Hello from West Yellowstone, Montana
– The Trout Capital of the World –
We are a week into July, and the big news out of Big Sky Country is that, for a change, there is no big news! Consistency has been the name of the game recently with weather and water conditions gradually easing into a stable, summertime vibe.
Conditions look to remain groovy through the upcoming week with warm afternoons in the 80’s, and cool mornings and evenings in the 40’s up here in Volcano Country.
Fishing conditions continue to improve every day with more and more options available, especially for the discerning dry fly angler. Read on to hear about new fishing on the horizon on 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.
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.
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
Summer is here! Time to break out the SPF 50, sun-hoodies, and sandals. Daytime highs for the upcoming week range from the low to mid 80’s and nighttime lows will dip in to the upper 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: 976 cfs, forecasted to be increased to approximately 1150 cfs today
Ashton Dam: 1940 cfs
St. Anthony: 1070 cfs
Fall River: 271 cfs
Henry’s Fork country has been a fun place to be this last week, with the river fishing well from top to bottom and in excellent condition. Expect flows to gradually be increased as we near mid-July’s demand for irrigation, and for tougher conditions in the lower river as daytime highs are in the 80s this week. Keep a thermometer handy for the afternoons when fishing around Ashton, it’s generally a good idea to give the trout a break when water temperatures reach 70 degrees.
Box Canyon: With flows rising in the box, you’ll want to increase your split shot and at times lengthen your leader to reach good fishing. That said, you can always look for the depth that works for your rig and focus on that. The trout are spread out nicely and a little more water in the system will keep that going. This is mayfly and caddis time on the Henry’s Fork, so smaller nymphs 14-16 will be strong players. Increasing flows can make for some pretty fun fishing with stonefly nymphs too. Golden stones are still around, some days more than others, and a good dry fly run through the Box is possible. Keep an eye out for flav and drake spinners in the flats, when there are good bugs around, there will be trout eating them.
Railroad Ranch: Lots of fun had on the Ranch this last week and we remain hopeful that it will continue as flows gradually increase. Sometimes rising flows reduce the focus on the surface and lends itself to subsurface activity, which can make for days with sparse targets in Harriman. Other years, however, the bugs that are around are desirable enough for trout to continue to feed on them. This is especially true when there are flav spinners around, as there are now, any calm morning will be a good time to take a walk. During the afternoons, look for caddis and PMD hatches. Flavs usually emerge in the late afternoons and evenings. Brown drakes have been around all week, but will likely not last much longer, there might be a few good evenings left!
Canyon Country: Hot summer days are great days to enjoy the canyon country, air temperatures are cooler and the highly oxygenated water keeps trout actively feeding. We’re generally dry/dropper fishing down here, but the occasional indicator rig can prove useful. Streamer fishing can be quite good as well, and its worth devoting an hour’s worth of effort to see if you can entice a larger trout or two to the net.
Warm River to Ashton: Generally a consistent fishery that provides anglers with good action in the heat of summer. Usually we are dry/dropper or indicator nymphing down here. The streamer enthusiast can have some fun down here as well, probably best to focus those efforts in the morning and evening hours rather than the heat of the day. Rubberlegs, PTs, zebra midges, caddis larva, and perdigons are all on the menu.
Below Ashton Reservoir: It’s been a good week down there, but expect fishing to start tapering off earlier as the week progresses. Flows are still high enough to keep water temperatures from climbing too high, but things can still warm quickly down here. Still some flav and pmd spinners around, some caddis, golden stones, and gray drake spinners. Afternoons can be tough, so have a plan B if things shut down early and head back up the hill to cooler temps if needed. Having a thermometer on hand is a good idea while down here.
Madison River by Marshall Fairbanks
This week has been a good one to be on the Madison with the first stretch of consistent bug activity and fishing as the flows and water temps have settled into a consistent range. We have seen flows between 800-900 cfs out of Hebgen dam increasing to a nice 1300 cfs above Lyons. The river is a nice “fishy” green-clear color with good visibility and will clear up over the next week.
Salmon flies have made their appearance and are thick on the sections towards Ennis. They have made their way up to Ruby creek and will be in the Lyons to palisades section over the next couple of days. The fish have been eating them better in the lower sections and have been slow to take them in those upper sections. Look for the fishing to improve as the hatch gets thicker. We have had some success running dry dropper rigs with a larger foam fly and have had more dry fly eats on a trickier pattern like a razorback or Jacklin’s style pattern. Fish haven’t been as consistently on the banks. So, look to fish the shallow gravel bars and rock piles 3-6 feet off the bank as well. We should see them eat the big bug better as the hatch goes on.
For those anglers fishing in the wade section, be prepared with some salmon fly patterns when they show up (maybe by the weekend), but the caddis fishing has been more consistent and more productive in the upper sections of the river. Fishing a dry dropper with a smaller chubby #14-16 in purple, black, and rootbeer has been effective. There have been some larger caddis on the river mixed in with the smaller ones so don’t be scared to fish a larger caddis pattern like a cornfed or missing link #12-14 and trail a smaller dry off the back. There have been a few PMD’s mixed in and we have had some nice fish eat them. Fishing a good attractor parachute pattern in grey or purple #14-18 off the back has been fairly successful for imitating smaller caddis and mayflies.
As far as the dropper game, we have been fishing a variety of stonefly nymph patterns, caddis pupa imitation #12-#14, pheasant tail style nymphs #14-16, and perdigon patterns #14-18 . Large rubber legs #6-8, Olive Arizona Hare’s ear #12-14, Frenchie’s #14-16 and shop vacs #14-16 have all produced well. Make sure you are chasing depth as well by either lengthening your dropper to match depth or using a heavier tungsten nymph. If the fishing is tough, throw the double nymph rig around the rocks and in the deeper water. Make sure to put a split shot or two on there and get your flies down on the bottom. This upcoming week should see some of the best fishing the Madison has to offer. So, get out there and enjoy it!
Yellowstone National Park by Steve Hoovler
The big news out of Yellowstone last week was the re-opening of the Northern Loop and suspension of the Alternating License Plate System. Yellowstone National Park reopened the North Loop on Saturday, July 2, to all visitors. In addition to roads in the south loop, visitors are now able to access:
- Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs
- Mammoth Hot Springs to Tower-Roosevelt
- Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass)
Visitors can access the south and north loops via the East Entrance (Cody, Wyoming), West Entrance (West Yellowstone, Montana), and South Entrance (Grand Teton/Jackson, Wyoming).
Federal Highway Administration engineers have completed final bridge and road safety inspections. Temporary repairs to the wastewater systems have been evaluated and will accommodate day use on the north loop. The park cautions the public that high water remains in many waterways and to be aware of backcountry closures in the north loop due to hazardous conditions or damaged trails and bridges. Visit Yellowstone’s Backcountry Situation Report for details. Services in the north loop will include general stores at Tower and Mammoth Hot Springs, and gasoline in both locations. Additional services may open in upcoming weeks. Visit Operating Hours and Seasons for details.
North and Northeast entrances
The North Entrance Road (Gardiner, Montana to Mammoth Hot Springs) and Northeast Entrance Road (Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana to Tower-Roosevelt) remain closed to visitor vehicular traffic while temporary repairs are completed. Visitors may access the park on foot through these entrances in order to recreate (fish and hike) in areas not identified as closed. The park will evaluate authorizing bicycle use through these entrances up to damaged road sections in the near future.
Stay up to date on YNP roads below
With warm temps in the forecast, it’s time to give the Firehole a break until the water begins to cool again in the Fall. If you are dead set on fishing the strangest trout stream on earth, focus on PMD spinner falls in the early morning hours and the furthest upstream reaches above Midway Geyser Basin.
The Madison River in YNP is also a good option for an early morning head hunting session with rusty spinners and egg-laying caddis. Look for flat water sections on your way to Madison Junction on calm mornings.
The Gallatin River in YNP continues to improve daily as water temps warm and clarity improves. The river is in great shape now, and we are seeing the first good hatches of caddis and sallies. Warm conditions over the next week will help accelerate the hatch schedule. Salmonflies, Golden Stones, PMD’s, and Green Drakes are all on deck. There is some fun fishing coming in the next few weeks on the Gallatin. So, keep an eye on this great fishery, and check with us in the shop for the latest hatch report.
The Caldera Stretch of the Yellowstone River (Chitenden Bridge to Fishing Bridge) has been open since July 1, but water conditions continue to be high and cold. Flows are slowly dropping, but remain just below 5,000 cfs. As water levels gradually fall towards average, fishing conditions should be prime right around the traditional opening day of July 15.
The Lakes by Matt Klara
With a good run of summery weather the past couple of weeks, the lake angling in the region is beginning to get more and more interesting. Interesting doesn’t necessarily mean “easy” but that’s not really why we are out there, now is it. Into the chironomid and leech mix on Hebgen you will find a nice selection of caddis, early callibaetis, a couple of damsels, and maybe even some early terrestrials depending on when and where you fish. Unlike in the spring, when I can feel relatively confident rigging my rods and flies in the garage at home, now I need to wait til I get to the spot and do some observing.
Vegetation on Henry’s should be increasing by the day, creating the conditions that begin to concentrate the fish more. So far, the name of the game has been searching and covering lots of water, but that is all about to change. Will we see a legendary damsel hatch this year?
Some higher elevation lakes are also in play these days. The Big Pond in the Park is filled to the brim with cold water. Buggers and leeches will do the trick until the hatches start up. There are also some hike in options opening up right now at the lower alpine levels. Study your charts, Pack bear spray and bug spray and go exploring!
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