It’s hard to believe, but June and July are history. You wouldn’t know it if you were poking around in Big Sky Country right now. Hillsides around the region remain green. There’s still a few specks of snow in the high country. And, area fisheries are flush with water. If you didn’t know better, you might think it was still the end of June.
The weather has certainly made it feel like June. An unsettled weather pattern has been persistent since the beginning of the season. Week after week we have reported on stormy weather with cooler and wetter than average conditions.
Well, this week is no different. On Tuesday night, an evening thunderstorm ripped through our area the likes of which many of us haven’t seen in years. Jet black thunder heads loomed over the western horizon in the Madison Valley, and by 8:00pm the malicious clouds dominated the sky with streaks of lightning illuminating every twist and fold of the towering cumulonimbus. By 8:30pm the heavens unleashed a powerful deluge and 20 solid minutes of deafening hail. Heavy rain followed before the storm passed on it’s way across the north shore of Hebgen Lake and on into Yellowstone Park. By 9:30pm it was all over, the stars were out, and you could see the tail end of the storm flashing in the night sky to the East.
Tuesday’s storm may have been an anomaly in its size and strength, but it’s been the norm to consistently see storm clouds brewing in the afternoon on most days in Big Sky Country. As we enter the first week of August, the typical “Dog Days” of summer are looming. It’s anyone’s guess if they will appear, or if this stormy cycle will remain.
What we do know is that fishing has been great, and all of this moisture will certainly bode well for the remainder of the season, as well as help to charge the aquifer for seasons to come.
We’ve enjoyed hosting some of our extended family from Argentina at the shop this week. Benjamin Beale who owns and operates El Encuentro Fly Fishing was here for a few days, and El Encuentro’s power couple, Cecilia Harrington and Marcelo Widmann will be here next week. Their authentic, family owned operation, and the phenomenal fishing that they provide draws us to travel across the globe during the winter months to our home away from home in Patagonia. If you’re in the area, and interested in learning more about fly fishing in Patagonia, swing by the shop and chat with our dear friends about their special part of the world.
We’re also looking forward to a visit in September from our dear friend and Argentine guiding sensation, Diego Oliver of Patagonia Nomads.
Big Sky Anglers has a long history of not only working with both of these top shelf operations in Argentina, but helping to develop their programs and grow their businesses. Patagonia Nomads is located in Northern Patagonia in the area of San Martin de Los Andes, and El Encuentro Fly Fishing’s home is in central and southern Patagonia near Esquel. Stay tuned for more information on an intriguing trip that we are developing which showcases the best fishing and authentic Argentine experiences found in all of Patagonia by traveling with BSA from North to South.
Read on to see our take on this week’s fishing, and check out the links below to stay current on area forecasts and flows. Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.
Stay tuned as we report each week on hatches, flows, weather, and more. For the most up to date info stop by the shop, give us a call, or drop us a line.
As we transition into August arguably the best technical fishing on the Fork is yet to come. Terrestrials like hoppers and flying ants can be responsible for some of the most memorable days of the season, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it still feels like early July out there on many stretches of the Fork. The Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork is still green, and July hatches like PMD’s and Flavs continue to drive the fishing. Spinner Falls of these two bugs are responsible for most of the action we’re seeing now with good sessions in the mornings and evenings.
Flows out of Island Park Reservoir have been running strong at around 1200 cfs this week, but are now down under 1000cfs. Fishing in the Box Canyon was impacted slightly by high flows and turbidity. However, the decrease last Tuesday cleared up conditions. Expect to see consistent fishing with small tungsten bead heads as usual.
Yellowstone National Park
Cold water, and lots of it, has set the stage for a terrific fishing season in Yellowstone Park. The last couple of weeks have been great, and we’re just getting started.
The Northeast Corner
This will be a solid option in the upcoming week. As always, check the forecast or stop in to the shop for a report before making the long drive through the park. Thunderstorms can and will impact water conditions here.
Slough Creek and the Lamar River are still seeing some Gray Drake Spinners in the mornings and evenings. PMD’s, Caddis, and the first terrestrials of the season should also be in your lineup.
Soda Butte Creek has been fun, but crowded most days. Consider a long walk out into the meadows of the Lamar or one of the many short back country day hike options in this part of the park if you’re looking for some solitude.
Remember to carry your bear spray when you’re wandering around in the park’s backcountry, and always be heads up for wildlife of all sorts.
Technical dry fly opportunities with world class trout. That’s what happening on the Yellowstone River in YNP right now. Gray Drakes, PMD’s, Flavs, Caddis, Stoneflies, and terrestrials are all part of the game. Expect to find good spinner falls in the mornings and evenings, and emergences from late morning through early afternoon.
As usual, you will want to hunt for your targets on the Yellowstone in the park. Blind fishing can be an exercise in futility for all but the luckiest of anglers.
Yellowstone Cutthroats drop down into the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone Lake in the Spring to spawn. On good water years, like the one we are having, the fish will remain in the system for much of the summer. Bear in mind, the Yellowstone river is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48, and that flow is naturally dropping every day over the course of the season. As the flows slowly drop, fish naturally redistribute and concentrate throughout the river. Just because you found good targets to fish in an area on one day doesn’t mean that they will be there a few days later.
The park waters of the Gallatin have provided the best conditions on this fishery as evening thunderstorms plagued the river below Taylor’s Fork with muddy water this week. PMD’s and Caddis are the predominant hatches here, and we are starting to see a few fish eat terrestrials like ants and hoppers.
Blue Squiggly Lines…
For our latest installment of “Blue Squiggly lines that, if you can figure out how to get there, fish it, and get back with out having half your ass chewed off by a bear, you deserve to know about” we are highlighting Mist Creek. This small, rough and tumble stream, chalk full of stunning Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, is shining gem in the backcountry of Yellowstone Park.
The Fifty Mile Riffle has been treating us pretty darn well this season. In the upper valley, we are still seeing good hatches of PMD’s, Epeorus, Flavs, and caddis from Quake Lake to Pallisades. Morning spinner falls have been strong, and, if we can get an evening that doesn’t storm, we’ll see good spinners and caddis then as well.
Last season was, by far, the best hopper year that any of us had seen in a long time. We are all waiting with bated breath to see what comes of the terrestrial season this year on the Madison. Hopper fishing was well underway by this time last year, but it’s considerably cooler and wetter now. We saw some of the first good hopper days this past week in the float stretch, but it hasn’t quite popped yet.
Nocturnal stoneflies can be found throughout the river now. You’ll never find an abundance of Nocturnals around, but it’s good to remember they are there. You will see random shucks concentrated in specific areas of the river, and on the odd occasion, you may see these size #8 flightless stones racing across the water’s surface close to the bank.
We’ve seen some thick fog on Hebgen during the morning hours as the result of strong evening storms this week. Once the fog lifts and the air temps warm, good mating flights of Tricos and Callibaetis have been seen on all of the arms of the lake, as well as the usual bays on the south side. If the wind stays down, you will see some of the first strong gulpering sessions of the season this week.
The flows on the Missouri are holding strong this summer and currently she’s pumping along at 5460 cubic feet per second. Greg Falls, our resident Missouri River guide, has been sending us reports as Joe and Jonathan are now done guiding the Missouri until late September. Greg has some openings in August so if you’re interested in fishing the Missouri, give us a shout! As for the fishing…tricos showed up in a huge way and the iconic smoke stacks of tricos are what’s for dinner. Blind casting a hopper or ant with a tung bead dropper through the mid-river riffles is always a great idea as you roll down the river looking for trico eaters.
Kenektok River, AK
Joe got back from the Kanektok a few days ago and had a wonderful backcountry float trip with Beyond Boundaries Expeditions and David Stelling and his crew of Skye and Capt. Chris. David has been running the Kanetok for the past 14 years and splits his time between Bethel, Alaska and Boone, North Carolina where he owns and operates High Country Guide Service. Keep checking BSA Instagram for a sneak peek of the 100 Mile float trip and look for a blog post soon once Joe gets his feet back under him here at the shop.