Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 5/26/2022

by | May 26, 2022

Hello from West Yellowstone, Montana
– The Trout Capital of the World –

Welcome back folks to our first weekly fishing report of the 2022 Season! Spring is in the air around here, at least that’s what folks keep saying, but it feels more like late Winter at times. We are still burning the wood stove and about ten days ago we saw a morning temp of 9 degrees. Yikes! Thankfully, Mother Nature sent the white stuff our way starting in early April and seven weeks later, the mountains are holding on to quite a bit of snow. Eight months of Winter can be a little tough on the brain, but trips to Cuba and the Florida Keys are there to ease things and give us a false sense of what Summer is like. 

On Saturday, May 28, YNP opens to fishing for the season. This year, the season has been modified slightly and the last day of the 2022 fishing season is October 31st. For as long as anyone can remember, YNP has closed on the first Sunday of November. This change is most likely due to inclement weather, which resulted in YNP closing the West Gate off and on during bad weather. We are a little bummed, to say the least, that last week was always a joy! The other big change to the fishing season is the new opening date for the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley. For 2022, the Yellowstone will OPEN on July 1st instead of the long-standing July 15th. Mark your calendars folks! 

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 8am 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. 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

Weather Outlook 
For the coming weekend, it looks like there is a chance of BWO and streamer fishing on the rivers just inside the West Gate. All kidding aside, snow is possible on Friday and Saturday giving way to warmer temps and sunshine by Sunday and on into the next week. Bring your coffee thermos and hand warmers this weekend as Mother Nature isn’t done waving that wand around just yet. 

Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames
Henry’s Fork Streamflows Island Park Dam:  404 cfs Ashton Dam:  1290 cfs St. Anthony:  1350 cfs Falls River:  842 cfs
The Henry’s Fork is on the cusp of its transition from springtime conditions to early summer conditions.  This cool weather we’ve been having has kept springtime in effect and summer at bay, but this will change with each sunny day at this point.  Though we all want to be throwing dry flies to rising trout, we sure don’t mind having this cool weather these days as each one abates snowmelt and contributes to a little more cold water in the system for this July, when we’ll really need it.  Looks like cooler conditions will be prevailing this Memorial Day weekend, so layer up and be ready for what Mother Nature sends your way!
Lately, the fishing has been fairly nymph-oriented with short and intense periods of dry fly fishing.  Cooler and more cloudy days have been producing baetis as well as a few march browns.  Sunny and warmer conditions are producing caddis and a few stoneflies, so keep an eye on the weather and prepare accordingly!  With a few salmonflies around and more on the horizon, having stonefly imitations handy is a must anywhere on the river.
Box Canyon:  Recently flows have come up to around 400 cfs from 200, where things were relatively stable this spring.  These lower water conditions have trout a bit more concentrated in the primary holding water than they would be with higher flows.  Generally we are having good success with smaller mayfly and midge nymphs, 16-20.  Pheasant tails, perdigons with and without hot spots, red, brown, and black zebra midges are all on the menu.  Don’t forget your salmonfly dry fly patterns and rubberlegs nymphs, with the right amount of sunny days, they’ll start to show.
Railroad Ranch:  Closed until June 15th
Canyon Country:  The canyon water from Riverside Campground to the Warm River confluence is primed for salmonflies when the weather permits, lots of stonefly nymphs are gathered under the rocks along the banks.  Dry/dropper rigs will do the trick here, a Chubby Chernobyl to a rubberlegs nymph is a tough-to-beat combination.  Swap out the rubberlegs if you’re running low on the action.  Streamers play in the canyon country as well, we like fast sinking flies that aren’t too large for this water, fished on floating lines, the BFE in black or olive will usually do the trick.  
Warm River to Ashton:  Fishing has been good down here, with bug activity corresponding to the day’s weather.  Baetis, march browns, caddis, and stoneflies have all been on the menu down here, with dry/dropper and nymphing rigs being the most productive.  Keep an eye out for surface activity down here, it is spotty but good when encountered.  Good patterns to have on hand are:  pheasant tails, red and brown zebra midges, your favorite perdigons, hare and copper, rubberlegs and partridge caddis pupa.  For dry flies:  Chubbies and micro-chubbies, Joe Moore’s Buzzball, parachute style spinners, and your favorite baetis imitations.
Below Ashton Reservoir:  The lower river has been producing to some degree but is not yet fired up with summertime activity.  Trout are still a bit concentrated in their winter holding lies, but ready to leave those in pursuit of salmonflies once they are around in earnest.  Most days down here still involve nymphing, primarily.  Good sessions of dry fly activity can be found here and there when bugs are around.  Be prepared for more of the same down here:  baetis, march browns, caddis, and keep an eye out for stoneflies.  
With lower water conditions, river traffic can get a little jammed up, so remember to do your best and give other anglers as much room as you can.  Good river etiquette and common courtesy go a long way to contributing to good experiences on the water for everyone.  Have fun out there!

Madison River by Marshall Fairbanks
We have been fishing the Madison primarily in the wade section above the west fork confluence. The water has been fairly clear below quake lake before the west fork starts to dump in some sediment. Water temps have been cold starting in the morning in the mid 40’s and warming up to around 50-51 degrees in the afternoon. Between the Lakes has fished well although there are some changing river conditions as cabin creek and beaver creek start dumping in a little color from snowmelt. The fishing has been better once the water warms up and it might be best to get a later start to the day and fish into the afternoon. Colder temps have brought fish into some of the shallower, softer areas and we have found success fishing the 2-3’ flats on the bank, pockets behind rocks, and some of the softer areas in the middle. Water levels have dropped over the past few days to around 625 cfs and look for the fish to move into different water depending on the river level. The Dry dropper rig has been effective with most of the eats coming on the nymph. Nymphing has been the main game with the colder temps, and smaller midges (16-18), quills, baetis nymphs, shop vacs, and RAM caddis have produced well. There have been a few noses up on baetis for anyone looking to play the dry fly game. The main hatch has been in the afternoon and is not very consistent, but there are a few opportunities along the edges.

Yellowstone National Park by Steve Hoovler
It’s opening weekend, always a special time around West Yellowstone, and this year conditions (both water and weather) look ideal to see great Spring hatches of Baetis and PMD mayflies on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers.
The weather forecast really couldn’t look better for the YNP opener. Highs in the 40’s and a high likelihood of rain (with snow possible at high elevations) are predicted Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
With the majority of this year’s snowpack still up in the mountains, streamflows remain below average on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers in YNP. Expect flows to bump up with this weekend’s rain, but levels should remain very fishable. To keep an eye on flows, CLICK HERE.
Hatches of size #16-20 Baetis (Blue-Winged Olives) and size #14-16 PMD’s (Pale Morning Dun) mayflies will be the main attraction. Dry flies imitations of cripples and emergers will be especially effective during thick hatches and inclement weather.
During periods when fish aren’t looking up, a size #14-16 soft hackle swung through the riffles can provide hours of fish-filled fun.
Cooler, wetter weather will no doubt push peak emergences into the afternoon hours (1:00pm – 4:00pm), so there’s no rush to be on the water early. Be sure to fill up the thermos, pack some warm, dry clothes, and stop by the shop for our recommendations on where to hunt for hatches, as well as all the best flies and gear.

The Lakes by Matt Klara
The ice has been off the local lakes for a bit now and we are in that early season pattern where the diverse bug activity and dry fly action still isn’t quite revved up yet, but the subsurface opportunites abound. Among the insects, the most important early season food source is the chironomids, or midges. Be prepared with pupal and emerger imitations in sizes from 16 to 12 if you plan to spend time on Hebgen, in particular. If you are fortunate to encounter warmer, calmer conditions those emergers will serve you well and perhaps score you the first gulper of the year! In early spring (it is still early spring up here) with the other insects still fairly dormant, scuds and leeches are extremely important as well. Work those low and slow, but also don’t be afraid to pull a leech or other attractor pattern with a faster pace to try and trigger a chase and reaction grab.

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