by | Aug 19, 2021 | 0 comments

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The Big News this week is that FWP lifted the Hoot Owl on the the Upper Madison River! We will continue to carefully watch the river temps as to not fish the river in the heat of the day, but we are now able to fish into the afternoon hours – the hours when trout eat hoppers. Last weekend brought on more hot weather but late Tuesday night the weather turned and rain started falling from the sky. Most of Wednesday was as wet as the river and today its raining again. The weekend outlook is for more wet weather with Saturday being the nicest of the days. If you’re coming through the area and would a like tour of the Golden Stone Inn, please stop by the shop and let us know. We can quickly arrange for that at nearly any time of the day. Stay dry out there and read on for an update on the fishing!

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 Streamflows
Island Park Dam: 762 cfs
Ashton Dam: 1510 cfs
St. Anthony: 1220 cfs

Flows remain at reasonable levels on the Henry’s Fork for the time of year, with a little uptick registering after the rains have begun. This change in the weather is welcome, but can change things up a little bit on the Fork. The patterns of a few days ago will be on hold until the weather turns back to fair. However, opportunity abounds for those who are willing to seek it out!

In the upper river, the Box Canyon remains a good bet, this is one of the most consistent sections of the Henry’s Fork, though it doesn’t offer much in the way of steady dry fly fishing, it is an excellent place to fish nymphs and a fair place to strip a streamer or even drift one under an indicator. Things are starting to get a little weedy, so be sure to check your flies frequently. At 762 cfs, the Box Canyon is easily read with structures very visible from top to bottom. Perdigón style flies #14-18, pheasant tail nymphs #16-18, BSA Olive Caddis Pupa #14-16, Black Rubberlegs #6-10, as well as both red and brown Zebra midges #14-18.

It is likely that the Railroad Ranch will take some time to adjust to the change in weather, but you should find some bug activity near the springs in the section below Osborne Bridge in the afternoons. River-wide, it would be a good idea to be ready for sparse PMD or baetis hatches and some spinners of each in the mornings. When the warmer cycle of summer returns after the weekend, it will be time to shift gears back into flying ants, hoppers, and some spotty PMD activity.

This weather we are experiencing makes for good conditions to fish some of the canyon country between the Ranch and Warm River. As always, dry/dropper rigs are usually productive, hard to beat a stonefly nymph in here. If the residents aren’t too thrilled with that, a #12-14 PT or Perdigon usually does the trick. As long as the weather remains stormy and overcast, streamers are a good bet down here as well. Not only are olive and black both good choices, but we love a Copper Zonker down here this time of year.

The section from Warm River to Ashton should fish well this week with the cooler temperatures and freshets of precipitation. Though nymph or dry/dropper fishing usually reign supreme down here, this is a great time to commit to throwing a streamer. There are brown trout around at the moment who are just about to start thinking about moving around for their annual fall sojourn, and the territorial attitude that accompanies that movement is about to begin taking root.

The lower river below Ashton Reservoir can have a spark of interest when the weather turns foul this time of year, prospecting anglers will likely have the most success with nymph rigs and streamers. It will pay to be on the lookout for spinners or sparse mayflies in the softer water.

Time to dust off the waders, not forget the rain jackets, toss a beanie in the dry bag and have some fun out there, good luck!


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.

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 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 deteriorate with rain predicted through early next week. The warmer weather next week 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. 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.


Hoot Owl was lifted on August 17 here on the Upper Madison River. The flows at Hebgen Dam dropped 110 cfs a handful of days ago and are now sitting at 1040 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 1140 at Kirby and 11600 CFS at Varney Bridge. River temps are fluctuating about six to ten degrees throughout the day below Quake Lake. Last week, the new Madison River Foundation stepped up and replaced the temperature gage at Varney Bridge. Kudos to ED Jon Malovich for making that happen!

Wade Stretch:Sparse caddis hatches can still be found skittering about in the upper river throughout the day, at any given time a fish just might eat one of those in a pocket behind a rock or the skinny water along the bank. Efficiently covering these lies and moving on after a handful of cast should yield a rise here and there. Epeorus spinners are fluttering around each morning and by 10am they are on the water. A #16 and #14 Jojo’s Rusty or cream colored spinner and PMD Sparkle Duns are great choices. You really shouldn’t go to the river without hoppers and ants! Jojo’s Royal Ant is the ant of choice(there are two other colors as well) but we also carry Arrick’s Flying Ant and Hoovie’s Ant in our boxes. Our Lighting Legs Hopper is proving to be a winner behind the Morrish Hopper in all sizes and colors. Nocturnal stones are skating around in the early mornings, so twitching your chubby or hopper pattern is a fabulous plan, just fish 2x so you don’t break off a very possible large trout willing to eat it. In the short term, for this weekend, nymphing with rubber legs, #14-18 BH pheasant tails, golden stone nymphs, perdigons, prince nymphs, zebras, and crystal dips have been effective in the deeper runs. With the forecasted rain and stormy weather, streamer fishing might be pretty darn good. Also, be on the look out for BWOs, they can pop out of no where in mid to late August on these cool, cloudy and rainy days.

Float Stretch:It is a good idea to get on the float stretch early, around 8am, and off by around 4pm. The afternoon heat is still something to pay attention to, depending on the weather of course. If those river temps are hitting 67 and higher, the bite will likely slide off and the fish will generally stop eating. Better to give those fish a break in the heat of the day, that’s for sure. 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 around 10am or so. 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. When rolling the middle of the river, danglin’ a tungsten bead under the Hopper will produce. Nymphing from the boat, especially in the cooler morning hours or throughout the day when the weather is nasty, is a great option with fish eating rubber legs, scuplins, zonkers, olive hare’s ears, PT’s, Shop Vacs, guide dips and various Perdigons. With the forecasted rain and stormy weather, streamer fishing might be pretty darn good.

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!


Whoa! Tuesday night into Wednesday our region was hit with a significant cold front that is bring some fantastic moisture to MT. In Helena, we saw a high of 96 degrees on Monday, and then I woke up on Wednesday to 46 degrees and raining. Temperature swings were less impressive in the mountains around West Yellowstone, but the changed in barometric pressure that are driving this weather pattern are no less significant. Daytime highs around West Yellowstone will be in the 50s and 60s through the weekend. Make no mistake, all of this change and instability will have a significant impact on the stillwater game.

First of all, expect some tough/really tough sledding through the weekend as this low pressure hangs out and conditions begin to stabilize with a rising barometer. I’ve seen fish go deep and grouchy many times as a result of these conditions. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t putting lots of fish in the net. That said, as we slide into next Monday and weather becomes more stable, I’m hopeful that we will see some phenomenal stillwater fishing, and maybe even a day of outright binge feeding if the fish stay lockjawed for a few days. Look for the usual late summer insect activity, but if they don’t show in numbers, the leech and attractor nymph game may be your best bet.

We are hopeful that even after this cold and low pressure leaves that there will be a significant residual effect on overall water temperatures as well as a significant increase in lake inflows. Of course, smaller, shallower bodies of water will likely see a much more profound effect than larger lakes like Hebgen, but for now, it seems like we are headed in the right direction.


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