Welcome back everyone. It’s been a while, but this week marks the beginning of our weekly fishing reports for this year. Memorial Day weekend also marks the opening of fishing season in Yellowstone Park and on Henry’s Lake here in our area, giving anglers sudden access to more fishing options than you could ever dream of.
This year we are coming off of several days of dark, cold, wet, unsettled weather that brought us a fantastic shot of moisture. At the time of writing the weather report is showing settling conditions and a warming trend through the weekend. That should bode well for angler comfort as well as fishing conditions.
We are all excited for this season, and for welcoming back anglers from near and far. Our crew this year is awesome with many returning faces as well as a group of new staff that we are sure folks will enjoy talking to.
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 8am to 8:30pm 7 days a week. Our fly shop remains 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. All our shop staff will be masked up but they are still smiling underneath. 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
Henry’s Fork Flows: Island Park Dam: 897 cfs Ashton Dam: 2120 cfs St. Anthony: 3520 cfs
Falls River: 2180 cfs
While many rivers in the area are beginning to become unfishable due to snowmelt and runoff over the next few weeks, the Henry’s Fork remains fishable through most of its length. From its source at Big Springs to the confluence with the Falls River just upstream of Ashton, the Fork is host to a number of great fishing opportunities. The watershed that directly feeds the runoff surrounding the Henry’s Fork is relatively low elevation and not as extensive as many of our other area waters, its spring sourcing feeds lots of clean and cold water, affected by runoff to only a small degree.
In the upper river, the Box Canyon has been fishing extremely well, it was running low throughout the spring this year, but now that Island Park Reservoir is at full pool, flows have been increased to what is more typical for this time of year. Though the Box is usually a nymph fishing affair, we expect to see salmonflies as the weather turns fair in the coming week. Rubberlegs, perdigons, zebra midges, and caddis pupa are all on the menu this time of year.
The Railroad Ranch is currently closed and will remain so until June 15th.
The canyon country just above and below Mesa Falls is alive with stoneflies, expect to have them around when the days are warm and the sun is shining, rubberlegs under a salmonfly dry makes for a good rig to start with. We expect to see the section from Warm River to Ashton firing off with salmonflies throughout this coming week as well. Smaller mayfly nymphs and caddis pupa will also play in these sections.
The lower river below Ashton Reservoir has been fishing well as of late, salmonflies should be coming to a dwindle down there with this cooler weather we’ve been having, but there will still be some around in the right habitats. Be on the lookout for golden stones as they will continue to trickle off for the next month. There are more brown trout in these waters than have been around in prior years, so don’t be too hesitant to throw a streamer around if the weather isn’t ideal for stoneflies. PMDs and caddis are hatching down there as well, the appropriate nymph imitations will be good choices: split backs, pheasant tails, perdigons, zebra midges and rubberlegs are all good choices down here.
Yellowstone Park – by Matt Klara
There are places with bigger fish, and taller mountains, and maybe fewer tourists, but in our opinion there is nowhere – NOWHERE – cooler than Yellowstone Park to cast a fly. The diversity among trout species, the wide variety of water types, the incredible wildlife, the angling history, and the incomprable thermal features make Yellowstone something to behold. There are lots of places where miracles happen, but nowhere else that I’ve ever been where they happen every single day. With the opening of fishing season in the Park on Saturday, we once again have the opportunity to experience Yellowstone through the eyes of an angler.
With the Firehole running right about average flows and the Gibbon and Madison running below average, expect extremely fishable conditions on the west side of the Park in all the usual opening day haunts. Get up early and get in early. Pack a lunch, and maybe a dinner, and make a relaxed day of it. Be prepared to match hatches of PMD’s, Baetis, and caddis. During periods of little or no surface activity, soft hackes and small streamers, fished actively on the swing or with added twitches can create some fun opportunities. If you need some help dialing in your fly selection for these early season hatches, be sure to stop in the shop and we will get you sorted.
Madison River – by Justin Spence
Down from Quake the river has been running green to clear. With water temps dropping after this bout of cold weather and snow, expect nymphing to be your primary approach. These conditions also keep fish in the softer water and less in the fast stuff. Consider getting out a bit later in the morning and letting things warm up. I’ve found some success running dry/dropper rigs along shallow edges and drops with most of the nibbles on the nymph. Expect the river to color up a bit below the tribs as the recent snows melt off.
Between the lakes, expect changing water conditions below Cabin Creek as some of the snow from the last week melts into the system. Smaller nymphs like caddis imitations have been producing. Baetis have made an appearance on some afternoons making for some fun dry fly fishing.
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.