Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 6/11/2020

by | Jun 11, 2020 | 0 comments

Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

Snow fell last weekend and winter returned for a few days leaving a blanket of white gold in the high country to melt at some point down the road. At times it was dumping sideways with half-dollar sized flakes sticking to everything and then melting almost right away. The grassy hill sides are electric with shades of green and yellow as arrowleaf balsamroot pop along the Madison River near 7 Mile Bridge. June is rolling right along on with bugs hatching and trout rising in all of the usual locales. Descending the Ashton Hill, the Tetons emerged and after a storm like this life almost seems to stand still, at least for a few moments to allow us to take it all in. It’s a heck of a sight to see, that’s for sure. 
The fly shop is OPEN daily from 8am to 8pm. The days are longer and there are more and more visitors around as fishing season gears up in full swing. Yellowstone National Park has been a joy to drive through. While the roads are not empty, it has a late 90’s feel to it inside the West Gate. Bookings for this season came on strong and we are currently running guides on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana and on the Missouri River in Craig, Montana. We have set up the shop to be a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves and masks if you choose to wear one; 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. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork of the Snake – by Jonathan Heames

This is an exciting time of year on the Henry’s Fork, some of the best fishing of the year is now happening and will continue through the middle of July. From the upper river, high in the Island Park caldera, to the river’s confluence with the South Fork of the Snake, some 70 miles of river, the Henry’s Fork has a tremendous diversity of fishing experiences and exciting angling can now be found throughout the system.
Strong hatches of mayflies are happening in both the upper and lower river, PMDs (pale morning duns) are the building block of the system and a hatch is a daily occurrence. Spinner falls in the mornings and evenings and emergences throughout the day will begin to consistently define trout movement throughout the month. These PMDs will last through the entire parade of hatches that is to come over the next 5-6 weeks and will provide a baseline opportunity in the absence of some of the glory hatches in the day to day. 
Be on the lookout for this parade to get started this week with green drakes, flavs, golden stones, olive stones, yellow sallies, caddis, brown drakes and grey drakes all on the docket in the coming weeks. This is a good time for the Henry’s Fork angler to prepare and round out his or her fly box with all of the above in all phases of imitations: nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners. I wouldn’t go anywhere on the Fork right now without at least the following in my fly box:-Jojo’s Green Drake-Variant Cripple Green Drake-#14 PMD Sparkle Dun-#14 Rusty Spinner-Henry’s Fork Golden Stone-#6-10 Rubberleg stonefly nymphs-#14-16 Pheasant tails and perdigon style nymphs-#14-16 tan and olive caddis-#12 Flav imitations
This is also a good time for the angler to revisit some basic bug knowledge so they can better understand the movements and tendencies of some of these major hatches. Revisiting some of our blog posts from last year is a great way to do this and keep the knowledge fresh. Here’s a good one to start with, Hatch Profile – Green Drakes. You can explore our Blog for more Hatch Profiles, and up your entomology game. Also, be sure to stay tuned to this report every week for more great hatch info. 
With exciting fishing throughout the system, we are also just around the corner from the much anticipated opener of the Railroad Ranch section, or the Henry’s Fork in Harriman State Park. This is some of the most famous fly water in the United States and is one of the sports’ most iconic venues. Some of the opening day activities that usually surround this event have been cancelled or postponed due to Covid, but this section of river is scheduled to open as usual on June 15th. Due to the relatively lower water conditions these past weeks in the upper river, anglers can hope for the presence of green drakes as well as strong pmd and caddis hatches. Water levels should remain relatively consistent through opening week and we are optimistic about the fishing these next two weeks. Taking your fly rod for a walk through the Railroad Ranch while looking for a target is one of fly fishing’s great experiences, this will be a good year to consider it.
Usually our guides are booked at least a year in advance during the upcoming time frame due to the great fishing that is here for the next month. This year’s Covid situation has resulted in enough cancellations and re-bookings that we still have some limited availability. For those of you that have wanted to experience what the coming weeks have to offer but haven’t been able to find a guide in the past, this is a good year to call the shop and book a last minute trip.

Madison River – by Joe Moore

As of Tuesday morning, the flows out of Hebgen Lake started to decrease and will continue for roughly another week – the big flush is over. Hebgen is just shy of two feet from full pond and is normally full by the end of June. Cabin and Beaver creeks cleared up a bit with the cold overnight temps that brought on frosty mornings here in West Yellowstone. The creeks will blow out again, that’s for sure. As the flows drop out of Hebgen Lake over the next seven days, expect the fish to move around as well. With the recent cold and snowy weather and the drop in flows, one should expect the Wade Stretch, it’s green, to fish pretty well this week. Even as flows drop, the Madison below the West Fork is humming right along and floating under the bridges (Sun West..aka Shelton’s Bridge and Wolf Creek Bridge) is still questionable. The river below Lyons is blown out with mud and gets a little worse the closer you get to Ennis. Floating the Madison right now requires skill on the oars and for most folks out there, it’s best to stay on foot for now. Fishing subsurface with big stone flies, dead drifted black bouface streamers, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns is the best route. Bring your rain jacket but expect some sunshine in the forecast. 
Salmonflies? Hmmm….hard to say. Give us another week to watch flows and river temps and then we’ll attempt at guessing when the hatch will start in Ennis.

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

PMDs emerged over the last week and right along with it the flows ramped up to 8000 cfs out of Holter Dam. While the river a bit high for trout to rise, there are trout rising in some sneaky spots. The nymph bite has been quite good up there and it looks like flows are dropping. Now is a great time to fish the Missouri River, that’s for sure. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next few months and we’ll receive reports from him each week. Flows in the tributaries have dropped to historic levels and barring any huge rain storms on The Front, the Dearborn should continue on a downward trend. Wire Worms, split back PMDs, Green Machine, Tom’s nymph are working with the emergence of PMDs. Dead drifting a Thin Mint or Zirdle is a great way to start out the mornings right now and if the clouds stick around, the trout might key on the larger meal. Summer on the Mo’ can be a great time to find hungry brown trout in shallow fast water looking for a big meal. Adjust the indicator according and hang on. There have been some big brown caught over the past week, Greg keeps sending us pics from the Canyon Reach of big brown trout and happy anglers.

Firehole River – by Steve Hoovler

After a late start, some less than perfect water conditions, and predator prey relationships working themselves out in realtime on the river, the Firehole has kicked into gear, and we’re seeing some classic spring fishing. Cold, scuzzy weather came back to Big Sky Country this week. Passing snow showers, temps in the 40’s, and dark skies are…perfect conditions for the Firehole in June, or any time for that matter.  Good hatches of PMD and Baetis Mayflies brought fish to the surface this week. Though, the strongest hatches were late in the afternoon due to the cold conditions. For those anglers that chose their fishing time wisely, or for those who endured long enough, the river produced some excellent dry fly fishing. As conditions change in the coming days, and we see a return of the sun and warmer temps, expect to see sparse hatches of PMD’s earlier in the afternoon, and look for both spinner falls and  caddis activity in the mornings and evenings. Bright days are always good for swinging soft hackles on this iconic wet fly fishery too. So, be sure to have a few of your favorite Partridge and Yellow patterns handy when the rising fish are hard to find.

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

Conditions were nothing short of brutal on Hebgen this week as Mother Nature reminded us once again what “springtime” is really like in the Rockies. Now that we have some warmer days ahead, Hebgen will once again be a great bet for solid early season stillwater action. Take advantage of any calm mornings and evenings by searching the shallow bays along the North Shore for rising fish. Good numbers of midges are still active, and the first hatches of Callibaetis are just beginning. When fish aren’t rising, try playing the Chironomid game in any of the bays around the lake. Remember, it’s early season and the weed growth has barely started. So, spend some time experimenting with your depth, and don’t hesitate going deep while you can. As always, another great subsurface option is stripping leech patterns. As with the Chironomid tactics, be sure to experiment with your depths, and speed of retrieve. Hebgen’s trophy Browns and Rainbows are actively bulking up after a long winter under the ice, and streamers like leeches can produce some vicious takes these days. 

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