by | Sep 16, 2021 | 0 comments

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Summer returned this past week here in Big Sky Country. The mornings temps were cold, reminding us all that summertime is gone, but those afternoon temps teased us into wearing t-shirts and flip flops. This time of the year is so nice around here. However, Saturday could be the last day for a serious hopper bite, as Sunday and Monday look to be cold with a chance SNOW in the high country. Have you fixed your waders yet?

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 are more than happy to give you a tour!

Swing season is right on our doorstep, and for those who enjoy the Spey game or want to learn more about this fun way to fish, we still have some spots available at our West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days event in the evening of Friday Sept. 24 and all day on the water on Saturday Sept. 25th. We have an awesome lineup of presenters this year that includes legends like Simon Gawesworth, Ed Ward, Eric Neufeld, and our own Matt Klara. Head on over to the EVENT WEBSITE for all the details and give us a call at the shop to get signed up for this limited access event.
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. The fire pits are glowing and waiting for you and your buddies to settle in and reminisce.

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 Streamflows

Island Park Dam: 390 cfs
Ashton Dam: 969 cfs
St Anthony: 825 cfs

The second half of September is a great time to enjoy the Henry’s Fork, the river fishes well from top to bottom and provides anglers with a variety of fishing options. Fall colors are nearing their peak, these days are truly some of the most beautiful of the year. With warmer afternoons come late summer conditions, and when the weather gets cloudy and cool, good fall conditions will prevail. Keep an eye on the weather and make your moves accordingly.

In the Box Canyon, fishing remains very good with nymphs and streamers. Indicator rigs are generally the most effective, but dry/dropper rigs make for a good option as well at current flows. 6 feet from the indicator to the first fly is a good place to start, you can adjust weight as needed as you work through the canyon. Perdigons #14-18, BSA Olive Caddis Pupa #14, red and brown Zebra midges #14-18, bouface leeches #10 and black rubberlegs nymphs #6-10 will all get you through the day. Streamers make for a great option as well, we like the olive BFE and a copper Zonker.

Just downstream as the river leaves the Box Canyon, the Railroad Ranch is fishing well with good numbers of rising fish around. We are finding fish throughout the Ranch, from top to bottom, mostly feeding on small spinners. There is a good variety of other insects around that can make for a successful presentation as well: Mahogany duns #14-16, callibaetis spinners #14-16, baetis #18-20, PMDs #16-20, tricos #18-22, flying ants #14-16, and hoppers can elicit a hungry take as well, now is a good time to be prepared for a little bit of everything.

The canyon country below the Ranch is fishing well and these days are great days to make this a solid option. As ever, dry/dropper rigs reign supreme here, but streamer fishing is increasingly reliable. Lower flows reveal more of the character of these sections of river and make them easier to read and fish. High visibility dry flies and rubberlegs-like droppers are a great place to start. Changing the stonefly out for a large caddis pupa or fast-sinking mayfly nymph is a good play if the trout prove finicky on the bigger bugs.

The river below the confluence with Warm River is still providing anglers with terrific days of angling with good action throughout the day. This is a great time of year to experiment with a streamer for part of the day and get back to dry/dropper or nymph fishing if they prove uninterested in the stripped fly. Indicator fishing is a good way to fish the deeper water and more aggressive searching flies can be used, such as Bouface leeches #10, rubberlegs #6-10, copper Zonkers with a smaller fly trailed behind. Two small beadheads will work as well.

Below Ashton Reservoir, the river is livening up and will like the progression to cooler days and cloudier weather. Be prepared to fish indicator rigs, dry/dropper rigs, dry flies, and streamers depending on what you’re presented with. Baetis hatches will begin in earnest as the first cloudy and cool days descend upon us later next week, dry fly anglers should be on the lookout. There are typically a few mahogany duns sprinkled in there, and the odd caddis. Warmer days will have you digging hoppers out of your boxes and hoping for a few big, hungry trout that might be looking up.

Good luck out there!


Another shot of weather is heading our way on Sunday and Monday this week with Monday looking downright scuzzy. This will undoubtedly push the dial a little further away from summer and towards Autumn.

Expect to see good hatches of small (size #22) fall baetis on any overcast or stormy afternoon. If the forecast holds true, we should see a bump of fresh migratory fish out of Hebgen Lake into the Madison River in YNP.

As we continue 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 – especially on overcast or stormy days.

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

Any significant rain will undoubtedly bring some color to Soda Butte Cr and the Lamar River after this weekend. Keep a close eye on the flow charts, and check with the shop for the latest report on conditions.

Flying ant flights, and fall hatches of baetis and drake mayflies have produced some fun dry fly fishing on Slough, Lamar and Soda Butte.

Anyone heading to the Cutthroat Corner should not go without a good supply of JoJo’s Royal Ant, and JoJo’s Drake Mackerel.

Yellowstone River

Overcast days can make for tough sledding when sight fishing on the Yellowstone River in the caldera stretch. Fish will be significantly more difficult to spot in the river, but these are great conditions to prompt concentrated emergences of 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.

Gallatin River

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. Scuzzy weather will produce some afternoon hatches of fall Baetis here too.

Firehole River

It’s time to add the “strangest trout stream on earth” back to the Yellowstone fishing roster. Water temps have improved, and are consistently cool above Midway Geyser Basin.

If we see some scuzzy weather this weekend, the Firehole will produce the first significant hatches of fall baetis. In lieu of scuzzy weather, flying ants, small hoppers, and small soft hackles swung through the riffles and runs will produce well.


The flows at Hebgen Dam slipped a little this past week and we are now sitting at 815 CFS out of Hebgen Dam, 930 at Kirby and 960 CFS at Varney Bridge. In general, the cooler mornings 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:
Small dark caddis are skittering around the upper river by late morning, a peacock PMX is a great fly to poke around with, so is Jojo’s Compara Buzz. Efficiently covering the skinny water and slicks and moving on after a handful of cast should yield a rise here and there. BWO’s have been seen on the cloudy overcast days, but don’t over look them on the sunny days either. Sadly, we are nearing the end of hopper season, but if the weather is warm and sunny, don’t be afraid to plop one out there. Ants are still a thing, however, more so on the sunny days or as a lead fly. 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. Rhyacophila caddis are in the drift everyday and are of the utmost importance when nymphing. Check your boots for these little olive larva as they like to cling. Nymphing with a black rubber legs, #14-18 BH pheasant tails, golden stone nymphs, perdigons, prince nymphs, Cheeky fella(caddis larva), olive serendipities, zebras, shop vacs and crystal dips have been effective in the deeper runs or fish them shallow around the bars and drop off near the banks under a chubby.

Float Stretch:
Nymphing from the boat, especially in the cooler morning hours or throughout the day, has been a great option this past week. As we like to say, it’s been pretty nymphy out there on the Madison. Fish are eating rubber legs, scuplins, zonkers, olive hare’s ears, cheeky fella, PT’s, Shop Vacs, guide dips and various Perdigons. As for the dry flies – Purple Chubbies, Lightning Legs Hopper, M’s hopper, a #12 Jojo’s Ant, #16 Jojo’s Chubinator are great choices. For those not wanting to stare at a bobber, then rolling the middle of the river, danglin’ a tungsten bead about 2-3 feet under the Hopper will produce. Let your drift roll and keep the fly on the river where it can get eaten. The streamer bite in the morning hours is always a good idea and if it stays cloudy, keep stripping. Stay strong out there streamer anglers, stay strong. And if it doesn’t stay cloudy, keeping stripping until you’re blue it the face and willing to tie on nymphs. We love olive and black this time of the year and white is always a solid choice. Everyone has their favorites, that for sure. We like fishing a 150 grain line with various scuplin patterns like Ivan’s Dirty Dumpster and the Olive Peanut Envy. KG’s Mini Sex Dungeon in purple/black or the olive are solid choices as well. Pinch those barbs!

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. Pinch those barbs and learn how to keep tension on the line. 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!


Autumn has fully arrived! Aspens are changing, and fish are moving. Cool nights and warm days give way to cold nights (20s) and cool days (50s) after this weekend. The bulk of the stillwater fishing has shifted back subsurface, and fall patterns are happening. Go early, stay late, and take advantage of longer periods of low light. Look for fish to really start keying in on high protein food sources to prep for a long winter under the ice. Hebgen and Henry’s are both great bets these days, just be aware of the afternoon winds and perhaps choose your access points accordingly.

As we get farther into the Autumn, insect hatches decrease, and with that, the important food sources change. In Autumn, chironomids are probably the main hatch/insect emergence to look for. Food sources also shift to leeches, scuds, and baitfish. These foods will be available more and more as weed beds die off and the trout slide back into the shallows to feed. Impressionistic patterns like Rickards’ Seal Buggers, Stillwater Nymphs, and Balanced Leeches in various colors are staples at this time of year. Lastly, there are still chances at terrestrial insects bringing fish to the surface, so don’t leave your hoppers, ants, and beetles at home quite yet, but don’t expect it to be a dry fly bonanza out there.


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