Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 7/14/2022

by | Jul 14, 2022

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

July is flying by faster than a Peregrine Falcon in its stoop! Summer is here folks so get after it, there are bugs hatching all over Big Sky Country and fish are rising all day in one place or another. Conditions remain steady through the upcoming week with warm afternoons in the high 80’s, and cool mornings and evenings in the 40’s up here locally.

Over at the Golden Stone Inn, we have some rare openings during prime dates in July and August. These rooms are normally booked well in advance, and we would like to offer a special Angler’s Rate to all of our BSA friends and family for these prime spots. Whether you are a DIY angler or looking to fish with one of our guides, we can put together a terrific trip for you. For reservations this July and August (2022) you will receive a special rate and a coupon good for 10% off your next purchase in the fly shop. Call Makenzy and her great staff at the GSI to learn more (406) 646-5181.

This Sunday, July 17th we are hosting a very special guest in the fly shop beginning at 3pm. Garrison Doctor, renowned artist and owner of Rep Your Water, will be in the shop working on a new piece of art that will be auctioned off in the shop and via our social media channels to benefit Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. Upper Missouri Waterkeeper is a non-profit group devoted to preserving and improving water quality conditions for fish, wildlife, and humans throughout the upper Missouri River watershed. Bozeman-based sales rep Kurt Kruger has already graciously pledged a $500 match donation to UM Waterkeeper on top of additional funds raised through the auction of Garrison’s artwork. So, if you are around West on Sunday, stop by, say hi, and check out the art. If you can’t make it, stay tuned to our social media channels for updates and info on how to bid on the artwork.

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.

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 
Summer is here and things are getting warm out there folks! Time to break out the SPF 50, sun-hoodies, and sandals. Daytime highs for the upcoming week range from the low to high 80’s and nighttime lows will dip in to the low 40’s. There is no significant risk of substantial rain in the forecast, but with highs in the 80’s you should always be prepared for an afternoon or evening thunderstorm in the mountains.

Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Dam: 1470 cfs

Ashton Dam: 2220 cfs

St. Anthony: 1150 cfs

Fall River: 194 cfs

Increasing flows due to irrigation demand this past week have begun to change the nature of the fishing in Henry’s Fork country, but good opportunities still abound. This is the time of year that rivers in the area are generally dropping in flows while the Fork is increasing, entering a high water period that is likely to last until the first week of August. Higher flows in the summer invigorate trout in a way that lower summertime flows don’t. Along with high July flows comes increased turbidity in the river, making visibility an issue but also good cover for approaching wary trout. We have a non-typical visitor to our forest this year, Henry’s Fork country is buzzing with the sound of cicadas, so be on the lookout for any opportunities they might present.

Box Canyon: With flows around 1500 cfs, the Box is rolling right along, this is a great time of year to enjoy the Box in either a quick float through or an all day endeavor. Indicator nymph fishing is the norm here in July, but dry/dropper and dry fly opportunities do exist with golden stoneflies and terrestrials. Indicator rigs should be between 4’ and 6’ from indicator to point fly, we like a BB shot at these flows and occasionally a double BB. With higher water, the fly selection begins to swing back to some of the larger flies, a rubberlegs or a leech pattern makes a great searching fly, while lots of fish will still be taken on smaller flies fished as trailers or up front as well: perdigons (now is a good time to consider one with a hot spot), PTs, zebra midges, and caddis pupa are all good choices. Streamer fishing can be a good option as well at the moment.

Railroad Ranch: The Ranch has been fishing well but is spotty. The upper reaches have been producing the most insect activity but pockets of activity can be found throughout Harriman State Park. This is a great time of year to look for spinners on an almost daily basis, on a good day that can keep you busy through 1 o’clock. For the afternoon sessions, be on the lookout for PMD hatches, terrestrial opportunities, and maybe some flavs as the afternoon matures or an early weather cell moves in. Hot, windless and sunny conditions are ideal for morning spinner falls, but having some clouds in the sky help the afternoons stay alive. Be on the lookout for flavs, green drakes, PMDs, caddis, cicadas and gray drakes.

Canyon country: The canyons of the Henry’s Fork remain a good place to journey for the next foreseeable future, high flows make for active trout in aggressive water. Dry/dropper rigs are the norm in here, but don’t overlook the opportunity that current conditions combined with fast-moving water present, streamer fishing can be a good choice as well.

Warm River confluence to Ashton: This section is still producing fun days of trout fishing in a beautiful environment for anglers of most skill levels. We are generally indicator nymphing down here, but dry/dropper opportunities should not be overlooked if you are finding trout in 2-3’ of water. Grasshoppers and other terrestrials make for a good dry that can double as an indicator of subsurface activity when a nymph is suspended below. A similar selection to the Box Canyon will do you right. Early and late runs might consider throwing a streamer for part of the day.

Below Ashton Reservoir: There is a fast-dwindling amount of activity down here. Usually water temps are getting too high for fishing on the lower river, but currently there is enough water in some of the reaches to allow for a morning’s session. Bugs are extremely sparse, so be prepared to do some work to find active trout. It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer on your person while fishing down here, temperatures are usually too high to keep the afternoons productive, 70 degrees is a good marker to call it quits. Sparse spinner falls in the morning and terrestrials in the late morning/early afternoon.

Madison River by Marshall Fairbanks

We have seen great fishing this past week on the Madison with some good days of salmon fly fishing mixed in with a few less consistent days where we have been fishing caddis and nymphing. The Madison is very wadeable right now with flows of 900 around the dam and 1200 below the West Fork. The river has been busy so don’t be scared to take a 20-30 minute walk from the access sights to find some water and enjoy the next week of good dry fly fishing.

The float section has seen the bulk of the salmon flies move through there. The golden bite has been better and more consistent for us and you will see better stonefly fishing in the upper sections between Lyons and Palisades. Look to downsize your goldens as the week goes on and look to fish caddis when they are not on the big bugs. We have also seen PMDs and larger Epeorus mayflies in the mix and look to take advantage when they are hatching strongly. The best dry fly fishing has been in a morning window between 10-12 and again in the evenings when caddis are strong and falling on the water.

The Wade section has fished well the past couple days and should see prime time fishing this next week. The big bugs are spotty but present. Look to fish the Salmon Fly and Goldens midday and don’t be scared to throw a larger fly into the fast moving water to try and move a big fish. Look to fish caddis and mayfly imitations when they are on the water. The caddis fishing has been more consistent in the flats, and we have found more fish sitting shallow in the mornings and evenings when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

We have been fishing the Henry’s Fork (Golden Stone #10-14, Salmonfly #6-8), razorback imitations #8-12, micro chubbys (root beer, black, purple, tan) #10-16, X-caddis #12-16, cornfed caddis #14-16, missing link #14-16, Jojo’s PMD #14-16, and other attractor/parachute patterns. Look to find fish in most of the normal spots close to the bank and on the shallow bars on the edges. When it’s hot midday, its worth throwing a dry dropper or nymph rig into some the heavier water around the rocks and in middle. Nymph-wise, we have been catching fish on the two bit golden #12, black/brown rubber legs #6-10, Duracell jigs #12-14, PT style patterns (redneck, splitback PMD, CDC PT, shop vacs) #12-16, and a variety of perdigon and midge patterns #14-18.

Yellowstone National Park by Patrick Johnson

Well, we’re finally here — after biblical amounts of June precipitation and a temperate early July, we’ve reached the true height of summer. As the weather heats up towards the middle of the day it’s increasingly important to carry a thermometer in your pack or vest when fishing in the park, as water temps on the Gibbon, Firehole, and Madison are now regularly hitting the high 60s. We encourage all anglers to fish these rivers in the early morning while it’s still cool, and get off the water during the hottest parts of the day — instead, look elsewhere for cooler creeks, lakes, and rivers without the heavy geothermal influence. While this is tough with many of our higher-elevation park fisheries still closed from flood damage (Soda Butte, Lamar, Slough), some great opportunities can still be found on the Gallatin, Gardiner, and Yellowstone Rivers. For those who are keyed into the still-water game, hiking into Grebe and Cascade lakes can provide a great afternoon of dry-fly eats (chubbies and damsel flies). Just down the road, walking the shore of Yellowstone Lake and stripping streamers will still yield decent numbers of hefty cutthroat cruising along those deep drop-offs (I’ve often had success with white Bouface Leeches or a classic Sparkle Minnow). As water temperature increasingly becomes an influencing factor in our fishing success, it’s a great idea to keep these less-trafficked waters in mind!

When it comes to bugs, mayflies and stoneflies are now entering their last stretches of “fishability” in the western half of the park — while Grey Drake spinners have been spotted early in the day on the Madison, the days of the mayfly have met their end for the most part. Though some of our favorite aquatic insects may be on their way out at lower elevations, we’re lucky that this year it’ll be an almost seamless transition into terrestrial season: now’s the time to stock your boxes with hoppers, beetles, and ants. They’re already on the banks of most of our rivers, and I’d expect terrestrial fishing to really start coming into shape over the coming week. Stop by the shop and we’ll be glad to hook you up with some of our favorites such as Jojo’s Chubbinator, Hoovie’s Crippled ant, or Jake’s Gulp Beetle (to name just a few).

On the converse side, the higher elevation streams in the park are just starting to come into shape with prolific hatches of Salmonflies and Golden Stones spotted along Upper Yellowstone between Fishing Bridge and Sulphur Cauldron. Drakes and PMDs will be soon to follow along this same stretch (don’t be afraid to throw a hopper or ant if they’re being fussy either!). It’s also worth it to stop and fish the stretch of the Gallatin within the YNP boundary — Salmonflies have been going steady downstream of Fawn Pass, and most big, foamy flies have been readily inhaled when placed against the banks or in deeper holding water.

Keep your eyes on this space in the next few weeks as we await the eventual opening of Slough Creek — another high-elevation, cold-water stream that’ll provide yet another option for those hot summer days.

Stay up to date on YNP roads below


The Lakes by Matt Klara

Caddis, early callibaetis, a couple of damsels, and even some early terrestrials have joined the chironomid and leech party on Hebgen. I was out a couple of days ago with my family in the boat. We started on a shallow flat with no success. We moved locations onto a dropoff at the flat’s edge and started finding fish immediately. I was holding my own catching some nice fish while retrieving small nymphs (callibaetis and caddis) on an intermediate line for a couple of hours until a strong chironomid emergence kicked in. At that point I watched my wife and mom go on a fantastic catching spree fishing chironomids under indicators while I continued to strip flies and enjoy the summer sunshine (unbothered by the tug of a trout on my line). What’s the lesson here? Be aware of the insects on the water and dont be afraid to make a move to different depths if you aren’t fishing fish!

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