Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report 7/2/2020

by | Jul 1, 2020 | 0 comments

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

July is here and if one thing is for certain, our days will be filled with dry flies and rising trout. We have now entered one of the most coveted timeframes in Greater Yellowstone Country. Each day stretches out to what seems like an eternity and the fishing possibilities are endless. The past twelve days have found me behind the oars directing my drift boat down the Henry’s Fork and the Madison. Rowing a boat is a passion that we all share here at BSA and this marks my 21st season in the middle seat. I’ve seen more fish eat dry flies than most folks in this world and have missed my fare share. Spending my days on a river in this amazing corner of the World is a gift that I cherish each and every day. This week brought on more rain and a glaze of snow in the high country, the wet weather is a blessing no doubt, but all of us could use little more Vitamin D in our life. Big puffy clouds and sunshine are in the forecast as we head into the Holiday weekend which will get the caddis cranked up and make the evening spinner fall something to look forward to. 

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 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

Some folks like to call the Madison a caddis river and the Henry’s Fork a mayfly river. I don’t know if I fully subscribe to that, but the thought generally sticks in my mind as I look at the weather when trying to decide what to do on a cloudy day in late June and early July. Clouds mean mayflies and when those mayflies are likely to be any one of the following bugs, the Henry’s Fork is a pretty good choice for a day’s fishing:Green Drakes, Flavs, and/or PMDs. 
The Fork is fishing pretty darn well this year and great fishing is found from top to bottom at the moment. The upper river has likely just finished up with brown drakes with a few green drakes still around. With drakes, no one can be too sure, so be ready for anything. However, history would suggest that drakes are on the wane in the upper with both flavs and pmds on the rise in the Ranch as well as Last Chance. The Ranch has fished very well since the opener and we are hopeful that this trend will continue with morning spinner falls, afternoon pmd emergences, and early afternoon flav hatches when there are enough clouds in the sky to keep it all in balance! Don’t forget to have caddis in both olive and tan and in 14s and 16s. There’s no question that right when you’ve got it all figured out and you’re ready for a mayfly hatch, the river will turn its nose at you and decide to deliver you a batch of caddis, so be prepared!
The Box Canyon will continue to offer great nymph fishing and some periods of terrific golden stone dry fly fishing throughout the month of July for those looking for a fun day’s fishing in a beautiful place in the world. The other canyon country further on down the system will enjoy frequent catches and good action.
Just outside of the canyons, the Warm River to Ashton section should provide excellent action with nymph and dry/dropper fishing for those looking for a fun day on the water. Downstream of Ashton Reservoir, things will start to really tighten up. Every warm day will play on the fishery down low and begin to slow it down. Every cloud in the afternoon has the potential of livening things up for a short while, but eventually the sunny days of July and the irrigation demand in the Snake River Valley will win and this lower Henry’s Fork fishery will go to sleep until September. It has been unforgettable and great and will be so right up until the very abrupt end, likely this week, so get ready to change gears…

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The flows at Hebgen have bumped slightly to 622 CFS, Hebgen is close to full pond so with any luck we will see an increase in flows over the next week. The banks are pretty skinny on the Madison River right now, but fortunately the tributaries are kicking in enough water to keep things a bit higher as one movers downstream in the Madison Valley. Overall, the Madison is fishing really well. There are lots of salmonfly nymphs making their way to the banks; PMDs and caddis are hatching in sold numbers to boot. The dry fly fishing showed up this week river wide. Jojo’s PMD, the Parashuck PMD, Riffle Riser Crip, X Caddis and the Chubbinator fooled plenty of fish. 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 will produce. 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, they are here. Where? Mostly down around Varney Bridge and creeping past the Cameron flats in a few spots. This past week’s cold rain and snow in the high country has them hunkered down in need of sunshine. By the time you read this, the sun will have poked out enough to get them flying. Much like 2020, this year’s hatch has been a bit off, that for sure. The long range forecast of sunshine should get the Big Bugs moving again. 

Missouri River – by Joe Moore

As of Tuesday morning, the Missouri river is flowing at 10,900 cfs and the Dearborn is flowing 1200 cfs. That’s up quite a bit due to heavy rains both locally and in the headwater areas of southwest Montana. From the looks of the pics we’ve seen, the Canyon REch is blown out completely. The dry fly fishing had been good enough for those willing to look in the sneaky spots, but with the recent bump in flows that might change a little bit. Give us a shout if you’re headed up that way as we have a fresh report almost daily. Joe will be headed up there after the 4th July with hopes that river flows diminish so he doesn’t have to buy a longer anchor rope. Jonathan will be up there on his heels in the second week of July. 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. 

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Just when I started to break out the big-brimmed, straw hat and wet wading gear Mother Nature reminded us what living in the mountains at elevation is really like. Yet, another cold, wet, persistent weather system has delayed many Park waters from shifting into summer gear. 
The “Forecast” is looking warmer and drier, but my faith in forecasts is shaky at best after the soggy week we’ve just seen. If predictions ring true, and Yellowstone’s high country gets a chance to dry out, we are in for some fun fishing in the next few weeks. 

Firehole River
Cold, wet weather was once again a shot in the arm for the Firehole keeping water temps low and pumping more hatches of mayflies. But with warm weather coming, this classic fishery is definitely on life support. 
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. 
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 continue to 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. 
Yellowstone Lake
If you’re traipsing through Yellowstone this holiday weekend in search of trout with your fly rod, and your favorite summertime fishery hasn’t quite shaped up yet, Yellowstone Lake, and it’s increasing population of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout could be a great option. Explore the shoreline around Gull Point with some leeches and Callibaetis nymphs stripped slowly. Floating lines will work. Intermediate sinking lines will work a bit better. Keep an eye out for the first Callibaetis hatches and spinner falls of the season on calm mornings, and the rising Cutts that come with them. 
Gardner River
Look for Salmonflies to rev up in this Yellowstone River tributary once conditions warm this week. 
Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr
Back to the waiting game for these three cutthroat fishing icons. This last weather system brought flows back up, and delayed the start of consistent fishing. Slough remains the best of the bunch for water clarity, and will likely be the first to start fishing when things warm a bit. Expect to see PMD’s, caddis, Salmonflies, and Gray Drakes when they do. 
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. 
Indian, Obsidian, and Panther Creeks 
If you have the kids in tow – or you just love fishing for Brook Trout- grab some high riding attractor dry flies like a #14 Royal Wulff and a #10 Stimulator, and head to these small stream gems in the Northwest corner of the Park. Be sure to bring some bug spray as the mosquitoes love Brook Trout streams too. 
Gallatin River – in YNP
The upper Park stretch of the Gallatin is running clear and cold. Warm weather will bring the start of good caddis activity, and maybe the first consistent dry fly fishing. The big stoneflies are still down the road a bit -figuratively and literally. 
Gallatin River – outside YNP
This week’s stormy weather brought color back to the Gallatin River below the Taylor’s Fork. Clarity should be back to normal by the weekend, and fishing will be good with a combination of caddis, PMD’s, and the first of the big stoneflies driving the fishing.  

Hebgen Lake – by Steve Hoovler

Chironomid and Callibaetis nymph fishing has been consistent (when the weather allows) at all levels of the water column. Fish continue to patrol skinny bank water in the arms as the lake level is nearly at full pond. The first mornings and evenings with consistent numbers of rising fish since the early midge hatches will likely happen this week if the winds cooperate. You can also expect to see a strong emergence of fireworks around 10:00pm on Saturday night.

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