Hebgen now. Smoke-filled skies, and calm, cold mornings combine to create false overcast conditions that enhance both the Callibaetis emergence and the mood of the feeding fish. Be sure to have some Callibaetis dun imitations in addition to the usual spinner patterns on mornings like these as emergences can be more concentrated than on clear, sunny days.
Spruce Moths are also active along the entire south shore of the lake, and they are producing some violent rises from prospecting trout.
August continues to be redemption month on the Fork. Like a freshman in college after a long night of “orienting” to his new surroundings, who hit stop instead of snooze on the alarm, and slept through 8:00 am BIO 110; the PMD hatch on the Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork skipped July all together. Luckily, generous numbers of emerging PMD duns and mating PMD spinners in August have more than made up for the absence in July.
PMD’s, Tricos, Callibaetis, Honey Ants, and Hoppers area all important now in the Ranch and Last Chance waters.
The Box Canyon remains a solid bet for consistent nymph fishing, and sporadic dry fly fishing. Though the drifting weeds require a bit of patience. Many drifts end with a weed on the end of your line rather than a trout, but a crisp, water-loaded cast will usually clear the weeds and get you right back into the game.