One week into August and the weather still feels as if it’s late June. Hot and muggy afternoons have been met with thunderstorms rolling in to cool the air. This has been a near daily event some weeks. The high snowpack combined with a mild spring is now paying dividends with high flows and cool water in what is normally the hottest month of the year.
August is primetime for terrestrial enthusiasts as grasshoppers are plentiful throughout the Northern Rockies. Fisheries at higher elevations are still producing mayfly hatches and caddis hatches. Don’t overlook tossing a black streamer post-thunderstorm when the air pressure and temperatures drop down in the evenings. This can be an opportunity to search for a larger trout in the “dog days” of summer.
The fish in heavily pressured main-stem streams (such as the Madison) have shown to be a little tricky at times. Don’t be surprised to have a couple of “follows and refusals” underneath a dry fly in these waters. Fret not, these fish are still catchable and can turn onto a feeding frenzy at any moment.
Pack a rain jacket and keep up with the weather forecast, because being caught in a severe thunderstorm in Southwest Montana in the wrong spot is somewhere no one wants to be. Stop by the shop for tackle, gear, and advice as needed. Also, NFL training camps are in full swing. There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks!
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.
Terrestrial mayhem is imminent on the Railroad Ranch. More hoppers are showing up every day and flying ants remain as a reliable option. The Flav and PMD action is pushing well into August, no doubt a result of cool June and July temps. Keep an eye on the Ranch water in the mornings and post-afternoon storms as a spinner fall may be in the cards.
Flows out of Island Park Reservoir have dropped to sub 900 cfs from last week’s peak of 1,200 cfs. Box canyon remains a reliable option to lock into some chunky rainbows with sneaky-good hopper fishing being available. The hillsides continue to be lush and green, perfect eye candy to go along with a day on the water!
Yellowstone National Park
Cold water and favorable flows continue to be the story of this year’s YNP fishing season. Anglers from all over the Park are passing on reports of successful fishing endeavors and memorable wildlife encounters. It’s always worth putting a pair of binos in the fishing pack for excursions to the Northeast corner. Remember to respect the wildlife and be “bear aware.” Enjoy these marvelous creatures from a proper distance and respect their space.
The Northeast Corner
The Lamar River, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte Creek have been producing bent rods and countless smiles this past week. Reports of fishing the Valley have been on the positive side—until the flows spiked as a result of rain. As of the last two days the Lamar has cleared up and is fishable, but it doesn’t take much to turn conditions south again. If the Lamar blows out Slough Creek remains a solid option for those who venture to this area.
Various mayflies (Drakes, PMD’s, etc.) and caddis are still occurring with terrestrial/hopper action rising as fast as the Patriots’ Super Bowl odds. Foam bugs are flying out of the shop’s fly bins over the past week. Don’t put away those Salmonfly and Goldenstone patterns quite yet. They can make for excellent hopper patterns, as well.
It’s business as usual on the Yellowstone River in YNP: a combination of “the best day ever” and pure frustration. Every year more cutthroat trout have returned to this fishery, and more importantly smaller fish (10”-16”) have been making an appearance. For those that haven’t kept up with the status of this population over the years, this is favorable news in the recovery there from what was viewed as rock bottom about ten years ago.
Drakes are still present but will be tailing off soon. An assortment of PMD’s, caddis, stoneflies, terrestrials, and smaller streamers/leeches could be exactly what the doctor ordered to hook into one of the hogs lurking in this watershed.
Water levels have dropped significantly since the opener on July 15. The later we get into the summer the more fish will return to the lake. But this has been a higher than average water year which could keep many of these fish around in the stream longer. The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. This means the water level drops naturally on a daily basis throughout the summer. The drop in water levels will cause this fish to move around and redistribute across the stream throughout the summer season. Just because the fish are in one location one day doesn’t mean they will be there the next.
The Park section of this river offers incredible scenery and consistently hungry trout. Caddis, PMD’s, and terrestrials are the name of the game. Keep an eye on weather patterns as this is another body of water that can muddy-up from rainfall, but generally clears up after a day or two of dry conditions. Two grizzly bears have been seen on just off the west side of the highway near Bacon Rind Creek with some frequency. Move with caution when weaving through willow patches, stay vigilant, and make your presence known. With any luck you may see them (from a safe location) as grizzly bear sightings are one of the Park’s premier attractions.
Blue Squiggly Lines…
This week’s challenge: 1) place a map of YNP on a corkboard. 2) Grab a dart and a blindfold. 3) Stand roughly 10 feet away from the map, grab dart, and place blindfold over eyes. 4) Throw the dart at the map (ideally without missing). 5) Find the closest “blue squiggly line” on the map to the dart and check the YNP regulations to ensure it isn’t closed to fishing. 6) Go fishing to said location. 7) Claim that any pictures of fish caught at randomly selected location came out of Bozeman Pond.
The Madison River is the LeBron James of trout streams. It may not be the greatest trout stream of all-time (although some circles may argue differently), there may be streams that do specific things better, and it isn’t necessarily the “flashiest river.” But it’s consistently one of the most reliable options throughout the year and more often than not produces favorable results.
Basketball analogies aside, the Madison River continues to be the staple of this region. Hopper fishing is in full swing offering productive dry fly action throughout the day. The Madison Caddis Factory continues to pump out bugs with consistency. A box with various hoppers, nocturnal stoneflies, caddis, and tungsten nymphs for droppers would make for a solid arsenal on this river.
The fish in the wade section have become timid at times after heavy pressure from the stoneflies hatching. Don’t be surprised to see fish elevate and refuse a well drifted dry fly. Downsizing in fly and tippet size can sometimes be the ticket if this occurs.
Stillwater enthusiasts have been doing well on Hebgen Lake in recent weeks with the Callibaetis and Trico hatches in full swing. Shallow areas and weed beds have been providing exciting sight fishing opportunities in the mornings and evenings on dries as well as leeches, nymphs, and chironomids stripped below the surface. Flies fished in deeper water can provide action mid-day, as well.
Flows have dropped slightly in the last week down to 4,700 cfs. Our Missouri River guide staff continues to hold down the fort up in Craig. Give us a call if you’re interested in a trip on the legendary Mo. Tricos continue to make their presence known in smoke stack-like clouds over the water. A hopper or ant pattern with a dropper can offer results while moving between runs in search of tricos, and the nymphing remains consistent.