Rain and cooler temps have been the theme here lately and we are absolutely loving it. Both Monday and Tuesday mornings saw 35 degree temps; everyone was donning their puffy jackets until the early afternoon for most of this past week. Some guides were even wearing waders for those early morning starts on the Madison. Here in the Hebgen Basin our weekend forecast is for warmer air and no rain, things will warm up in the high 80s and low 90s down around Ennis and Ashton early in the week and rain is possible throughout next week.
Anglers are planning their Fall fishing trips, guides and rooms at the Golden Stone Inn are filling in, especially for September. If you’re thinking of coming out, give us a ring at the shop and we can help you plan your trip. For those of you looking out to 2022 and planning a trip, good for you! We are already filling in for June and July, while we are not full just yet, lots of anglers have made their plans. Have you?
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 6 am to 9pm seven days a week. Remember, the freshest fishing report is found at the counter of our fly shop. Our shop staff and guides are out daily! 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 & Joe Moore
Henry’s Fork Streamflows
Island Park Dam: 884 cfs
Ashton Dam: 1330 cfs
St. Anthony: 1070 cfs
Last week, the Henry’s Fork flows bounced around quite a bit. At one point it was sitting at 500 cfs and is now back to 884 or so. We expect the flows to drop as irrigation demand decreases throughout the basin downstream. Flows are still at a very comfortable and good level, and fishing conditions should remain good throughout the upper river and spotty further downstream. There are no Hoot Owl restrictions currently in place on the Henry’s Fork, with water temps remaining cool in most of the river above Ashton Reservoir. This week’s forecast calls for partly cloudy days and some afternoon showers are a strong possibility on just about any day.
In the Box Canyon, fishing has remained very good throughout the season, this year’s high numbers and good demographics have provided many anglers with great sport. The river coming out of the Dam is a little off color but quickly mixes in as it moves downstream. As the flows drop, expect fishing to remain consistent, but weeds will be on the increase. Remember to check your flies periodically and make sure they don’t have any of the green stuff hanging on, those rainbows don’t seem to like salad on their bugs! Nymphing is the name of the game here, but there is always some dry/dropper opportunity for those wishing to focus on shallower water and have fewer opportunities. Good choices for the Box include: perdigons 14-18, PT nymphs 16-18, rubberleg stonefly nymphs #8-10, tungbead red worm, olive BSA caddis pupa #14, as well as brown and red zebra midges in 14-18.
The Railroad Ranch section is still producing good mornings, with afternoons remaining the wild card, insect activity can be sparse in the afternoons but present for those who are willing to keep at it and keep looking. These days are beautiful days on the Ranch, any morning is a good time to take your fly rod for a walk in this incredible setting. Be on the lookout for pmd and flav spinners in the mornings, as well as callibaetis and trico spinners while in their habitats. PMDs are still hatching in some areas, sparsely in most but prolific and spotty hatches can be found. Flying ants are making themselves known, any angler who has experienced an ant fall on the Ranch wouldn’t be without these at this time of year. Honey ants #14 and small black ants #18-20 are good patterns to have on hand. Hopper season is upon us and keeping a small selection in your Ranch box is an excellent idea, be on the lookout for aggressive rises and be prepared to cover those zones when you’re able.
The canyon country below the Ranch is at prime level for fishing, just low enough to both see the structure and to be able to effectively get your flies to the holding water. These are great days to enjoy floats through a pristine forested canyon and have a little, hard to find solitude.
Warm River to Ashton, continues to produce quality days of angling for those looking for a little more action and smaller fish. There are always a few nice trout opportunities throughout a fishing day down here, and a great day’s fishing is usually had by the time the take out comes into view.
Below Ashton reservoir flows have dropped dramatically and anglers headed that way are encouraged to get an early start and get off the water by noon or so when water temperatures get too warm.
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY Marshall Fairbanks
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.
This past week we continued to have improving conditions as temperatures in the 30’s at night and afternoon rain showers have kept water temperatures lower and fish happier. These storms can blow out some of the rivers in the northeast corner so keep an eye on the flows. Forecasted temps are expected to get warmer and stay dry over the weekend and then cool down with evening storms as we move into next week.
Flexibility will continue to be the name of the game this week with Hoot Owl fishing restrictions still in place. Don’t be scared to fish your river of choice in the morning and bounce over to one of Yellowstone’s many lakes, which are fishing well. 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. Stripping a leach will fool some cutthroat in the high mountain lakes if there isn’t much happening on the surface.
Once again, water conditions on the Lamar and Soda Butte will likely deteriorate with rain predicted early next week. The warmer weather over the weekend should bring good terrestrial fishing to the valley as more hoppers and ants start falling in the water.
Slough Creek will remain a good option regardless of weather. Look to fish terrestrials when the sun is out and for the occasional hatches 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. Sight fishing with ants, beetles and hoppers is a great way to find these fish. A #14 rusty spinner is also a fantastic fly to always have in the box.
The park waters of the Gallatin and Gardiner rivers will continue to fish well with warming weekend temps. Both rivers start at high elevations and remain cold through the day. Fishing has picked up after 10AM once the water warms and dry dropper rigs will feed a good number of fish. The park waters on the Gallatin close at 2 PM, 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.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE
We are now heading into week four of Hoot Owl here on the Madison River. There are rumors floating around…I don’t put much weight in rumors…but the Hoot Owl could be lifted here soon – don’t hold your breath! I would say it won’t be lifted until the later part of August once things start to cool down for real. There is another “heat wave” coming this week, with any luck it will be accompanied by rain. The flows at Hebgen Dam have remained consistent this week which normally makes for happy trout. The Madison is 1150 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 1260 at Kirby and 1280 CFS at Varney Bridge. River temps are fluctuating about ten degrees throughout the day below Quake Lake and as always this time of the year on the Madi, some days are better than others!
Sparse caddis hatches can be found skittering about in the upper river, expect the fish to be a little pickier as we move further into August. 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 as will a Parachute Adams. Don’t go to the river without hoppers and ants! Nocturnal stones are skating around in the early mornings, so twitching your chubby is a great idea. 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.
This hasn’t changed much from last week…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 will find that it’s a ton of fun to sit back, look at the towering mountains and enjoy the ride. Most folks never look up from the fly while fishing the Madison, we hear quite often how pretty the Madison Valley is! As for the flies, drop a tungsten bead head from that Purple Chubby, Lighting Legs Hopper or a #12 Jojo’s Ant and get a long float with your dry fly. Let your drift roll and keep the fly on the river where it can get eaten. Epeorus mayfly spinners are throughout the river and there are fish eating them. 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. If rolling the middle of the river, dangle a tungsten bead under the big dry. Nymphing from the boat, especially in the cooler morning hours, is a great option 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
A string of much colder nights last week definitely had us dreaming of Autumn lake fishing conditions. That along with some rain, clouds, and cooler midday temps have had a decent effect on surface temperatures on Hebgen. The result has been a reduced showing of insect activity in the short term. However, the forecast is calling for nighttime lows in the mid 40s and highs in the low 80s, with fairly stable storm conditions for ne next few days. These conditions could be prime for reinvigorating the Callibaetis hatches. We’d also expect to see tricos, some chironomids, and even a few caddis here and there. If you aren’t seeing hatch action, don’t hesitate to fish the edges of the flats, or deeper in the bays with general attractors and leech patterns.
High elevations stillwaters will remain a great play this coming week as well. Morning sunshine and big daily temperature swings in the mountain valleys can trigger anabatic, or up-slope winds which are able to pick up and deliver terrestrial insects such as ants, beetles, and even hoppers up into the alpine environment. Be ready with a dry fly rod in addition to your buggers and nymphs!
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.