Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/10/2020

by | Sep 9, 2020 | 0 comments

Hello there from West Yellowstone – the Trout Capital of the World! 

We saw more snow and cold overcast days this past week and things now have a chill in the air every morning. The sun poked out in the afternoon on most days, except Monday; when old Man Winter showed up for several hours! There is a fresh layer of the white stuff up high and we seem to be wadering up most days only to strip down to sandals in the boat at some point in the afternoon. Right now, Mother Nature cant quite figure out if it’s Summer or Fall. Our fishing lives are now, more than ever, defined by the weather and the air temperatures throughout the day. If you’re planing a trip here this Fall, now is the time to bring the layers, warm hats and warm gloves. The shop is fully stocked up so feel free to forget all that gear at home and get some new stuff!
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week. Our guide staff is on the river daily; the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and the Madison in Montana are having some banner days. The east side of YNP is in shape(watch out for rain storms) and the West side has now cooled off; it’s time to fish the Firehole and the Madison. The fly shop is a clean and healthy environment for both our customers and staff members. There is a sanitation station at the door complete with hand sanitizer and masks if you don’t have one, we are still under Governor’s mandate to wear them when 6′ of social distance isn’t possible indoors; the staff will continue wearing masks for the unforeseen future. Our fishing report is written on the whiteboard right outside the door for your enjoyment, but as always, the freshest report is inside the doors of the fly shop. Stop on by, say hello and we’ll get you taken care of. 

Take care and read on, 
~ Joe

Henry’s Fork – by Jonathan Heames

While the month of September can be a bit fickle and full of transitions, the Fork generally likes this month. Just how you play it down there will depend greatly on what the weather is doing, but generally, the cold nights are enough to spark the fire in the parts of the fishery that have been lying semi-dormant for the past months. September is a month that you can enjoy flyfishing most of the sections of the Henry’s Fork, there is game, one way or the other. 
The upper river is as solid as ever, the Box Canyon comes into a stride that will last until the end of October; the fish are well fed, the weed beds have maximized their production and the maturation of the insect life is at its fullest. The river will slowly and steadily continue to drop and put less water between you and the fish from now until the end of the season. Streamers and nymphs both play well depending on angling preferences, one thing is for sure. The Box is a good bet for a great day’s trout fishing from now until the end of the season.
The Ranch is coming into one of the great times of year for what it is famous for: sight fishing to rising trout. For those uninitiated into the ways of the Railroad Ranch, this is one of the most iconic places the planet to target trout feeding in shallow water. Fall on the Fork is characterized by lots of targets, this is a great time of year to hone the craft of casting to rising trout. Newcomers to the Ranch will find lots of targets on most days, but those looking to target larger fish will have to take a step back and put a careful eye on the scene to find their quarry. Baetis, Pseudocloeons, flying ants, mahogany duns, and pmds are all still on the menu. Be ready to handle any stage of any one of these to have success here. Of course, there are terrestrials present as well when the sun is shining and desperation calls. 
The lower river is again active, and though it’s not as productive as it can be in June, it is definitely worth a day or two of fishing. Weather will play an active roll here in how the game is played, but generally more summery weather will lend itself to hoppers and droppers, the more autumnal days will play better with baetis, mahogany duns and some streamer fishing.
Fall on the Fork is something to enjoy and target, the coming weeks have some terrific angling opportunities!

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Last week felt like late-summer with a suggestion of fall, this week is undoubtedly early-autumn in the Yellowstone high country. Mornings are no longer “crisp”, they’re cold, there are many more yellow aspen leaves than green ones, and the angle of the sun produces an amber light that makes you want to tilt your head back and soak it all up. 
The forecast calls for a long stretch of “Indian Summer” with morning lows in the upper 20’s-30’s and afternoon highs in the 60’s. Bright sun will dominate this week making for some of the most picturesque days of the season. 

Firehole River

After a long, hot summer break it’s time to start thinking about the world’s strangest trout stream again. Water temperatures have dropped back into the 60’s, and with nights getting longer and the mornings getting frostier, they should continue to fall. The coldest water is always found furthest upstream, in places like Biscuit Basin and Mallard Creek, as they are above the biggest geyser effluents. That will definitely be the case this week when daytime highs are forecasted to get back around 70 degrees.
This is a great time to prospect with a small grasshopper, or swing small soft hackles. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for Baetis mayflies and White Miller caddis. 

Northeast Corner – Slough Cr, Lamar River, Soda Butte Cr

Mornings are cold up in this corner of the park, so there’s no rush to be on the water before late morning. Hoppers and ants should be at the top of the batting order, but keep a keen eye out for Drake, Heptagenia and Baetis mayflies. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

Hopper fishing will be good in this stretch of the Gallatin on warm afternoons. Be prepared to cover a lot of water with your best possible drifts. These fish see far more than their fair share of flies by this point in the season, and are in no mood for a hopper that appears to have an evinrude behind it. Sporadic Baetis mayflies will also be present during the afternoons. It’s a great time to watch carefully for sporadic bank feeders in super-sneaky spots. 

Yellowstone River

As we inch closer to fall, and the inevitable end of the season, fewer and fewer fish remain in the Caldera section of the Yellowstone River below Yellowstone Lake. Naturally, these fish return to the Lake each year to overwinter and prepare for another spring spawning run into the river, and subsequent summer of snacking on hatches. Summer hatches are also waning these days, making this a tougher and tougher fishery from here on out. Some excellent fish still remain in the river, and that will be the case until the season ends, but they will require some extra effort and hunting to find. When you do find a good target you can expect to get their attention with hoppers, ants, and fall hatches of Beatis and Margarita Dun mayflies. As always, sight fishing is paramount here. Fish are spread far and wide making blind fishing a fool’s errand most days. 

Madison River – in YNP

We’re getting closer, week by week and day by day. Water temps are on the fall, and fish are slowly starting to sniff their way upstream. Afternoon water temps are still too warm, especially with hot weather like we have forecasted through the upcoming weekend, but it’s always worth a stop in the mornings and evenings for a quick session to see what’s up. 

Hebgen Lake – by Jonathan Heames

This is likely the final week that Hebgen will put on the final showing of prime gulper fishing opportunities. If the weather stays warm and sunny, however, it could continue into next week…
Plan on a late start for callibaetis hatches, they’re not likely to get going until the air temps get above 60 degrees, which will begin to happen later and later in the day. Wind usually is prohibitive by 1 or 2 o’clock, so keep an eye on the forecast for those days when the wind stays below 10 mph until at least 1 o’clock to have good lake days.
If your planning goes awry, be sure to have along some olive, brown, and black leeches to strip around the Madison Arm, Duck Creek Arm, South Fork Arm and anywhere else you’ve been finding brown trout gulping on the nicer days. Browns are getting cantankerous these days, even in the stillwaters, so be ready to look for them by being ready to strip if they’re not rising. 
Damsel fly activity is worth keeping an eye out for, these late season days when the bug hatches are slim can present plenty of opportunities with the members of the Odonata family. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 890 cfs out of Hebgen; just a slight increase from last week. Hoppers are still on the menu but we are getting closer to the end of their reign. We experienced some BWO hatches last week on the overcast days, so be on the lookout for those little guys from here on out. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are a few caddis around as well, and if you can float a #16 Caddis dry fly and get it in all the right spots, you will raise a few fish, that’s for sure. Ants are still a solid player right now and they have made two appearances so far in the past week. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings as well. This past week brought more snow and rain; Fall has definitely arrived as we saw 18 degrees just a couple days ago. Feel free to stop by the shop for the most up to date fishing report on the Madison – it changes by the minute down there! 
NOTE: this next part of the report will not change for the next four to five weeks and is super important to one’s success – Overall, the Madison is fishing well throughout the day, but she can be a bit moody at times. There will be sections that are slower than others and parts of the day that fish better. Various lulls throughout the day are to be expected, so pay attention to the bite and keep fishing. The warmer day time air temps and bright sun have these fish a little gun shy, but there is still plenty of game out there to be had.
For those anglers on foot in the Wade Stretch, the key will be to cover water and not spend too much time in one particular place. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, you will find fish willing to rise out amongst the big boulders and slicks. Be careful! This is best done when wet wading and if you go down, remember to face downstream and get those legs out in front of you. The Madison’s mood seems to change throughout the entire river, if one stretch isn’t fishing well then another probably is. Keep moving and slow down your pace when the fish are biting, speed up when they aren’t. 

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