You know it must be late October when Joe is off bird hunting, Matt trades in the lake rods for trout Spey, and Marco heads back to Michigan to chase Great Lakes runners. October may be the greatest month of the season. Shame it is only 4 weeks long. Winter is coming.
Moisture (the white kind) returns to the forecast on Saturday and looks to be around for at least a few days, with a bit of precip each day. That’s great news for Hoovie and all you other “scuzzy weather” chasers. Baetis and streamer fishing should come into prime shape! It’s also welcome news for hunters who have been looking forward to the rifle season opener for an entire year. Regardless of what you get up to this week, have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the last bits of Autumn.
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 6pm 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: 66 cfs (actual flow is about 35 cfs higher, approx. 100 cfs, due to a faulty gauge reading)
Ashton Dam: 694 cfs
St. Anthony: 936 cfs
Just another day or two of beautiful weather will give way to week of proper fall conditions as we approach the final week of October. High country (Box Canyon, Ranch) highs will be in the low 40’s and low country (Ashton) highs will be 5-10 degrees warmer, in the high 40s and low 50s. Conditions will be good for baetis hatches, but the window of opportunity will be shorter on colder days, plan accordingly!
The Box Canyon will continue to fish well this week, but the flows are now low enough that getting a hard boat through without taking on some serious pinstriping and and losing some gelcoat is an impossibility. Inflatables are a good option at these flows. Wade fishing forays are a great play in here at the moment, but don’t forget the wading staff! Fly selection will range from small to tiny zebra midges and baetis patterns #18-22, perdigons and PT nymphs in #16-18, rubberlegs stonefly nymphs #8-12 to streamers.
The Railroad Ranch continues to produce great days and will likely continue to do so in the coming week, albeit for fewer hours each day. This makes for a great afternoon’s fishing option if you only have a few hours. On days with abundant insects, there will be plenty of noses, large and small. Take the time to identify the trout you want to catch and think carefully about your approach before casting. Baetis will dominate the game here, emergers, adults, and spinners in sizes #16-20. Having a few mahogany emergers and duns around is an excellent idea as well, #16-18. Finally, a midge cluster or two could prove useful for a point fly and a midge emerger in size 22 would round out a proper selection.
The canyon country between the Ranch and Warm River will have fishing opportunity for those intrepid enough to spend a cold fall day in here, but proper clothing is a must and there are nicer places to spend these days than in a deep canyon!
The river from the Warm River confluence and downstream benefits from being at a lower elevation than the high country options and though it won’t be balmy down here, the fishing window will be longer and the cold more bearable. Dry/droppers, nymphs, and streamers will all produce down here, and keep an eye out for a nicer nose here and there during a thick baetis hatch.
Below Ashton Reservoir the Fork continues to produce quality days of fishing with all tactics in employ: nymphing, dry/droppers, dry fly fishing and streamer fishing. The week coming will bring good baetis hatches during the midday and nymphing opportunity before the hatch. Streamer fishing is still a good option but as water temps drop, try slower presentations and smaller patterns. Now is the time that brown trout will be finding their way to their spawning beds (redds), if you come across these clean areas of gravel with spawning trout, it’s best to leave them to do their thing and avoid walking on them. Lots of angling opportunities will be around for great rainbow trout as well as browns that aren’t in the middle of spawning.
Good luck and stay warm out there!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY STEVE HOOVLER
The scuzzy weather kicks off a serious reunion tour on Saturday, with overcast and snow for a few days in a row. In other words, get ready for awesome angling opportunities.
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.
On brighter 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.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE & Matt Klara
The flows at Hebgen Dam dropped a bit this past week and we are sitting at 769 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 809 at Kirby and 894 CFS at Varney Bridge. That’s pretty dang low, folks, so if you are floating and are not intimately familiar with the river, please be careful!
Otherwise, not much change for the report this week. 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. Have another cup of coffee or stop by the shop and have a look around.
BWO’s are hatching 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. Saturday through the following week’s fishing report looks to be PRIME BWO weather. 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!
THE LAKES – BY MATT KLARA
Not much change to report this week. Lakes in our area are now in late fall patterns. 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.
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.