Hi friends! It feels like summer here in West Yellowstone. Weather has been very warm and sunny, and fishing around our area has been good to great on all of the usual early season haunts. Expect this trend to continue through the week, but also keep an eye on building runoff conditions on some area rivers including the Madison and Gallatin.
This week, we wanted to touch on something that isn’t completely fishing related but that certainly does apply to fishing. As we all know, the past 16 moths have been challenging for everyone with COVID related changes effecting nearly everything we all considered “normal”. Many folks have missed out on doing things that bring them a lot of joy for over a year. Now, with the pandemic (hopefully) fading out here in the US, we are seeing a surge in excitement to get back out there and perhaps to make up for lost time. We are right there with you!! With international travel still restricted, lots of folks are spending time outdoors here in the US, and that means that some places are a bit busier than usual. So, please try to plan ahead whatever you decide to get up to this summer. And, when you are out there please remember that a little bit of communication, patience, and courtesy will go a long way towards making everyone’s summer both on and off the water a more pleasant one.
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,
~ Joe, Justin, Jonathan, and the BSA Crew
HENRY’S FORK – BY JONATHAN HEAMES
Island Park Dam: 467 cfs
Ashton Dam: 1460 cfs
St. Anthony: 1920 cfs
The Henry’s Fork has produced well most of this last week and the outlook is a good one for the week to come. Generally low water conditions prevail on the Fork at this time, Island Park Reservoir is at full pool and outflow is being matched to inflow. Lack of precipitation and warm days have combined to quickly melt out the lower elevations, but we are likely to see low flows until irrigation demand begins to grow.
In the upper river, the Box Canyon has enjoyed good fishing overall, with some good dry fly action mixed in through sections during portions of the day. Salmonflies and goldens are still present and are likely to linger until a cold snap of weather puts them to bed. This coming week isn’t the one to do that, so be prepared with some high floating stonefly patterns, we like the Henry’s Fork Salmonfly and Golden Stone and our Salmonfly Water Walker produces great results with more selective trout. As ever, come prepared with a good supply of rubberlegs, PT nymphs, perdigons and zebra midges.
The Ranch remains closed until June 15th and it looks like this year it’s going to be a good opening day, lower flows and warm temps lead to good hatches in the middle of June!
In the canyon country from the Ranch to the confluence with the Warm River, we are still seeing good numbers of salmonflies and golden stones, and good dry/dropper fishing with rubberlegs nymphs below Chubby Chernobyls. Typically this time of year we have high water in these sections, this year’s lower water conditions make for some interesting opportunities in this big and fast water.
The Fork below Ashton is starting to see good hatches of pmds, caddis, and still has a few golden stones around. When the weather is calm and sunny, be on the lookout for spinner falls and caddis activity. Dry/dropper rigs are producing as well as nymphs when the trout aren’t rising. We feel like drakes are still a week away but with low water, hatches do tend to come on sooner. It is a good idea to come prepared with dry flies and nymphs. A good selection of pmds, flavs, rusty spinners, green drakes, golden stones, yellow sallies, and olive stones is a fine idea and will have you at the ready for whatever the river deals you.
The Fork can be a busy place in the coming weeks, remember to be courteous to fellow anglers and try to give other folks as much room as possible, there are lots of opportunities when fishing is good, spread out and get to work!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY MATT KLARA
We had a great time in the Park last weekend for the opener, catching up with friends both with and without fins. The Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison will remain the best river options in the Park as runoff has taken over the rest of the Park. All three are flowing at very fishable levels with temperatures right in the sweet spot for hatches to pop. Be prepared for PMDs and caddis as well as stoneflies ranging from small yellow sally’s to the big Pteronarcys. Bright, warm, sunny weather is generally not favorable for hatches like PMDs, so if you find yourself on the water with nothing rising, go subsurface with nymphs or swing a soft hackle.
The waters of the Northeast Corner are a ways out for sure, with flows on the Lamar rising each day this past week. It is matching seasonal averages well, and looks to be headed for 5000cfs today.
The backcountry options are fairly limited in the Park right now due to water conditions, but you are likely to find some decent early season style lake fishing on the numerous stillwaters if you are willing to take a chance. Be sure to always be prepared for inclement weather as well as animal encounters if you go. Fish or hike with a buddy and be sure to all carry and know how to use bear spray.
MADISON RIVER – BY JUSTIN SPENCE & Matt Klara
Flows on the Madison have remained well below the seasonal norms as the dam operators hustle to get Hebgen Lake up to full pool. We expect to see releases remain similar this week with any significant increases in flow below Quake being the result of increased runoff from the tribs.
Down from Quake the river has been running green to clear, but the West Fork got very muddy Wednesday AM so expect alot more color in the river below there. Nymphing was our primary approach last week and we suggest that it continue to be your primary approach. That doesn’t mean strapping on a bunch of splitshot and dredging deep though. Flows are such that you can also work softer edges with a dry dropper or light rig as well. Daily temperature swings in water temps have been significant with the fish more active as it warms up. Consider sleeping in, eating a nice brunch, and getting out a bit later in the morning to let things warm up. Expect the river to color up a bit more below the tribs going into the weekend.
Between the lakes, expect changing water conditions below Cabin Creek and very low, clear conditions upstream to the Dam. 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 & Michael Delfino
Chironomids have been the name of the game for us on both Hebgen and Henry’s over the past week, with pupa imitations taking us the bulk of our fish. Stripping buggers and other smaller attractors has worked “ok” at times as well, but maybe not as well as we’d like. Perhaps we’ve been waking up too late and not taking advantage of lower light periods when larger fish often creep into the shallows for bigger food items. Expect some changes in the conditions to come on the heels of this very warm weather that is forecast for today and Friday and the winds that are forecast for the weekend. Be prepared to experiment with presentation as well as depth and location as the action may be a fast moving target through the week.
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.