We are two weeks into arguably the greatest month of the season, don’t fret, you still have plenty of time to get after it and catch a few! But don’t waste any time as Mother Nature is hot on your heels…Winter is coming. On Monday we woke to dumping snow here on the level which quickly turned to rain and then right back to snow by the afternoon. To the north of us, near Ennis, over a foot of snow fell and Norris pass was closed down to one way traffic. The wet weather continued on through Tuesday and the mountains around SW Montana and eastern Idaho are as white as the hairs on Jonathan’s head. The cloudy, fishy weather stayed on for most of the week, and, from the looks of it, the weekend looks to be filled with sunshine and glorious mountain vistas.
If you’re coming through the area and would like a tour of the Golden Stone Inn, please stop by the shop and let us know. We are more than happy to show you around our quiet retreat tucked away in West Yellowstone.
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 7am to 7pm seven days a week. Remember, the freshest fishing report is found at the counter of our fly shop. Our shop staff and guides are out daily all across the Greater Yellowstone Area. The fly shop remains a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. 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,
~ Joe, Justin, Jonathan, and the BSA Crew
HENRY’S FORK – BY JONATHAN HEAMES
Henry’s Fork Streamflows:
Island Park Dam: 76 cfs (actual flow closer to 120 cfs due to an error with the gauge)
Ashton Dam: 709 cfs
St. Anthony: 1010 cfs
Fall fishing on the Fork is still in effect, though these cold days are taking their toll on the window of opportunity. Quality fishing can be found but anglers will do well to remember to focus their fishing in the warmest hours of the day, generally.
The Box Canyon remains a good place to spend the day, and it continues to fish well. Flows are getting lower and lower, which makes for an increasingly bumpy ride, but the fishing is a solid option. This can be a great time to think about wade fishing the Box Canyon, a wading staff is a must for all but the most agile waders in here. Think baetis and midges for nymphs, and a small rubberlegs is always a good thing to try. Dry/Dropper, indicator nymph rigs, and streamer rigs will all produce. Change the depth on your rigs in appropriate water or choose a depth and focus on that water all day, either plan will work on most days.
The Railroad Ranch continues to produce good hatches and wily trout. Lots of exposed weed beds make for tricky drifts in swirling currents, but these same weed beds concentrate both waterflow and trout into good holding areas. Baetis and midges will be the name of the game, a sprinkling of mahoganies will also offer opportunity. Come prepared with small spinners, emergers and adult versions of these as well as a healthy supply of patience, the reward is there. The fishing window on the Ranch can be as tight as an hour or two on the coldest of days, but as the weather warms slightly, this will increase. Stay tuned to the weather, sometimes the nicest part of the day is as late as 3pm.
The canyon country below the Ranch, both above and below the falls is a more desirable place to spend a day’s fishing when the weather is slightly warmer. The fishing is good for the intrepid that head into the canyons, but they will do well to bring plenty of layers and prepare for cold weather.
Below the Warm River confluence, in addition to being almost 1000’ feet lower in elevation and a little more comfortable than the upper river on the coldest of days, the river is fishing well and should continue to hold on through the rest of the month. We are typically dry/dropper or streamer fishing here at this time of year, but keeping a keen eye out for a snout here and there during a thick hatch of baetis can yield rewards.
Below Ashton Dam, not much has changed, the river is fishing well with nymphs and streamers in the mornings, followed by baetis activity during the midday hours. Mahogany duns make an appearance down here as well and it’s worth keeping an eye out for them. Again, a 1000’ lower in elevation can make a big difference not only with a broader fishing window but also for anglers’ relative comfort. There are great trout to be found down here still, a keen eye and a good cast are important components to a successful session of dry fly fishing. Most anglers will have chances with nymph rigs, but strikes will often be subtle, don’t miss your opportunities!
Get out there, have fun, and stay warm!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY STEVE HOOVLER
We pray for scuzzy weather in the fall, and that’s exactly what we got this week. A strong winter storm brought a healthy dose of cold, snow, and great fall fishing to Big Sky Country.
Fall fishing in YNP revolves around hatches of Baetis mayflies and migratory trout, both of which are exceptional when the weather is at its worst. Cold, wet conditions prompt the most concentrated Baetis emergences and stir the need to move in the heart of all migratory trout.
Fishing is great right now on our two local fall favorites, the Firehole and Madison Rivers. A terrific day can be made chasing migratory fish in the mornings and evenings on the Madison, and hunting heads on the Firehole in the afternoons.
Conditions look to return closer to “normal” for mid-October this week with highs getting back into the 50’s by the weekend.
On bright days, streamer fishing, especially for migratory fish, will be more productive during periods of low light levels. That means early in the am, and late in the pm. These are the days to be on the water as early as you can. Brave the cold temps to capitalize on a few hours of fish activity, and then take some time to bask in the sun, and enjoy a late breakfast or early lunch. Alternatively, the last few hours of daylight will also see an increase in activity with fish becoming more comfortable as the sun gets low over the western horizon, and shadows grow long and dark across the water.
While sunny afternoons won’t produce the strong hatches we saw earlier in the week, sparse hatches of fall Baetis mayflies will still occur, and prompt fish to feed. As is always the case at this time of year, keep in mind these fish have been playing the game since June, and are in no mood for sloppy presentations, clumsy approaches, or the wrong pattern. Take your time, plan your approach, and step up to the plate with your best swing.
We’ve reached the point in the fall season where migratory fish will be on the move anywhere they are found in YNP, including fun fall fisheries like the Gardner, Yellowstone, and Lewis-Shoshone channel.
As always, the corner of 39 Madison Ave in West Yellowstone, MT is the best place for up-to-date info on conditions, flies, and tips before you venture into the Park. Be sure to stop by the shop, and give or get a report.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE
The flows at Hebgen Dam dropped a bit this past week and we are sitting at 672 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 830 at Kirby and 938 CFS at Varney Bridge. the powers that be at NWE are trying to conserve water in Hebgen Lake as they have along ways to go with filling it by the end of June 2022. With all the snow in the high country, the tribs to the Madison have bumped things up a la tiny bit once the water gets down to Varney Bridge. Fall is in full swing, cold mornings will offer a slow start to the day for dry fly fishing but nymphing or streamer fishing is a great option out of the gates. Bankers hours for sure! Have another cup of coffee or stop by the shop and have a look around. One never knows the knowledge you might glean from hanging around the counter at BSA.
BWO’s have been seen everyday, but on the cloudy overcast days the hatches have been thick. Purple Haze, Bucky’s BWO Klink and Jojo’s BWO are great choices fished as single dry. Rhyacophila caddis are in the drift everyday and are of the utmost importance when nymphing. Check your boots for these little olive larva as they like to cling. Nymphing with a black rubber legs, #14-18 BH pheasant tails, golden stone nymphs, perdigons, prince nymphs, Cheeky fella(caddis larva), olive serendipities, zebras, shop vacs and crystal dips have been effective in the deeper runs or fish them shallow around the bars and drop off near the banks under a chubby. The Sparkle Minnow has been producing quite well down there, so hav KG’s mini streamers in all shapes and sizes. The BFE is always a good choice when stripping flies.
Nymphing from the boat, especially in the cooler morning hours or throughout the day, has been a great option once again this week. Fish are eating rubber legs, scuplins, zonkers, olive hare’s ears, cheeky fella, PT’s, Shop Vacs, guide dips and various Perdigons. For the techy anglers, fishing small BWOs in the slicks will make fish come to the surface for sure. Purple Haze, Bucky’s BWO Klink and Jojo’s BWO are great choices fished as single dry. For those not wanting to stare at a bobber, then rolling the middle of the river, danglin’ a tungsten bead about 2-3 feet under a Chubby will produce. The streamer bite in the morning hours is always a good idea and if it stays cloudy, keep stripping. And if it doesn’t stay cloudy, keeping stripping until you’re blue it the face and willing to tie on nymphs or fish a small BWO in the slicks. We love olive and black streamers this time of the year and white is always a solid choice. Everyone has their favorites, that for sure. We like fishing a 150 grain line with various scuplin patterns like Ivan’s Dirty Dumpster, Sparkle Minnow, Olive Bouface, and the Olive Peanut Envy. KG’s Mini Sex Dungeon in purple/black or the olive are solid choices as well. For those wanting to fish streamers on a floating line all of the above patterns are just fine; toss in the Thin Mint and a BFE to round out the selection. Pinch those barbs!
Please be respectful to those fish that do eat your fly. Land them quickly and take care to revive each fish with your anchor on the bank. Pinch those barbs and learn how to keep tension on the line. Trout pics are something we all enjoy. Get creative with your pics and keep those fish wet. Celebrate the trout in the net and enjoy watching them swim away. We find that a slow mo video is the best way to capture the moment!
THE LAKES – BY MATT KLARA
Well, that sure was cold for a minute. Along with the first real storm of late fall comes some significant changes in the stillwater fishing. By now stillwater fishing has become a game of subsurface exploration. Water temperatures are dropping fast, and as they do, fish will likely be looking for slower presentations. Slow strips, hand twists, and indicator presentations are the way to go. Look for weed edges as well as features like submerged creek channels as conectration points for feeding fish. It is still smart to advantage of periods of low light when fish feel comfortable in the shallows, but as temps keep dropping the feeding windows are likely to shift towards later in the day. Feeding windows are often short late in the fall, but when you hit them, they can be glorious. Hebgen and Henry’s are both still great bets these days, just be aware of the changing weather, and winds. Get after it while you can. An ice augur will be needed to wet a line soon.
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.