Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World!
Last year, about this time, we were digging our drift boats out from under a 2 foot blanket of snow, which was the first of several storms that stretched into October. Lows were well into the single digits and winter well on its way. This year is quite a different one altogether, pandemic aside, we’ve been enjoying beautiful Indian summer days, the aspens are in their prime at the moment and an easy living fall has settled in. Our guides have been all over the place here this last week: the Missouri, Jefferson, Yellowstone, Henry’s Fork, Gardner, Gallatin, Firehole, and the Gibbon Rivers. It seems there’s something good to be found in just about any direction one travels from West Yellowstone at the moment.
It was warm enough yesterday and today to throw a hopper around in the middle of the day and even fish in short sleeves. No matter where you go this week, be prepared for incredible scenery, beautiful days (or a blizzard!), and for changing fishing conditions. When the weather is fair, late summer and early fall conditions will prevail: nymphs or streamers in the morning and hoppers in the afternoon, when it turns overcast and cold it’s time to start thinking fall: streamers all day and baetis in the middle, don’t forget everything in between.
Town has begun to slow down a bit, making the journey into Yellowstone Park a little more peaceful than it’s been, it’s simply a nice time to be around, we hope you’ll come see us!
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. 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 and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; 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 fish on,
Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames
Island Park Dam: gauge is reading 240 but the actual outflow is around 360 cfsAshton Dam: 990 cfs
Fall on the Fork continues to be a good bet. The river is fishing from top to bottom, so now is a good time to go and check on your favorite sections of river, especially with these nice days we’ve been having!
The Box Canyon remains a great choice to enjoy a day’s fishing. The trout are active, the water is low enough to be easily read, and it makes a great full day or a fun short day. Small nymphs are on the menu here, but a streamer is always worth a toss in the upper third or if the light is off the water down lower.
The Railroad Ranch continues to have decent bug activity and will continue to fish well through the month. The window of fishable hours will begin to tighten as we venture further into October, but for now anglers should take a walk and hope to see pseudos, baetis, and mahogany duns. A hopper isn’t out of the question if the afternoon is warm enough and the wind begins to blow just so…Weeds are present and are a real force that must be dealt with, try not to let them frustrate you and look for the opportunities they present. Often, you can get closer to your target if you keep a weed bank between you.
The canyons between the upper and lower river are at their best in scenery at this time of year. It’s a fun time to run these sections in a raft to enjoy a little solitude and some fun trout fishing. Streamers and dry/dropper rigs usually do the trick.
The lower river is still providing good days and will continue to do so for at least a few more weeks with pseudos, baetis, and mahogany duns all coming into play during the days. Though it’s hard to argue with a beautiful Indian summer day down here, inside we’re all hoping for cloudy and scuzzy weather to set in and bring out the bugs in full force. Wherever you end up this week, enjoy these great days, each one is a bonus gift at this point in the year. Be prepared for cooler temps as the mornings have been frigid and it won’t take much to swing the daytime temps into the low 30s!
Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler
The last round of scuzzy weather to roll through Big Sky Country produced some fun fishing on the Firehole with good afternoon emergences of fall Baetis mayflies. A stellar stretch of Indian Summer conditions are forecasted for the next week. So, you can expect to see fewer bugs, and a shorter window of rising fish activity, but there should still be sparse hatches and some good dry fly targets available. As always, when the dry fly fishing is in hiatus, there may be no better river in the world to swing soft hackles than the Firehole. Chop off the dry fly you were hoping to cast to rising fish and secure a #14 Partridge and Green, Partridge and Orange, or Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle. Work downstream through the same riffles and runs where you were hunting for hatches. Casting down and across at a forty five degree angle, allow the current to create a belly in you line and swing your fly through likely spots. Hang on and enjoy!
Yellowstone River – in YNP
Indian Summer in October is a great time to squeeze in a few more backcountry days on the lower reaches of the Black Canyon. Bright blue, sunny afternoons will warm the last of this year’s hoppers into action, and present the last hopportunities of the season.
This lower section of the Yellowstone can get especially sporty in October as brown trout from lower in the river sniff their way up into the park waters.
Indian, Panther, and Obsidian Creeks
Brown trout aren’t the only fish that put on a show in the fall. Brook Trout are also late-fall spawners, and are in full preparation mode these days with their best colors on display.
These three small streams in the northwest corner of the park are idyllic little brook trout fisheries, and a ton of fun to fish at anytime of the season, but especially during these Indian Summer days.
Be sure to bring a selection of attractor dry flies, some small streamers, and your bear spray.
Madison River – in YNP
For weeks now we’ve been talking about the migratory run of fish in the Madison River with phases like“…it’s not quite time yet”, “…there’s a few fish in there, but not as many as there will be…”, “It’s worth a shot, but…”
Well…It’s officially time, there are a bunch of fish in the system, and you should definitely give it a shot!
Keep in mind that an Indian Summer forecast with bright blue skies will limit the best of the action to the early morning and late evening hours when light levels are at their lowest, and fish are feeling especially frisky.
Gallatin River – by Steve Hoovler
It’s hard to pick a more scenic time to be fishing the Gallatin Canyon than these Indian summer days that we are having. Fall colors from Aspens, Cottonwoods, and willows are all in full display. The river is at a perfect level with emerald green weed mats pulsing at the bottom of crystal clear runs and pools. And, fish are eager to feed on nymphs and sparse hatches of Baetis mayflies.
Madison River – by Steve Hoovler
As October begins we enter a special season in the walk-wade section of the Madison, it’s prime time for the fall Beatis hatch. These diminutive, size 20-22 mayflies can be found on most afternoons from Quake Lake to Lyons bridge for the rest of the month. Scuzzy days will produce the thickest emergences, and the best numbers of rising trout. Sunny days will yield sparser hatches, but the fish will still be looking for them, and although they are exceptionally subtle, can be found rising.
The keys to fishing this hatch are patience, a thorough examination of every soft piece of water near the bank, and deft dry fly skills. These trophy fish have seen it all by this point in the season, and are in no mood for sloppy presentations, and clutsy wading.
If you were going to channel a spirit animal it would be a stealthy Blue Heron, preferably one that can drop a #22 Flag Dun with a Pile Reach Cast on a dinner plate at 30 feet.
Henry’s & Hebgen Lakes – by Matt Klara
The lake fishing is in prime shape if you are willing to skip out on the river action and time your fishing to coincide with key weather and feeding windows. Aquatic vegetation is dieing back, revealing the tastiest of food items that have been hiding for the trout for a while – leeches and scuds. Fall is baitfish time as well, so don’t be afraid to fish those suggestive patterns like Seal Buggers along the margins when light is low. Really start to look for fish in shallow, along receding weed margins, and near creek and river mouths as those are all seasonal hot spots, and move into deeper water as the day brightens. As water temps really start to cool down, be prepared to slow your presentations as well!
River Flows and the 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