Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 6/25/2020

by | Jun 24, 2020 | 0 comments

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

Mother Nature showed her true colors this week providing us a mix of weather including rain, high sun, clear skies and 80 plus degree temperatures; it felt pretty darn nice to spend our days on the river soaking it all in. The end of June is near, which means a few things – salmonflies will be hatching on the Madison very soon, the Fork is still fishing pretty darn well and our 4th annual Anniversary party is coming up next week on June 27th. For 2020, we have moved the party online via Instagram and are now calling it the Community Appreciation Celebration. We have a great line up, click the link above and check it out! 

The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho, the West Side of YNP, the Madison in Montana and the Missouri River in Craig are all fishing quite well. The fly shop is 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 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

Summer weather has really set in and the Fork continues to fish well from top to bottom.  The scenery continues to be outstanding with greenery in the valley and some snow still in the Tetons, wildflowers are still part of the landscape.  If fishing the Henry’s Fork is on your list, now is a great time to float one of its many sections or take a long walk with your fly rod looking for a worthy contender.

In the upper river, the Box Canyon remains a solid bet for those wanting to do some nymph fishing, at this time of year small beads and perdigón style flies reign supreme.  At times the water gets a little off color, depending on which part of the dam its coming from, if you notice dirty water, try a fly that has a fluorescent hot spot or a couple of bright thread wraps behind the bead.  From now through July, be sure to have some golden stone dry fly imitations handy as they can be present on any day.

The Railroad Ranch is in play and fishing well.  Lots of bugs out there at the moment: multiple sizes of caddis, pmds, flavs, sallies, green drakes, and brown drakes are all on the menu, so it pays to be prepared for just about anything.  Don’t forget your mayfly spinners and emergers, both stages of the life cycle are present throughout the day.  A size 12-14 rusty spinner is a good choice for that first cast if you are unsure what your target is eating. 

The canyon country reaches from the bottom of the Ranch on down to Ashton are a good bet right now with consistent action on large dries and rubberlegs or bead heads hung below.  These sections are nice places to spend a hot summer day, the water is highly oxygenated and it’s easier to find shade here than in other river sections.

The waters below Ashton are now on their last leg, and every day that the temperature sees 80 degrees will have a lasting effect on the water temps.  Look for fishing action to turn more to spinner falls in the mornings and evenings, some emergences in the morning hours, and stoneflies in the afternoons.  Pmds, caddis, flavs, gray drakes, and golden stones are all still on the menu down here.

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows at Hebgen have diminished to 560 CFS as Hebgen Lake is still not quite full. 560 cfs is pretty low for this time of year but fortunately the tributaries are kicking in enough water to keep things a bit higher in the Madison Valley. The Upper has been fihsing pretty darn well overall. There are lots of salmonfly nymphs making their way to the banks and caddis are hatching in decent numbers. The dry fly fishing is right around the corner, that’s for sure. Fishing subsurface with rubber leg stone flies, biot stones, San Juan Worms, Prince Nymphs, tungsten PT’s, olive Arizona Hare’s Ear, Dips and of course a smattering of different perdigon nymph patterns is the best route. Fishing caddis late in the evening might be a solid play right now as the warmer weather earlier in the week had them hatching in decent numbers. 
Salmonflies? Yes, there have been a few fluttering around down near Ennis but nothing really to speak of just yet. Stay tuned!

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

The Missouri river flows bounced back up this past week to 9750 cfs at Holter Dam. The dry fly fishing isn’t quite as good as it was last week, but deep nymphing has bee solid. Greg Falls will be on the river nearly everyday for the next several months but he still has a few openings for the 2020 season. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way. The theme up north has been mayfly nymphs fished about 7 feet to the split shot. Split back PMDs, Green Machine, Tom’s nymph, Pyscho Princes, Silvey’s Pupa and weight flies are working with the emergence of PMDs and caddis. Dead drifting a crayfish pattern is always something to keep mind as well.

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

This is a transitional time in YNP fisheries. Some waters are beginning to warm, many are shaping up, and a few are still running high and cold. The forecast looks warm and dry for the next week. S, expect to see this trend continue, as we start to get into the summertime groove.

Firehole River
As we watch the equinox fade in the rear view mirror, and shift gears into summertime, it’s time to let the Firehole rest and recover until water temps begin to drop again in the fall. 
It was a shorter than usual Spring season this year on the Firehole, but it was a good one. We saw excellent hatches of PMD and Baetis mayflies, some as recently as this past week, and both quantity and quality of fish were a bit better than average. 
For those diehard Firehole Fanatics out there that just can’t get enough, consider looking for early am and late pm spinner falls and caddis activity, and limit your sessions to the upper river above Midway Geyser Basin where water temps are a bit cooler. 

Madison River – in YNP
The Madison in YNP will also have good spinner falls and caddis activity in the mornings and evenings in the coming week, especially when conditions are calm and warm. Look at any of the smooth glassy pieces of water between Madison Junction and the West gate to find rising fish and technical dry fly situations. Some nice fish remain in the river (before sliding back down to Hebgen Lake for the summer), but they are formidable targets. A stealthy approach, and acute dry fly skills are necessary to fool these fish. Bring your patience, a long fine leader, and your A-game. When the wind picks up, it’s time for a change of venue. 

Lewis River
If you’re looking for another technical dry fly venue to test your skills (euphemism for get your ass kicked) the Lewis River below Lewis Lake just might check that box. Explore the spring creek waters below Lewis Falls in the mornings and evenings, and hunt for a large brown trout rising in the slow, winding currents. Be prepared to see PMD’s, Green Drakes, and Mosquitoes, and plan accordingly for each. 

Gardner River
If you’re interested in playing around with some Euro Nymphing techniques, and you don’t mind a moderate amount of adventure-wading, the Gardner River between Mammoth Hot Springs and the YNP North Entrance is a perfect spot right now. Large, heavy nymphs fished tight in any of this river’s countless pieces of pocket water are very effective. Stonefly activity is just beginning here, and the fish are eager to eat a large nymph, providing lots of opportunity to practice those drifts and get instant positive feedback when things go right. 

Shoshone Lake
If you’re looking for a little wearily season backcountry fishing, Shoshone lake has good opportunities to strip streamers in shallow bays for cruising Lake trout. Check out the DeLacy Creek trail for a short-ish 3 mile stroll. Bring an intermediate sinking line, a nice double haul, some gaudy streamers (uglier the better), and plenty of bug spray. 
Remember to always be prepared in the backcountry with bearspray and sound backcountry travel practices. 

Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr
We’re close, but as Lewis and Clark said on that historic journey to the Pacific Ocean, gazing slack-jawed at their first glimpse of jagged, snow-capped Rocky Mountains ahead, we’re not there yet. 
Water levels are still a bit high, temps are still a bit cold, and clarity is still a bit cloudy to consider these fisheries in the next week. 
Stay tuned. We should be in business here by the first week of July. 

Yellowstone River – in YNP
The classic dry fly water above Chittenden Bridge remains closed until July 15. 
Lower canyon stretches remain a good option for adventurous anglers looking to fish nymphs and streamers. 
Flows are dropping and clarity is improving here daily. Green Drakes are hatching now, and Salmonflies are right on their heels. 

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

With calmer, warmer conditions on the horizon, fishing will pick up on Hebgen Lake. Early season is a fun time to explore the shorelines of the lake, either from a boat or on foot. The lake is at its highest level of the season right now. In many places that means the water is up into the willows, and flush against the banks. Early hatches of Callibaetis mayflies and midges will often tempt large fish to patrol the shallow shore lines, and targeting them with a dry fly or sight-fished nymph or leech is a seriously challenging and rewarding game to play. Look for calm mornings. Do your best to position yourself with the sun at an advantageous angle so you have the best chances of seeing these spooky fish. Patience and stealth are crucial. Be prepared to spook far more than you get to cast to. Anyone with any saltwater experience will feel right at home.

River Flows and 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