Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report – 8/4/2022

by | Aug 4, 2022

Hello from West Yellowstone, Montana
– The Trout Capital of the World –

August has arrived folks, not sure where the summer is going but much like the water in the river, it’s quickly headed downstream. That said, there are still plenty of those long hot summer days left to enjoy here in Big Sky Country! Though these coming days can be warm, the heat of the day is shrinking in duration; the nights are now longer than they were in July and are slowly getting cooler. Some much needed-moisture is headed our way this week, but keep those fingers crossed for a little more. 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.

Over at the Golden Stone Inn, we have some rare openings during prime dates in 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 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

Weather Outlook 
Daytime highs for the upcoming week look to be in the high 70’s to low 80’s – a much needed cool off here in the high country! Nighttime temps will dip in to the low 40’s so expect to don a layer early in the day. There are some afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast, thankfully, so keep that layer and your rain gear handy.

Henry’s Fork River by Jonathan Heames

Henry’s Fork Streamflows

Island Park Dam: 1200-1300 cfs, there seems to be some discrepancy in the actual flow here

Ashton Dam: 2140 cfs

St. Anthony: 1230 cfs

Fall River: 440 cfs

Well, this last week on the Henry’s Fork was mostly unchanged from the week prior, the forecasted decrease in flows turned out to be minimal with a few raises in there as well. Clarity has slightly improved but there is a day to day fluctuation. We expect to see those decreases in flow over this next week and an improvement in clarity as the week progresses. The Henry’s Fork has some great opportunity for those who approach the river with their intentions in mind, a nice little diversity of experiences is out there for anglers who know where they’re heading. Hopefully this report will help you navigate your way to some success!

Box Canyon: The Box is still fishing well on most days, despite the fluctuations in clarity. Fishing confidence is always higher when the water is cleaner, but fishing is still good in there when the water is colored. We put more focus on hot spots and other fluorescent highlights when fishing in dirty water, more realistically colored flies as the water clears. Rubberlegs 4-10; PTs 16-18; Bullet Quills, Red Napoleons, and Frenchie perdigons 14-18; as well as red and brown zebra midges in 14-18 will all do the trick. We are entering a good time of year to throw streamers here in the Box Canyon as well, try an olive or black BFE, or a Copper Zonker to get started. Often the upper third of the canyon is more conducive to streamer fishing during daylight hours, but the rest of the canyon can be good if there is cloud cover or if you’re doing a late float and the light has come off the water.

Railroad Ranch: Spinners. This seems to be the name of the game down here still, if the weather in the mornings is fair with little wind, look for large and small spinners throughout the Ranch, our general focus has been on the upper, but a morning’s game can potentially be found anywhere on the right day. There are still some flav spinners around, PMD spinners, and some gray drakes. Having a variety of spinner patterns from 12-18 is a good bet. Afternoon hatches have been sparse to nonexistent unless you are fishing spring waters, here you’ll find some PMDs trickling off in the heat of the day with challenging trout feeding on emergers. Terrestrial patterns are a good bet as well during the heat of the day, we’ll use them to scout in likely holding waters and cover a sparsely rising fish with a single presentation for potential success. Hopper numbers are slowly but steadily on the increase, and flying ants are something for which to keep an eye out, the experienced Ranch angler keeps at least a few good imitations of these in the fly box from now on for the next month.

Canyon Country: Consistent with the prior weeks’ reports, the canyons of the Henry’s Fork provide both a shelter from the heat of summer and aggressive water that keeps trout active during these summer days. Dry/dropper rigs are the norm here, but streamer fishing can produce quality rewards for those willing to work for them. We like the BFE in both olive and black, Copper Zonkers, as well as the Sparkle Minnow in Sculpin color. Make sure you’re very comfortable on the oars before venturing down here, these sections are typically floated in rafts and navigated by experienced oarswomen and men.

Warm River to Ashton: This piece of water continues to put smiles on anglers’ faces, generally providing a good day’s trout fishing. We are primarily nymph fishing down here at this time of year, but it’s a good time to consider dry/dropper fishing. Rubberlegs, PTs 16-18, brown zebra midges 14-16, Bullet Quills and Spanish Bullet perdigons 14-16 will all do the trick. Hoppers, Chubbies and Micro Chubbies 8-12 will usually move some a few trout on the surface.

Below Ashton Dam: Flows remain high, but warm air and water temperatures dictate that anglers should be considerate of both weather and flows before spending more than a morning down here. Afternoon hours will likely need to be spent at higher elevations and cooler water temperatures.

Have fun out there!

Madison River by Dinah DiMeolo

Hopper season is officially among us as the air along the banks of the Madison is filled with the unmistakable chitter of terrestrials. Grasshoppers are abundant all along the water’s edge where you can be sure to find hungry trout anxiously waiting for a careless critter to fall in. Think Morish Hoppers, Sweetgrass Hoppers, Lightning Legs and Chubbies (#8 & #10) when stocking up on foam bugs. With more rain in the forecast after Tuesday’s storm, Jojo’s Black/Red Ant & Arricks’s Black Ant (#16 & #18) are both great ant patterns to start trying on dreary afternoons or evenings. Caddis and PMDs continue to be having solid morning and evening action, as well as a few Epeorus mayflies here and there. Rusty and cream colored spinners, such as Jojo’s Rusty and Jojo’s PMD are flies to not forget as well! Simpler dry patterns such as a Purple Haze, Henryville Special or Iris Caddis (#14 & #16) work great this time of year after fish are used to seeing a lot of different flies.

If fish aren’t looking up and you want to tie on a dropper, Pheasant Tail Jigs or Bullet Quill Nymphs (#16 & #18) are good options. If you’re not having luck with your dropper, try lengthening your rig or even try tailing another smaller nymph like a Juju Baetis or Ram Caddis. Now is the time to be seeking out smaller tributary waters of the Madison, fishing cool creeks off the main river. Make sure to fish all the deep, slow water you come across, taking advantage of each pocket or pillow fish may be resorting away from the heat. Often enough you’ll only get one or two shots in each pool, so make sure to take your time on the presentation and make each cast count!

The challenges anglers have been facing with: high water temperatures continue as the first Hoot Owl restrictions begin to be implemented along sections of the lower and a short piece of the Upper Madison River this week. As of 8/2, fishing from Eight Mile Ford downstream to Ennis Lake is restricted, as well as from Warm Springs Boat Launch to the headwaters of the Missouri River. These sections of the lower Madison reached 73°F due to the last weeks’ sequence of afternoons in the upper 80s. Flows around 1550 cfs out of Hebgen earlier this week due to pulse flows on the Lower Madison below Ennis Lake (this keeps most of the Upper Madison primarily in cooler water and fishing well until the early afternoon). Water temps have been shifting approx. 10 degrees each night near Kirby.

**For those unfamiliar with Hoot Owl, these restrictions ban fishing between 2pm and midnight each day in order to reduce fish mortality rates and minimize stress from angling pressure. These actions will continue to be enforced until daily maximum water temperatures remain below 70°F for 3 consecutive days. Continue aiming to fish as early as possible and be cognizant of time spent handling & releasing fish as the day heats up.

Yellowstone National Park by Patrick Johnson

After the past few weeks of dry, hot weather, things were looking a bit dire for our water levels and temps, but thankfully the ten day forecast now shows several slightly cooler days with scattered rain and thunder. This should help us out a little bit, and can mean great things for our mayfly emergences in the park. While the western-half of the park remains a little too warm for comfort when it comes to catch-and-release fishing, we’ve again been mostly focusing our attention on the Gallatin, Gardiner, and Yellowstone Rivers, along with the park’s many higher-elevation lakes. We should also note that as of yesterday, August 3rd, the NE entrance road all the way to the Slough Creek trailhead has opened up, but you must make a reservation as this area is NOT open to everyone, everyday. Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s report as we detail our first look at Slough Creek and some of the Park’s other newly-accessible waters.

The Gallatin remains in prime summer form. While it’s safe to say we’ve seen the last of the epic Salmonfly and Golden Stone hatches on this stretch, there’s still plenty of stellar dry-fly fishing to be had. Walking along the banks will reveal thousands of grasshoppers flying (poorly) to get out of your way. It almost seemed like nature was taunting us in recent days, with grasshoppers around in prolific numbers and not a single fish paying them any mind. The tide seems to have finally turned, though, as we’ve been having some great eats on pink and tan Thunder Thighs and Moorish Hoppers — look for good hopper fishing when the sun is hot and high above-above heat during the heat of the day. Flavs have stuck around as well during those dark, moody late afternoons once the clouds roll in. Size 14 and 16 Flav duns and cripples have been working, though I’ve found Carlson’s Purple Craze in a #16 to be the most effective fly for the sneaky Gallatin browns sipping along the banks.

Over to the east, those Yellowstone Cutthroat continue to inhale big dries. Although the Salmonflies are definitely done for at this point, there are Golden’s still around. Most of us have been sizing down to smaller (#10-14), Chubby patterns as they will bring plenty of fish to the surface. I’ve been liking the Micro Flying Peanut and the Circus Peanut alongside my go-to patterns like Jojo’s chubbinator or Jojo’s Honey Ant. Look for terrestrial fishing to improve on the Yellowstone in the coming days as beetles, flying ants, and hoppers have been increasingly active along the banks.

As with last week, reports of stellar dry fly fishing on Yellowstone’s lakes continue to trickle in, with loads of blue damsel flies still swarming around en masse as well as callibaetis mayflies. Make sure to have a handful of blue chubbies in your box along with your standard lake fare. If you don’t find fish actively feeding on the surface, a callibaetis Skip Nymph dropped under a dry or a slow-stripped damselfly nymph will often do the trick.

Stay up to date on YNP roads below


The Lakes by Matt Klara

I’ll be the first to admit that the fishing on our moving waters has been really fantastic this summer. I don’t blame anyone for sticking to the rivers and creeks either. But if you are drawn to the challenges & opportunities that stillwater fisheries have to offer, you probably know by now that the fishing has been equally exciting this year on many of our area lakes. That remains the case as we head into August, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Just like with rivers, the lower elevation options these days are experiencing elevated water temperatures, particularly in the afternoons. Not only will you find better angling on the higher/cooler lakes, but you will be doing the fish a service by leaving them alone where water conditions are not as conducive to successful Catch and Release. Callibaetis and Damsels have taken center stage this past couple of weeks when I’ve been out on the water. 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. Be prepared with dries and nymphs of all insects so you can adapt to conditions and feed the fish what they want. Caddis seem to be waning but be ready with imitations especially if you hike into the alpine. Chironomids can pop any day of the year. Terrestrials are really coming on strong and will take on a very important role on those high alpine lakes where aquatic insect life is less prolific. Those hot windy days are ideal for terrestrial action in the alpine. Hoppers, ants, beetles, etc are all deposited onto the water and the trout WILL take notice.

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