Welcome to the final fishing report of October. With just over a week remaining in the Yellowstone Park fishing season, now is the time to plan your final casts for 2021 in America’s first and best National Park. It’s also time to put the finishing touches on those Halloween costumes!!! Bonus fish karma points for anyone who dresses up like one of the “Three Js” – Joe, Jonathan, and Justin.
Some wet weather this past week should go along way to freshen up the migratory fishing scene and mixed sun and clouds, chances for precipitation each days, and the usual low lite conditions of late fall should keep the fish bitey and anglers filled with anticipation.
It’s worth mentioning that we have been seeing both redds and brown trout spawning activity in nearly all of our local rivers. While it is still legal to fish at this time of year, it is our responsibility to do so ethically, and with awareness of localized spawning areas. If you see redds (clean spots in the gravel), please steer clear of those areas, as actively spwaning fish or fertilized eggs may be present. Fishing to actively spawning trout on redds is a clear No-No, but also be aware that many trout vacate redds during the day and take cover in adjacent deep areas. Additionally, wading on redds is extremenly destructive, but also, wading upstream of redds can stir up silt that may settle in redds and effect egg health. When in doubt, steer clear! For those who would like to learn more about how to best minimize or eliminate your impact to fall spawning species, feel free to get in touch!
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: 61 cfs (actual flow still about 40 cfs higher, closer to 100 cfs)
Ashton Dam: 795 cfs
St. Anthony: 1170 cfs
As we head into November, intrepid fall anglers will be rewarded on the Henry’s Fork with not only great angling but overall cold fall weather. Come prepared for the low temperatures and be prepared for shorter windows of opportunity, typically centered around the midday hours. Baetis hatches have settled into a groove out there, which means you’ll usually have decent hatches, regardless of weather. Hatches will be most prolific when there is an overcast and the air temperatures stay in the mid 40s to 50s.
In the Box Canyon, the river remains low enough that floaters should be aware that they’ll likely be leaving some fiberglass behind on rocks and should be prepared to get out and walk the boat through some sections to reduce the damage. Inflatables are a good idea if you have access to them to get you through the skinny water. This is also a great time of year to walk/wade the canyon, just remember your wading staffs! Anglers will find successes with a diversity of rigs: dry/droppers, indicator or euro nymphing rigs, and streamers are all a good bet. Rubberlegs stoneflies #6-10, small baetis nymphs #18-20, zebra midges #18-20 and your favorite perdigon flies will all produce.
The Railroad Ranch has been a solid option for most of this fall and should continue to be one for the weeks to come. Hatch windows will really tighten up, but anglers should find good baetis fishing for 1-4 hours a day, depending on the weather. This section is low and has lots of exposed weeds, which can make landing fish tricky, but there are plenty of areas with water that is open enough to pursue your trouty quarry. Baetis emergers, duns, and spinners in #18-22 are the primary sources of food, but having some midge patterns along is a great idea as well.
The canyons below the Ranch are best left until the warmth of next spring returns, not because good angling can’t be found but rather they are cold and committing places to get into and spend the day when the weather can be so shifty. Determined canyon-bound anglers should head in with caution and with plenty of warm layers.
The river below the Warm River confluence is a great place to take a drift when the weather is favorable, those 1000’ feet of lower elevation make a big difference when it comes to the window of opportunity as well as comfort. Bug selections are about the same as for the Box Canyon, but anglers can get away with larger beadheads here from time to time. Be on the lookout for rising trout during a thick baetis hatch.
Below Ashton Dam, the river is fishing well with nymphs, dry flies and streamers. We are typically nymphing or streamer fishing in the mornings and then looking for noses in the midday hours. Baetis hatches have been solid when there is an overcast and nymphing has been reliable otherwise. Be on the lookout for spawning beds down here, brown trout are in the middle of their annual reproductive ritual, leaving them to do their thing is a consideration worth making when you come across these redds.
Bundle up, wader up, and good luck out there!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY Matt Klara
Fishing is good-to-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.
We got a serious shot of precipitation (rain) on the 25th resulting in a significant bump in flows on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison. Without a doubt, this will get the migratory fish moving and likely bring in a new push of fish from Hebgen.
Flows are not “high” by any means, but they bumped up above the median for the first time in a long time. The spots you have been swinging lately may fish differently with the extra water. Consider that before you wade right in and start casting. That deadwater on the inside that you were skipping last week may hold the fish of the day this week.
Gear up with a selection of streamers, nymphs, and baetis dries and emergers. If you are into the Trout Spey game, or like swinging flies on your single hand rods, stop in and check out our selection of soft hackles and trout Spey streamers. Marco really upped the game in our bins for this fall with input from Chris, Justin, and Matt.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE & MATT KLARA
The flows at Hebgen Dam dropped a bit more this past week and we were sitting at 690 CFS out of Hebgen Dam on Tuesday AM. Below Quake, the river responded to the shot of rain we got on the 25th, bumping up more the farther downstream you go on account of tributary inputs. Flows are already dropping, and remain below the median, however, so significant alteration of your angling tactics is not likely warranted. If nothing else, the bump might remind the trout that winter is on the way and they might want to eat a few extra calories to stock up.
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. 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
If you launch a boat these days, you are just as likely to see waterfowl hunters (or just a bunch of coots and ducks) as you are other anglers. Late autumn is a great time to find solitude on the local stillwaters, and if you adjust your pace and mentality there is no reason you won’t have a good time. 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. Simple, impressionistic patterns that suggest leeches, baitfish, dragonfly nymphs, and scuds are the way to go these days. Hebgen and Henry’s are both still great bets, just be aware of the changing weather, and winds, and be safe out there.
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.