Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/15/2020

by | Oct 15, 2020 | 0 comments

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This week brought on the true Fall weather and more is on it’s way this weekend. Wind, cold and snow arrived in fashion on Monday coating the mountains and making everyone in West Yellowstone pretty darn excited about chasing brown and rainbow trout. Cold frosty mornings and coffee at noon has been the norm. Starting this weekend, things are gonna get a little Western. We still have a couple weeks left for fishing in Yellowstone National Park; the last day for wetting a line in there is November 1, 2020. Get after it while you can!

The fly shop is OPEN from 7:30am to 7:30pm, 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,
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 135 but the actual outflow is around 245 cfsAshton Dam:  812 cfs

When the air temperatures in the high country of Yellowstone begin to drop and the water temps begin to drop along with them, rivers like the Henry’s Fork provide a stability not found in other waters. This is due to their spring creek, with consistent water temperatures at their sources. Though the windows of prime opportunity begin to shorten, that opportunity is somewhat consistent. This is a great time of year to develop and nurture a relationship with the Henry’s Fork.

The Box Canyon remains the all star of consistency in the upper river. It is both consistently low in flow and active with hungry trout! The Box makes for a great short float or full day. This is a good time of year to try and target some of its larger inhabitants as well.

The Railroad Ranch is primarily a baetis and pseudo fishery at this point, though midges might make an appearance some days. Bug activity is centered around the nicest hours of the day, from 11-3 or 4. Again, this time of year is characterized by lots of targets, many of them small. There are large trout rising for those willing to take their time to identify them. This is a great time to introduce interested anglers to sight fishing to rising trout as their are lots of targets to practice with.

The canyons below the Ranch are best saved for the nicer days at this point, these remote sections are no place to be stuck in a snowstorm! Keep an eye on the forecast and bring lots of layers, streamers, and nymphs if heading into the canyon country.

The lower river will continue to fish well, look for more dry fly activity to be taking place in the middle hours of the day as the weather turns the corner from cold and sunny to cold and cloudy!

Yellowstone National Park

Daytime temps have now dropped and there is fresh snow in the high country. Waders are now something to not forget, that’s for sure. This weekend looks to have another offering of clouds, snow and generally scuzzy weather. If the forecast holds, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday will usher in the first real storm of the Fall season. 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. The Madison in the Park is a bit of social experiment with quite a few folks fishing all the usual spots. With the weekend’s weather change, venture out and fish water where you don’t see anyone. Swing those shallow riffles or rip a streamer – those migratory fish make their way through the entire system, not just the Barns Pools or Beaver Meadows. More and more fish are moving in each day.

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

Sunday and Monday brought on cloudy and snowy conditions and fishing improved to some extent. The views from $3 Bridge will make anyone excited to fish, no matter what time of the year it is. 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. When the weather moves in this weekend, fishing streamers can be an all day affair. 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. Getting jiggy with a heavy streamer and floating line is never a bad tactic and keep in mind those fish with eat the fly on the drop!

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 – Jonathan Heames

This past weeks on the Mighty Mo have been unusually nice, and we aren’t complaining! When you are in short sleeves in the second week of October just about anywhere in the state of Montana, you are on borrowed time!

Daytime and nighttime temperatures have been balmy until just recently, and as of now it feels as though fall has arrived. Today was the first day I’ve had to don a beanie cap during my stint up here. Each day there are a few more rising trout starting to appear now, but those numbers are still modest when compared to previous years. All the same, we are now putting our 5X tippet to the test and hoping for an increase in rising fish this week.

Hatches of pseudos are short but intense and increasing in regularity despite the weather and thanks to the generally lowering water temperatures. Caddis are present, but have had a more impactful existence in the sub-surface realm than the superficial. We have seen a few larger baetis around but nothing consistently yet. Midges are still around and are beginning to draw rise forms in the early hours, likely due to fish moving into those pseudo-sipping lies.

The streamer bite has been hard but good work, with fair numbers of big, hard-fighting Missouri River rainbows and browns taken by the end of each day. Each one of these fish taken on a streamer is memorable and the electrifying tug of those hot fish slamming your fly is something that leaves you wanting more of it. These Missouri River torpedos are sure fun to strip up! We’ve been throwing our BSA Bouface leech that is oversized from John Barr’s original and designed for stripping big and weedy rivers. It makes for a great leech or minnow imitation, slender, with good action, and efficient in sinking as well as weed-cutting ability. We make them in 3 colors: black, olive, and white. Because they’ve worked so well, we’re sold out now, but we’ll have them back in stock early next spring, be ready to stock up on a great, all-around lake and river streamer.

We are starting to see a couple of redds here on the Missouri, be on the lookout so as not to bother them or step on them. These are our future streamer-eaters so think about investing in their future and avoid them.

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