Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, the rain will have been falling for several hours here in Yellowstone Country. The forecast for the next five days is for thunderstorms throughout the day with brief periods of sunshine, hooray! Expect the daytime temps to be cooler as well; we are all looking forward to this much needed moisture and the cool down to come. The fish are gonna like it as well!
The Goose Lake fire, down in the Madison Valley, is now under control and 78% contained. Next time you see a fire fighter in southwest Montana, please be sure to thank them as they worked tirelessly to help mitigate the fire.
The other news this week is that YNP has placed all of the rivers in the Park on Hoot Owl restrictions. The rivers in YNP are open to fishing from sunrise to 2pm. If you have any questions, please call the shop.
Spey Days is happening this year! Justin and Matt are busy planning this event and have a great line up ready to go. For more information, click here.
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 6 am to 9pm seven days a week. Our fly shop remains a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. 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
Henry’s Fork Streamflows
Island Park Dam: 956 cfs
Ashton Dam: 2320 cfs
St. Anthony: 974 cfs
The Henry’s Fork has been a workhorse these days, providing anglers with great days on the water throughout the system. The Upper river flows decreased about 200 cfs this week, and is now running at what some might call a perfect flow. The Box Canyon continues to be a workhorse of a fishery these, with some great days nymphing but also with golden stonefly dries in the last week. Nymphs to not be without include perdigons 14-18, PT nymphs 14-18, Zebra midges in red and brown 14-18, Rubberlegs 8-10 and BSA Olive Caddis Pupa 14-16. These will start you off on the right foot, experimenting variations in weight and patterns will get you to where you need to be. We’re not sure how long the golden stones will be hanging around, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got a few of those along as well.
The Railroad Ranch has been fishing well in the mornings and evenings, afternoons are a wild card. Spinners have been the name of the game, we are rarely deviating from putting a #14 rusty spinner on a rising trout as the first play. After that, you could find yourself playing with emergent pmds, caddis, or even the odd grey drake. Insect activity has been sparse but the warm and windless days of the past week have been conducive to spinners being present throughout the morning hours and again in the evenings. It’s a good idea to come armed with spinners from 14-20, pmd cripples, emergers, and duns in 16-20, flavs in emergent, dun, and spinner stages 14, dark caddis 16-18 as well as some hoppers and flying ant patterns. In the coming week I would plan on seeing a reduction in the numbers of flavs, and the arrival of flying ants. Callibaetis are on the horizon as well and make for a good size spent offering on a picky trout.
The canyon country below the Ranch will come into shape as the flows decrease, making some of the more adventurous floats like Riverside to Hatchery Ford and the Grandview Slide a little more ripe with opportunity. Dry/Dropper rigs seem to always provide the anglers with what they need in the way of action, but don’t forget the streamers when afternoon thundershowers come rolling in.
The lower river has some sparse but good opportunity with terrestrials and nymphs, but keep a close eye on water temperatures, when they hit 70 degrees, it’s a good time to pull the plug and head upriver. Streamers in the early morning or when it clouds up are worth a try as we come into August.
Have fun out there!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY STEVE HOOVLER
Historically low flows and localized warm water temperatures have forced YNP officials to issue Hoot Owl restrictions on all rivers and streams in the Park. Fishing on rivers and streams will be prohibited from 2 p.m. to sunrise the following day. Anglers can fish from sunrise to 2 p.m. Yellowstone Lake and other lakes will remain open to fishing from sunrise to sunset as specified in the Fishing Regulations booklet.
Ironically, the forecast for the next six days calls for increased moisture and decreased temps. While we are thrilled to see the change in conditions, it will complicate an already tricky situation.
Water conditions on the Lamar and Soda Butte will likely deteriorate with rain predicted each of the next six days. Keep an eye on the flows, and expect to see dirty water with any increase in levels. As always, give us a call or stop by the shop for the most current info on conditions.
Slough Creek will remain a good option in the coming week. Look for spinner falls and picky fish in the early am, and emergences of pmd’s and cream colored baetis during periods of overcast and rain.
The Yellowstone River in the caldera stretch is another good choice for the time frame that’s available and the conditions that are in the forecast. Warm, sunny mornings will continue to have grey drake and flav spinner falls in isolated areas near the deepest sections. When clouds and rain roll in, be on the lookout for PMD’s, and even a sporadic Green Drake.
The park waters of the Gallatin River continue to fish well with cool water temps, and good bug activity until the 2:00pm limit. Afterwards, the river from the park boundary downstream to the hwy 84 bridge remains one of the only afternoon options in the area that is not under Hoot Owl restrictions.
All of the lakes remain open to fishing after 2:00pm. The stormy afternoon forecasts are not ideal, but calm evenings could produce some rising fish, and fun opportunities to sight fish for cruisers near the shore.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE & JUSTIN SPENCE
We made it through our first week of Hoot Owl closures here on the Madison River. We appreciate all of you folks are willing to wake up early and get after it and be done fishing by 2pm. We know this is less than ideal, but thank you all so much for being flexible and working with us.
The flows at Hebgen Dam bounced around a little bit the past few days, we are not sure what that was about, but the river is back to 1350 CFS out of Hebgen Dam and 1490 CFS at Varney Bridge. River temps are fluctuating about ten degrees throughout the day below Quake Lake and the fishing is hanging right in there.
Caddis are still hatching! Look for trout in the shallow riffles, blind cast your favorite pattern and cover water. Epeorus spinners are fluttering around each morning and evening, be sure to take those with you as well – a #16 and #14 Jojo’s Rusty will fool most trout. Hoppers and ants and becoming more and more important, round out your selection from the bins at our shop and ask the staff what has been working for them. Everyone seems to have a little different spin on where they have been fishing and what has been working. Nymphing with rubber legs, BH pheasant tails, golden stone nymphs, perdigons, prince nymphs, and crystal dips has been effective in the deeper runs.
Get on the river early, if you want or launch on banker’s hours. But the one thing remains the same – No matter where one is at in the float stretch, once 2pm hits, reel em’ up, crack a cold beverage and enjoy the boat ride. Lyons to Ruby, Windy to Story or Ruby to Varney are all solid choices for float fishing and then enjoying the rest of the trip with a cold one in hand. You might find that it’s a ton of fun to sit back, look at the towering mountains and enjoy the ride. As for the flies, drop a tungsten bead head from that Chubby or a #12 Jojo’s Ant and get a long float with your dry fly. Caddis are still around but not in the numbers they are up higher in the river. Epeorus mayfly spinners are throughout the river and there are fish eating them. Micro Chubbys will take their fair share if trout as well and if you find yourself wondering what else to toss out there, ants will be solid choice for the rest of season. Hoppers are definitely making their way to the banks and on the windy days, they are falling in the river. Try fishing a single dry fly and if you are dead set on fishing two dry flies; lengthen the distance between the two flies. There are times when it helps, but this that longer distance between the two flies can be a little tough to tun over if the north wind comes your way. Nymphing from the boat is a great option as well with fish eating rubber legs, Hare’s ears, PT’s, Shop Vacs, guide dips and various Perdigons.
Please be respectful to those fish that do eat your fly. Land them quickly and take care to revive each fish with your anchor on the bank. Trout pics are something we all enjoy, but if you can avoid it in the afternoons please do so. Get creative with your pics and keep those fish wet. Celebrate the trout in the net and enjoy watching them swim away. We find that a slow mo video is the best way to capture the moment!
THE LAKES – BY MATT KLARA
This week we shift our focus away from Hebgen and towards the shining gems of the high country. The mountains surrounding West Yellowstone in Montana, Idaho, and Yellowstone Park are dotted with water bodies ranging from shallow fishless puddles, to idyllic meadow ponds surrounded by blooming water lilly, and stunning alpine cirque lakes teeming with equally stunning trout. Getting to these places typically requires a bit of a walk, some planning, and definitely some bear spray. But for those who cherish the journey associated with fly fishing in addition to the stillwater game, “alpine sake season” is the best time of the year. Getting up high in the mountains this time of year is also a great way to find good, cold water and happy fish. Often, a lake’s inlet or outlet stream will also provide some fun angling options.
Like all fly fishing, there is a simpler way to partake for those who do not wish to dive immediately down the rabbit hole. Mountain lake angling can be as simple as bringing your rod, reel, floating line and a couple boxes of flies along for a beautiful hike, and then making a few casts from shore while you soak up the alpine scenery. A simple selection of dry flies like Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Hoppers, and Flying Ants along with some PT and Hare’s Ear nymphs and your favorite small Woolly Bugger is often all you need to fool a couple of alpine beauties.
Like all fly fishing, you can also do a deep dive and before you know it you start looking into buying a herd of pack goats to haul your float tubes, extra rods and reels, portable depth finder, and ice cold 6-pack. The fact is, some alpine lakes, particularly those fertile enough to grow those big cutthroats we all dream of, can be as technical as any drive-to reservoir. Timing a trip to hit damsel emergences, ice out feeding binges, or other feeding phenomena drives some anglers to extremes. For those who love the details of alpine lakes as much as the scenery, packing in, camping out, and bringing a float tube and a set of sinking lines can really be a game changer, allowing access to the whole lake, and fishing at the prime times of dawn and dusk when so many stillwater dreams are made.
Regardless of which angler you are, I’d encourage you to pick up a map, do a bit of research online, and take a hike to a mountain lake. It’s sure to be a great experience. Whether you bring a rod or not is up to you.
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.