Hello from West Yellowstone, Montana
– The Trout Capital of the World –
Last week’s late summer heat was met with afternoon rain showers which helped keep things cooler around these parts. Our guides and shop staff are avoiding the middle part of the day for sure. Get on the river early and take a break from 3-7pm. Just about everywhere right now, leaving the fish alone during the heat of the day is the best plan of attack. Cooler temps are on the way as the Dog Days of Summer slip on by. Fishing is holding up pretty well over all, it pays massive dividends to observe your fishing environment before stepping foot in the river and casting your fly. Take a moment to hang out on the bank and see what you see. Are there spinners hovering over the water? Did you see ants in the bushes or crawling around on the ground? What color and size are the hoppers you’re seeing? Is there a big brown sitting in the shadow of that grassy boulder ridden bank? All of these things matter and taking a little time to look around will improve your overall angling experience tenfold. The key here is to slow down, look around and cover the water efficiently but don’t dally and waste time making thirty drifts in the same spot.
A reminder to everyone that our annual Trout Spey Days event is scheduled for September 9th and 10th, and is sure to be a good time as always. Lots to learn this year from our great lineup of presenters that includes Simon Gawesworth, Eric Neufeld, Lee Davison, George Cook, and Matt Klara. Head over to the event website via THIS LINK to get all the details, or call us at the shop to get signed up. Spots are filling up!
If you haven’t already, now is the time of the year to start planning your fall fishing trips to West Yellowstone, Montana. Give the shop a call or shoot us an email, we’d love to help you plan your trip or suggest some flies to tie up for September and October. If you haven’t walked in the fly shop this season, take a walk downstairs the next time around and check out the new fly tying section of the store. We have filled the Travel Lounge with tying materials and if you are in need of a place to tie some flies, there is table, light and vice waiting for you.
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
Daytime highs for the upcoming week look to be in the high 70’s to low 80’s, with a pretty solid chance of rain during the weekend. Nighttime temps will be in to the low 40’s s and possibly hitting the high 30’s! So expect to don a layer early in the day only to shed it before lunch. As always, bring that rain jacket with you.
Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames
Island Park Dam: 813 cfs
Ashton Dam: 1700 cfs
St. Anthony: 999 cfs
Fall River: 355 cfs
The Henry’s Fork flows have remained relatively constant this last week with clarity improving throughout the system. Though these hot afternoons have remained difficult in the way of fishing opportunity, hours of daylight are decreasing every day as we near autumn and nights are getting longer and cooler. Cooler temps will bring longer windows of fishing opportunity, hope is on the horizon!
Box Canyon: The Box remains one of the more consistent fishing sections on the Fork, but it is still a day to day endeavor down there. it’s a bit weedy in there, so be sure to check your flies frequently. Now is a good time to remove the weight from your indicator rigs when you’re not targeting deeper slots and run weightless through the flats. Try a weighted nymph as your point fly and an unweighted trailer to keep things above the grass. Streamer fishing remains a good option in the fast water in the top of the canyon, throughout the canyon in the evening hours, or on a cloudy day. Zebra midges in red and brown 14-18, PTs 16-18, Rubberlegs 8-10, and your favorite perdigon nymphs are all a good bet. Copper Zonkers, Black and Olive BFEs, and Bouface leeches will get you started on the streamer side of things.
Railroad Ranch: The Ranch has had very sparse morning activity as of late, but those willing to hunt will find some nice trout rising to small trico and pseudo spinners, callibaetis spinners, and small black winged ants. The hopper population hasn’t been thick enough so far to warrant too much in the way of dedicated afternoon efforts, and the lack of wind this last week is keeping terrestrials a distant memory to the Ranch’s trouty inhabitants. Ranch veterans will show up prepared with an assortment of spinners 14-20, black winged ants 18-20, honey ants 14, and a mix of grasshoppers and beetles this coming week.
Canyon country: For those looking for a bit of solitude, it can be found in the two canyon sections below the ranch, above and below Mesa Falls. These are both journeys that require skilled oarsmenship and a taste for adventure. Weeds aren’t bad in these sections and the fishing is good for small to medium sized fish with some larger specimens mixed in there. Dry/dropper rigs and streamers are our primary choices in here.
Warm River to Ashton: The rubber hatch has been in full effect with many pleasure floaters in kayaks, innertubes, etc on these warm summer days. An early start will help to avoid some of the crowds, and fishing has been good for action on small to medium sized fish. Indicator rigs will assist you in getting your flies in front of more trout, but large trout can be found occasionally by fishing the shallows with grasshopper imitations.
Below Ashton Dam: Flows remain reasonable and the trout down here should be in good shape when water temps return to below 70 degrees. There is some fishing to be had in the morning hours, but won’t typically last past 11am or noon on these sunny days. There are a few opportunities around but most anglers will find their time is better spent upriver seeking out cooler water temperatures.
Have a great week out there!
Madison River by Dinah DiMeolo
Another week has come and gone on the Madison, terrestrials continue to be the dominant players on the river over caddis and mayfly hatches. Temperatures are still fluctuating approximately 5-10 degrees in certain areas along the Madison each day, and flows have been gradually decreasing as the month goes on. The few days of rain we had later last week cooled off the water and air a bit, which is a good sign as we get deeper into August. Flows are running 1050 cfs at Hebgen Dam and 1170 cfs at Kirby this week, making for great opportunities both wading & floating. It’s still important to plan accordingly for the weather and aim to be on the water early and off by the time it heats up. We want to keep our aquatic business partners happy, healthy, and not overheated.
While the hopper bite has been somewhat hit-or-miss lately, this last week has been a little more consistent. Tan and pink Thunder Thighs and Morish Hoppers (#6 and #8) have been great patterns to be throwing once the morning heats up around 10am. Arrick’s Parachute Ant or Hoovie’s Ant (#14) are also both great flies you shouldn’t be on the river without, especially as we start to get more rain and temps drop. While most people think to be only casting terrestrials right along the banks, don’t overlook other water fish will be sitting in waiting for an easy meal. Drift along shallow riffles, in front of large boulders, and in slower currents out beyond the edge of the banks.
For those more interested in throwing single dry flies, try tying on a single caddis or mayfly imitation earlier in the morning and casting along seams or soft edges near slow pools. Fish have seen a lot of bugs at this point in the season, so be innovative in outsmarting them. Noteworthy patterns to have on hand would be a CDC Para Rusty Spinner, Hackle Stacker Epeorus, Cornfed Caddis, Iris Caddis, or a Sparkle Dunn PMD.
Whether you’ve been fishing this area for 3 days or 3 months, it is easy to get burnt out after tough days on the water. When all else fails- it’s a scientific fact that you will catch more fish with a rod fresh off the rack from Big Sky Anglers. Jokes aside, you should take a step back every so often to reevaluate your strategies, consider what you could improve upon, try new patterns, and really bring your A-game to the river. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer and fish it hard!
Yellowstone National Park by Patrick Johnson
Well folks, to be quite honest nothing has really changed drastically over the last week when it comes to fishing in the Park. It truly feels like we’re finally in the dog days of summer: temps are high, at times the sun has been downright oppressive, and it often feels like you should be able to hear the heat radiating in waves off the ground alongside the constant thrum of crickets, grasshoppers, and the occasional cicada. Luckily for us, the trout have been readily inhaling those noisy terrestrials.
As before, stick to fishing in the mornings or in the late afternoon / early evenings, and try to avoid those warmer rivers like the Firehole or the Madison — cooler temps will do both you and the fish many favors, and having the sun at a slight angle can often help your presentation when casting to risers. In the heat of the day – when the sun is high and directly overhead – those fish can often see just about everything and have usually retreated to deeper, cooler holding spots.
Biting flies and mosquitos continue to trend downward, and now is my favorite time of year to slap on some wet-wading socks and head to the river with nothing but my rod and a puck of terrestrial patterns — fly fishing at its simplest. Grasshoppers remain along the banks in droves, and ants have recently become major players — we’ve been seeing a lot of the red and black variety on the water, and Jojo’s Red/Black ant has been a killer. They’ve been eating the cinnamon and honey ant as well, though I’ve spotted very few flying around. I’d expect we’re just around the corner from seeing those giant smokestack-like emergences of flying ants. Make sure you’re prepared and swing by the shop to grab some of our favorites like Hoovie’s Crippled Ant, Jojo’s Honey Ant, or the ever-tricky Royal Wulff Cripple.
Stay up to date on YNP roads below
The Lakes by Matt Klara
Not much change to report on the stillwater front, folks. Callibaetis and Damsels remain at center stage this week. Gulpers are happening on Hebgen with a mix of success on both dry callibaetis imitations, ants, and callibaetis nymphs fished either as a dropper or naked, sight cast to risers. Remember, some of those riseforms you are seeing may actually be trout swirling to feed on nymphs very near the surface. There is no shame in fishing the nymph, especially if you are looking to extend a lake session beyond the window of dry fly opportunity!
The high country and alpine lakes are prime right now. Terrestrials are really coming on strong and will take on a very important role on those lakes where aquatic insect life is less prolific. Some of the high elevation lakes in the 8000s around here also have great damslefly activity around weedbeds.
Regardless of where you are fishing, be aware of water temps. Lake fish are particularly susceptible to C&R mortality if temps climb and dissolved oxygen levels drop.
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