October is here! Excitement for this time of the year mounts starting almost eleven months ago, all of us here at BSA love this month for so many reasons. Looking forward to the seven days, the weather looks to be taking a turn and with that is some much needed moisture, cloud cover and fishyness. The next several days are calling for rain on the level here in Town and snow in the high country – bring those warm layers and goretex jackets!
If you’re coming through the area and would a like tour of the Golden Stone Inn, please stop by the shop and let us know. We are more than happy to give you a tour!
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 7am to 8pm 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
Missouri River – Jonathan Heames and Joe Moore
Missouri River Streamflows Holter Dam: 3050 CFS
For nearly 25 years, Joe and Jonathan have been guiding and fishing the Missouri River below Holter Dam. Each Fall, they both migrate north for a couple weeks, with clients in tow, to fish for the large trout that reside. Miles, Earl, Steve, Justin and Donovan also enjoy taking anglers up to the Missouri during the month of October. We also have resident guides, who live on the river year around, guiding for BSA. Greg Falls, Mike Kuhnert, Ray Leonardt, Brian Nielsen, Jeremy Maynard and Patrick Owen are some of the best guides on the river and take most of the referrals that come out of our shop throughout the season.
The Missouri has been fishing pretty darn well the past two weeks. We mainly have been fishing streamers with sink tips and some with floating lines. Both tactics have been successful, this is a great place for those who enjoy stripping flies. This makes it one of the best training grounds we have for Patagonia-bound anglers, and for helping to build angler perspective on big river structure. Over the years, the dry fly fishing has been a major part of our Fall program, but last year and this year is showing us that hatches on the Missouri just aren’t bringing the large fish to the surface. The big trout are still there, but they are not rising. Hatches vary from year to year, so at this point, we are not alarmed by this. Once the river temp drops a little more, BWO should begin to hatch in decent numbers; resulting in a few more noses breaking the surface. Nymphing, as Kuhnert is found of saying is “Solid”. As for the flies – BFE, olive and black Bouface, Sparkle minnow, Kreelux, Thin Mint and the black skull bugger are working. When nymphing, we generally run our flies about 4ft from the bobber and fish a Thin Mint up top and a tung head zebra (olive or black) off the back. There are a few caddis around so shifting gears after lunch and dropping a soft hackle off of the Thin mint has been great.
HENRY’S FORK – BY JONATHAN HEAMES
Henry’s Fork Streamflows:
Island Park Dam: 145 cfs
Ashton Dam: 910 cfs
St. Anthony: 910 cfs
Fall fishing is still going strong on the Henry’s Fork, the river is fishing well from top to bottom. The weather forecast has in it some great looking baetis weather, this should be good for all types of fishing: dries, nymphs and streamers. Temperatures are dropping next week by the looks of it, so enjoy it while you can!
The Box Canyon is a great place to spend the day at this time of year, and it continues to fish well. Flows are hovering around the 200 cfs mark, which makes for a bumpy ride in a few areas, but the fishing is a solid option. Think baetis and midges for nymphs, a 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 has been fishing well and providing many of dedicated Ranch anglers with a fall to remember. Bring your A-Game, your favorite fly rod, a long leader, and a good selection of small pseudo spinners #18-22, mahogany duns #16 and emergers, a few small dark caddis #18-20. This is a great time of year to take your fly rod for a walk in search of some classy angling that can really get your heart pounding. Learn to deal with the weeds efficiently so that they aren’t a distraction while in pursuit if a wily trout, this is a head-to-head game and usually requires taking advantage of time sensitive opportunities. Having your fly at the ready or being able to quickly clear them of weeds is a skill that needs development for Ranch-bound anglers, this is a good week to keep that in mind!
The canyon country below the Ranch, both above and below the falls, is a great place to be on a sunny day. Not too many of those in the forecast these days! Temperatures are getting cold enough to recommend that you keep an eye on the forecast if you’re heading into these areas. You don’t want to be deep in the canyon country without the right layers if the weather turns for the worse. Dry/dropper rigs and streamer rigs are the usual fare down here.
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. 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, 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. Weather will affect the hatch window, colder days with clouds will often result in better and longer lasting hatches but the bugs can start later than usual. Lower river-bound anglers will find good sport this week.
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY STEVE HOOVLER
It’s October, and we’re staring straight down the barrel of our first serious shot of scuzzy weather. Forecasts for six out of the next seven days show a 100% chance of scuzz. The system looks to be warm on arrival, with rain and temps in the 50s, and cold as it departs, with accumulating snow and temps in the 30s.
This is exactly what we hope for in October. It’s time to break out those puffy layers, Gore-Tex shells, and a Thermos filled with something warm.
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 will prompt the most concentrated Baetis emergences, and stir the need to move in the heart of all migratory trout.
Our perennial fall favorites include some of the closest fisheries to our home base in West Yellowstone, the Madison, and the Firehole Rivers. Fishing for migratory browns and rainbows moving upstream from Hebgen lake will be at its best in the Madison. Hatches of Baetis will be strong in the afternoons on the Firehole.
Afternoon hatches of Baetis will also be strong on the Gallatin River, both in the park waters and further downstream towards Big Sky and the canyon.
With conditions like those in the forecast, 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 quite a bit this past week and we are sitting at 733 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 841 at Kirby and 905 CFS at 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. This week’s weather should kick things into high gear!
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 this past week. As we like to say, it’s been pretty nymphy out there on the Madison. 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 & Michael Delfino
Very little change to the lake report for this week! Those anglers who have been fishing the local stillwaters have been finding some nice fishing! Bows and Cuttys are looking to pack on some pounds ASAP and the Autumn spawning species like Browns, Brookies, and Lakers are gearing up, becoming a bit more aggressive, and starting to migrate to their final destinations.
By now the vast majority of the stillwater fishing has shifted back subsurface. Go early, stay late, and take advantage of longer periods of low light. Feeding windows are often short late in the fall, but when you hit them, they can be glorious. Hebgen and Henry’s are both great bets these days, just be aware of the changing weather, and afternoon winds.
As the weeds die back in Autumn, many food items become more available to the trout. Working weeds edges and channels, as well as dropoffs with Impressionistic patterns like Rickards’ Seal Buggers, Mohair or Simi-Seal leeches, Stillwater Nymphs, and Balanced Leeches is a great bet. Dial in your fly line choice based on water depth and presentation speed, and don’t be afraid to fish SHALLOW, especially during low light conditions.
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.