Time has been flying by and we find ourselves in mid-August—Already?! Mother nature has been kind to Yellowstone Country anglers the past few summers in regard to water conditions, and the trend continues. This summer has been marked by chilly mornings, wet afternoons, and lush green hillsides rather than a smoky horizon and statewide “Hoot-Owl” restrictions on many of our main stem rivers. Get out on the water, this isn’t your typical August!
The past few days has brought drier weather as it hasn’t rained… as much. The terrestrial action is rolling across the region, bringing “fair” to “excellent” results for those who venture to the stream bank. Caddis remains a constant and Epeorus Mayfly hatches have lingered due to cool and wet conditions. On heavily pressured streams don’t be afraid to downsize to smaller flies. Even with favorable conditions it’s still fly fishing in August. The “A” in August means bring you’re “A Game” because the fishing can be challenging at times.
Fall fishing is right around the corner, which for many fly fishers is primetime for Southwest Montana and YNP fisheries. The tourist crowd will die down post-Labor Day opening up the roads from the intense traffic seen in the summer. This Fall stop by the shop early in the morning for any gear and/or tackle needs. Fish hard during the day, come back by the shop in the evening to swap stories, and top it off with a pizza at Wild West while watching Post-Season Baseball—which will hopefullyinclude the St. Louis Cardinals making a run at their 12th World Series Title. It’s been a stellar season thus far and much more is still to come. Stay tuned!
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.
It’s time for hoppers and flying ants on the Railroad Ranch. Breezy days will help blow hoppers onto the water inspiring the fish to lookup. Take the time to watch how the wind is blowing them onto the water and where they are landing. The fish will move into these lanes if they are actively on the hopper bite. Keep an eye on them when they land on the water, an aggressive splash may follow.
Honey ants should be showing up at any time. Flying-ant patterns are a must-have when venturing to this section. Keep an assortment of caddis and PMDs on hand as there are still multiple windows throughout the day a hatch could go off. Anglers have been reporting consistent caddis hatches busting off regularly in the evenings.
Flows coming out of Island Park Reservoir have remained constant around 1,000 cfs. Box Canyon remains a staple andrumor has it that fish will still take goldenstone patterns. Rubber legs, zebra midges, caddis pupa, and heavy weighted mayfly nymphs remain as reliable options for subsurface flies.
Yellowstone National Park
For those who are making the trip into the Park, consider going through the gate prior to 7:30 am to avoid traffic. Once the daily crowd hits animal jams and slowing moving lines of cars will rule the roadways. After Labor Day passes the roadways will start to clear up, making a trip through the Park less of a hassle.
The Lamar was running “chocolate” for much of the past week as a result of rainfall. It doesn’t take much to muddy-up this river making it unfishable as a result. Check the weather forecast daily as conditions can and will change at any time. Hopper-dropper rigs can offer steady action throughout the day basically everywhere in YNP (and outside of the Park, for that matter). Slough Creek will generally run clear, even if the Lamar and Soda Butte are off color and high.
PMDs have been present in the morning and they’ve proven to be willing to rise to eat a well-presented terrestrial pattern throughout mid-day (shocker).
If the fish seemed to be tucked to the bottom and unwilling to move up to eat flashy and/or white streamers have proven to be effective. Remember to pack bear spray and respect the wildlife.
The flows continue to drop naturally as the river exits Yellowstone Lake and enters Hayden Valley. Generally, this is the month where fish start to exit the river and move back into the lake. With this being a highwater year more fish may linger in the stream longer than normal. Look for caddis, PMDs, and terrestrials. The fish are a little trickier than they were a month ago during the opener so don’t be surprised if enticing a larger cutthroat proves to be a challenge.
The Gallatin has really come into stride this week. It has been running fairly clear this past week as there hasn’t been as much rain to turn it off color. Hoppers, flying ants, PMDs, and Caddis are all available food sources currently. The Gallatin generally fishes better later in the day after water temperatures have warmed up a bit. The chilly water in the morning generally makes the fish a little lethargic during the day. The standard warning of bears and moose chilling in the willows remains in place. Carry bear spray, make noise, and if possible, bring a fishing buddy to cover your bases. There have been regular sightings of two grizzlies near Bacon Rind Creek throughout the last couple of weeks.
Blue Squiggly Lines…
By August most of the mainstem rivers and well-known fisheries have seen countless fly anglers. We are fortunate to have these places to fish that can support mass numbers sport fishermen and women. But it isn’t the worst idea in the world to get off the beaten path and find new waters. I won’t provide specific names or locations in this report for such an endeavor. Check out last week’s report for my challenge in finding new park waters to fish. Half the fun of getting outside is the adventure and thrill of experiencing new place.
For anyone that takes up this challenge: please take extra care of these fisheries and treat them with respect. Let’s keep these wild and unique places wild and unique!
Last week I compared Madison River to LeBron James. In continuing the sports analogy trend, this week the Madison River fished like Tim Tebow played for the Denver Broncos in 2011. Not good early but fantastic later in the day when the “game” is on the line, or more simply inconsistent. When the hopper fishing turns on the action is consistent for a handful of windows throughout the day. The fish have become finicky and it’s not uncommon for them to conduct a congressional-like investigation before a commitment to eat or refuse a fly.
Caddis hatches are still a regular occurrence. Stonefly patterns can still provide a solid option to tie on and are perfect to be paired with a heavy tungsten nymph in a dry-dropped system. Don’t be afraid to branch out to new spots on this river. The wade fishing access is excellent even throughout the seemingly flatter water of the float section. They call it the “50 Mile Riffle” for a reason!
It’s mid-August and that means it’s prime Gulper time! The weather forecast is looking less unsettled in the coming week. That should improve what has already been good gulpering. Bear in mind that cool mornings will delay callibaetis mating flights and subsequent spinner falls. So, keep an eye on the thermometer, and don’t get too excited until the mercury hits 60 degrees.
The peak of the Trico hatch was the beginning of the month, but spinner fall can still be available in the morning. Action has slowed down a bit this week which isn’t uncommon. The next few weeks the game is terrestrials (surprise!) and attractor patterns. Old school dry fly anglers can breakout their Royal Wulffs, Stimulators, and Parachute Adams. Currently the upper river is providing more consistent fishing than the lower, however that should change in the upcoming weeks. Also, BSA guide Greg Falls has openings and help take a trip on the Mo to a whole new level.