Big Sky Anglers Weekly Fishing Report, 9/24/2020

by | Sep 23, 2020 | 0 comments

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

Fall is definitely in the air here at 6666 ft of elevation. Both the aspens and the brown trout are shades of green, gold, red and orange. While we are still seeing warmer afternoon temps, the mornings are crisp, cold and waders are to be worn everyday now. I recently got a pair of the new Simms G4 Zip waders and its so nice using those now that Fall has truly arrived. Not having to remove my layers and rain jacket to take care of business is so darn convenient! This weekend looks to have some cooler air coming our way and clouds to boot; more fishy weather is on it’s way. 
The fly shop is OPEN from 7am to 8:30pm, 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

@ Island Park Dam  388 cfs, but the gauge is reading 200 cfs low, so this won’t match with what your app or the website says!
@ Ashton Dam  1040 cfs
As we approach the final week of September, the Henry’s Fork really begins to settle into a steady fall groove; baetis hatches will be consistent on the upper and lower river along with mahogany duns scattered throughout the system.  If one wanted to only fish one river while fishing this week, it could be spent on any one of a number of very diverse sections of the Henry’s Fork.
The Box Canyon has been fishing well since the water has cleared from the weather event of the second week of September.  It’s not gin clear in there, but that’s normal for this time of year and it’s been very fishable.  Flows are just low enough to put a few basalt pinstripes on the hull of your favorite piece of fiberglass, but still easy enough to navigate.  Red and brown zebra midges, perdigons, pheasant tail nymphs, juju baetis, copper zonkers, BFEs and bouface leeches are all on the menu in here.
The Railroad Ranch, though low and weedy, has been fishing well with mahogany duns and baetis.  This is a great time of year for those uninitiated to fishing the waters of Harriman State Park to give it a try, characterized by plenty of targets, many of them small but some large ones in there.  It’s a great time to try and identify large trout riseforms from small trout riseforms.  It’s a tricky discernment at times, but usually you’ll have plenty of trout to play with for at least a period of the day.
The canyon country remains solid as ever, the weeds less of an issue where the water is churning, as they break up in the fast water.  Streamers and dry/dropper rigs reign supreme in these sections, try heavy streamers on floating lines and dropping heavy bead headed stonefly nymphs or perdigons off a chubby Chernobyl or grasshopper pattern.
The section from Warm River to Ashton has been providing us with some fun fishing lately, with a few big trout being taken by our boats each day in addition to great action on smaller and medium-sized fish.  This section is not to be overlooked, and at this time of year as brown trout are moving around in our systems, it’s worth noting that the Idaho State Record Brown was taken from Ashton Reservoir, located just downstream of this section…
The waters below Ashton Reservoir have been fishing pretty well, but not quite their usual selves for the time of year.  Look for cooler temps and days with clouds to increase your opportunities down here, these days have not been in abundance lately, but a glance at the coming week looks promising…    

Yellowstone National Park – by Steve Hoovler

Not much has changed this week in the Park. Last week’s quick weather event brought some much needed rain, and the fishing benefited from it. We’re hopeful for more of the same this week with a slight chance for rain and cooler temps this weekend. 
It’s a wild time in Yellowstone’s high country. Elk are bugling (some are falling prey to Grizzlies), wolves are howling, and Bison are finishing their rutting season. The air is crisp and the aspens are turning gold. It’s a great time to be fishing in the park. 

Firehole River

Water temps on the Firehole are still looking good especially in the upper reaches, and during the morning and early afternoon hours. The best fishing on bright days has come from swinging soft hackles during the cool mornings and prospecting with hoppers once things warm a bit, usually by midday. 
Another shot of cooler, wetter weather is heading our way for the weekend which bodes well for fall hatches of Baetis mayflies on the Firehole. Saturday looks like the best bet to see a concentrated emergence. Daytime high temps are forecasted to be in the low 50’s. So, expect to see some bugs hatching by 1:00 or 2:00pm. 
Keep in mind the Firehole is an exceptional place to get your ass handed to you by 10-12” fish in the fall. Be sure to bring your A-game, complete with a stealthy approach, long fine leaders (12’ 6X), well executed dry fly presentations, and a full lineup of techy dry flies and emergers. 
Swing by the shop for our best recommendations on any and all of the aforementioned variables. 

Madison River – in YNP

Slowly but surely, good numbers of fish are beginning to arrive in the deepest runs and pools along this iconic fall fishery. Migratory browns and rainbows continue to sniff their way upstream in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. 
These trophy browns and rainbows migrate annually from the deep, dark haunts of Hebgen Lake up into the relatively shallow and exposed waters of the Madison River in YNP. As such, it’s understandable that they lay low in only the deepest runs and pools, and limit their movements and activity to times with low light levels when the threats from predators is reduced. 
On bright days you can expect to find the best activity with streamers in the early morning, and late evening hours when light levels are at their lowest. On scuzzy days (keep your fingers crossed for as many as possible for the remainder of the fall season) fish will remain active throughout the day. 

Gallatin River – in YNP

Cool weather has put an end to consistent hoper fishing on the Gallatin River, but fall hatches of Baetis mayflies and consistent nymph fishing make this favorite well worth a visit in the afternoons. 

Lewis Lake – Shoshone Lake Channel 

Brown trout are migrating throughout the park, and one of the more unique runs of fish occurs in the channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes. This backcountry fishery begins to fill with fish every September and offers some fun fishing With streamers and soft hackles for migratory browns. 
A flat 4-7 mile hike is required to reach the channel, and, as with any backcountry fishery, you will want to be prepared with bear spray and sound wilderness travel principals. 
It is also important to note that the channel is an important spawning area for fish from both lakes. As the season progresses, and fish get closer to spawning you will want to limit your wading, or consider avoiding the channel all together. 

Madison River – by Joe Moore

The Madison is sitting at 943 cfs out of Hebgen; that’s a small bump from a week ago. It will be interesting to see if the Madison increases to the seasonal average of 1100 here soon; I for one, hope so. Hoppers are still on the menu after 2pm, but the window is decreasing every day. More than ever, the hopper is just a bobber for dropping off tungsten bead heads. This weekend looks to be on the cloudy side of things, have those BWO’s ready to go. On the cloudy days, we have been dead drifting streamers, rubber legs, various dips, red SJWs and smaller mayfly nymphs. There are still decent numbers of caddis around as well, but we tend to focus on the larva stage of this fly and fish the riffles. The caddis patterns we like are: #14 and #16 shop vac and guide dips are our go to flies. The Cheeky Fella from Cat3 flies is another solid pattern for us. Ants are still a player on the dry fly front on the warmer sun-filled afternoons. Streamer fishing is a great option on the chilly mornings, but the fish seem a little shy and unwilling to grab them on a regular basis. That will change here soon enough with more clouds in the forecast. 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! 

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. We find the nymphing in the wade stretch to be pretty good right now with caddis and midge patterns; especially in the shallow riffle runs. A small black rubber legs is always a good choice as well. As for rising fish, the morning bite is not that great, but those fish are still looking for ants and sometimes hoppers in the afternoon. For those willing to risk it all and wade out into the big river, go for it! Some of those big slicks and boulder runs don’t get fished all that much. 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



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