Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 10/22/2020

by | Oct 19, 2020 | 0 comments

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Hello from West Yellowstone, MT – the Trout Capital of the World!

The big news on the horizon is the cold weather heading our way here in West Yellowstone, temperatures are predicted to dip below zero for a night or two, so bring all of your layers, hand warmers, hats and the like! If you forget anything, we have some great new logo beanies here at the shop that will complement any angler’s current selection! 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!

Remember, folks, this is the time of year where some of those big brown trout that we all love are already spawning. Brookies as well. Please, if you choose to fish waters with those species in them, be extra aware of your surroundings. Absolutely DO NOT target trout that are on or near redds. No hero shot is worth threatning the reproductive success of a wild trout. If you see fish doing their thing, just stay back so as not to disturb them, and enjoy one of natures great spectacles that few folks get to experience. And, when you are wading, keep an eye peeled for that clean gravel as accidentially stomping on trout eggs is every bit as bad as fishing for actively spawning fish.

The fly shop is OPEN from 7:30am to 6:00pm, 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,
~ The BSA Crew

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

Island Park Dam:  gauge is reading 129 but the actual outflow is around 239 cfs

Ashton Dam:  779 cfs

The Henry’s Fork remains a solid option most of these fall days, whether you wish to throw nymphs, streamers or dry flies, there is somewhere quality to spend your time plying the waters. Especially as temperatures threaten to plummet this weekend, heading towards more stable temperatures is a good bet. The Fork has a number of dams and diversions throughout its system that all contribute to less fluctuation in water temperatures.

The Box Canyon is still a great place to spend a day in the boat or wade fishing for those wishing to throw nymphs and streamers. It’s low, relatively easy to read, and active through the middle hours of the day. Fly selection will favor small nymphs: perdigons, zebra midges, and small mayfly nymphs are all part of the daily selection.

The Railroad Ranch continues to sport good hatches of baetis, with lots of trout rising in the river through the hatch hours midday. Many of these trout are small, a keen eye is required to find those larger trout. Often these sly, big trout position themselves in the middle of a pod of smaller fish, which can make things difficult! Try oversizing your fly selection to help filter the smaller fish from taking your first drift. Trying a less pattern imitating a less frequently found insect like a mahogany or caddis is also a good technique to try.

The lower river continues to provide good sport from Warm River on down to St Anthony and beyond. The river is low and weedy, so looking for slots in the weed beds and buckets in the river bottom is a good approach. Typically we are starting the day with streamers, nymphs or dry/dropper rigs, then moving to targeted dry flies in the afternoon hours when rising fish are encountered.

Yellowstone National Park

We are now approaching the final weeks of the 2020 YNP fishing season, and with frigid weather forecasted for this weekend, we will see the fisheries more seriously affected by low water temperatures. Expect things to slow down in the Northeast and East portions of the Park.

Our focus during these final weeks will be on the waters in the western region of Yellowstone: the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. All three of these iconic watershed will benefit from an influx of warm, geothermal water providing good opportunities in spite of plummeting air temps.

With overnight lows expected to dip well below zero in the coming week, you can expect, now more than ever, to see the best activity in the afternoons and evening hours when temps are a their highest.

Hatches of Fall Baetis on the Firehole will most certainly be delayed on the frigid days, and may not emerge until the very late afternoon. This is an important time to stay mobile when hunting hatches on the Firehole. Keep in mind the Firehole has a great many micro-habitats because of the varied influences from geothermal sources. If the bugs aren’t rolling at Fountain Flat, that doesn’t mean the same is true below Midway Basin.

The Madison River in YNP will surely fish well in the coming week if you can handle the conditions. Good numbers of fish are now available throughout the system, and both weather conditions and thousands of years of evolution driving an innate passion to procreate will have them especially tuned up.

Madison River

There’s no way to sugar coat this. It’s going to be pretty pokey on the Madison in the valley for a few days this week.

If daytime high temps get above freezing, nymph and streamer fishing can still be productive in the walk wade waters around Three Dollar Bridge, and you just might see a few baetis mayflies and rising trout in the afternoons.

If daytime high temps are in the teens and twenties, you’d be best served to pick another sporting endeavor to pass you time.

The Lakes – By Matt Klara

It’s that time of year again where I feel really silly about even doing a lake fishing report. Noone ever bothers to read it. They are all out hucking meat or swinging flies on the rivers, as if every fish in every lake has left the lakes and run upstream. Oh well. If you get bored on the moving water, you might have a shot at one of the hawggiest rainbows or cuttys of the year in stillwater. When the feeding windows open up (they are getting shorter in the colder water temps), fishing can be incredible. Stripping buggers and baitfish in shallow water on low light conditions and on dark days is a great place to start. As things brighten, work deeper, but probably stay with some of the bigger snacks like buggers, balanced leeches, or attractor patterns. Adjust your presentation and retrieve speed according to water temps and the whims of the trout. I usually start fast, and then get progressively slower in fall. When you hit one of those days when the big guys want it moving fast, make sure to up size that tippet, or you’ll be headed back to Big Sky Anglers to refill your fly boxes and to tell us a story about the big one that snapped you off!

Missouri River – Jonathan Heames

The Missouri River in Montana has had an unusual fall so far but not without some great trout fishing. Over the past weeks we have had some terrific streamer fishing and nymph fishing and had really been missing the dry fly fishing until just recently.

With last weekend’s onset of cold weather, coupled with this weekend’s forecasted low temperatures, you should continue to see increasing numbers of pseudos and baetis. For those traveling north or escaping the extreme cold of West Yellowstone predicted this weekend, the Missouri is a solid choice. You’ll find good nymphing options in the upper river, dry fly fishing and streamer fishing throughout the system, from the dam all the way down to Cascade.

Expect the brown trout streamer bite to begin slowing as they get closer and closer to doing their annual fall spawning ritual, but be on the lookout for large and angry rainbows that will eat streamers, dries and nymphs. Enjoy!

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