The Big News this week is that Yellowstone National Park lifted the Hoot Owl on Friday August 20, 2021! All of the rivers in YNP are now open from sunrise to sunset. With YNP and FWP lifting Hoot Owl, all of the rivers in our neck of the woods are open to fishing, hooray for that. Rain fell throughout the weekend and on Monday the weather broke. It has stayed in the high 70’s all week with mostly sunny skies and a little bit of wind. The weekend outlook is for more sunshine and a solid dry fly bite in the afternoon.
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.
Big Sky Anglers is OPEN from 7am 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 all across the Greater Yellowstone Area. 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 JOE Moore
Henry’s Fork Streamflows
Island Park Dam: 390 cfs
Ashton Dam: 949 cfs
St. Anthony: 861 cfs
Flows have dropped now, quite a bit from last week, and should stick right around these levels for the forseeable future. The cooler morning temps will keep the bugs hunkered down until the bright orb in the sky warms things up a little bit. Opportunity abounds for those who are willing to seek it out! Take a walk and see what you can find.
In the upper river, the Box Canyon is always 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 390 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.
The Railroad Ranch fished pretty well this past week with fish looking up onthe warmer mornings for spinners and ants. You should still find some bug activity near the springs in the section below Osborne Bridge in the afternoons as well. 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. Mahongany mayflies showed up last in the upper reach of the Ranch and those who found themselves in the midst of that should thank their lucky stars. When big mayflies happen after a long stint of smaller mayflies, fish tend to get happy.
The canyon country between the Ranch and Warm River is a great place to spend the day. 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. Though nymph or dry/dropper fishing usually reign supreme down here, the morning hours are 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. Streamers in the morning, hoppers and ants in the afternoon.
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!
YELLOWSTONE PARK – BY STEVE HOOVLER
What a difference a week makes in Yellowstone Country! In the course of several days, we have transitioned from the dog Days of Summer into early autumn, from limited fishing options to an abundance of opportunities. Heavy rains, and cooler temps prompted Yellowstone officials to lift the Hoot Owl restrictions, and jump started the fishing.
The coming week will be a good one to explore the waters of Yellowstone Park with a fly rod. Consistent weather with near normal highs in the 70’s and lows in the 30’s bodes well for dry fly fishing across the park.
Flows that were elevated and muddy after last week’s moisture have come back in shape, and we expect water conditions to remain good for the foreseeable future.
As we begin the slow transition from summer to fall in Yellowstone Country it’s important to be prepared for a wide range of hatches and fishing situations. There is still plenty of terrestrial season left ahead. So, be sure to have a good supply of hoppers and flying ants. But, the first fall hatches of baetis, drake, and heptagenia mayflies have begun, and no one fishing the park should be without some or all of their dun and emerger imitations.
We have also reached that point in the season when the very first (and often the biggest) of the migratory fish that move into migratory waters have started sniffing around those waters that migratory fish move into. We are still more than a month away from consistent fishing for substantial numbers of these fish, but there is some game there nonetheless.
Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr
Water conditions have improved here since last week’s rain event, and stable weather is in the forecast. Expect good fishing with hoppers and flying ants, and be on the lookout for hatches of baetis and drake mayflies.
As we have experienced all summer, flows on the upper-caldera stretch remain quite low. Many fish have returned back to Yellowstone Lake earlier than usual, but there are still a few quality Yellowstone Cutthroat remaining in the river. If you go, expect to cover a lot of ground hunting for these choice fish, and don’t waste your time fishing without a target. This is a spot-and-stalk situation requiring plenty of stealth and a good presentation.
Late-August and early-September are an interesting time on this water as several mayfly hatches can be found, and they can be quite heavy at times, especially in the sections from Sulphur Caldron upstream to Cascade Picnic Area. Light olive-colored mayflies in size 16-18 can be found here from late-morning to early-afternoon. Of note with these particular hatches is the fondness that fish have for the nymphs near or at the water’s surface.
Don’t be in a hurry to get to the Gallatin in the park as the mornings have been downright cold. But, by late morning, and through the afternoon expect to see consistent nymph fishing, and the occasional fish looking up for a flying ant, or small mayfly.
Despite the recent turn in weather conditions and the lifting of hoot owl restrictions, the geo-thermal waters of the Firehole are still too warm to fish. Keep an eye on temps, and give it another couple of weeks.
MADISON RIVER – BY JOE MOORE
The flows at Hebgen Dam dropped quite a bit over the past week, and are now sitting at 834 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 976 at Kirby and 1060 CFS at Varney Bridge. River temps are cooling off and start at 54 degree and fluctuate about ten degrees throughout the day. Always a good idea to check the temps on the Madison River each morning before heading out. In general, the cooler morning will offer a slower start to the day for dry fly fishing but nymphing or streamer fishing is a great option out of the gates.
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 still fluttering around each morning in 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. The sunshine in the coming days should make for decent hopper fishing all afternoon long.
Float Stretch: It is a good idea to get on the float stretch early, around 8am, and off by around 4pm or so. There are still some caddis and big spinner around as well as a handful of nocturnal stones. Some days are busier than others in the float stretch, it’s always a good idea to have a couple of different floats in mind and then go where it’s not as busy. As for the flies, drop a tungsten bead head from that Purple Chubby, Lightning 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. 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. The streamer bite in the morning hours is always a good idea.
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
With a stable week of weather in the forecast, look for stillwater fishing conditions to improve and settle into a nice little late summer/early fall pattern. Friday and Saturday are showing AM lows in the low 30s with frost a possibility! I spent the day yesterday on a small stillwater and experienced only modest insect activity, cool water conditions, and good but not red-hot action concentrated into defined windows. I’d expect that general trend to continue on most of the lakes in our region. For those folks who enjoy chipping away on the lake, moving around, and trying a variety of techniques over the course of a day, you should be able to find a few fish these days. Spend some time on the depth transitions and deeper sides of dropoffs but keep an eye on the shallow flats for signs of feeding activity on or near the surface. Don’t expect it to be automatic, but the fish you do find are likely to be in fantastic condition from a summer of feeding.
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.