Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/08/2020

by | Oct 8, 2020 | 0 comments

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Matt here, filling in for the J3 (Joe, Justin, and Jonathan) who are out and about guiding and fishing this week. Cliches aside, let’s talk about the weather. The unseasonably warm and dry conditions have persisited since our last report, and that is effecting our angling choices. The dark, scuzzy days that we all equate with blizzard Baetis hatches and hard charging streamer grabs simply are not happening (until Sunday). That said, our fish are still here, and they are super healthy from a summer chowing down. Being able to adjust your presentation and clothing throughout the day has been key to angling success and comfort. During low light periods, bundle up against the chill and huck a small streamer or swing a soft hackle. By afternoon, you may find yourself in a t-shirt or tank top drifting hoppers and ants in likely drifts, or sinking a team of tiny nymphs down into a likely looking bucket. It’s all good. It’s all fun. And if you need a break, just stop casting and let that warm, Autumn sun shine down on your face.

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 and Missouri in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape but water temps are getting pretty chilly. 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. Most importantly, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your time outside.

Take care and fish on,
~ Matt

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 129 but the actual outflow is around 240 cfsAshton Dam:  732 cfs

The Henry’s Fork continues to be a great place to spend these beautiful fall days from the top of the river to the bottom. The Fork has something for just about everyone from great nymphing and streamer fishing opportunities to something for the dry fly purist. Take a walk or take a float!
The Box has been dropping in flows each week and every day it seems there’s a new rock ready for a fresh coat of fiberglass! Still easy to navigate if you take care, but be sure to stay in your leg locks because the odd rock is going to give you a start for sure. The river is in great shape and relatively easy to read, so get in there and have some fun, this is a beautiful time of year to be in here.

The Railroad Ranch section is getting weedier and weedier as the river drops, but expect good bug activity still during these fall days. Mahoganies, pseudos, and baetis are all on the menu. This blast of weather this weekend ought to pump out a healthy supply of baetis!

The canyons below the ranch are still a great place to spend the day provided the forecast stays nice like it has been lately. These sections are fun on a sunny day, but not necessarily where you want to be if the weather turns sour, so keep an eye on the forecast before committing to anything between Riverside Campground and Warm River.
Below Ashton Reservoir, the river is low but fishing pretty well. We’re always hoping for some cloud cover down here, even a light veil layer can make a difference. However, with a little persistence on a sunny day, anglers can usually come out with a good day’s trout fishing under their belts. Exciting times ahead with fall weather in the forecast, be ready for baetis and some mahoganies!

Yellowstone National Park

While it’s hard to argue with how drop dead gorgeous the weather has been around Big Sky Country, it’s not done much to inspire the fall fishing. Autumn is always a time of transitions. The weather routinely oscillates between summer and winter. Unfortunately, the scales have tipped towards summer more than winter for most of this season. This weekend looks to have a brief opportunity for the scales to tip back in the other direction, and offer a much needed dose of scuzz to the weather. If the forecast holds, Sunday looks like the best chance at cooler temps, cloudy skies, and some precipitation. As the days get shorter, and the nights get colder we will see fewer and fewer solid options in the Park. Nighttime lows are routinely getting down into the 20’s in the high country, and that doesn’t bode well for the last of this year’s terrestrial crop. At the same time, we will see the activity window of Cutthroat Trout getting smaller and smaller as it takes longer for water temps to warm each day. So, whether you’re off to the Northeast Corner, or looking for one more shot at the Yellowstone River, the window of good fishing is getting smaller and smaller, and will be limited to the warmest portion of the day. Bright, warm days are still a good time to hone in your soft hackle game on the Firehole, or Euro-nymph the Gallatin in the park. Both fisheries will also produce sparse emergences of fall Baetis and the mayfly formerly known as Pseudos. The Madison in the Park has resembled the parking lot at a pre-pandemic Jets game recently – lots of disappointed people standing around, bummed about {insert anything here}. Bright, warm weather hasn’t helped the situation, but a quick shot of relief could be coming this Sunday. If it does materialize, expect to see some decent fish movement, both from the lake and within the river systems.

Gallatin River

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

It’s been bright. It’s been hot. It’s been tough (ish) fishing. But, it’s damn hard to find a prettier place to throw a fly than in the Madison Valley these days. Very sparse hatches of baetis are a daily occurrence, and randomly rising fish are too. The most consistent action has been with nymphs fished under a strike indicator or alfresco, as the Euros do. It’s time to downsize those nymphs. Imitations of small, size 18 and 20 mayfly and midge larvae are a good bet. Larger, heavier imitations of October Caddis in size 8-10 are a good point fly. If you go with a rubberlegs, think small. Like seniors graduating from college, all of this year’s largest adults hatched earlier in the season leaving just the smaller underclassmen behind. Streamers can be a productive option in the biggest runs and pools first thing in the am, and again at last light. Keep in mind, your most productive retrieve will most likely be slow and methodical, rather than quick and aggressive – think playing the cello, not starting the lawn mower. Bright, sunny conditions have these fish laying low, and not very active. 

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!

Missouri River – By Joe Moore

I haven’t worn waders for the past ten days here on the Missouri River and I have to say it’s been absolutely wonderful! A year ago, there was six inches of snow on the ground and we were all bundled up. We are begging for those scuzzy overcast days but soaking up the sunshine and warmth is what we must do. It’s the only thing we can do, so enjoy it! The dry fly fishing up here has been minimal to say the least. Those looking hard with a keen eye will find a few nice trout rising, but the days of fishing to pods are not here yet and probably wont be until the river temps drop a little more. All this sunshine has the fish eating subsurface for the most part. Nymphing has been solid and those rainbows in the upper reach from Holter Dam to Stickney have been hotter than pistol and even the best anglers out there find themselves overwhelmed at times when these fish explode and bolt away. Donovan was here most of last week. Jonathan and Earl just got up here and have been stripping streamers with some success. It hasn’t been red hot on streamers just yet, but there have been some nice ones eating small black, olive or white streamers. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded.

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



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