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Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 6/30/2022

by | Jun 30, 2022

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

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the end of June, and we’re staring straight down the barrel at July, the heart of our busy Summer season. It was a rough and tumble June in Big Sky Country. From sun and wind to snow and a record flood event, we saw it all. Now that July is knocking on the door, it looks like we might see a bit more stability and normalcy in weather, water, and fishing conditions.

It’s an exciting time of the season with new opportunities literally hatching every day. (…see what we did there?) Read on to hear about new fishing on the horizon in the Madison, and more of the same great action on the Henry’s Fork, as well as an update on Yellowstone Park and area lakes.

For the freshest report, be sure to stop by the shop at 39 Madison Ave in West Yellowstone where you’re sure to find a few sun-burned trout bums, bleary-eyed from fishing the previous night’s hatch well into dark, and plum full of more good info and passion than any other staff around. While you’re there, don’t miss our newly expanded fly tying lounge in the basement. You just might catch Hoovie or one of our other bug-obsessed fly winders at the vise answering fishing’s great mysteries with fur, feather, and thread.

Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 7 am to 9 pm seven days a week.

If you’re coming through the area and would like a tour of our lodging facility, The Golden Stone Inn, please stop by the shop and let us know. We would love to show you around our quiet retreat tucked away in West Yellowstone.

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 
Warm weather is predicted (highs in the upper 70s) through the weekend, with a slight chance of precipitation. Warmer through the early part of next week with highs in the low 80’s, and minimal chance of precipitation. Warm, consistent weather will definitely usher in the official start of our summer season in Big Sky Country. As always, we are in the mountains, so be prepared with layers, rain gear, puffy coats, sun hats, and shorts.

Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Reservoir: 800 cfs

Ashton Reservoir: 1760 cfs

St. Anthony: 1260 cfs

Fall River: 737 cfs

The Henry’s Fork has been fishing well this past week and the signs point to more quality fishing for the week to come. Fishing opportunities can be found through the entire length of the river, but won’t last long in the lower reaches with the heat of summer bearing down on us. Irrigation demand is in effect and we are seeing slight flow increases out of Island Park dam on an almost daily basis right now. Expect to see a slow increase of flows these next two weeks with the river settling near 1500 cfs from IP reservoir when at its peak. River conditions are excellent at the moment, with good water temperatures and clarity, so get out there while it’s good!

Box Canyon: The workhorse of the river, the Box Canyon has been producing good days on a near consistent basis. Nymph fishing continues to dominate the rig of choice, but there are plenty of opportunities for dry and dry/dropper fishing for those so inclined. We are generally throwing smaller nymphs this time of year with pheasant tails 12-16, perdigons 14-16, red and brown zebra midges 14-18, and partridge caddis pupa 14-16. Indicator rigs should have at least 4’ from the indicator to the first fly and up to 5’ for the deeper runs. Golden stones are around in decent numbers, it’s worth throwing a large dry imitation for a portion of a journey through the Box. If that’s not enough action for you, try dropping a nymph below. Be on the lookout for trout rising to green drakes, flavs, and PMDs along the way.

Railroad Ranch: The Ranch has been fishing well, overall, this week. There are plenty of anglers who are not finding trout, and still plenty that are. What worked yesterday may not be in effect today, it’s been anything but consistent down there, but well worth the walk for many anglers. Be on the lookout for some green drakes, brown drakes are on the horizon, PMDs 14-16, flavs 14, caddis 14-18, and terrestrials (beetles and ants). Well-prepared Ranch anglers will have these insects and their various life stages (nymph, emerger, dun/adult, spinner/spent) represented in their boxes. With higher flows on the horizon, get down there while you can and enjoy the river in prime condition this week.

Canyon Country: The canyons above and below Mesa Falls continue to provide good action for those anglers that are willing to make the journey and put their rowing skills to the test. Dry/dropper rigs will be the norm down here for the rest of the summer, a golden stone imitation with a rubberlegs nymph below is a good place to start. A willingness to throw a streamer can produce real rewards. Though rainbow trout can be fussy about eating a streamer in sunny conditions, this effect is slightly dampened in whitewater and can be about the only way to target larger fish in deep, fast watery lies.

Warm River to Ashton: This section of river continues to put smiles on anglers’ faces as it provides good action and beautiful scenery. There are some quality fish around and most days you can count on bumping into a few of them. Indicator, dry/dropper, and dry fly rigs are all effective and good choices. If you have bugs on the water, take a moment to pull over, scan the waters around you, and look for feeding trout. Stoneflies, PMDs, caddis and flavs are all still on the menu, you might even see a green drake or two. A similar fly selection as the Box Canyon will get you in the game down here, but don’t forget the rubberlegs!

Below Ashton Reservoir: It has been dry fly season on the lower river and we’ve had a great week of targeting rising trout down there. This will begin to taper off this week as the hotter weather takes its toll on water temperatures and flows reduce due to irrigation. There is still some good fishing to be found this week, and it remains a good time to do some exploring on the lower reaches. Be on the look out for PMDs 14-16, flavs 14, caddis 14-18, green drakes, gray drakes, and golden stones. Spinner falls make for a steady stream of bugs during some of the hours of the day currently, so make sure your spinner boxes are well stocked. You’ll also find challenging trout feeding on emergers, so come prepared with a variety of flies to try. Lots of fly changes and replacing of tippet are a trademark of this time of year down there.

Enjoy!

Madison River by Marshall Fairbanks

This week we have seen the Madison come into shape and fishing conditions improve. Flows dropped to a much more wadeable level of around 800 out of the damn and pick up to 1300 down further in the valley. Water temps and clarity have also improved as the river is now green and temps are fluctuating between 55 and 62 degrees. All this means that fishing is getting better and right on the edge of popping. We should see water continue to clear up during this next week with more and more bugs hatching as the week goes on.

We have seen the start of dry fly fishing this past week, and expect that to improve as the water clears and warms. Salmon flies are starting to make an appearance near Ennis and should be working their way up shortly. Look to throw a dry dropper with a foam salmon fly and rubber leg dropper. If they start eating the big bug, cut off the dropper and enjoy the dry fly fishing. Caddis are active as well, and we have already seen some good dry fly fishing with x caddis and cornfed caddis in size #14-16, or size #10 micro-chubby and royal pmx to mimic the large Arctopsyche caddis that we see early in the season.

Not sure what the heck an Arctopsyche is? Check out Hoovie’s article on our blog HERE.

Look to nymph in the colder mornings, or when the dry fly fishing isn’t quite there, with olive and brown caddis pupa imitations, pheasant tail variations, perdigons, and stone fly nymphs. If fish aren’t as active, it’s important on the Madison to get enough weight on your rig to get down there. Look to chase depth as much or more than changing your flies.

It’s an exciting time to be on the Madison and enjoy the next week or so chasing big bugs and the warm weather.

Yellowstone National Park by Steve Hoovler

The West, South, and East entrances to Yellowstone remain open and continue to utilize the “Alternating License Plate System. That system means vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number will be able to enter the park on odd days of the month, while even numbers (including zero) will be granted access on even days of the month, according to the service.

The south loop, accessed from the East (Cody), West (West Yellowstone), and South (Grand Teton/Jackson) entrances, is open via an Alternating License Plate System. The north loop, North (Gardiner) and Northeast (Cooke City) entrances remain closed.

No announcement has been made about the official re-opening of the northern loop. Keep an eye on the following link for the most up-to-date road conditions in the park, and check with us at the shop for all of the latest info.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/index.htm

With limited access to the Park’s interior, our best fishing options remain on the FIrehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. Mornings and evenings have been productive as decent mayfly spinner falls and egg-laying caddis flights have brought fish to the surface on the Madison and Firehole. Water temps are approaching the limit in the lower reaches of the Firehole. So, it’s best to focus your efforts on the upstream sections where temps remain cooler, especially during evening outings. Be sure to have some rusty spinners in size #16-20, as well as tan caddis in size #16-18.

The Gallatin River within YNP is clearing quickly, and flows are coming down, but water temps remain cold. As temps warm in the coming weeks, expect to see the first pmd, caddis, and stonefly hatches of the season. In the meantime, nymphing with tungsten beadheads like the bullet quill in a size #16, serendipities in size #14-16, and rubber legs in size #6-8 will keep you occupied with some feisty fish.

The Yellowstone River in the Caldera Stretch opens for the season on July 1 this year. Traditionally, this has been a July 15 opener, and we are all anxious to see what the river has in store for us this year. Flows remain high at roughly 5,000cfs, and cold. As fun as it is to have the big river open this early, it’s probably best to give it some more time to come into shape. Stay Tuned!

The Lakes by Matt Klara

Expect the stillwater conditions to continue to improve over this coming week, with insect activity increasing in diversity. It seems like predictable dry fly activity is right on the doorstep.

Inflows are still tracking with outflows from Hebgen for the most part and the reservoir level remains at or very near full pool. Post flooding conditions are settling out and good water quality can be found easily. If you do decide to venture out onto Hebgen in a motorized craft, be aware that there may still be pieces of floating debris (logs, trees, etc) throughout the lake.

The cool wet spring and large runoffs have really delayed the onset of weed growth and diverse insect activity this year. That said, we are starting to see more callibaetis in the mix with chironomids that have dominated the insect activity thus far on Hebgen. Expect to start seeing more caddis activity as well. If you visit some of your favorite flats and find slow action, don’t be afraid to move deeper and fish your flies deeper. We’ve been having some excellent fishing on “deeper than average” presentations this year for whatever reason.

Henry’s remains a good bet in coming days. Our guides are reporting that fish seem to still be fairly spread out, which is likely due to the slow onset of weed growth this year. If you hit a fish or two and then the action seems to die on you, don’t be afraid to move a short distance and cover more water. Stripping nymphs and buggers remains effective, and is a great way to cover water.

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

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