Like a Green Drake dun awkwardly breaking free from the constraints of it’s nymphal shuck and the cold, wet submarine environment that it has called home for the entirety of its adolescence, summer in Big Sky Country has finally emerged in all of its warmth and splendor.
We haven’t completely escaped the trend of daily thunderstorm activity that has bedeviled Big Sky Country so far this season, but we are seeing conditions that more closely resemble summertime these days.
Daytime high temps routinely reached the 80’s this past week with a few afternoons pushing up into the 90’s before evening thunderstorms rolled through and cooled things off. The upcoming forecast looks to be a return to more seasonal conditions with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid 40’s at West Yellowstone.
For the first time this season we can say with full certainty that runoff is a thing of the past. Several fisheries, especially those in the Northeast corner of Yellowstone, will continue to be influenced by snowmelt, but this is the slow and steady thaw of the highest alpine snow in the region, and won’t impact water clarity. We cross our fingers every year to have this situation where high elevation snow feeds our watershed with a supply of cold water deep into the summer months.
We are excited to host several members of our extended Argentine family from El Encuentro Fly Fishing in Big Sky Country. Benjamin Beale, Cecilia Harrington, and Marcello Widmann will be visiting and hanging around Big Sky Anglers and the Golden Stone Inn over the next few weeks. Swing by with any questions about fishing in Patagonia, or to say Hi to our Argentine friends. Stay tuned for an announcement about a Patagonia Evening at Big Sky Anglers with a slide show and talk about our Argentina program soon.
We’re looking forward to the Third Annual West Yellowstone Trout Spey Days this upcoming September 13 and 14. Check out a recent BLOG POST with details about the event. If you plan on checking out this awesome event, and you should, come stay with us at the Golden Stone Inn, the unofficial headquarters for Trout Spey Days. This is your chance to stay with the industry reps and pros that are in town for the event, and soak up as much information and experience as possible. If you’re not staying with us, don’t feel left out. We will be hosting a Spey Days Social on the evening of September 13th at the GSI. So, there’s still a chance to check out the GSI, and get the most out of the event.
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.
We’ve settled into our summertime routine on the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork. Morning and evening spinner falls of PMD’s, and Flavs will generate targets in places, at times. This is definitely an occasion to settle into the rhythm and flow of the river. It’s essential to take what the river offers, and don’t show up with an agenda. Some sessions will have you engaged in an epic game of chess, strategically positioning and methodically presenting flies to adversarial Rainbows. Others will leave you sitting on the bank to ponder life’s great mysteries. Either outcome is a win, and you have to take the good days with the bad.
Whether you’re going round for round with a trophy rainbow, or sitting on your ass admiring the Tetons, keep an eye out for the beginnings of the next round of bugs in the seasonal hatch cycle of the Ranch. Tricos, Callibaetis, and flying ants are all on the horizon, and it’s time to add their imitations to the batting order.
Elsewhere in the system, the Box Canyon is enjoying a great Golden Stone hatch that has lasted for well over a month at this point. Standard Box Canyon nymph rigs with small tungsten bead heads are always a fruitful program.
Flows from Island Park Reservoir are currently running just over 1100cfs and should remain within 100-200 cfs of that mark.
Yellowstone National Park
This is a wonderful time to be wandering around Yellowstone Park with a fly rod. Fishing the Park waters are not without challenges these days. It’s hands down the busiest time of year for overall tourist traffic, and biting flies are omnipresent in many of the best fishing spots. But, the sheer number of fishing options, and the quality of fishing situations available far outweigh the inconvenience of tourists and mosquitoes.
The Northeast Corner
This region of Yellowstone is ripe with opportunity for the dry fly angler right now. Slough Creek, the Lamar River, and Soda Butte Creek offer daily hatches of PMD mayflies and caddis, along with the beginning of what we hope will be a terrific terrestrial season. Be sure to keep an eye on the forecast and flows as this area is always prone to muddy waters after thunderstorms. Give us a call or stop by the shop for the best updates on conditions and reports.
Stillwater enthusiasts can once again add Yellowstone Lake to their circuit of lakes to fish in Big Sky Country. Daily spinner falls of Callibaetis mayflies have had Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout rising in all of their traditional spots on warm, calm mornings. When the dry fly opportunities aren’t present, think about fishing a leech or Callibaetis nymph imitation on an intermediate sinking line as a great way to find some sporty Cutts.
Stoneflies are still active throughout this system from the canyon waters up to the flat waters in the caldera. The big bugs, especially Golden Stones, will produce those slow, yawning rises so typical of Yellowstone Cutts well into August this year as water conditions remain robust after last winter’s solid snowpack.
In addition to the big bugs, expect to see a myriad of other insects producing solid dry fly action on the Yellowstone River. PMD’s, Flavs, Grey Drakes, and Caddis are all responsible for questionable decision making by Cutthroat Trout in places like Otter Creek, or below Le Hardy Rapids (the rapids themselves are closed to fishing). Be sure to have plenty of spinner imitations in size #14-16, and remember to hunt for your targets.
This is one of those blue squiggly lines on the Park map that go unnoticed and unvisited by virtually every Yellowstone Park angler. So, why on earth would we mention it here for all the world to discover? Because, if you can find Carnelian Cr, or better yet, if you can figure out how to get into Carnelian Creek, fish it, and return without having half your ass chewed off by a bear, you deserve to know about it, and we’d love to hear about it.
It’s approaching the time of year to start exploring all of those little blue squiggly lines on the map. Yellowstone is full of overlooked and underfished waters, and the opportunity to go out and actually explore these fisheries is an all too rare occurrence in this day and age.
So, whether it’s Carnelian Creek, or one of the many more discrete waters in the park, get out there and see what you can find.
The Gallatin River in YNP may be the best example of a fishery in our area that benefits from warm weather. This is the coldest fishery around, and, even on the warmest of days, it fishes best in the late-mornings and afternoons.
The Gallatin in the Park is also one of the most diverse rivers in the area with a plethora of aquatic insects residing in its cold, clean waters. PMD’s, Caddis, Flavs, Green Drakes, Yellow Sallies, and Golden Stones are all available in abundance right now, along with a multitude of less conspicuous Mayflies, Caddisflies, and Stoneflies.
This is also one of the best examples of a river that looks pleasant and inviting from the road, but can punish you with biting flies once you reach the water. Top notch bug spray, sungloves, buffs, and full cover are mandatory right now on the Gallatin River in the Park.
It’s year two of post dam construction, and consistently cold water from Hebgen has set the stage for some of the best conditions that we have seen on the Madison River in quite a few years. Hatches have been strong, and the quality and condition of fish in all size classes has been impressive.
Mornings and evenings have seen good spinner falls of PMD, Epeorus, and Flav mayflies, as well as egg-laying and emerging caddis activity. Remember these spinner falls as weather conditions stabilize and warm. Those brawny Madison River Browns and Rainbows love to be sneaky and rise subtly to understated spinners providing a technical dry fly situation that is tough to beat. Remarkably, there are still some Golden Stones flying in isolated spots along the river. It’s approaching time to start thinking about flying ants and hoppers. More to come on this exciting fishing in the following weeks.
There’s no time like gulper time, and conditions become more and more prime for gulpering activity with each passing day. Stay tuned to this exciting fishery from now through the middle of September for some of the most spectacular Stillwater fishing found anywhere. Be on the lookout too for a blog post in the coming week about Callibaetis mayflies, the high test fuel that powers the gulper fishing machine on Hebgen Lake.
Our very own Joe Moore is currently halfway through a wilderness float trip on Alaska’s Kenektok River in search of ferocious, mouse-eating rainbow trout. Check back next week for news about Joe’s adventure.